High Levels of Self-Confidence are Important - But Why?

Simply because it determines how much you achieve in life and because it has a major impact on your happiness. Self confidence can be defined as your assessment of your own self-worth. This is more or less the same as your self-esteem. And that is closely related to the discrepancy between your self-image (how you see yourself) and your ideal self (how you would ideally like to be). The bigger the gap, the less confident you are.

We have an educational system which thrives on achievement. Unfortunately, there seems to be a deep urge in us all to compete, whether that's in the field of sport, or intellectual achievement, or some other area of human endeavor. I say "unfortunately" because the rewards of being first among equals can only go to one person - and the others may then experience a reduction in self-esteem and self-confidence.

It's as if life is a zero sum game: every achievement that raises one person's self-esteem diminishes another's - if they see not being "top" or "first" as failure. If they're indifferent to success in that field, then it's unlikely to affect their confidence or self-esteem.

We make no effort to protect our children from the loss of confidence that can result from being forced to take part in sports or classes for which they have no aptitude. If a child is forced to take part in sports against their desires - which of course no adult would ever be forced to do (perhaps another example of how little we fundamentally respect children, and how little effort we make to build up their confidence by seeking out the things they are good at and may excel in) - then the constant sense of failure may lead to loss or lack of self-confidence as the child's sense of failure and the resultant lack of self-esteem is constantly reinforced.

And self-confidence enables a person to take risks, to challenge themselves and move on to new achievements: it provides the belief that if things go wrong, they can be put right, that you have enough resources to deal with the unexpected and unknown aspects of the situation.

High and Low Confidence Levels

A lack of confidence, or being under-confident, will prevent a person taking risks, from accepting new challenges, from stretching themselves beyond their existing comfort zone.

On the other hand, over-confidence can lead to failure: a person may not prepare for an event and then perform badly. Or they may over-estimate their skill or knowledge in a particular field and then fail to perform adequately.

There's a circle of success here, of course: success breeds confidence, confidence builds success. But there needs to be an element of reality in that process - high self-confidence comes from a realistic assessment of your chances of success, followed by a performance that matches or exceeds your expectations. The practical side of this equation is having a good knowledge of what you're doing, skills that complement your level of attainment and knowledge, and the physical fitness required to actually perform. Holding negative expectations around sexual relationships is a very good way to make them fail to love up to any standard worth achieving! (But then again, so is not dealing with sexual problems such as premature ejaculation, retarded ejaculation, or lack of orgasm.)

Furthermore, your assessment of success shouldn't be on the basis of whether or not you "won", it should be on the basis of whether or not you achieved or exceeded your personal goals.

A lack of confidence leads to a fear of failure, self-doubt, and negative expectations. You'll be unwilling to take risks, and you may find that you blame yourself when the fault is not yours. One useful way of overcoming these problems is to use visualization techniques to reframe the way you see yourself and your abilities.

Over-confidence can be just as damaging - following the lead of someone who does not have your best interests at heart, or who has an overstated opinion of your abilities can set you up for massive failure and then a devastating loss of confidence. A good coach will recognize the real skills and abilities of his or her pupils and set their expectations to match.

Goal Setting Will Help Build Your Self-Confidence

The reason that goal setting works so well in building confidence is that it provides you with a measurable way of seeing how you're doing and then building on the success you enjoy by setting new, slightly more challenging goals. When you achieve these goals, using the skills and knowledge you've accumulated on the way, you experience a reinforcement of your confidence and a boost to your self-esteem.

By having a realistic understanding of what you can do, you don't set yourself up for failure, and you are more likely to enjoy the virtuous circle of goal setting - reinforcement - success - positive feedback - greater confidence.

We have seen many men who suffer from very low self-esteem around sexual issues completely transform their perspective when they go through male initiation rituals to give them a sense of belonging to society - or being fully in their maleness. The same is true for women. You can read about male initiation here - www.maleinitiation.org - and you can read abut female rites of passage here - www.transitionseurope.com. Both these processes allow people to be more confident about their role in society and their internal map of the world.

Imagery, Positive Thinking, and Suggestion Will Help Build Your Self-Confidence

Imagery is a useful tool and can help to boost confidence provided you're not imagining goals that are actually beyond your physical abilities. Think of it this way - if you imagine that you will go to the moon, the question is - do you have the desire to do so? Do you have the physical fitness? In other words, there has to be an element of belief and an element of expectancy about your goals. You can't just imagine something improbable and expect it to happen - you have to be motivated, you have to believe, and you have to expect it will happen. Then, imagery can overcome any lack of progress towards a goal caused by a lack of confidence or low self-esteem.

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