Self-Confidence and You

Some of us may not be wealthy or beautiful, but stands out, the way you carries yourself, the clear manner of speaking having positive energy, feeling comfortable in your own skin and believes in your own ability. Some of us have never experienced this level of self-confidence. We are nervous fumblers who find ourselves hiding in the corner, too shy and unsure of ourselves to add to the conversation. The truth is that with some time and effort, anyone can be self-confident and self-assured.

Self-confidence is a skill that can be learned and built on- and it’s a skill worth having. Studies show that self-confidence can have an enormous impact on almost every aspect of our lives. A woman who is sure of herself is more likely to move further up the professional ladder and maintain a healthier lifestyle. She will also enjoy more successful personal relationships.

Women with low self-confidence, on the hand, are less capable of putting themselves forward at work. They have trouble committing to an exercise routine because they don’t believe they’re capable, and they are more likely to do things that are not good. They also have harder time viewing their relationships realistically. They tend to see their partners as either wholly good or wholly bad-a view that flips back and forth, creating chaos and instability in the relationship.

Where does self-confidence come from and why doesn’t everybody have it?
Psychologists agree that our childhood experiences contribute to the amount of self-confidence we have. At their best, our parents teach us that we belong, that we can do things well, and that we can tackle new tasks effectively. Some behavioural geneticists also believe that self-confidence is heavily influenced by heredity.

For women, there may be even more factors involved. There is an area of the brain called anterior cingulated cortex that is responsible for our negative, judgemental thoughts. In women this area is actually larger and more powerful than in men; it is the brain circuitry responsible for observing emotion in others, which allows women to respond immediately to the needs of an infant.

Sounds good, right? Not always. Combine this sensitivity with the hormonal surges of estrogen and progesterone a women goes through at certain points in her menstrual cycle, and her self-confidence sometimes flies out the window. Sometimes the feedback a woman gets from others will strengthen her belief in herself, a and other days the same feedback will make her want to cry. For at least a few days each month, there’s something about a woman’s menstrual cycle that puts her emotional self in a bad light.

The good new is that regardless of your childhood experiences. Your genetic makeup, or the fact that you have a female brain, strengthening self-confidence is something you can achieve. Scientists agree. A neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, has shown how the brain remarks itself constantly. He says that unlike a computer with fixed wire connections, the brain changes itself according to your interactions with the world. This process continues throughout our entire lives. Working against all your previous experiences in order to drive your brain in a new direction takes time, but it can be done.

Strengthen Your Self-Confidence
An important part of feeling self-confidence is believing in yourself and in your ability to succeed in a particular situation. This is called self-eficacy. If someone has high self-efficacy in an area, then her feelings, thoughts and behaviours all contribute to her success. Based on this success, her courage grows. She performs more and more tasks with growing belief in her own abilities until, eventually, she has become truly self-confident.

Self-Efficacy can be improved in four different ways:

1. Developing Mastery Experience
When we try to do something difficult and master it, our sense of self-efficacy increase. So find something new to try-but be sure to choose carefully. If a task isn’t challenging enough, then it probably won’t contribute to your self-confidence. If it’s so challenging that you fail, then your sense of self-efficacy might be weakened even more.

2. Social Modelling
Seeing people like you succeed by working hard at something will help you to believe that you can succeed as well. Look for a mentor who has a similar background to yours, and pay attention to what that person does in order to succeed.

3. Social Persuasion
Getting positive encouragement from others is important for self-confidence. When we don’t believe we can do something, others can persuade us to change our minds and overcome our self-doubt. That’s why surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging people is crucial. If you don’t have a support system and friends, keep looking.

4. Psychological Responses
We all have emotional and physical reactions in certain situations. Public speaking, for example, makes many people extremely nervous. Because of the reaction, they feel they aren’t good at it. By learning to face stressful situations directly, and by developing strategies for managing them, you can turn a negative experience into a positive, energizing experience.

As long as you keep on stretching yourself enough, but not too much, you will continue to build yourself-confidence. Setbacks and disappointments will become tasks to be mastered. You will develop a deeper interest in your activities and feel more committed to them. What’s more, you will have earned your self-confidence, because you put in the hard work necessary to be successful.