Being confident comes easily to a few people, while the rest of put on a face and try to project confidence. Research shows that people who suffer from low self-esteem and are underconfident, tend to treat themselves badly. But how can you fix this situation? How can you beat underconfidence? So let’s move on to some of the core questions that stem in your mind before you move onto the path of building up your confidence. We are sharing some ways you can beat the blues of underconfidence in your work and personal life.
Have you ever found yourself being too modest? Underconfidence takes place when we dial down our achievements and focus on the things we can’t do well instead. So afraid of being bias towards ourselves, that we turn to the other extreme and deliberately shy away from opportunities. This includes overanalyzing physical appearance and never considering yourself ‘good enough’.
Hügelschäfer and Achtziger in the Journal Of Economic Psychology stated that women tend to be more underconfident because they have a realistic mindset and hence, they scrutinize their every move. Being self-aware often takes a toll if not balanced well and leads to second questioning everything you do.
In his book, The Self Esteem, Dr. Joe Rubino states that 85% of the population suffers from underconfidence and that people with a lack of self-confidence are likely to:
- Be indecisive
- Procrastinate more
- Consumed by the fear of failure
- Suffer from uncomfortable feelings that keep them from reaching their full potential
In hindsight, underconfident people are more likely to ask themselves questions like, “What if I fail?” and “What if I embarrass myself in front of all these people?” If you often find yourself asking these questions, fret not, because the path to confidence isn’t as difficult as it seems.
One of the things that makes me feel underconfident is putting myself out there and fearing that I will be under appreciated. When it comes to physical appearance, I am very conscious of my teeth and often don’t smile toothily in my pictures for the same reason. - Sayunkta Jain, Senior Fashion Writer
While I don’t quite overthink most emotions and feel underconfident over them, my physical appearance does make a difference. For example, when I end up in a situation where I don’t look my best and am not taken seriously because of that. When I’m well dressed and looking good, it immediately boosts my confidence. - Srishti Gupta, Junior Lifestyle Editor
Meeting new people makes me feel under-confident, especially if they’re in a position of power. And also speaking in public, during presentations and at a workplace can get to me. - Nayan Das, Junior Content Manager
I am not a person who gossips, so when I realize I have somehow become a topic of conversation, it makes me feel underconfident. At a younger age, if people looked at me for more than a minute or so, I used to become conscious. I'm not used to people looking at me so when they do, I often feel, something's not right and that pulls out the under-confident version of me. Also, when I'm asked to speak, I lose all the words. My brain and heart are attentive and are filled with words but my mouth, nah, nothing, nada. My mouth is never ready with words, so if I'm suddenly asked to speak, my reaction looks like I've just woken up from a dream but that's never true. - Chhavi Powar, Senior Trending Writer
Being a curvy girl, I feel underconfident when I wear bodycon dresses or something sleeveless. Just regular image issues that I have been trying to move past and so far, have been pretty successful. - Arunima Rustagi, Senior Fashion Writer
I feel underconfident when I am interacting with new people for the first time and I know that I'll have to do so with them in the near future also. I'm quiet around them because I don't know what should I talk about that would interest them. I tend to overthink and that's what makes me uneasy and underconfident in such situations. - Niyati Budhiraja, Lifestyle Writer
It's really easy to feel unconfident, whenever someone critiques me or keeps on pointing out my mistakes. It crushes my confidence and partly because I let it affect me, which I shouldn't. - Cathline Chen, Lifestyle Writer
We’ve heard it time and again, ‘Confidence is the key,’ but how does it actually make a difference? Confidence is relying on yourself and having faith in your capabilities, and having an overall positive outlook about yourself. Who wouldn’t want that? Having confidence makes it easy to navigate around difficult situations, and having faith in yourself makes it easy to get up when you fall down.
According to international life coach Rebekah Fensome, cultivating confidence in your life is the key to a successful career. A confident worker is more likely to take on new projects, exploring her/his self-worth and pushing boundaries. Someone who is sure of himself or herself will accomplish more on their path to prove themselves.
In your personal life, being underconfident can reflect negatively on the relationships you share with people, be it your significant other, your parents, your siblings or even your friends. Here are a few ways underconfidence can affect your personal life.
1. Need Saving
With low confidence, people are more likely to look for a knight in shining armor to save them. They believe they are ill-equipped to save themselves.
2. Second Guessing
Does this person love me? Are my parents on my side? Is my best friend looking for ways to get away from me? Questions like these often pop into the head of someone who isn’t confident. It also stems from the fear of being abandoned and alone.
Be it talking in front of a large crowd or trusting someone you love with your time and commitment, you always have your shields up. Being underconfident leads to trust issues and fear of being unloved in most relationships, including the one you share with your partner.
4. Seeking Flaws
‘We accept the love we think we deserve,’ a line from one of my favourite books, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower puts it very well. Lack of self-confidence gravitates you towards someone who is insecure and treats you the way you often treat yourself.
As a gawky teenager, I had braces, wore glasses and was (for a lack of a better word) a nerd. Of course, I’m not 13 anymore. I have a job I love, people who care about me and I enjoy the life I’m living. But that doesn’t always translate to being confident. My voice fumbles at public gatherings, I can’t socialize without overthinking my outfit and hair, and I even practice my lines before making a phone call to Swiggy.
I still remember that chubby 13-year-old girl who was bullied for being herself.
There are a few things that helped me understand that if you fake confidence, you can actually find the way to get there. I started by mimicking the greats. I admire how women like Emma Watson, my mother and my boss carry themselves. They speak with a sense of authority like they are in control of the situation at all times. My mother bargaining with our vegetable vendor is the epitome of badassness, her oozing confidence makes his rates fall in a heartbeat. That’s who I strive to be.
Sending positivity out in the universe works. I started by telling myself that I was so much more than just a chubby kid, sticking little quotes on my mirror which I look at first thing in the morning.
I made a list of things I’m good at and have achieved in my life. Surprisingly, the list was quite long and made me feel better about my accomplishments. Including a small victory of going out at night with my friends without flaking at the last moment.
My fear of never being taken seriously stopped me from asking questions in a public setting. But I’ve actually started making it a point to answer and ask questions when I’m in a group. When I do get answered or appreciated, it acts as an instant self-confidence booster.
Empowering myself with knowledge helped me find new topics to discuss when I’m feeling uncomfortable with strangers. Also, I now have a bunch of random fun-facts that get me a laugh from my friends and partner, always appreciate that.
From braiding my hair in a new style to making brilliant coffee, I began concentrating on the things that actually matter, things I do very well. I began writing more than I usually do, even putting out a few of my poetry pieces on social media. Not only did it lead to being appreciated, but it also made me realize that everyone is good at something, you just have to find that one thing.
But this is just the beginning of my journey and if you are ready to start yours, here are a few habits that you can incorporate in your life and learn how to be confident.
Just like you are spending time reading this article, it helps to study about something that has been bothering you. It’s like sizing up your enemy and finding a way to tackle it. So read about how to be confident, about confident women and how they overcame the beast called underconfidence.
It helps to put yourself out there. Start small, by doing one thing that makes you feel underconfident, once a week. In my case, it would mean socializing and meeting new people. Or publishing a piece of my writing I’m not a 100% confident about. It helps you ease into the situation and you realise that every obstacle can be tackled.
Wear a cute dress or shirt and put on your favorite lipstick! Even if you’re going to spend Friday night watching Netflix (the best, in my opinion), dress up for yourself.
Professor Karen J. Pine, of the University of Hertfordshire, wrote in her book, Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion that, “When we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it.” So when you put on a little black dress in bed, your brain assumes you’re ready to party. In my case, it tells me that people are coming over, it fixes my posture, puts me in a good mood and makes me look forward to my night.
This isn’t a contradiction to the previous point, rather an extension of it. Wearing what you love, in terms of colour or a watch or even your favourite shoes, can help you deal with an otherwise underconfident situation. Think of it as your good luck charm - wear something that makes you feel like you’re in the comfort of your home.
Make a list of everything about yourself that makes you feel under confident because getting to know yourself is the best way to help yourself. Get to know your enemy before going into battle, remember? The deeper you dig, the more things you’ll find to love and analyze. Writing a journal and penning down your negative thoughts can help you get them in order.
It’s one thing to think positive, completely another to act that way. Put positivity in your everyday actions. In the way, you write, talk and even behave. Start small by saying yes to new things, to meeting new people and taking on new projects. Face the challenge head on. Every night, pen down all the things you are grateful for in this Gratitude Journal (Rs 249) and look at the brighter side.
One of those habits that will help you fake it till you make it. People in authority speak slowly as it shows confidence. It changes how people perceive you, and in return changing how you see yourself. Of course, don’t sound like a turtle but don’t rush with ideas that you’re sharing, especially at work.
I have a terrible posture, which is metaphoric for all the weight I have on my shoulder. Just kidding, what my posture has taught me is that fixing it, actually helps lift your confidence. The few moments of standing tall make me feel like I can take on the world! Shoulders back, spine straight, eyes on the prize.
Just so you can pat your back when you achieve them! Most people shoot for the moon and lose self-confidence when things fall through. Aim high, but not across the sky. Set small goals for yourself so you can achieve them and enjoy the adrenaline rush.
Again, start small. It could be just as simple as not smoking for a day, waking up 15 minutes early to meditate, making time for your family or a book. Simple little things that could make you feel a million bucks when you achieve them.
If a problem arises, focus on the solution instead of thinking about the problem and stretching it. ‘I have a long day ahead,’ so how can plan for it beforehand and make sure you have a fruitful day. Solutions also make you feel great because you are equipped with all the tools you need to handle your problem.
Put your phone away and get some me time while you take a walk in the park. Yes, this is that one thing that helps you in every way possible. It not only gives you some alone time, so you can bond with yourself, it also makes you feel and look great, another confidence booster!
Messy table leads to a messy mind, I sound like my mother! But cleaning up gives you the illusion that you are being productive, which gives you confidence and leads to a better day ahead.
Do you know that most of us get the proverb wrong? "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” So if you’re scared to step into something new, a project or a relationship, take the leap because when you come out rejoicing, it will give you a boost of confidence!
A great way to seem inviting, if you have issues interacting with new people as I do! A smile can fix almost everything, so why should under confidence be any different.
Practice makes perfect. I usually practice my lines way in advance. Expect the nervousness and visualize success. As an inherently shy kid, I learned that the best way to ace public speaking is to interact with the audience, that way it turns into a conversation and not a daunting task. Also, the more you speak in public, the better you get at it. So, never pass an opportunity to take the stage.
You can start by creating a comfortable environment for yourself. Take with you a little plant, your favourite pen or a quirky notebook. This helps you relax when you look at familiar things around you. Also, keep your eyes on the ball. Stay focused on that one task on hand and don’t get involved in office gossip.
Identify your strengths and focus on them. For example, you’re a hard worker and don’t mind working late hours or you are patient and can stay don’t panic when faced with a problem. We all have the underlying strength that can make us better workers.
The first step is to know your self-worth and value it. Love yourself, embrace yourself and be proud of your characteristics. Be an individual even when you are involved with someone. Focus on the positive aspects of your relationship and be secure about your partner.
Everyone jitters on their first date, but that can be easily tackled. Talk about the weather, ask the person how their day was, start a conversation that is generic and will flow naturally. The other person isn’t here to judge you, nor are you on the date to judge them, so keep your mind open. Also, it helps to remember that this first date doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to end up in a relationship. If you’re uncomfortable, you can always tell the other person so and end it amicably.
As you’ve probably gathered from the article, I’m pretty awkward and under confident at social gatherings. What helps me is to remember that I have friends who I can rely on. Even if I’m alone, I just drop them a text and ask them to be with me throughout the evening.
I am capable of making social contact and keeping that in mind is the key to be confident in my social skills. If you’ve done it once, you can always achieve it again.
People who are underconfident have a very harsh and critical view of themselves, which leads to them over analysing themselves. And finding faults in the little things they do, leading to low self-esteem. For example, I may not be a bad writer but comparing myself to J.K. Rowling often makes me feel like my work isn’t good enough. But the truth is, we’re all good at what we do if we give ourselves the credit due without comparing and over critiquing.
1. Beat The Negativity
Surround yourself with positive people who are happy with their job because that inherently forces you to think positively and focus on the good yourself. Also, steering clear of office gossip is something that has made me realise that I don’t need the distraction when I’m trying to enjoy my workplace.
2. Focus On Your Goal
Eyes on the prize! Setting a clear short-term goal for yourself and focusing on it helps boost your confidence when you achieve it. My first goal at my workplace was to finish my work in the allotted time through the week. And when I did finally make it, it not only gave me time to focus on my family and friends, I also gave myself a tap on the back for finishing all the tasks assigned to me successfully.
3. Keep Learning
Learning and knowing more about what you do will engrain confidence when you work on the topic. Knowledge never goes to waste and this is a very beneficial way of boosting confidence.
4. Remember To Have Fun
Getting comfortable at your workplace will help you lose the butterflies and become more confident, just like you are at home! You can do a good job and have fun at the same time. There is nothing worse for your self-esteem than taking yourself too seriously.
1. There Is No Point In Being Timid
Being afraid to ask questions or mingle with the people you work with comes across as a negative trait. The foundation of being assertive is to trust your instinct and speak your mind.
2. Mind Your Body Language
Back straight, chin up and chest out. Your posture speaks volumes when you walk into a room. Hunched shoulders are a part of my life, but I when I make the conscious effort to fix my posture, it makes me feel like I can take on the world. If I feel that way about myself, it transcends to other people viewing me as a confident and assertive person as well.
3. Speak Clearly
Before you communicate a thought at your workplace, think it through it your head and make a statement. If you’re not clear of what you want, the other person is less likely to take you seriously. Speaking slowly is also a positive way of enforcing the point you’re trying to make.
4. Mind Your Language
This is one habit that changed my work life. I stopped using filler words that make my sentence flow better when I speak, instead, I learned to stick to the point I’m trying to make. “So I was like, I can complete the assignment in two hours,” became “The assignment will be complete in two hours.” Minding my language and sentence formation gives the illusion that the thoughts are clearer in my head.
One of the best ways to boost your self-esteem is to stop comparing yourself to the people in your life. This could be your competitor, your co-worker or even your parents. You are your own person and cannot be expected to live up someone else’s success. It’s bad for relationships, your self-image and can also reflect badly at your workplace. Comparison leads to anxiety and other negative thoughts which leads in return reduces your self-esteem. So next time you hear anything about Sharma Ji Ka Beta, pay no heed!
1. Helps You At Workplace
Being confident at your workplace opens up opportunities because you’re more likely to take on different projects. Research shows that an assertive and confident worker will be approached by an authority more often than someone who is underconfident.
2. Helps Your Relationship
When your confidence is low, you are insecure about yourself and that insecurity can have a negative impact on your relationship. If you are confident, you will be secure, and overall a happier partner in the relationship. You are also more likely to trust your partner and open up to them about your emotions if you are confident about them yourself.
3. Helps Your Family Life
Your home is supposed to be your safe space and so most of us let loose and don’t make an effort in our family lives. But just charity begins at home and the habit of self-confidence also begins at the place where you’re most likely to demotivate yourself.
This habit becomes vital when you are a parent. Your children will learn what they see and confident parents raise confident children who know they can take on the world. A part of being a supermom is to instill in your children that they are capable of growth and they can keep learning to be better human beings. Having confidence in yourself and your parenting skills can make that leap easier and smoother.
4. Makes You Fall In Love, With Yourself
A person who is underconfident will take what other people think of him/her more seriously. On the other hand, if you are confident and sure of yourself, you will not pay heed to gossip and demotivating thoughts. A confident person is inclined to believe that they are worth the happiness that comes their way and deserves to achieve great things in life. This translates into them working towards these positive thoughts.
Hope this article gave you some tips on how to be confident. Implement these in your life and you’ll see a change in how you see yourself and how people around perceive you.
Images - Shutterstock
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This story was updated in January 2019.