Lack of confidence is something which plagues us all at some time or another - it could happen when we are about to take a step in to the unknown, or it might haunt us as a result of a previous failure. Much of it is down to the fact that we believe whatever our mind tells us, despite the fact that the mind is almost invariably the worst judge of the situation, as it can often go to extremes and generalise minor upsets into blanket negative statements. For example if an interview did not go well for us, the mind will often extrapolate and tell us we are useless at all interviews.
Here are some common causes for lack of self-confidence and their suggested remedies:
- When faced with an upcoming barrier, our mind will often feed us worst-case scenarios about what will happen that have no basis whatsoever in reality. We need to move away from these destructive thoughts and think only about the present.
However, this is easier said than done, as sometimes these thought-patterns have been with is since childhood. Introducing a daily meditation practice can help you control your thoughts rather than them controlling you.
- Often we suffer from a lack of self-confidence because we are trying to meet expectations imposed from outside instead of fulfilling what our soul really wants. Seeking other people's approval can be a never ending process, as there is always the feeling of insecurity that you have not done enough.
Instead of ‘coming in from without’ - letting the tides and currents of external opinion throw us around and affect us internally - we should aim to ‘come out from within’ - reflect on what our inner being really wants us to do in life and then take steps to make this inner aspiration a reality.
- Focus on your strengths: Often we prefer to give ourselves a self-pitying picture of all our weaknesses rather than a balanced all-round picture. Be sincere to yourself. Recognise the skills and talents you do possess, and then live in such a way as to bring them to the fore. In any game of sport, a player or team will always play in such a way as to maximise their strengths; so it is in the game of life too.
- Often, a failure can seriously influence our confidence as regards achieving that goal, especially if it was a very public failure. The Western mentality, where success rather than progress is seen as the goal, profoundly affects our view of failure as something to be avoided at all costs.
In contrast, the Eastern view often treats a failure as just an experience on life's road, an experience that can teach you just as much as success, if not more. The main thing is not to let failure keep you from picking yourself up and trying again. ‘Failure is not falling down, ’ writes the poet Sri Chinmoy, ‘failure is desiring to live where I have fallen. '
- If you are suffering from a sudden loss of confidence, it can help enormously if you remember past times when you did have confidence towards a particular situation, and try to evoke how you felt then, how energized you were.
Looking back over things associated with that time, like a diary or photographs can help very much in this regard.
- Receiving inspiration is very important in gaining the self-confidence needed to overcome a particular barrier. It can be very helpful to read about the people who inspired you in and how they over came their challenges. All of the great inspiring figures of the twentieth century - Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, for example - had to overcome tremendous challenges not only from without, but also from within.
Their accounts of facing adversity have a very human touch which you can definitely apply to your own situation.
The author, Shane Magee, is a contributor to the inspirational website http://www.writespirit.net