Do you lack confidence in your work? Are you uncomfortable when you speak? Do you sometimes doubt your skills? You have just been promoted but you do not feel legitimate in this new position? You don't dare to assert yourself? Are you afraid of being rejected or of what others might think of you? Do you constantly ask yourself questions about yourself and about everything? You are unable to take initiative? You don't trust others and you can't fit in? What if it is a lack of self-confidence?
You should know that this is a vast and complex subject that affects 85% of the world's population (according to an article published on Forbes: "How self Worth affects your salary"). On the other hand, did you know that we are all born with the ability to be confident? So why do so many people suffer from a lack of self-confidence? It is in fact a process that appears as we go along in life: lived experiences, and labels that our parents, teachers, and entourage put on us or have put on us, which can diminish our self-confidence. However, there is no fatality, we can regain our self-confidence at any time provided we change certain ways of being and doing.
Before going into more detail, it is important to define self-confidence and self-esteem together and to highlight the differences and links.
- Self-confidence is an element that contributes to the development of self-esteem. However, without having good self-esteem, it is impossible to have full self-confidence. It is the fuel that will allow you to act, make decisions, believe in your abilities, dare, and assert yourself, your rights and your desires, in order to face complex situations.
- Self-esteem corresponds to the appreciation and personal evaluation that we make of ourselves. This allows us to know ourselves better and to have a rewarding perception of who we are. It can be fluctuating: thus according to the judgement which one carries on its acts, one can develop oneself by considering that what one made is valid, or on the contrary, devalue oneself.
The 4 Pillars of Self-Esteem
Source: Creative Dynamics
1. Why do we lack or lose self-confidence?
The good news is that awareness of our breaks, beliefs and blockages is the first step in any change and development of self-confidence.
1.1 Fear and negative thoughts: the "saboteurs”
The main enemy of self-confidence is fear. The development of self-confidence begins with the elimination of this "inner demon", which follows us everywhere and constantly whispers in our ears:
- "You won't succeed, don't try because you might make a mistake"
- Don't express your opinion or you will be judged".
As Shirzad Shamine, author of the book and test Positive Intelligence, says, "Our mind can be our friend but also our worst enemy ", and to better fight against our enemies it is important to be able to "identify" them. He calls this type of "demon", the enemy within the "SABOTEURS ".
He identifies several types of saboteurs and names the one mentioned above: the Saboteur "Judge Yourself". This saboteur is composed of beliefs and fears that limit our self-confidence and cause us disappointment, anger, regret, guilt, shame, stress, and anxiety.
He also identifies 2 other main Saboteurs:
- "Saboteur Judges Others"
- Saboteur Judges Circumstances" (events)
He also identifies 9 "Accomplice Saboteurs" who work in close collaboration with the "3 Saboteurs Judges".
1.2 Confidence and Fear are in opposition
- When fear is high, it blocks to trust.
- Conversely, when confidence is high and fear is low, individuals function better because it allows them to achieve a positive sense of self-worth.
In our social relationships, the 3 main fears are :
1- Being ignored: fear of not being recognised by others, not participating in their exchanges, not being integrated into their group. The challenge for the person: is to be included.
2- To be humiliated: fear of not being up to the challenge, of not being competent, of not knowing how to do things. What is at stake for the person: control
3- To be rejected: fear of not being appreciated as a person, of not being loved; not for reasons of competence or importance but for what the person is intimate. The challenge for the person: to open up to others
To regain confidence, the most important thing is to accept one's fears and to train oneself to play down the situation in order to project oneself into success.
2. What are the consequences of a lack of self-confidence?
As we have just seen, the lack of self-confidence is linked to fear and to our saboteurs that generate anxiety, stress, sadness, impossibility to reach our goals, resentment, and the feeling of never being good enough. If you don't sound the alarm and start taking action, you risk devaluing yourself and having imposter syndrome, which can also lead to burnout.
The "Self-judging saboteur" can have a significant impact on self-depreciation and consequently on self-esteem. This creates a real vicious circle.
See the diagram below :
The vicious circle of self-deprecation
Source: Daniele Simon
Personal monologues are sneaky. We don't always notice them, but they have a significant impact on our moods, beliefs and behaviours.
2.2 Imposter Syndrome
The impostor syndrome was revealed in 1978 by two psychologists, Pauline Clance and Susanne Imes. This phenomenon is expressed by the feeling of not deserving the place one occupies It has its origins in battered egos and the need to compare oneself to others. It creates uneasiness in the person concerned, a feeling of wanting to be perfect and can provoke disproportionate reactions such as exhaustion (hence the risk of burnout), which reinforces the feeling of incompetence, given the efforts made. Others become discouraged, underestimating their abilities and falling into procrastination.
The phenomenon of the impostor is widespread. In fact, psychologists estimate that 70% of people have been affected by this syndrome at least once in their lives. The impostor syndrome appears in particular during periods of transition: first degree, first job, a new course of study, important promotion...
Far from being limited to the world of work, impostor syndrome also affects family and social life. For example, in parents who underestimate their ability to take care of their children, or in a couple when the other person sends back an image of oneself that is considered to be too positive compared to the one you have.