Self Confidence

Abiodun Akinlawon Written by Abiodun Akinlawon · 2 min read >

What is Self Confidence?

What does it mean to have low or no self-confidence? Well to me it’s an inability to be “myself” because I’m too focused on how I’m presenting myself rather than the actual situation.

A lot of articles I read on “fake it till you make it” were undoubtedly written by people who have no problem with being confident. Their advice ranged from “it’s as easy as acting!” to “stand-up tall and have open palms”

But amidst all the cliché suggestions, I found a little piece of evidence to suggest otherwise. Rather than focusing on yourself in a situation, i.e. trying to see yourself through the other person’s eyes, focus on the situation and the conversation. For example, if you’re about to meet someone for the first time here are some things you can follow:

1. Watch their behaviour, see how they stand up and walk towards you. Copy their facial expression, if they’re smiling — smile back!

2. What does their hand feel like when they shake yours? See if you enjoyed that experience — if you think they’re judging you for whatever reason, maybe you should also judge them.

3. When conversing, think about the substance of their words. What are they talking about? Do you have questions? Do you have a story to relate?

By following these somewhat mundane steps, you’re naturally more likely to make eye contact and nod your head at the appropriate times. Thus, without even meaning to, you’re giving off subtle hints that you’re interested and making use of positive body language. These little changes can lead you to not only appear confident but now that you’re engaged in the conversation you might just be confident! Asking questions, telling stories, nodding — it doesn’t take much to look (and maybe be) confident.

Self-confidence is not a constant, sometimes we’re able to shout out the answers in Chemistry and sometimes we’re not. But I’m hoping I can develop a strategy to help build self-confidence and to figure out why in some situations it can be fleeting. We can, however, fall into a vicious cycle.

The lower our self-confidence, the less likely we are to take risks. Without taking risks, we can’t see what we could potentially accomplish. So then we’re less likely to achieve the very success that would give us the confidence that we desperately need. The internet’s cliché advice? “Do what you believe in, even if you get laughed at!” I don’t see that happening anytime soon so I came up with an alternative.

Surround yourself with people who would do that, or at least with people who take risks. Being around positive and confident people can change your own perspective of yourself. And we might be able to just copy them in social situations like in the workplace or in Chemistry class. However, we won’t always get to choose the people we surround ourselves with. And often, they can be the problem. Maybe it’s a microaggression from a colleague which is making you doubt your abilities for a presentation, or maybe it’s a nasty girl in your Chemistry class. If this is the case, you could approach the person and have a conversation about it. You could tell the HR department, you could tell your teacher. Or you could just tell yourself. Make yourself aware that they are what’s making you nervous and with that knowledge, know that they are the problem — not you. Perhaps this is all you need to combat your nerves and be confident for that period of time. Perhaps it isn’t a person making you nervous but rather your own uncertainty. So you can, and should, practice. If it’s an interview or a presentation, practice in the mirror. We’re our own worst critics anyway so we should use that to our advantage to make ourselves better. I also found that doing things secretly can build confidence. I started this blog without anyone knowing (maybe one or two people) and as I became more confident in my writing and my content, I started to tell more people about it.

Self-confidence is obviously situational and highly dependent on the people we’re around at the time. During the dips, don’t be put off just because your first attempt went wrong. Try to address what is causing your low self-confidence. It’s not always your fault but unfortunately, a symptom of low self-confidence is being overly self-critical. But, if you can, see if it’s another factor leading to your lack of self-confidence and address it. It’s important to first forgive yourself and be understanding. Nervousness and self-doubt are normal. Be kind to yourself.

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