Lack Confidence? That’s Okay, You Can Build It

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If you feel like you lack self confidence, then it can seem like the most daunting thing in the world to try and fake it. Whether you’re faced with a presentation at college, an intimidating social event, or a business pitch that could change your life forever, finding the confidence to put yourself out there can sometimes be difficult.

The good news is the difference between a confident person and a person who lacks confidence mostly comes down to mind-set. Confident people approach challenges believing in their ability to succeed. People with low confidence often focus instead on the opportunities for failure and disappointment.

To begin building confidence, then, one must learn to frame things in a new way.

Here’s a few principles that can help shift your mental attitude and allow you to gain more confidence.

  • 1. You’re the average of the 5 people with whom you spend the most time. Pause for a minute and picture the people you spend the most time around–the friends or co-workers you confide in, vent to, and trade ideas with. In both obvious and subtle ways, these people influence the way you see yourself as well as how you react to different situations and opportunities. If you spend time with people who prefer to sit out social events, for example, then they won’t be encouraging you or helping build enthusiasm for attending upcoming community events. Hearing how your friend dreads such social engagements may even cause you to look for the negatives in each possible outing as well.  While it’s not a good idea to ditch more reserved friends, it is a good idea to reflect on whether their social needs are really the same as yours. Perhaps they are happier with less interaction or fewer friends. If you crave more socializing time, however, it would help to branch out and make a few friends who can share in these more public experiences as well.
  • 2. If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got. This observation from Henry Ford has been passed around for decades for a reason. Many of us stopped trying to learn about friendship in childhood. Instead, we have spent a lifetime trying to interact with others doing the same things day in and day out–purely based on whatever information we acquired at around 10 or 12 years of age. Reality is, however, there is far more to learn that our adolescent selves probably lacked the maturity to understand and apply. If you’re still feeling similar levels of awkwardness or nervousness, socially, that you did in middle school, you can’t expect the same methods to suddenly result in more social confidence in adulthood. It might be time to start regularly exposing yourself to new ideas (like the ones on this site!) and begin to reflect on what other habits or practices you could adopt to help you become more comfortable and confident socially.
  • 3. Be willing to put in the hard work. It’s interesting, but even though most of us understand that we must apply this principle in our careers, we don’t necessarily apply it to our social lives. We work hard to get a degree or special training or to acquire experience needed to get the job we want, but we operate as though building relationships and networking in a crowd should just magically come to us without any work. That means, just like in the work place, you may need to sometimes step out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges where you don’t necessarily know how to succeed yet. You may decide, for example, to step out and attend more informal group gatherings–such as going out for drinks with coworkers–that you would’ve previously skipped. In doing this, these experiences might feel more hard than enjoyable AT FIRST. You might have to resolve to face them, to try to be observant, and learn from them with faith that–just like a skill set or new task at work–you’ll eventually develop competence and it will become easier and more enjoyable.

If you go into a social scenario analyzing how and where you may fail, it projects negativity into the situation rather than positivity. Next time you approach a social challenge, then, remind yourself that this is just the beginning to feeling more comfortable and confident as you grow over time.

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  1. Gayla Ann

    Ugh – the last point almost stings it hits so hard. I have never thought about it, but I’ve definitely been approaching social interactions the same way for a couple decades right now. Why, I wonder, has it never occurred to me to change things up to get different results? Back to the drawing board I go. : )-

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