Melanie Greenberg, a practicing psychologist and author of several books, has written an article for Psychology Today magazine about the sources of our lack of self-confidence. She believes there are three main reasons for this problem. Each one of them can be successfully overcome, but in order to do so we first have to understand the root causes of our fears.
We at Bright Side hope that this article might become the first step for all those who are in need of personal development.
Academics who conduct research into the phenomenon of happiness have found out the following: the degree of happiness that we experience depends up to 40% on recent events in our lives. The end of a relationship, the death of someone close to us, becoming unemployed, and illness have the most detrimental effects on our happiness. Since unhappiness has an effect on our evaluation of ourselves, it’s possible for your self-confidence to decline as a result of such experiences.
In his book Emotional First Aid, psychologist Guy Winch argues that people who have a low opinion of themselves suffer from their failures for longer. “When we lose our jobs, for example, this can lead to a rebirth of old thoughts about our supposed worthlessness, giving them new strength,” he writes.
It’s important to understand that failure is a part of life. Before he became president, Abraham Lincoln lost his job and then failed to be elected to Congress twice. If a person manages to achieve their aims despite their failures, this can act as a powerful stimulus to overcoming a lack of self-confidence.
How to overcome a lack of confidence caused by failure
- Give yourself time to adapt to new conditions.
- Don’t isolate yourself, and instead keep doing what you find interesting and that which arouses your curiosity.
- Talk to your friends and family more in order to distract yourself from negative thoughts and help you to feel safe.
- Talk about your failures with people whom you trust.
- Don’t give up, and keep stubbornly trying to achieve your goals.
- Be ready to adopt a new strategy.
Many of us are understandably afraid of situations where we have to talk to people we don’t know — at parties, family gatherings, and in job interviews. We worry that people will evaluate us in a negative way, paying attention to our negative qualities, and this leads us to worry and suffer from a lack of confidence.
Almost all of us have had a negative experience in our interactions with others — we were rejected by our contemporaries or we were teased at school, and the resulting fear of social interaction and of rejection continues to manifest itself in our adult minds. The roots of this fear can go even deeper if our parents compared us with those around us in a negative way, criticized us, or weren’t impressed by our successes.
As a rule, this manifestation of a lack of self-confidence is grounded in a distorted understanding of how much those around us take an interest in our personalities. In reality, most people are thoroughly absorbed in themselves and generally form an impression of you and your behavior that is not overly negative or critical. When people make a judgment about someone else, it’s often only done in order to help improve their own low evaluation of themselves. That judgment will often be superficial and grounded only in what they can see of you on the surface. So is it really worth worrying about it?
How to overcome a fear of social interaction
- Argue with that harsh inner critic of yours. Remind yourself of your good qualities — you have a good sense of humor, you’re a good friend, you’re a skilled artist. Whatever it is, there is definitely something good about you that can make you feel proud of yourself.
- If you have to talk to people you don’t know well, think about the topics of conversation you can focus on with them beforehand.
- If you try to avoid social interaction, things will only get worse. Go to that party or on that date even if it makes you feel very nervous. Experience is important here, and it will come only with practice.
- Give yourself realistic goals. Just a short conversation with a couple of strangers at a party can become an important first step.
- Focus on other people. Put on your observer’s hat — examine how they express their emotions and what they say. This can help you to avoid becoming hung up on your own feelings and help you learn new methods of communicating with people.
Some people set very high standards for themselves in everything they do. They’re convinced that they should get only the highest grades, have only the most talented children, the most beautiful husband or wife, the most incredible job. Unfortunately, not everything in life turns out the way we want it to, and not everything depends on us. There are some things you can’t control: your stupid boss, unemployment, genes, and many other things.
If you constantly feel disappointment due to feelings that you’re not as perfect as you should be, then one day you’ll end up with zero self-confidence. This in turn can lead to serious problems with your health: depression, insomnia, eating disorders, and chronic tiredness.
How to fight perfectionism
- Judge yourself according to the efforts you put into something (which is within your power to determine and change) and not according to the results of your actions (which often don’t depend on us).
- Ask yourself this question: If you were as much as 10% more perfect in any area of your life, would you definitely get the result you want? If the answer is no, then it’s simply not worth wasting time and energy over it.
- Perfectionism is built on the principle of “all or nothing.” Try to see that things in this life are never black and white — they’re shades of gray. Do you take circumstances into account when you cast judgments on yourself? Did you learn something new even when you didn’t get the ideal result?
- The self-evaluation of perfectionists is never stable. They’re happy with themselves when everything’s going according to plan, and they hate themselves when life is only so-so. Learn to love yourself whatever happens.