What is confidence?
Neurologists say that confidence is rooted in our DNA, and psychologists that it’s a product of the choices we make.
How critical is it to our well-being and success?
Katty Kay, coauthor of The Confidence Code, interviewed many scientists and neurologists to find it out. In her findings, she wrote:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Confidence is only part science. The other part is art. And how people live their lives ends up having a surprisingly big impact on their original confidence framework. The newest research shows that we can literally change our brains in ways that affect our thoughts and behavior at any age. And so, fortunately, a substantial part of the confidence code is what psychologists called volitional: our choice. [/perfectpullquote]
So that means that we can all expand our confidence with hard work and diligent effort.
And here lies the numb of the question. We should stop trying. We should stop trying to be perfect, and be willing to embrace failure. If you try, you’re not doing anything. You only set up an intention.
Doing is the way to acquire self-confidence. Remember that perfection just calls for stagnation.
Christine Lagarde’s self-confidence
The truth is, we have a complicated relationship with confidence (and for women, even worse). Think of powerful women as Christine Lagarde.
Christine Lagarde runs the International Monetary Fund. Once this ex lawyer was told she would never become a partner at a French law firm in France. She left France and in fifteen years she would become not only a partner at Baker & Mckenzie, but also its first female Chairman. [epq-quote align=”align-right”]”No” is hard to digest; but it’s also a fuel to prove people wrong.[/epq-quote]
She has also been full of self-doubt on her way up the ladder, as she explains: “I would often get nervous about presentations or speaking, and there were moments when I had to screw up my courage to raise my hand or make a point, rather than hanging back.”
Then, how does she manage to cope with these critical situations?
She says, “There are moments where I have to sort of go deep inside myself and pull my strength, confidence, background, history, experience and all the rest of it, to assert a particular point.”
Lagarde confessed she overprepares for everything, like Angela Merkel does. So here we come to a key: Being prepared helps.
If you wish to regain your confidence, one of the exercises that has been demonstrated to boost it is to affirm your real worth.
The author of Emotional First Aide, psychologist Guy Winch, gives us two steps to do so.
1. Make a list of qualities you have that are meaningful in the specific context.
For instance, if you got rejected by your date, list qualities that make you a good relationship prospect.
2. Choose one of the items on your list and write a brief essay–one to two paragraphs–about why the quality is valuable and likely to be appreciated by other people in the future.
He recommends to do this exercise every day for a week or whenever you need to boost your confidence.
- We can all expand our confidence, with hard work and diligent effort.
- Stop trying. Stop trying to be perfect. Do and embrace failure.
- Write down your qualities, explaining why they are important.