Dealing With and Overcoming The Lack of Self Confidence
See also Overcoming Low self esteem When we lack confidence it can seem both crippling and impossible to solve. And yet, confidence is actually a function of fear. Fear is an emotion that arises from our mind evaluating a situation as threatening or harmful. This process is a 'thinking process' and if you turn this thinking on its head and see that lack of confidence is really nothing more than an excess of fear then the challenge is merely to evidence test the thoughts that make you fearful.
Confused? Consider an example: If I had to cook a meal for my family I would be perfectly confident of tackling the task. I know I am a good cook and it's a task I have done many times successfully. However, if I had to cook a four course dinner for twelve guests I would now feel less confident because although I like cooking and can probably do it I would be anxious about cooking such large quantities at once and unsure I could get all the elements of the meal together in time. If I don't know the people I would be unsure of them liking my style of cooking even though my family enjoy it.
I would fear disapproval and criticism. But I'd probably be OK and could probably do it – I'd be less confident though (ie: more fearful). Ultimately, there is of course a limit to my confidence as a chef: if someone asked me to take over a restaurant kitchen for the night I know I would fail. Now I would lack confidence even though I know I am a good cook – this task is beyond my ability and I would fear the disapproval of others and the idea of looking incompetent. Note how negative beliefs and feared negative outcomes drive the apparent lack of confidence.
Cognitive behavioural therapy can help develop your self-confidence by addressing these negative self beliefs and helping you learn more assertive and adaptive behaviours. Recognising the thinking process that leads you to feel fearful or threatened by a situation gives you the power to control it. When we have risk-assessed the situation accurately we can then have a more realistic level of confidence in our ability to manage it. Another example will illustrate this point.
Many people lack confidence in meetings or when required to speak in public and I'm not immune to this anxiety. When I present my research at conferences, like most people I get anxious before going on stage. I have to fight an internal battle between the part of me that 'lacks the confidence' (fears disapproval, fears making mistakes, fears losing my place, fears looking foolish) and the part of me that knows I have prepared well, have done this successfully before and that even if I don't give a 'perfect' performance the audience is likely to forgive me as long as most of the presentation is interesting.
Using CBT techniques to manage my emotional process helps me give a more 'confident' and therefore effective performance. If you suffer shyness and or a lack of self confidence you probably realise that that this can impact negatively on your career as well as your ability to enjoy social settings with friends. Therapy can help you overcome the negative thinking patterns and help you develop tools and skills to be more confident – whether that is at work or in social settings. The next step will involve you finding a therapist near you: If you are in South Wales
For other parts of the UK counselling directory.org will help you find a therapist near your postcode – but remember to ask the therapist how much experience they have of dealing with this issue and how confident they are of being able to help you.