Confidence is a highly advantageous trait, as it can be applied in all aspects of life—whether in personal, social, or business contexts.
For some people, confidence comes naturally. However, many of us feel that it is beyond our grasp. If you find yourself among those who lack confidence and are unsure of how to develop it, there are some proven ways you can learn to live a more confident life.
New studies in behavioral and cognitive psychology have begun to remove the roadblocks that get in the way of developing confidence. According to these studies, people who have low confidence suffer from three common underlying traits. Following is a summary of those traits and different methods to overcome them.
1. Develop a self-based focus as opposed to an other-based focus. A recent study investigating the science behind low confidence found that people with this disposition typically think of others before thinking of themselves.
Psychologist Joshua Guilfoyle termed this as an other-based focus and showed that these people tend to focus more on threats, conflict, and uncertainty than on their own goals, desires, and wants. This results in behaviors such as over-apologizing and feeling powerless in the face of transgressions.
To overcome this disposition, other-focused individuals should take time out of each day to shift their focus toward their own goals and desires, to develop a more self-focused perspective. However, beware of focusing too hard on these elements as you risk decreasing your levels of empathy for others.
2. Don’t avoid challenges; confront them. Low-confidence individuals typically avoid challenges or opportunities to display their abilities which ultimately ends up reinforcing their lack of confidence. A recent study investigating the driving factors behind imposter syndrome—the belief that you are not as good in professional endeavors as your experience, training, awards, or the opinions of others might suggest—and listed three methods to overcome self-doubt and boost confidence:
- Fuel yourself with screw-ups. The more risks you take, the more you will learn from them and develop a higher sense of trust in your ability to overcome the challenges that you put on yourself.
- Use self-doubt as a motivational force. Research shows that feelings of inadequacy and success often coincide. It also shows that your confidence is positively affected when you begin to view your doubts as assets instead of burdens.
- Identify your avoidant thoughts. Low-confidence individuals tend to avoid challenges because they listen to the wrong voice in their heads. To overcome this, identify it, lower its volume, and focus instead on the voice that pushes you to find solutions.
3. Learn how to manage your emotions. Emotions can be overwhelming at times and we sometimes display dysfunctional behaviors that negatively impact our confidence because of our inability to manage them. A recent study listed five key steps for people who want to gain more control over their emotions:
- Identify and accept emotions without judgment.
- Notice how emotions feel in your body.
- Give the emotion or emotions a name.
- If the emotion is unjustified, constructively reframe your perspective of it.
- If the emotion is justified, reflect on it and find out what it is trying to tell you.
Cultivating confidence in your life is a tricky process requiring you to look deeply into your mind and evaluate yourself objectively. It may be difficult, but you absolutely can integrate genuine confidence into your life.
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