Self-confidence is linked to almost every element involved in a happy and fulfilling life. I highlight five key rewards of self-confidence below. Understanding these benefits is an important first step toward living your best life with confidence.
The more confident you become, the more you’ll be able to calm the voice inside you that says, “I can’t do it.” You’ll be able to unhook from your thoughts and take action in line with your values.
If you’ve suffered from low self-confidence, you’re probably familiar with rumination, or the tendency to mull over worries and perceived mistakes, replaying them ad nauseam. Excessive rumination is linked to both anxiety and depression, and it can make us withdraw from the world. But by filling up your tank with confidence, you’ll be able to break the cycle of over-thinking and quiet your inner critic.
Building confidence means taking small steps that leave a lasting sense of accomplishment. If you’ve ever learned a language, mastered a skill, reached a fitness goal, or otherwise overcome setbacks to get to where you wanted to be, you’re well on your way.
You might be thinking, “Well, sure, I was proud of my ‘A’ in Calculus back in high school, but what does that have to do with anything now?” If you think back to a key accomplishment in your life, you’ll likely find that it took a lot of perseverance. If you could triumph through adversity then, you can do it in other areas of your life where you feel self-doubt.
As your confidence grows, you’ll find yourself more driven to stretch your abilities. “What-if” thoughts will still arise: “What if I fail?” “What if I embarrass myself?” But with self-assurance, those thoughts will no longer be paralyzing. Instead, you’ll be able to grin and act anyway, feeling energized by your progress in pursuing goals that mean something to you.
Confidence gives you the skills and coping methods to handle setbacks and failure. Self-confidence doesn’t mean you won’t sometimes fail. But you’ll know you can handle challenges and not be crippled by them. Even when things don’t turn out anywhere close to what you planned, you’ll be able to avoid beating yourself up.
As you keep pushing yourself to try new things, you’ll start to truly understand how failure and mistakes lead to growth. An acceptance that failure is part of life will start to take root. Paradoxically, by being more willing to fail, you'll actually succeed more — because you're not waiting for everything to be 100 percent perfect before you act. Taking more shots will mean making more of them.
It might seem counterintuitive, but when you have more self-confidence, you’re less focused on yourself. We’ve all been guilty of walking into a room and thinking, “They’re all looking at me. They all think I look dumpy and that every word I say is stupid.” The truth is, people are wrapped up in their own thoughts and worries. When you get out of your own head, you’ll be able to genuinely engage with others.
You'll enjoy your interactions more because you won't be so worried about the kind of impression you're making, and you won’t be comparing yourself to others. Your relaxed state will put others at ease as well, helping you forge deeper connections.
Self-confidence can also breed deeper empathy. When you’re fully present, you’re more likely to notice that your date seems to be a little down, or that a friend in the corner looks like she needs a shoulder to cry on. When you’re not preoccupied with your own self-doubt, you can be the person who reaches out to help others.
Stronger Sense of Your Authentic Self
Finally, confidence roots you in who you really are. You’ll be able to accept your weaknesses, knowing they don’t change your self-worth. You'll also be able to celebrate your strengths and use them more fully.
Your actions will be in line with your principles, giving you a greater sense of purpose. You'll know who you are and what you stand for. You’ll have the skills to show up, stand up, and speak up. In other words, you'll be able to let your best self shine through.
A Few Action Steps
- Write down a favorite confidence quote and put it somewhere you'll see it often. My colleague Meg Selig has compiled a great list.
- Do you have a photograph of a time you felt confident and successful? It could be a graduation photo, a picture of you as a kid after you learned to ride a bike or anything else that resonates with you. Hang it on your fridge or bathroom mirror, and reflect on all the steps it took to get to that point.
- Try one of these self-confidence tricks from my colleague Alice Boyes.
Excerpt from The Self-Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem. Copyright © 2018 by Barbara Markway and Celia Ampel.