Why self-confidence is important?

Is it the same as self-esteem?

Difference between self-esteem and self-confidence
Difference between self-esteem and self-confidence — Image iStock

We’ve already looked at self-esteem and how to improve it. So, now for self-confidence. But — before we go any further, let’s just clear something up………..

Both terms are often used interchangeably when referring to how we feel about ourselves. While they’re very similar, there are many differences too. It’s important to understand both their roles when we’re looking to improve our overall sense of self.

Self-esteem is how we value and see ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs we have about ourselves. It starts to form in childhood, by our experiences with family or friends, and by situations that have shaped how we view ourselves today.

Even if you’re suffering from low self-esteem, you can still be very confident in your skills and certain areas of your life. For example, you might not have high self-confidence in your writing ability but you still “like yourself.” Or you have great confidence in your sporting ability but you still “don’t like yourself.”

As with self-esteem, lots of factors can affect the development of our self-confidence. Parents’ attitudes are crucial to our feelings about ourselves, particularly in the early years. When parents provide acceptance, we receive a solid foundation for good feelings about ourselves.

So, without further ado, let’s explore self-confidence and why it’s important.

What is self-confidence?

Self-confidence is an attitude
Self-confidence is an attitude — Image by devushka-radost-pryzhok

An article from Skills you need suggests, “Confidence is not something that can be learned like a set of rules; it’s a state of mind. It comes from feelings of well-being, self-acceptance, and belief in your own ability, skills, and experience. More than that, self-confidence is an attribute that most people would like to possess.

Your degree of confidence, self-confidence, is the trust or faith that you have in yourself and your abilities. 

Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities to interact with people around you, deal with challenges, or solve problems. As with self-esteem, self-confidence may be threatened from time to time, and can also vary from situation to situation. For example, you may have high self-confidence in your ability at football but very little in your rugby skills.

Self-confidence is about trusting yourself and your ability to succeed at new challenges, tasks, and opportunities. It comes from knowledge and practice. The more experience you have in any area, the more confident you will become, which further builds your self-confidence.

What happens with self-confidence?

What happens with self-confidence
Image by miguel-bruna-unsplash
  • you believe in yourself, feel good about who you are, what you are, and recognise that you have worth
  • self-confidence allows you to have positive yet realistic views of yourself and the situations in which you are involved
  • it means you accept and trust yourself, and have a sense of control in your life
  • you’ll know your strengths and any weaknesses well, and have a positive view of yourself
  • if you have self-confidence, typically you don’t fear challenges, and you’re able to stand up for what you believe
  • and you have the courage to admit your limitations
  • you’re able to set realistic expectations and goals, communicate assertively, and can handle criticism.
  • you’ll be able to present yourself to others differently, and people will have confidence in you, believe in you, and see your potential
  • with confidence, you’re more likely to succeed, be it in college/university, in sport, at work, or other activities
  • moreover, the way you present yourself can have a profound impact on any new opportunities that might come your way

When we lack of self-confidence

Do you lack self-confidence
Do you lack self-confidence?

The most important thing to know about low self-confidence is that it’s not your fault, says Psychology Today. Your childhood experiences, genes, culture, and other life circumstances all play a role.

If one or both parents were excessively critical or demanding, or they were overprotective, you might have come to believe that you’re inferior, incapable, or inadequate.

And although we can’t change our past experiences, we can rewire our brain, so to speak. With focus and action, we can make changes to maintain and improve our self-confidence.

More possible causes of low self-confidence

  • stressful life events – such as a death of someone close, separation or divorce, being bullied at work, or being physically or verbally abused
  • mental illness – like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, depression phase of Bipolar can impact on how you think or feel about yourself, your skills, abilities or knowledge
  • chronic illness or physical disability – can affect your behaviours and thus impact on how you feel about yourself, your skills and abilities
  • lack of interest or reduction of pleasure in activities – sometimes, due to circumstances, i.e. Covid, you may reduce or stop doing the activities you once enjoyed. After that, you don’t return to these activities and you might forget just how much you benefited from them – you just give up.
  • repeated failure or rejection – if you have tried hard to complete your driving test and you keep failing, or you feel rejected by family or friends, you may develop low self-esteem, knocking your confidence
  • anger – if you struggle to express your feelings, particularly anger, you could find yourself low in self-confidence as a result of not expressing your anger in a safe and responsible way
  • negative thinking – sometimes you start to think negatively due to an event or situation, which can then become a habit and part of your general outlook. You might not even realise you’ve been thinking negatively, or how it’s been impacting on you

Impact of low self-confidence

The impact of low self-confidence varies greatly and can range from only impacting in one specific area, to being very restricting and debilitating. Low self-confidence can result in:

  • anxiety, stress, loneliness, and increased likelihood of depression
  • communication difficulties; inability to speak clearly or listen to and follow instructions
  • shyness to the point it can come across as rude to some i.e. no eye contact, mumbling any greeting, inability to engage with others
  • inability to assert yourself i.e. agreeing to tasks or favours when you really want to say “NO”
  • social anxiety; where you’ll avoid parties, work events or large gatherings, or leave early

Worse still, these negative consequences reinforce your negative self-image and could lead to lower self-confidence. This, in turn, can lessen your ambition to learn, ability to focus, and affect your ability to reach your full potential. You might become increasingly unproductive or even actively turn to self-destructive behavior.

When we lack confidence, sometimes it’s because we worry what others might think of us. Maybe they’ll laugh at us if we make mistakes. This thinking can stop us from doing things we want or need to do because we believe that the consequences are too painful or embarrassing.

While it’s not always easy to be confident in yourself, particularly if you’re quite self-critical, or if others put you down — do not despair! There are steps that you can take to increase and maintain your self-confidence.

Why self-confidence is important

Improving your self-confidence
Improving your self-confidence — Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Most people admire self-confident people, and might even envy them a bit! Self-confident people appear to be at ease with themselves, in their role or their work. They invite trust and inspire confidence in others such as bosses, colleagues, customers, friends, or peers. These are attractive characteristics to have, and I think most of us would like to have them too.

Some other benefits of self-confidence:

  • you’ll be more willing to try new things, like signing up for new courses, applying for a new job or promotion and taking up new hobbies
  • with confidence, you can influence others more easily, as well as control your own emotions and behaviors more responsibly
  • you’ll perform better when you feel confident, whether it’s at work, school or say when you have to give a presentation, you’ll stay calm and focused
  • it gives you the ability to thrive in the areas you want to, be able to overcome any obstacles, and know that you can achieve your goals. i.e. as an athlete, a new student or an author
  • helps in making better decisions i.e. to walk away from an abusive relationship or how to discipline your children effectively and appropriately
  • brings freedom from self-doubt and negative thinking about yourself
  • generally happier and more satisfied with your life than people who lack self-confidence
  • more willing to take smart risks and more able to move outside your comfort zone i.e. pack in your job to travel for a year or return to studying
  • helps to adapt and perform well even under pressure i.e at a new job
  • assists in building better professional bonds at work
  • you’ll experience less anxiety and less stress, and more fearlessness
  • reduced social anxiety, allowing you to connect well with others and you’ll generally feel happier
  • more comfortable in social situations and people tend to be attracted to you and your conversation

Your self-confidence will bring you more enthusiasm for life and the future. Also, you’ll transfer your excitement to others through your walk, how you hold yourself, and how you engage. Furthermore, the positive energy you project will be contagious and attractive to others. Just think about how that might feel.

Moving on

Okay, we’ve covered self-confidence, what it is, the lack of and the impact, together with the benefits and the importance. So, in my next post, we’ll explore some ways to maintain and improve our self-confidence.

Over to you

Any questions about self-confidence

Do you think you’ve gained anything from this post? I feel confident (😜) that I’ve covered the basics of self-confidence but perhaps I’ve forgotten or missed something important and you want to tell me? I’m happy for you to critique my posts, honestly, and I look forward to your feedback, comments, or questions.

We need to talk about anxiety in men

Do you think we need to talk about anxiety in men?

Are you about to explode? You may suffer from anxiety.
Anxiety in men is real — Image from Irishtimes.com

An article by Madeline R. Vann, MPH caught my eye recently. She wrote: “Anxiety disorder in men is real and treatable through therapy and medication.” She’d written about a young man who, although aware he’d had anxiety since childhood, he never actually tackled it until well into his twenties. I just thought, what a long time to suffer. This, and the fact that it’s Men’s Mental Health Week, is why I think we need to talk about anxiety in men.

So what is anxiety?

Are you aware of the effect stress has on your body, mind and spirit?
What do you know about anxiety?

Anxiety is a type of fear usually associated with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, but can also arise from something happening right now.

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe, according to the NHS. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel anxious about sitting an exam or a job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal but some people find it harder to control their anxieties. Their anxiety is more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

Anxiety is a feeling that lets us know when we might be in danger, at risk or under threat. However, anxiety disorders occur when our fears and perceptions of danger are greater than they need to be.

The following information from the NHS is about one specific condition called generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.

Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) in men

GAD can cause both psychological and physical symptoms. These can also occur in other anxiety disorders but for brevity, we’ll just talk about GAD. These symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:

This guy is about to have a nervous breakdown
Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder
  • feeling restless or worried
  • having lots of negative thoughts, feeling guilty, angry or shame
  • having trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • dizziness or heart palpitations
  • feeling like you’re having a heart attack – if you suspect heart attack, seek urgent help
  • sweating, sticky palms
  • shaking
  • fidgeting or pacing
  • feeling faint
  • feeling like you can’t breather, choking
  • fingers or toes tingling (this happens when the blood runs from your extremities to your heart and muscles, where it’s needed to prepare for fight or flight

What causes anxiety disorder in men?

The jury’s out on this one. The exact cause is not fully understood, tho’ it’s likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include:

When stressed out your brain activity increases
Does over-activity in the brain cause anxiety
  • over-activity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behaviour
  • an imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood
  • hereditary – you’re more likely to develop an anxiety disorder if you have a close blood relative with the condition
  • having a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying
  • a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis
  • having a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • but many people develop anxiety disorders for no apparent reason.

Who is affected by anxiety?

Absolutely anyone. You might’ve noticed someone constantly drumming their fingers or tapping their foot annoyingly? Maybe you’ve seen that irritating colleague who constantly fidgets during meetings or spits out the nails she’s chewed for the last half hour?

Anxiety in me

Swimming helps reduce anxiety in men
Anxiety in men — image by featurepics.com

I’ve experienced mental health problems, including anxiety and I know how horrendous it feels (you can read it here). The dread when going to watch my sons swimming because of the steep seating area. I hated all those stairs looking over the pool and had a terrible fear of tumbling down them all. I’d start to sweat in fear, and my heart would be pounding through my heart and in my ears. It was the same in the cinema, those damn stairs, and in the dark!

Tube stations soon became a problem too, the further down the escalator went, the more anxious I got. (Hence my love of driving and the famous London black taxis.)

Vicious circle of stress and anxiety
Vicious circle of anxiety

See, the thing with an anxiety disorder is that once you’ve had a panic attack, you get anxious about being anxious. You only have to think about, let’s say, the tube station, and your anxiety levels shoot through the roof. And then it becomes a vicious circle of thoughts, feelings, behaviours.

Take a look at the diagram. You might have the thought “I’m dreading the tube station,” and you begin to feel anxious, so you avoid the tube (behaviour). After this, you might think “I’m so weak,” and feel sad, alone, angry…….. and so on…….

Anxiety in men close to home

Black belt anxiety management
Black belts can have anxiety – Image by jahir-martinez-unsplash

My two adult sons experienced anxiety and panic attacks in the past. They’re both black belts in Karate, they’re club swimmers and play football each week.

So, although they both claim to be geeky in a science-type way, they’re not weedy or wussie; nor do they come across as lads who’d have anxiety.

Some family and friends have been shocked, like “Wow, I didn’t think they’d have mental health problems.” and “Never? I’m really surprised.”

Several younger male family members were encouraged by this and sought support themselves, with some having gone into talking therapy. They’ve all said they’re so glad they did.

So, what I’m really saying here guys is, it doesn’t mean you’re a weak person, anyone can experience anxiety. It doesn’t care where you’re from, what class, faith, creed, race, gender you belong to or what job you do.

Anxiety statistics

Biting nails can be a sign of anxiety
The anxious and pacing nail biter
  • In 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK.
  • In England women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men.
  • the condition is more common in people from the ages of 35 to 59.
  • 5.9% of people suffer with a generalised anxiety disorder.
  • mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.
  • 7.2% of people aged 5 – 19 have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
  • In 2017 13.1% of people aged 17 – 19 had an anxiety disorder

As you’ll have noticed, anxiety and depression are closely linked so if you have one, you’re more likely to be experiencing the other. You might also find that some form of agoraphobia, a fear of doing certain things, or going to certain places quite often occurs with anxiety.

How is anxiety disorder treated in men?

Anxiety disorders can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can ease your symptoms. These include:

Colour image of scrabble saying recovery
Recovery from anxiety — image from Psychcentral.com

With treatment, many people are able to control their anxiety levels and lead normal lives. But some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods when your symptoms worsen.

Self help for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

Regular exercise can keep anxiety at a distance
Exercise for anxiety – Image by Pexels at Pixabay.com

There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as: 

  • reading a previous post 19 free mental health apps just for you here
  • or Tips to help with your anxiety and panic attacks here
  • attending a self-help course in person or online
  • exercising regularly
  • stopping smoking
  • cutting down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink
  • trying 1 of the mental health apps and tools in the NHS Apps Library

Over to you

What do you think?

When it comes to talking about mental health problems, do you think it’s necessary to separate the men from the women? Or should we just be inclusive and talk about mental illness as a whole? What about the men; should they just man up? I look forward to your thoughts and comments, and of course, I’ll answer any questions.

Related: A look at mental health during men’s health week (1). 8 symptoms of anxiety in men (2). Men and anxiety (3).

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