Scott H Young

The Myth of Confidence


This is why I love you guys, you make the content for me. A reader going by Al E. posted this fascinating comment in regards to my post, The Confidence Myth. His major point is that telling someone to “be confident” is a waste of time. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t like advice that doesn’t have a practical strategy. Unless you can tell someone how to be confident, such advice is a meaningless cliche at best.

Here it is, courtesy of Al E. :

Below is a copy of an email essay I sent out to a few dozen people in the “self-help” industry about 2 years ago. Predictably I only got a handful of responses. And of course they all insisted I was wrong. After all, their livelihoods depend on maintaining the myths I debunk. But they offered no evidence to disprove me, nor any useful insights.

THE MYTH OF CONFIDENCE

If I had a dime for every time someone told me to “be confident”, I’d probably be a millionaire by now. And as a millionaire, I’d probably have a lot of women throwing themselves at me and a lot of men respecting & admiring me. And the inevitable result of all this would be… You guessed it!.., Confidence. So the next time you feel like telling someone to be confident, just throw them a dime instead. It’d be a thousand times more useful.

In fact, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the last few years. All of a sudden, everyone’s talking about confidence. (or it’s pseudonym, “self-esteem”) Everywhere I read, every show I watch, every dimestore shrink I consult. Everyone’s advising everyone else to be more confident.

(a hypothetical: What if everybody took this advice and suddenly everyone had perfect confidence? Wouldn’t it just level the playing field right back to where it already was, and thus, not make a damn bit of difference anyway???)

Suddenly, all the women on the dating shows and in the advice columns are telling us how much they’re attracted to this mysterious new quality called confidence. And conversely, how the lack of confidence is a big turn-off. And predictably, men now feel the need to brag about how confident they are. And the confidence fad seems to be growing at a rapid pace. But I’m about to point out how it’s all just the psychological equivalent of the Pet Rock fad from the 70’s. Like the Pet Rock, advising someone to “be confident” is useless and does nothing. But like the Pet rock, it allows the giver to feel like they did something nice. They didn’t. Yet people keep buying it & buying it & buying it.

The reality about confidence is so simple and so obvious, it amazes me that otherwise intelligent people haven’t figured it out. Or maybe they have figured it out and they’re too dishonest with themselves to admit it. Perhaps the reality is too uncomfortable. After all, it’s much easier to sell books and self-help courses with fantasy than with reality.

So here’s the truth about confidence: You can only have confidence when other people give it to you. When others in your age group like you, respect you, admire you, and are attracted to you, you get confidence. When they don’t like you, scorn you, and reject you, you lose confidence. Therefore, the level of confidence you have is controlled by others, NOT by you. You can not just decide to be confident. Confidence is not a choice or decision you can make. You can’t just snap your fingers and, Abracadabra, you’re confident. It doesn’t work that way. It can’t work that way. Social confidence, by it’s very definition, requires support and acceptance from others (in your own age group) before it can exist.

(on an important side note: When people mention confidence, 98% of the time they are unwittingly referring to one specific kind: Social Confidence. So please don’t argue with me about other forms of confidence. They are irrelevant to this issue. For example, if you’ve mastered the Klingon language or are an expert in stamp collecting, you may be very confident in your ability. But that confidence CAN NOT translate into social confidence unless others respect, admire, and reward you for your abilities. The average Klingon speaker is more likely to be shunned, particularly by the opposite sex, rather than admired. Thus, please keep in mind that the kind of confidence I discuss here is only the most commonly discussed kind: Social confidence)

Confidence is merely a byproduct of success. You need some kind of social/sexual/romantic success before you can have genuine confidence. Confidence without success is delusional and/or dishonest, thus fake, and others will quickly recognize it as such. Here’s why: It’s not really the confidence itself that people are attracted to. Confidence is merely what results when someone has the qualities that are really attracting us. Obviously, if someone is good-looking, or wealthy, or funny & quick-witted, others will be attracted to them. This, in turn, will give them confidence.

So when someone tells you they are attracted to confidence, they are lying! (whether consciously or subconsciously) What they’re really attracted to are the traits that make confidence possible. After all, we all know that wealth, good looks, and strong social skills are attractive to others. Are we to believe it’s just a coincidence that these are the very same traits that lead to confidence? Obviously, someone who is successful will have more confidence than someone who is unsuccessful. So when someone says they’re attracted to confidence, what it means is that they’re attracted to success & the factors that make success possible. The confidence itself merely exists as a sign that those other factors (the real attractors) are present.

So if you know or care about someone with low confidence, how can you help them? First, the worst thing you can do is to just tell them to “be confident” or give them a verbal list of traits they should be confident about. That’s just insulting their intelligence and it’s going to frustrate and depress them even more. Words are hollow and meaningless when not corroborated by actions. So if you truly want to help someone increase their confidence, here are the areas you should focus on improving:

1) Physical Appearance
2) Social Skills
3) Wealth

1) Physical Appearance

(So you think this is shallow? It is. Get over it. Physical appearance is, of course, the first thing people notice about you. And if they don’t like what they see, it will be much, much harder to win them over.)

If the individual has flaws in their appearance, the worst thing you can do is to tell them they “look fine”. Instead, help them improve their appearance. If they’re overweight, don’t deny it. Help them lose the weight. If they have bad hair, help them find a stylish cut. If they have unfashionable or ill-fitting clothes, help them find better ones. And if you are not qualified to help them in these areas, find someone who can.

2) Social Skills

This one could easily become a chicken-or-egg argument. Many would point out that a person does poorly socially because they lack confidence. While this may be true in certain cases, I’ve found in my own experience and observations that usually the reverse is true. When a person has poor social skills, they will of course do poorly socially & inevitably, their confidence will suffer. When confronted with this fact, the lazy-minded will regurgitate such hackneyed social advice as “be happy and smile more”, “just be yourself”, “be upbeat and positive”, “just be nice”, or something equally trite, short-sighted, and useless. Being nice is fine. I’d encourage it. But it’s simply not enough on it’s own to succeed socially. If all you are is nice, you will be walked on like a doormat, used, and thrown away. To truly succeed socially (in the absence of looks and wealth), one needs two things: Material and Execution. They need strong, interesting conversational material and they need to be able to execute this material in a smooth, charming manner. How can you expect someone to have social confidence if they lack this ability?

So if you honestly cared about someone suffering from low social confidence, you wouldn’t waste their time with empty “be yourself” pep talks. You’d help them learn and practice conversational skills in a supportive, rejection-free environment. However, if you are outside of their age group, find someone closer to their age to help them. This is because what is acceptable for 50-year olds is not acceptable for 20-year olds and vice versa.

3) Wealth

Unless you are in a position to give someone a job earning $50K+ a year, there’s not a lot you can do about this one. But if you focus on the first two (appearance & social skills), increased income is virtually guaranteed to follow.

To recap my main points:

  • Confidence is merely a byproduct of success.
  • No one can just decide to be confident. It has to come naturally from others.
  • Our level of confidence is determined by the level of regard others have for us.
  • Hollow “be confident’ pep talks don’t work. If you honestly want to increase another’s confidence, it will require genuine care and effort.
  • Therefore, stop advising people to “be confident”! If you aren’t willing to put in the effort to help them gain that confidence, then you are just insulting them and wasting their time.

I agree with him partially. I believe that the temporary feeling of confidence can be created artificially. It is possible to temporarily project a sense of false confidence. But while this may help before giving a speech or asking for a date, it isn’t going to create lasting confidence. Lasting confidence comes from success, or at least interpreting your results as success.

I would also disagree with him that confidence isn’t a desired trait. Confidence is important. It is attractive, charismatic and magnetic precisely because it is difficult to falsify. Those lacking self-confidence can easily swing between the extremes of projecting arrogance and deep insecurity. But the process of getting it takes time. It is the process of setting small, achievable goals and focusing on growth so that you can build your self image.

I disagree with Al that confidence is entirely bestowed by others. Confidence is interpreting your past results in a positive way. Confident people ultimately have learned the skill of emphasizing moments of success and downplaying moments of failure. Although giving this advice to someone who lacks confidence is pretty useless.

Despite a few minor points of contradiction, I basically agree with Al. Can we please banish the “be confident” along with other ridiculous preachings without practicality? Without a practical solution, a concept is meaningless. Kudos to Al for taking a stand here.

What are your thoughts on confidence? What are your thoughts on creating confidence where you currently lack it? Cheers to Al for sharing such an thought-provoking piece!


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22 Responses to “The Myth of Confidence”

  1. raincoaster says:

    Fascinating perspectives on the concept of confidence. Thank you both for those.

    John Molloy, the Dress for Success guy, has also studied the phenomenon of confidence in a book called Live for Success. He agrees that confidence can temporarily be faked, and that doing so can lead to actual success, which leads to confidence. But he does point out that it’s a gruelling process that takes quite some time, even if practiced at the highest levels.

    And, of course, our parents have something to do with our base level of social confidence, all other influences aside. But the point is to improve from a base point, after all.

  2. John Ripley says:

    I’ve been learning how to be confident!

    I’ve learn how to stand, how to walk, how to sit.

    I’ve learned how to modulate my voice.

    I’ve prepared a lot of stories, jokes and games. And it helped me.

    Now, when I approach a woman, of all my insecurities, I don’t have to think “What do I say?”, “am I standing right?”, and guess what… it had gived me success… which gives me security on those other areas…

  3. Confidence comes from others approval of us?

    WRONG! WRONG! NO! DANGEROUS IDEA ALERT ! ! !

    Yes, man is a social animal, relationships are essential, BUT no one can afford to place his “confidence” in himself entirely in the hands of others. Other peoples perceptions of us are “no control” areas; endeavoring to improve them would be setting result-oriented goals, not achievement goals.

    Confidence comes from success, from honest perception of the self. If I have standards for myself, meet them, and respect my opinion of myself, I will have confidence regardless of others opinions of me. The alternative is a society of people-pleasers, ugh, don’t go there.

    nota bene: Young children cannot do this for themselves. Yes, infants need approval as they need mother’s milk (or a substitute). As adults we must do this for ourselves, or we are not adults.

  4. Scott Young says:

    John,

    I agree with you to an extent. Confidence does have a perceptive quality to it. But it is largely built on success. What determines success? Partially our own goals, partially our environment and the people around us.

    As much as I’d like to say that you can create your own confidence, there is an inherent social factor that can’t be denied. I’ve yet to find a person that has overcome it completely, so until that person is found, it is a factor that has to be considered.

    I lie somewhere between the extremes that you and Al present. In some ways confidence is created by yourself, in other ways it is given to you. You might be able to reach a point where it is entirely self-created, but until you reach that point telling people to just “be confident” is pretty useless advice.

    Interesting thoughts.

  5. Al E says:

    Hi all,

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to the comments. Thanx to Scott for posting this and to everyone who read it.

    Raincoaster’s comment included this observation:

    >”…confidence can temporarily be faked, and that doing so can lead to actual success, which leads to confidence. But he does point out that it’s a gruelling process that takes quite some time, even if practiced at the highest levels.”

    I’ve heard others make the same point & I believe this is possible for most (but not all) people, but if it’s such a grueling and torturous process that could take years and years to achieve (a luxury of time those of us approaching our 40’s have less and less of), why not try a shortcut?

    The possible Catch-22 is that the shortcut to confidence I offer in the second half of my essay absolutely requires the assistance and participation of another person. The confidence it could take years, if not decades, to achieve by yourself could be acheived in under a month with the right social benefactor. I’m amazed that no one has thought of this before.

    The Catch-22 is that most people struggling with the poor social skills that damage confidence are obviously unlikely to have anyone in their age and cultural demographic who cares enough about them to offer this assistance.

    So how can we resolve this? I hope there is a solution to this problem. If we put our heads together maybe we’ll find it.

  6. Scott Young says:

    Al E,

    Building a supportive environment isn’t quite as difficult as you think. Joining premade organizations, especially communication organizations like Toastmasters can be a great help as well. Plus you can learn social skills on your own through experimentation and observation, so just because you don’t have confidence doesn’t mean it can’t be obtained through some elbow grease.

  7. [...] have doubts that complete confidence is the answer. Yes, there may be some psychological benefits to believing [...]

  8. A says:

    Confidence is a combination of these main three factors:
    1) Childhood experiences (how your parents/teachers/peers treated you)
    2) Success (what you’ve achieved since childhood)
    3) Genetics (eg. some people are more prone to anxiety, schizophrenia etc & other psychological disorders because it runs in their family)

  9. [...] The Myth of Confidence – The subject of confidence is something I’ve taken several stabs at in my career on this website. I’m still trying to perfect my thoughts on the topic, so your comments are always appreciated. Here’s an earlier entry. [...]

  10. Hmm... says:

    It sounds like the underlying idea here is that one has to be wealthy and/or “attractive” (in a societal sense) in order to be confident.

    While I agree that these factors are certainly helpful in obtaining social status, this perspective seems to place limitations on an individual’s view of his/her own worth. Why should people only be allowed to be secure within themselves if they play by society’s rules?

    From my perspective, confidence is not a “myth”…it is a state of mind. It is about knowing that one is neither inferior nor superior to others. It is about self-actualization.

    Unfortunately, many people have bought into the myth that “confidence=conceit”. Many people also seem to believe that confidence depends on the approval of others. It does, to an extent. But I have to agree with John Mark Rozendaal…it is far healthier to use introspection and to set goals for oneself than to seek “acceptance” from others based on physical appearance, material wealth, etc.

    As a young woman who has experienced both racial discrimination and sexism, I am very much aware that there will always be people that shun my company because I am “unworthy” in their eyes. My personality, my intelligence, and my abilities will be overlooked by many who deem themselves “superior” to somebody like me. I have no illusions about this.

    However, I believe that we all have a responsibility to create our own happiness. Some of it is influenced by external factors…but most of it comes from knowing who we are and what we wish to achieve, i.e., what we desire out of life.

    I will never be a model or singer, but that’s fine by me. Those are not my dreams. I aspire to become a mother, healer, teacher, author, and someone who is surrounded by love. I aspire to see the world. I aspire to be the most creative person I can be. That is ultimately where my confidence will stem from.

    It is not about who I can impress. It is about how I measure up according to my own standards and perceptions.

    Confidence is the ability to accept constructive criticism…it is about knowing how to improve one’s weaknesses and being proud of one’s strengths. It is about knowing that there is inherent value in who we are, no matter what we do. Some people are made to feel “inferior” because they are not as wealthy or smart or whatever as the next person.

    The key to confidence is to not make mental comparisons with others on the basis of these things. Al’s argument is somewhat flawed because it is not entirely realistic. There are plenty of people who are average in both looks and personality that are very socially successful. I dare to say that many of these people are highly confident, maybe a bit too much. Some people will never be socially successful no matter what they do…but does this mean that they don’t have the right to feel good about themselves?

    Because that seems to be the implication. It is one that I disagree with.

  11. James Webb says:

    I really liked this article.

    My perspective is that confidence is a measuring tool. When you experience a failure like a rejection from the opposite sex, you lose a bit of confidence. When you have success, you gain a little. Women are attracted to confidence because they are attracted to successful men.

    In the case of dating, losing self-confidence can be a good thing because it would cause you to lower your standards (if there’s no hope of procreating with your ideal mate) and therefore be more likely to succeed with the opposite sex. You have to know where you stand.

    For a while my confidence was through the roof but I hit a few bumps along the road to success (lost job opportunities, fewer second looks from women, divorce, etc.) that took me down a peg or two. Because of this, I now know that I have some things to work on or I have to lower my expectations.

    You can boost your confidence and stretch yourself outside your comfort zone but be careful. You may learn more about yourself than you really want to know.

    People know it’s bologna when you say be confident and be yourself. They know from experience that their level of confidence is derived from being true to who they are. Their confidence comes directly from their success and failure rates.

  12. GS says:

    If confidence could be managed and controlled independently, then indeed it could be argued that the very confident aristocrats of old-europe were naturally endowed with confidence in their own superiority, by virtue of their naturally endowed talents and abilities and not the luck of their birth into priviledge… thus justifying their exclusive status… but in fact we know that their confidence was mostly nurture, not nature, i.e. social norms and pressures, that practically required those elites to be confident if not arrogant, and readily rewarded them for even the most insignificant acheivements and/or successes, with recognition of a kind that a grunting peasant couldn’t even dream of… confidence, as a personal state of mind, is in reality very much a nurtured and encouraged condition, dependent on others for its fruition, even today in our own society… absence of an aristocracy notwithstanding.
    our very own bailed-out bonus-happy wall-street bankers are another case in point… all confident but nothing to show for it… nurtured, not earned. :)

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I belive that everyone is naturally born confident and the only reason why we later have to find reasons to gain that cofidence is because there are so many judgemental people out there who dont no how to mint there own busness and just let people be who they are. I mean if you look at all these magazines and ads on tv everyone is perfect and nothing is wrong with them, I was actually taking to a friend of mine about facial hair one women and you no almost every women has a mustach and other facial hair and now almost every women thinks they are the only women in the world who has to deal with it so they are always going out of there way to hide it and they start to loose confidence because they think that this is wrong or unattractive and if everyone else found out that they would be teesed and made fun off and that they would have no chance of having a man or somthing important to them because of it. Also take a look a acne some people just cant help it and everytime you turn around there is some acne comerciel saying you to can be beautiful if you only have this I mean come on people are you that shollow that you just cant see past the skin and look into the heart and soul of that person and see what is really there. You no my sister is naturally overwait or at least acording to the professioals and you no she just cant help it but she really is a nice person when you get to no her and she can be so much fun but she struggles with confidence everyday because everytime she turns around someone is buggin about her wait, and my husband everyone thinks he is a drug dealler because of the way he looks and actually he is the complet opposet people stray away from him because of it and he has even had people turn him down for a job because of how he looks i mean come on people if you dont like someone because of there looks maby you should do a self check and see what makes you so much better then they rest of the world.

  14. Marty Drury says:

    Okay, where to start. Sorry, I want to be respectful here but you could drive a truck through the holes in the argument above. Particularly as the writer mixes up “confidence” with “being liked by people” and tries to argue that it’s the external by products of something that must be the things that attract people in an orgy of shallow nonsense.

    Confidence is not automatically linked to success. If you know you can do something, why do you need to be confident about it? The writer mistakes “confidence” for “familiarity” and “competency”. People who can drive and have learned to drive get driving phobias. They can still not be confident behind the wheel. They can lose their confidence but their skills are the same and indeed developing the more they drive. If confidence were directly linked always to achievements and successes then that simply would not happen.

    No, confidence is not in the gift of other people. What twaddle. The writer mixes up “needy seeking of external validation” with “confidence” and appears to argue that some sort of needy seeking of approval from others is somehow the way to get confidence. That only when some random people at a party like you can you think you’re good enough to go on living. Pure rubbish.

    Confidence can be generated independently of other people and their reactions and indeed, you see this happening in those who have very good social skills but still manage to come across as rude, out stay their welcome and generally not care at all about other people. They have confidence but they aren’t automatically liked for it.

    Yes, you can map over confidence from one area of your life to another and no, 98% people on planet earth are not necessarily talking about social confidence when they talk about confidence.

    Money is not automatically attractive to women. When people say they are attracted to confidence they are not necessarily lying just because the truth of the world doesn’t fit in with some wild obsession with the external that the author clearly has. No, the attraction is not automatically about so called “confident” people having good looks, money, social skills etc. I’ve worked with male models on their confidence issues. I know, I know, head exploding stuff for the preachers of shallowness but it’s true. Good looks and money don’t automatically equate to happiness and they won’t automatically equal confidence or approval from others either.

    So yes, you can “get confident”. Confidence is not automatically tied to skills and you don’t need to have succeeded at something before you can have confidence in something. We’ve all seen The X Factor after all where people without recording contracts or sales of their singles think they can sing and are pretty confident about it too.

    So, nope, no myths debunked here. Just an obsession with the external that misses the point and seems to be very pleased with its own flawed reasoning to the extent that it uses its own flawed reasoning to try and justify points further along in the article.

    You won’t find your confidence in the gift of other people or in your successes. Plenty of movie and music stars have succeeded a lot and still have drug overdoses, break downs, problems etc.

    If we grow up as a society and start to realise that our well being is not dependent on us succeeding at things and bragging about it to others (neediness if ever it were present), then we would actually be better able to generate our confidence as we would realise we’re okay as we are right now. That we’re good enough and we don’t have to lose weight, get some skill or whatever to try and impress some random people who might like us for who we are anyway if we just gave them the credit of being human beings and showed them our true selves.

  15. paper tiger says:

    I agree with Marty above.

    Scott I have read about 70% of your blog in a few days (and I’m not even a speed reader, hehe!) and so far I’ve absolutely loved your attitude and what you’re sharing with us. All except this.

    It’s ridiculous to me to think that confidence = arrogance, conceit, or anything more than a simple respect for oneself. When people say confidence they do not neccessarily mean social confidence, they mean a variety of things but in my experience they mean: healthy self esteem and self respect.

    I am someone who has gone through a huge transformation in terms of increasing my self-esteem from practically nothing to a very healthy level. The realisation was that confidence is not about thinking you are inherently good or great, but that you need to have a healthy, balanced and realistic view of yourself in order to feel OK, and that you should afford yourself a sensible amount of self respect, not berate yourself incessantly nor punish yourself (unless you want to feel depressed!).

    Simple stuff really. All introspective, all gathered from within, internal validation. Yes external validation helps somewhat, but it is NOT what defines confidence and a healthy self-esteem.

    I find this post hard to stomach precisely because I had low confidence incoded in my genes but managed to override it with enough learning and therapy. I know you enjoy reading comments from people who disgaree with your ideas Scott so I really hope you digest the ones here from people who disagreed with this post. :)

  16. Harpoon says:

    I am really *facepalming* at the above two comments… You are reiterating the same fairy tale garbage that the poster in the original article was trying to debunk!

    First maury:
    “”No, confidence is not in the gift of other people. What twaddle. The writer mixes up “needy seeking of external validation” with “confidence” and appears to argue that some sort of needy seeking of approval from others is somehow the way to get confidence. That only when some random people at a party like you can you think you’re good enough to go on living. Pure rubbish.””
    Why do we dress up nice? Why do we shower, shave, get haircuts, work out, put on perfume? Why do we try to act normal and well-adjusted? We all want social acceptance. We are SOCIAL CREATURES who desire acceptance by the group, which in ancient times was often equated with survival. Stop pretending you’re on a different plane of existence. And the hypocrisy is, if you went to a party you’d be the first to call the popular guy “confident”.

    “So yes, you can “get confident”. Confidence is not automatically tied to skills and you don’t need to have succeeded at something before you can have confidence in something. We’ve all seen The X Factor after all where people without recording contracts or sales of their singles think they can sing and are pretty confident about it too.”
    Yes? And many of them are horrible. That’s exactly the point! Confidence without success is delusion. It’s like an ugly guy going to a party and having confidence in himself – in the end he’s going to get rejected by all the girls, who want to talk to the good looking guy instead. In fact, even if the good looking guy was shy, indecisive etc.. the girls would still prefer him over the ugly guy even if the ugly guy felt like the king of the world!

    “”That we’re good enough and we don’t have to lose weight, get some skill or whatever to try and impress some random people who might like us for who we are anyway if we just gave them the credit of being human beings and showed them our true selves.””
    *facepalm* Did you even read the article? The entire problem was telling some fat loser just to “be himself” and girls will come.. yet they never do! Obviously HE IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. He was being his “TRUE SELF” all his life and got NOTHING. If you were to say, “Just be yourself, forget girls and friends, and be happy with what you have and enjoy whatever life you’ve got”, then fine. But don’t BS that an unattractive guy is going to attract girls (that have tons of other options) simply by loving himself. LOL.

  17. papertiger says:

    Harpoon,

    No one said that an element of success was not part of the equation.

    Internal validation and confidence is possible. I am living proof.

    And of course some element of external validation is required. All I am saying is that it is more stable, more healthy to reap confidnce more from yourself than your social success levels…judge yourself based on your own values, not others.

    It works for me anyhow. :)

  18. Harpoon says:

    That’s fine. We’re all dead anyway, so it doesn’t matter how many people you have sex with or how many friends you get before that happens. So you can forget about all of that stuff and shave your head and be a monk or just do stuff on the internet for the rest of your life.

    But that’s not the topic. The topic is “people who need help with friends or getting interest from the opposite sex shouldn’t just be mindlessly told to be confident”

  19. papertiger says:

    Internal confidence =/= living like a slob. Common misconception. Anyway…

    Empty platitudes like “be more confident” are useless, I agree. I think my point was too subtle to be meaningful in this context. Maybe I’ll write it up for my own blog one day. :)

  20. tifeyh says:

    i really liked this column…i think that confidence has a little to do with what others think of you even though it is largely based on what you think of yourself and that is of course helped by how much you have done with and for urself…it wouldn’t hurt to take little steps in the right direction of being the best you can be..whether it entails cleaning up a little more, or learning a few more skills,..taking steps at being better at being urself is evidence of love for urself and so, internally generated confidence could push you to ‘externally’ generated confidence {by this i mean how well you are thought of by others}..anyways, it will always start with YOU.

  21. KorvusKoraks says:

    In my experience, relying on others for validation is exactly the problem.

    Also, confidence produces positive feedback and experiences. These, in turn, produce more confidence.

    Lack of confidence, on the other hand, prevents people from trying new stuff, because “oh, I’m going to fail”. It makes people disregard compliments, because “oh, they didn’t really mean it”. And successes, because “oh, I just happened to be lucky this time, next time I’ll fail”.

    To Harpoon: I am aware that the writer is trying to refute self-help “fairy tale garbage” – I don’t agree with him and that is why I am writing now. Just because someone has said something somewhere does not mean that nobody can ever again disagree with them.

    I agree and, again, know from experience that simply telling someone to be confident is not the answer. You need to tell them how to do that. Good self-help is an option, and yes, it helped me. There’s a lot of garbage out there but not everything is.

    Also, you cannot reduce everything to evolution and biology. It has been proven countless times that our perception of ourselves does affect our perfomance.
    http://www.centerforefficacyandresiliency.org/assets/docs/Perceived%20Self-Efficacy%20in%20Cognitive%20Development%20and%20Functioning.pdf

    And, wow, confidence isn’t the same thing as the silly grandiosity you see on X-Factor…

  22. CaseyAttheBat says:

    As someone who was given away by my parents at the age of five, shuffled around to foster homes and finally adopted by a pair of back water inbreds who beat and raped me three times a week, to someone who left home at 14, drifted from job to job, marriage to marriage, then finally chewed up and spit out when the world blamed me for the suicide of my husband, I’ve learned something about confidence.

    No one can give it to you. If they do, it won’t stick – unless you have the competence to back it up.

    Because true confidence comes from competence. You could say that I used to be pretty incompetent, what with getting raped and beaten all the time. Slandered and fired. What with being a perpetual, all round victim.

    Such a despised, miserable, cursed dog was I, that one day I nearly pulled the plug on it all – but something stopped me.

    Curiosity stopped me.

    I suddenly became aware of my burning curiosity as to whether or not I was smart enough to learn how to stop the cycle of abuse. All by myself. With no help from shrinks, friends (of which I had none anyway) or gurus.

    I decided to stick around long enough to find out.

    I decided to keep my mouth shut and speak only when absolutely necessary, and when I did speak, to choose my words with the greatest of care – even if the person I was speaking to was abusive or rude.

    The two basic rules were to speak only when absolutely necessary, and to NEVER retaliate, especially in reaction to what someone said or did.

    Long story short – I learned. The bullying stopped. The harassment stopped. The stalking stopped.

    I learned how to see right through mean people to the point where their meanness bothers me not at all because I see what it’s covering up, and what it’s covering up is no threat to me.

    I’m not sure if people like me now or not. It matters little because I have learned how to talk to them, and how to deal with them, and how to constructively handle my enemies.

    I have arrived at a point where I know for the first time who I am, and what I’m capable of. No one can give these things to me, and no one can take these things away from me.

    And when I ply my trade, and deliver what I promise time, and time again, people will not only have the same confidence in me that I have in myself, but they will also develop their own self confidence in equal proportion.

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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