By Vladimir Marchenko
Lack of self-confidence, fear, and shyness doesn’t let us enjoy life fully and develop our strong qualities. There can be many reasons for it, from the ones predisposed by our character to acquired ones, but all of those can be overcome even without professional phycological help.
What does confidence consist of
Self-confidence is a feeling and a trait of a personality that consists of several psychological aspects. The core of it is a positive evaluation of one's own skills and believing that one has sufficient abilities to achieve his goals and satisfy his needs. However, there also exists an extreme form of confidence characterised by a misjudge of one’s strengths and weaknesses which is called overconfidence.
Self-confidence consists of:
- adequate evaluation of yourself as a person and your strong and weak qualities;
- how much you depend on other people’s opinion;
- the ability not to react to negativity from other people;
- resistance to stress;
- satisfaction with your appearance, manners, way of speaking, etc.
Confidence comes with external factors (social status, recognition, money, making friends with celebrities, being acknowledged by the respected people in your society), and internal (subjective self-perception).
Why do we feel insecure
Insecurity is one of the manifestations of phobia, provoked by the reaction to external or internal stimuli. As a rule, we feel unconfident in specific situations: when speaking publicly and having a conversation with our boss, when we need to defend our consumer rights or have an interview for a high-paying job, etc. In more complex cases, insecurity is a defining characteristic of a person and present almost constantly in everything this person does or feels. In fact, such persons subconsciously hold on to stability of the environment they are in and a predictable way of things. This tendency especially increases with age, although there are exceptions. A person chooses a familiar comfort zone, even if it does not suit him anymore, instead of changing it.
Indecision is accompanied by certain emotions (fear, anxiety, depression, shyness) and thoughts (“I won't succeed,” “they will laugh,” “what if I stumble,” “it's too difficult for me”). This inner conversation is believed to be acquired based on the experiences of interacting with other people and situations in the past. Hence, it is the external causes that ultimately form a phycological portrait of the personality.
In some situations, especially when you are in an unknown environment or maybe meeting new people, or under some extreme conditions, discomfort is absolutely normal. In fact, the more unfamiliar a particular situation is and the less experience of being in similar conditions you have, the higher the feeling of insecurity will be. It is much worse when unconfidence is "chronic", and a person experiences fear in the most common circumstances, whether he needs to call the delivery or at work when the fear of making a mistake doesn’t let him perform even his daily tasks. In such cases, it is absolutely necessary to work with a professional therapist.
What causes insecurity
According to the popular psychological theories, the causes of our insecurities lie deep in our childhood. The way we were brought up by our parents and the environment around us, together with the characteristics of the personality, can form phycological wounds that affect us when we grow up. If a child is raised without adequate socialization at 3-4 years old, constantly being criticised by the parents in the absence of any encouragement, he becomes shy. In this case, he feels that every action of his meets disapproval and soon prefers to do nothing at all. In adulthood, this develops into insecurity and other psychological problems.
Other reasons for developing insecurities may be the following:
- defects in the appearance;
- psychological trauma;
- a quiet voice, rhotacism, lisping;
- poor health;
- family composition, size and atmosphere;
- the ratio of failures and successes during life;
- the level of stress resilience;
- financial instability;
- problems at home and at work, etc.
Thus, a person is born with a certain set of innate characteristics (appearance, character, health), on which his ability to adapt and the desire to change the environment around him depend on. As we grow older, from 3 to 18-25 years old, our psychology is being formed, while the events and emotional traumas of childhood and adolescence add up to the overall image of our personality. As a result, sometimes white spots can appear in this “phycological mosaic” that manifest in the form of a fear of public speaking (caused by rude taunts of classmates or relatives when trying to speak), fear of relationships (unhappy first love), fear of superiors (a dictatorial teacher who did not allow to take initiative or speak out), etc.
Signs of a person who feels insecure
You can easily spot an unconfident person even by his appearance. It is useful as while communicating with such a person you would be able to build rapport and win him over to your side. However, it is important also to pay attention to yourself and try to find out what signs of insecurity you may have. So, how to spot an insecure person?
1. Difficulties in communicating with strangers. Having a conversation with people you don’t know is a real test for an insecure person. This also implies the difficulties concerning having a long conversation and having long-term relationships.
2. Remaining silent when discussing topics and opinions one does not agree with. Even if the questions are of fundamental importance and highly concern to a person, he will remain silent and follow the opinion of the majority.
3. Hesitation before making decisions. It is almost impossible for insecure people to decide on any action, even if it’s the simplest choice, for example, of a hotel to spend summer holidays in. They shift the responsibility to others, asking for their advice and following it without critical thinking, and then also shift the blame if something went wrong.
4. Orientation towards other people. In order to get the approval of others, a person who feels deeply insecure tries to please everyone. He can postpone his own tasks, stay late at work, and do things instead of the others.
5. External signals such as avoiding eye contact, rounded posture, hunched shoulders, stiff gestures, very quick speech or mumbling, and looking at other people’s reactions.
How to overcome insecurities
It is not easy to get rid of constant hesitation and insecurity in one day, as regular self-development and improvement is necessary. At the same time, almost all people feel insecure at some points of their life, especially before performances and public presentations or in a company of complete strangers. More than a dozen methods to overcome insecurities are known, each of them by itself, or as part of a complex therapeutic approach can help become more confident. Here are the main ones:
1. "Shock therapy". From a psychological point of view, it may not be the best option, but it definitely works with some people. The essence of the approach is simple: just do it. For example, perform on the stage (come what may) or radically change your appearance and style. Confidence will follow naturally. For the successful implementation of the method, external support may be necessary, when a person can professionally guide you along a new path. A simpler option is just to go out of the comfort zone and step by step start doing what scares you the most.
2. "An increasing load" is the opposite method to the above mentioned. It implies systematically increasing the "critical mass" of stressful factors. Afraid to speak in public? Read a poem to one of your closest friends or a friendly neighbour. Increase the number of people in your audiences and, imperceptibly, it will be possible for you to perforn in front of a full hall without trembling. Afraid of heights? Climb one floor higher each time and soon you will find yourself on the top of a skyscraper.
3. "A good example." Observe confident persons and how they act in a stressful situation. A good example in front of you is capable of breaking down your internal barriers and increase your self-esteem. It will turn out that in frightening situations you can act confidently, and that your insecurities are completely groundless.
4. "What's wrong with me?" An unbiased analysis of your problems and behaviour helps to sort out both current issues and causes from the past. It can be difficult to self-assess cause-and-effect relationships of the issues that bother a person, so here it is better to use the help of a specialist - a psychologist or psychotherapist.
5. "Everything is in the past." Learning to let go of grievances, worries and failures of the past and not address them in the present is an important component of gaining self-confidence. Often, the roots of insecurity are in the unwillingness to say goodbye to the imposed beliefs like “I didn't succeed then, I won't succeed now”.
6. "It's not as important as it seems." Fear and doubt arise as a reaction to events that are loaded with importance and significance. It is crucial to drop it down and decrease the meaning of some social interactions. Of course, this does not mean a disregard for, for example, work or parental responsibilities. Instead, it implies an adequate evaluation of the importance of certain events and critical thinking.
7. "Do I really need this?" Often our mind is cluttered with all types of mental garbage: unnecessary instructions, duties at work, and so on. Without a clear understanding of what exactly needs to be done and what would be the profits, the mind continues to infinitely juggle all the pros and cons and often leans towards abandoning any activities. You need to think in a different way and create an understandable cause and effect chain. For example, “if I do not call the right person, I will not convince him, and the company will not receive funding, and, therefore, I will lose my wages or even work”. This train of thought is very motivating.
8. "I'm so good at what I do!" Learn how to reward yourself for your accomplishments. Even a small incentive prize will be enough to boost your self-esteem. As a more advanced option, you can also write down significant events and accomplishments in a diary, creating a vivid chronicle of your own victories.
9. "Visualize". By imagining how your life will change after letting go of insecurities, you are taking steps towards positive transformations. In fact, it may turn out that not that much effort is actually needed to achieve what you want. Career, healthy relationships, success and a pleasant hobby can be more achievable than you thought.
To increase self-confidence, we suggest trying affirmations (short motivational statements). This method of self-therapy is very effective and allows you to regain lost self-confidence and overcome insecurities in a short time. Affirmations are advised to be repeated out loud, you can even write them down every time or record your voice and listen to them when you need. A unique experience is offered by the Hypnopedia app, in which affirmations are reproduced while you sleep. It saves plenty of your time and brings results faster as motivational statements are perceived straight by your subconscious mind. The effect of such positive phrases stay with you after awakening, and the more regularly you use the app, the more your mental health will be pumped. You do not need to wake up to listen to the affirmations in the middle of the night as the application works on its own. It chooses the most efficient for perception time of your sleep to play the chosen affirmations. In addition, Hypnopedia app provides you also with a set of relaxing sounds and a smart alarm clock function built-in the application.Ссылка App Store
Let’s remember that insecurity is very subjective. A person that feels unconfident can be at least as good as the others or sometimes even more skilled. Some only need to have a little bit of faith in themselves, others will need to go a long way of dealing with insecurities. However, absolutely everyone can gain confidence, and this, in turn, will open the whole roadmap to changing your life in a positive way.