Self-Belief – It’s an Inside Job!

A quick survey to begin with…..

Hands up if you are confident?

Hands up if you feel confident?

Hands up if you know someone who is confident?

Hands up if you think that person would put their hand up to the first or second questions?

Maybe we need to first explore where confidence is located.  A word sometimes used to describe children, “confidence” commonly comes up in the context of reports or parents’ evenings at school – identifying children who seem confident or children who may benefit from developing confidence. Confidence is a noun.  Surely only the person who owns it or lacks it can make a statement about it?  So if it comes from within, how can it be bestowed upon us by others?  If confidence is internal, linked to our own feelings and thoughts, then how can anyone else label us “confident”? And if they label us as such, does it really mean anything?

I can think of good friends and colleagues described by many as “confident”, yet I know in reality they have an underlying diminished sense of self-belief.  As children, I think the two concepts – self-belief and confidence – go hand in hand.  Children who appear to possess confidence often have a strong sense of self-belief, grounded in good attachments to key adults who believe in the child wholeheartedly.

Perhaps for some children who started out with self-belief and confidence fully interconnected, somewhere along the line the self-belief gradually falls away as they grow up.  Reasons for this might include external messages in society, personal experiences, effects of trauma and the challenges of everyday life.  When the self-belief begins to erode, the appearance of confidence sometimes remains completely intact, though now it is no longer barnacled to anything.  Now, the confidence the world sees is merely an external illusion of what a confident person looks like, ingrained behaviour, rehearsed over years and perhaps used at times to disguise or even conceal for some the self-doubt which now resides where the self-belief of their childhood once did.  It does not necessarily mean the person is full of fear and anxiety, though some maybe are – these people may develop really strong acting skills, working hard to feign confidence in all situations while quivering inside.  For the rest though, their confident behaviour is likely natural and genuine, and they carry it off effortlessly.  Perhaps they have separated out the behaviour related to looking confident from the deep sense of believing in themselves and their own capability so the behaviour can stand alone, in absence of the self-belief.  They seem confident, appear confident and are described as confident people by those around them.  But as the light of self-belief inside them has long since gone out, their presentation of confidence becomes just part of their daily wardrobe, no longer firmly rooted deep inside.

Intent on ensuring there is always a sparkly handful of hope-filled-sprinkles in my blog, here it comes; the beacon of self-belief within you, can always be re-lit.  The tricky part is no one can relight the beacon for a person, only they can do it for themselves. Self-belief doesn’t come in a jar on a shop shelf, indeed if it did, it would be a top seller!  But self-belief which has been reduced, damaged or washed away altogether over time, can be restored.  When self-belief begins to shine brightly once more, perhaps then the person can truly own their confidence again rather than it just being something others tell them they have.

If your self-belief beacon needs lighting again, in your own way at the time that is right for you, you can do it.  In fact, if you are still reading…..perhaps you have just made a start.

PS – Here are the sparkly sprinkles of hope to remind you xx