How to overcome doubt and improve self-confidence

Applying for a new job, performing an art form, and building social relationships depend on robust self-confidence. Our self-confidence makes us strong and resilient to not only partake in life’s myriad experiments but also bounce back from chaotic, soul-crushing endeavours. Ironically, its often fragile nature means its endurance is dependent on the success of these endeavours, the failures of which plummet our confidence to sometimes insurmountable darkness. To ensure the welfare of our being, it is imperative to separate our self-confidence from this cycle of success and failures, thereby ensuring its endurance.

 

Understanding self-confidence

Confidence is a trait that cannot be learnt but can be practised. We all have an inherent level of confidence and through practices like positive thinking, talking to people who have a positive mindset and won’t refrain from motivating us, strengthens our self-belief.

 

Acknowledging and accepting ourselves as we are is critical to building our confidence. We all possess varying degrees of abilities, skills, and flaws. The need to continually adhere to society’s, sometimes, impossible standards and comparing ourselves to others can severely dent our confidence. The first step to improving our self-confidence is celebrating ourselves – perceived flaws and all – which gives us the courage and strength to live fulfilled lives.

 

The terms self-confidence and self-esteem are often used interchangeably. To comprehend self-confidence, it is essential to understand the difference between these terms. The word “Confidence” comes from the Latin word fidere, which means “to trust.” In other words, confidence is the ability to trust oneself and measure one’s capabilities. On the other hand, self-esteem is the value we place on ourselves. People with high self-confidence may have low self-esteem and vice versa.

 

In this edition of Conversations with Rakesh, SoME Founder Rakesh Godhwani explores the concept of self-confidence, its impact on our mental and emotional well-being, how it dictates our reactions, and the importance of sustaining it irrespective of the failures we face.

 

Watch the video here:

 

Following is the edited transcript of the video:

 

Why do we suffer from low self-confidence:

 

Here’s a familiar question, “I couldn’t clear an entrance exam, which has resulted in a loss of confidence. It has badly impacted my life, and I am unable even to speak up these days. How do I fix and improve my confidence?”

This is an important and profound question. Before we touch upon the examinations’ results, it is imperative to understand that we can have low confidence for various reasons. Sometimes, it could be how we perceive our bodies in comparison to others. We may think we are fat or someone else is better looking than us, or that we have a pronounced accent, or are unable to speak well, the list is endless.

 

And, failing in exams plays a significant role in us losing our confidence. Let’s understand and break this question into a few more parts. What exactly happened when you couldn’t clear your exams, and how the same impacted your confidence?

First of all, we live in a super chaotic world where there’s too much emphasis on success. We should stop this mad rush to become numero uno in everything. This competitive world keeps pushing us to be successful, and when we don’t meet its standards, we are deemed losers.

 

The consequent failure makes us question our self-worth, eroding our confidence. For example, when we fail to clear our exams, we start doubting our capability.

We start suffering from self-doubt, but unfortunately, that’s not where it ends. Self-doubt forces us to go deeper, and then we start feeling guilty, leading to self-pity.

 

We keep thinking we should have worked harder, and we keep beating ourself. Finally, we lose our self-worth, and start thinking we are not good enough. These negative thoughts that keep saying we don’t deserve anything become more common and vicious, leading to us losing our self-esteem.

We need to understand that our self-esteem is very critical to our lives. There’s this fantastic Indian movie that should be on everyone’s watch list, Jab We Met.

 

There a scene in it where Kareena Kapoor tells Shahid Kapoor that she is her favourite! That is the essence of self-esteem.

We should learn to appreciate ourselves first and not focus on the world valuing us. The world will criticise us, but if we learn to appreciate ourselves well, we will better handle those criticisms.

 

When you acknowledge who you are and start respecting yourself, irrespective of the failures in your life, your self-respect goes up. Then you start feeling worthy of love. Thus, your self-worth goes up, and you stop pitying yourself.

Please start accepting yourself as you are with all your faults! If you do not appreciate yourself, don’t expect the world to understand you. Tell yourself that I’m worthy of respect, of being liked by others, of being valued. That is step number one.

 

Don’t fake it till you make it

Some people, low on self-esteem and confidence, start faking confidence. It might help to some extent, but let me warn you, it will mess with your mental wellness because you will realise that you are being an imposter.

When you are not true to your core values and start faking your behaviour, it impacts your self-esteem.

There’s a lovely book that exemplifies this philosophy called Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathanial Branden. Nathanial writes that one of the essential pillars of self-esteem is your core value and how you practice them in your life. So, please don’t fix your confidence without fixing your self-esteem and be very loyal to yourself.

 

How to rebuild our confidence

How do we increase our confidence which is shattered because of failures? I have some suggestions for you.

Firstly, look inside yourself and find activities that you are good at. Instead of focussing on activities that the world wants us to indulge in, concentrate on the ones you genuinely enjoy.

Secondly, once you have identified that skill you’re excellent at, create a milestone for you to reach, and make sure you hit that milestone.

 

Of courses, you will go through self-doubt in your preferred activity, too; but you will probably have a better shot at increasing your self-esteem. And, when you meet that milestone, your self-esteem and confidence will soar.

Thirdly, become more resilient and courageous because our journeys are strewn with failures, but we shouldn’t give up.  Once you manage to face your losses head-on, your confidence levels will keep improving.

 

Please remember, there will be days when your self-esteem and confidence will be shaky. Acknowledge those down days. It is not possible to keep your confidence high every day. Work on your self-esteem, get it stabilised, and your confidence will bounce back in no time.

 

Keep working on your self-esteem and confidence as it is an integral part of your life’s journey.

 

Watch Rakesh’s video on self-confidence

 

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