These needs must be fulfilled in order for an individual to grow and thrive. These needs must be fulfilled in order for an individual to grow and achieve self-actualization. Self-confidence and self-esteem are two closely related psychological phenomena, both based on past experiences and both looking forward at future performance. Going forward, in an effort to keep confusion to a minimum, we will consider self-confidence and self-esteem to be essentially the same concept.
With these definitions in hand, we can take a closer look at common beliefs and popular theories surrounding self-confidence and self-esteem. In his pyramid, self-esteem is the second highest level of need, just under self-actualization. According to Maslow, humans must have their needs of physiological stability, safety, love and belonging met before they can develop healthy self-esteem. In the years following his introduction of the hierarchy of needs, Maslow refined his theory to accommodate the instances of highly self-actualized people who are homeless or individuals who live in a dangerous area or war zone but are also high in self-esteem.
This hierarchy is no longer considered as a strict theory of unidirectional growth, but a more general explanation of how basic needs being met allow individuals the freedom and ability to achieve their more complex ones.
Preparing Yourself for Success!
A darker theory that delves a bit deeper into the human experience to explain self-confidence is the Terror Management Theory. TMT posits that self-esteem forms as a way to protect and buffer against anxiety, and subsequently people strive for self-confidence and react negatively to anyone or anything that could undermine their beliefs in their comforting worldview.
Mark Leary, a social psychologist who researches self-esteem in the context of evolutionary psychology, also contributed a theory of self-esteem to the literature. The Sociometer Theory suggests that self-esteem is an internal gauge of the degree to which one is included vs. This theory rests on the conception of self-esteem as an internal individual perception of social acceptance and rejection. There is some strong evidence for the accuracy and applicability of this theory. Finally, evidence shows that social exclusion based on personal characteristics decreases self-esteem Leary et al.
Regardless of which theory you may personally subscribe to, the outcomes of high self-confidence are generally agreed upon by researchers.
10 Ways To Build Confidence
Children with high self-confidence perform better at school and, later in life, have higher job satisfaction in middle age. Self-esteem is also strongly linked to happiness, with higher levels of self-esteem predicting higher levels of happiness. High self-confidence has even been found to increase the chances of survival after a serious surgical procedure Mann et al. As noted earlier, there have been thousands of papers published on self-confidence or self-esteem, and many of these papers connect self-confidence with success in life.
The success of individuals with high self-esteem lies in these six attributes:. Journalists in mainstream media have pointed out that there are also negative correlates with self-confidence. For example, self-confidence has steadily increased over the last 50 years, and with it, narcissism and unrealistic expectations have also increased Kremer, Self-confidence or self-esteem has been praised in Western society for the past 25 years.
During this time, it was believed that a positive self-image was the key to a happy and successful life, leading to the birth of the self-esteem era of education. Children of this generation are taught in schools and at home to consider themselves to be special, to only focus on their positive traits , and to receive praise for very little accomplishment.
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If boosting self-confidence is better at increasing narcissism and ambition than achievement and success, what should we do? Do we ditch the idea of improving self-confidence? Baumeister and colleagues have an answer. There are certain contexts where a boost of self-confidence can improve performance , and these opportunities should not be ignored. They recommend continuing to boost self-esteem, but in a more measured and cautious manner Baumeister et al. They encourage parents and teachers to give children praise in order to increase their self-confidence, but only as a reward for socially desirable behavior.
This method ensures that children receive some positive attention and have the opportunity to develop healthy self-esteem, and it does not run the risk of convincing children that they are exceedingly competent whether they work hard or not. Steve Baskin lays out another positive move parents can take: letting their children fail.
This often has the unintended consequence of not only protecting children from struggle but also from growth. Baskin suggests taking a step back as parents, and letting children figure out how to deal with disappointment and pain, an undertaking that will likely result in the development of resilience and successful coping skills. In his TED talk Dr. Fear exists to protect us from physical danger; it is our instinct to prevent ourselves from being eaten by a predator.
However, in the absence of such predators and with protection designed into our homes, cars and parenting styles- fear has adapted to respond instead to modern day stresses, which can trigger past negative feelings of shame , hurt or fear. These experiences operate in the background of our psyche, taking up mental bandwidth and memory, just like mobile apps which run in the background of your phone using memory and battery power. When we stay in our comfort zone protected from these experiences by the familiarity of routine activities, we live life unaware of our ability to grow and develop new strengths and skills.
However, when we do take that plunge, even without confidence in our abilities, courage takes over. In the realm of the known, confidence operates without any hindrance, but in the realm of fear of the unknown courage takes over. Courage is typically a more noble attribute than confidence because it requires greater strength, and typically a courageous person is one without limits for growth and success. We can learn to eagerly embrace it, understand its origin and use it as a signpost for what needs to be dealt with, a powerful tool to declutter the mental closets.
And just like actually cleaning out our closets, we can sort through what we want to keep and what no longer fits us. Martin Seligman reminds us that positive self-image by itself does not produce anything. A sustainable sense of security in oneself arises from positive and productive behavior Seligman, This is not to say that feeling secure and trusting in yourself is not important for well-being. High self-confidence or self-efficacy has been linked to many positive physical and mental health outcomes Pajares, Many of us would like to have higher self-confidence but struggle to overcome insecurity, fear, and negative self-talk.
With some reflection, hard work, and perhaps a shift in perception we can work towards a strong and stable belief in ourselves.
It is a combination of actually having meaning, good relationships, and accomplishment. Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy and others have studied the positive effects of confident body postures on our hormones.
3 ways to be confident
Look for the sensations of confidence and practice feeling them more in your body. Feel your feet on the ground, keep your body relaxed and open. Think regal. Mindfulness is proven to have significant benefits for your physical and psychological well-being. You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere. You can give try it right now by following these steps:.
What does this mean?
A bit of stress can be useful to keep us alert and give us the extra energy needed to perform. Try reframing your nervous jitters as excitement! Knowing how to engage with these feelings in your body will expand your presence rather than shrinking it down. Exercise has a powerful effect on confidence. When you exercise regularly, you will not only get better physically but you will feel more motivated to act in ways that build your self-confidence. Close your eyes and relax your body completely.
Allow the feelings of a comfortable presence to pervade your body and your mind. Even those who are exceptional in some areas of life are likely struggling in others. Allow yourself to be a learner, to be a novice. When breaking out of your comfort zone and starting something new, you are expanding your own limitations. When you successfully complete something that is out of your confidence zone, you are building confidence in yourself.
Making progress towards personally meaningful goals is the scaffolding upon which healthy self-confidence is built. The S. T goals system offers a guideline for goal-setting in which goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
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This system is based on research that suggests that these types of goals lead to greater and more consistent achievement Locke, Then you can come up with actionable steps to work toward these. Writing a personal mission statement is a great way to give yourself some direction. However, always seeking approval from outside yourself is an easy trap.
Speak to yourself with self-compassion , kindness, and encouragement.
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After all, the most important relationship you have in your life is with yourself- make it a good one! Many of us struggle to ask for help due to fear of rejection or being seen as incompetent. In Western cultures, the high value placed on self-reliance gets in the way of reaching out to others even though this is a necessary part of working toward our goals.
In a recent review of contemporary literature, Stephen Post, head of Case Western Reserve University Medical School, found a profound connection between giving, altruism, and happiness When we play a positive role in our families, friendships, and communities we rightly feel good about ourselves. We feel that we are fulfilling a greater more meaningful purpose in our lives. A study by Frank Flynn, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, revealed that people tend to grossly underestimate the willingness of others to help Collaboration among people creates the most powerful results.
When we reach out to others we can see our efforts flourish in ways that we could never achieve on our own.