Self-Confidence, What Is It And How Do I Get It?
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What Is It And How Do I Get It?

By Alan B. Densky, CH

A social phobia is a fear of interacting with others on a social level. Examples would be imagining others are looking at you while waiting in line at a checkout, talking in front of other people, or even fear of talking on the phone.

Self-confidence is an attitude which allows individuals to have positive, yet realistic views of themselves and their situations. Self-confident people trust their own abilities, have a general sense of control over their lives, and believe that, within reason, they will be able to do what they want to do.

Self-confidence is an attitude that is learned through experiences.  When a person experiences success, that person will tend to expect to be successful.  And that expectation will cause a feeling of confidence.

For example: A young man wants to learn how to be a prizefighter, so he takes lessons, and gets a manager.  His manager will not put him into the ring until he has built up enough stamina and skill.  And even then, the manager will only put him up against a competitor that he knows his fighter can beat.  When his fighter beats the opponent, he is successful, and starts to gain confidence in his abilities. 

With each contest, the manager puts his fighter up against an opponent who is a slightly better fighter than the last, but not good enough to beat his man.  By the end of the third fight, the young prizefighter begins to expect to win his fourth, and so his confidence continues to grow.  This scenario continues to repeat itself.  And as long as the fighter wins, his expectations of success, and his feelings of self-confidence will continue to grow.

Similarly, a young lady who is afraid of heights wants to learn to dive into a swimming pool from a high diving board.  So she finds a diving coach who asks her to jump into the pool from the first step of the ladder up to the high board. The first step of the ladder isn't very high, so the young lady feels no fear, and she jumps from that step, and lands in the water unharmed. 

Next, the coach has her jump from the second step of the ladder, and so forth.  I think that you are beginning to get the picture.  With each additional step up the ladder, since the girl was successful on the previous step, and this next step is only slightly higher than the last, the fear factor is negligible, and the girl expects to be successful.  When she jumps in and lands unharmed, the girl's confidence grows, and her expectation of success on the next step up the ladder increases.

If a person who has a long history of success and feelings of self-confidence does fail, they still tend to expect success the next time out.  Conversely, when a person who is weak in the self-confidence department fails, they tend to lose confidence, and begin to expect failure, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Having true self-confidence doesn't mean that individuals will be able to do everything.  People, who have true self-confidence, usually have expectations that are realistic. Even when some of their expectations are not met, they continue to be positive and to accept themselves.

People, who are not self-confident, tend to depend excessively on the approval of others in order to feel good about themselves. They tend to avoid taking risks because they fear failure.  They often put themselves down and tend to discount or ignore compliments that they do receive.

Conversely, self-confident people are willing to risk the disapproval of others because they generally trust their own abilities. They tend to accept themselves; and they don't feel they have to conform in order to be accepted.

Just because a person feels self-confidence in one or more aspects of their life, doesn't mean that they will feel confident in every part of their life.  For example, a person might feel confident about their athletic ability, but not feel confident where members of the opposite sex are involved, such as in a dating situation, or social relationships.

Self-Confidence, How Is It Developed?

Many factors affect the development of self-confidence. Parents' attitudes are crucial to the way children feel about themselves, particularly in their early years. When parents provide acceptance, children receive a solid foundation for good feelings about themselves. If one or both parents are excessively critical or demanding, or if they are overprotective and discourage moves toward independence, children may come to believe they are incapable, inadequate, or inferior.

However, if parents encourage a child's moves toward self-reliance, and they are not overly critical when the child makes mistakes, the child will learn to accept herself, and will be on the way to developing self-confidence.

A lack of self-confidence is not necessarily related to a lack of ability.  A lack of self-confidence is often the result of focusing too strongly on the unrealistic expectations of others, especially parents and friends. The influence of friends can be more powerful than those of parents in shaping the feelings about one's self.

Assumptions that Continue to Influence Self-Confidence

In response to external influences, people develop assumptions; some of these are constructive and some are harmful. Several assumptions that can interfere with self-confidence and alternative ways of thinking are:

ASSUMPTION: I must always be successful at everything that I do.  This is a totally unrealistic assumption. In real life, each person has their strengths, and their weaknesses.  While it's important to learn to do the best that one can, it's more important to learn to accept the self as being human, and fallible.  Feel good about what you are good at, and accept the fact that no one knows everything, or is an expert at everything. 

ASSUMPTION: I must be perfect, and loved by everyone, and satisfy everyone.  Again, this is a totally unrealistic assumption.  All human beings are imperfect.  It's better to develop personal standards and values that are not completely dependent on the approval of others.

ASSUMPTION: Everything that happened to me in the past, remains in control of my feelings and behaviors in the present.

ALTERNATIVE: While it is true that your confidence was especially vulnerable to external influences during your childhood, as you grow older, you can gain awareness and perspective on what those influences have been. In doing so, you can choose which influences you will continue to allow to have an effect on your life. You don't have to be helpless in the face of past events.

Here are some Strategies for Developing Confidence

Emphasize Your Strengths. Give yourself credit for everything you can do.  And give yourself credit for every new thing that you are willing to try. 

Take Risks. Adopt the attitude of:  I never fail, because there are NO failures.  However, sometimes I learn what doesn't work, and once I've learned what doesn't work in a given situation, I can try something else.

Use Self-Talk. Use self-talk as an opportunity to counter harmful assumptions. Then, tell yourself to stop and substitute more reasonable assumptions. For example, when you catch yourself expecting perfection, remind yourself that no one can do everything perfectly, and that it's only possible to do things to the best of your ability. This allows you to accept yourself while still striving to improve.

Self-Evaluate. Learn to evaluate yourself independently. Avoid the constant sense of chaos that comes from relying too much on the opinions of others.

How Can Hypnosis Help Increase Feelings Of Self-Confidence?

Because self-confidence is a trait that is learned and rooted in the unconscious mind, both hypnosis and NLP can be invaluable tools.  Both modalities can make it possible to quickly change the negative beliefs one has that are causing them to see themselves in a negative light. 


NLP has some especially powerful tools for quickly modifying belief systems.  When a person believes that they are a winner, they feel confident, and this feeling literally makes them a winner.  Many of these tools are used in the Neuro-VISIONĀ® Self-Confidence! program. You can read the review of this program submitted by three independent reviewers at the site in England.

© 2007By Alan B. Densky, CH.  This document may NOT be re-printed without permission. All Rights Reserved.  We are happy to syndicate our articles to approved websites.

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