Self-belief vs. Confidence: The foundation of growing as a person

Believing in yourself is the foundation of confidence, because of this your confidence can’t drop below whatever your level of self-belief is. So, even if you’re in a complicated situation where your confidence is shaky, you can overcome it if your self-belief is strong enough.

Believing in yourself is when you can acknowledge and trust your own talents, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. I know it sounds weird, but yes I think knowing your weaknesses is a part of believing in yourself. For example, if you’re getting ready to run a triathlon and you know your weakness is swimming, but you’re okay in the other areas, you know to work on your swimming or try twice as hard in the other areas in order to make up for it. By knowing your weakness, you’re able to believe in yourself to overcome it or compensate for it. Maybe you’re very motivated as an entrepreneur and are talented in a lot of different areas, but you realize that you aren’t good at editing your photos and creating graphics for your business. This is your weakness. But you also notice that while most of your fellow entrepreneurs have to pay someone to manage their finances, you excel in this area. This is your strength. By knowing your weakness, you can make the choice to either spend time learning how to become better in your graphic design or you could pay a freelancer to do it for you.

As you learn about your strengths and weaknesses your self-belief increases, because that means there are less unknowns that can come up and shake your confidence. For example, let’s say you hadn’t taken the time to notice that the photos you’re editing and graphics you make aren’t so great and someone tells you, “Your photos and graphics look ugly”. This would probably catch you off guard, hurt your feelings, and when you look at your stuff and realize that they are kind of right it could damage your confidence because at this point your self-belief isn’t that high because you haven’t recognized all of your strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand let’s say you’ve noticed the poor quality of your graphic design skills and are preparing to hire someone to help you or you’ve started practicing tutorials you’ve found on YouTube. This has added another little layer to your foundation of self-belief. If someone says your graphics are ugly, it won’t bother you as much because: 1. You already know there’s a problem with the graphics. 2. You are resolving the problem. 3. You know it’s going to be fixed soon. Your confidence isn’t going to be affected as much as it would’ve been in the first scenario. In fact your confidence may actually have increased, because you found a problem and are working to resolve it which can feel empowering. 

Self-belief is when you acknowledge your abilities and talents and when you trust in them. Continuing on from the scenario I used as an example earlier about the person who is good at financial stuff, self-belief means that you would be able to accurately identify that you are talented when it comes to dealing with financial stuff. This gives you a solid reason to trust your instincts in other areas which in turn builds your confidence.

Confidence comes in when you’re in the middle of a conversation or situation and you’re trying to figure out best how to respond or deal with what’s going on. Confidence can move up and down over the course of a conversation or when you’re dealing with something, but it can never drop below your level of self-belief.

What this means is when someone has low self-esteem or low self-confidence, they don’t need to be told to “get confident” or to “build their confidence”. What they actually need is for someone to tell them and show them how to build their self-belief. Obviously it depends on the person as to where they should start building their self-belief. Wherever you start building your self-belief it will spread to every other area of your life. For one person they may need to build their self-belief in a sport, another may need to build it in their dancing, while another person may want to start building their self-belief in their ability to manage their bills and spending.

How does building my self-belief in one area help the rest of my life?

Have you ever started some type of challenge, and actually finished it? Maybe you started a really big homework project and finished it earlier and got a good grade on it. Or maybe you set a goal to lose ten pounds and you did it. It probably made you feel accomplished and more confident in yourself and your ability to complete something and this confidence spilled over into other areas of your life.

Let’s say you set five goals for yourself:

  1. Read 15 books in one year
  2. Get in shape to run two miles non-stop
  3. Travel to five new places
  4. Save $10,000

If you actually complete all of these goals, you will have proven to yourself that you are capable of starting and finishing something, and overcoming doubt, frustration, and exhaustion (physically, emotionally and mentally). By proving all of this to yourself there is another level of strength added to your foundation of self-belief which in turn builds up your confidence. Now when you are faced with another challenge, even if you are frightened of it and your confidence is shaky your self-belief will be strong enough for you to overcome that challenge.

Let’s say you are offered a huge new project that is bigger than anything you’ve ever done. Your confidence may sink and you may start to doubt yourself. BUT you can stop those thoughts by saying, “I believe that I can do this, because I read 15 books in a year even though I thought I couldn’t because of how busy I am. And I can run two miles non-stop faster than I ever thought possible. That means that I can probably overcome this challenge too”.

Being critical or negative about yourself is often worse than if someone else said it to you.

A lot of people don’t lack confidence because they lack knowledge, they lack confidence because they know that they lack knowledge and haven’t done anything about it. Because of this they don’t trust their instincts, maybe because they have never tried even to do something about it or because they have tried and failed and didn’t try again. All of this leaves them with little or no self-belief.  

How can I start growing my self-belief and confidence?

Put simply never stop learning and finish what you start. Set little goals and finish them, as the goals get easier and you finish them, start setting bigger and bigger goals. You’ll have to experiment to see what size and what kinds of goals you need to set. For example, if you have trouble finishing what you start, begin with small goals. If you’re already fairly good at finishing what you start; start with bigger goals. Keep a list of goals you set and check them off as you finish them, this way if you’re confidence is ever feeling kind of low you can look at the list and remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Start wherever you’re at, even if the goal seems dumb write it down. Set a goal to be on time to every single meeting for the next month. Set a goal to stop drinking soda for a month. Set a goal to read ten pages a day for a month. Set a goal to work out three times a week. It doesn’t matter what the goal is that you set, make sure you DO IT. What if you fail at the goal? Start over. What if you fail at doing something and embarrass yourself? Try again, and again, and again until you find a way that works that doesn’t embarrass you.

Start by trying things that are slightly challenging than something you’re already good at. For example, let’s say you can already run three miles, start to train so you can beat your previous personal record. These tips will also help you if you have high confidence, but it shatters when the smallest thing goes wrong. For example, you’re confident in a group of people talking, but when someone asks a question you answer. But then someone points out you’re wrong and suddenly you find yourself shutting down and retreating into a shell, not wanting to interact any further.

So many people lack confidence, not because of what others have said about them or done to them, but because of what they have said and haven’t done to and for themselves. Being critical or negative about yourself is often worse than if someone else said it to you.

I hope you were able to find this helpful and take away at least a tiny bit of information from it. <3

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