April has started. In Japan, beginning of April means a new beginning of their lives for many people.
Not just it’s a back to school season, it’s when young people start working after graduation, and also it’s the beginning of a new term for many companies. (But it’s not “back to work” season since we almost never take a month-long or weeks-long holidays before the new term begins… for most people already in a business world, it is one of the busiest season.)
It could be the most exiting season for some people, especially for someone really good at meeting new people and making new friends, but at the same time, it could also be the most stressful season, constantly feeling nervous, worried, and uncomfortable in a new environment.
What can help you to make this time of year less stressful and more exciting? My answer is – confidence.
If you have self confidence, you can have courage to jump into something new and push yourself a little more to fully enjoy the new opportunities. On the other hand if you’re lacking self confidence, even if there is a lot of new opportunities right in front of you, you might feel you are not good enough and just let them go.
For this mentally and physically busiest season, I am happy to write this “How to Build Self Confidence” series.
However, I’m writing this not because I’m a confident person. I would rather say I’m not confident enough about me. In case any of you feel surprised, all the the things I’m doing in my life – writing a blog, being an international sales and working with executives and experts, and playing the saxophone on the stage – might make me look like a confident person, but I’m far from it. I’m doing these things not because I’m confident, but simply because I love them so much that I stop caring – or at least try not to care too much – about how less I’m confident.
To be honest, deep inside I’m feeling anxious, worried, and my heart is beating so fast whenever I do these things. If I become even more honest, I’m almost feeling like giving up, saying “Sorry, but I’m not good enough for this!”
I’m still learning. I’m still on my journey of building my confidence, by experiencing these things.
I’m writing this series not because I’m saying like, “Now I became super confident, so I’m gonna tell you all the tips that made me bullet proof!”
The purpose of writing this series is to share some ideas, words, and tips that I found helpful to have – or maybe lean to have – better confidence with you who are struggling with having confidence. Also I would love if you could share your tips with me, and other readers here too!
What’s Self Confidence?
What is self confidence? According to Oxford English-English dictionary, it’s “A feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement.”
For me “having self confidence” means knowing that your are worthy, and believing your possibilities by yourself.
People are quite different about their self confidence.
Some people are confident, some people are not, some people make them look like they are less confident even though they actually are, while other people act like they are confident although they are not.
I feel a lot of people misunderstand this, but self confidence is not your temporary feeling, or your way of see things at this right moment. It’s something you’ve been building through your entire life, with effected by your environment, experiences, success, failure, and basically everything in your life.
It’s not just effected by things someone said or did to you, but also by something you felt and absorbed, indirectly and subconsciously.
Your self confidence is about your life. It’s not just about now.
3 Reasons Why You Should Build Self Confidence
1. It defines your possibilities.
As you may already know, “Life is a series of choices”. In life sometimes you make choices that could change your life – school, whether you go to university, getting a job, switching your job, and so forth.
Your decision can differ drastically, depending on how much you feel confident about yourself. It can help you, but it can also sabotage you.
“Being realistic” and “not trying because you are not confident enough” is completely different. When you give up just because you are not confident, you might be giving up something you actually could.
Not just on such big decisions, but also on small decisions we make every day, our self confidence have huge influences.
Think about fashion. We choose what we wear every day, whether you like it or not. When you find something you love when you are shopping, if you are feeling insecure, you might start thinking like, “But it never suits me.” “This must be something for someone prettier.” “I’m too fat for this.” even before you even try. To be honest, that happens a lot to me.
Maybe if we only focus on fashion, people might say that there exists something looks good on you and something doesn’t, and you look more stylish when you wear something really suits you – however, if we focus on your possibilities or how you feel about yourself, it should be better if you can confident enough to try whatever you love, and don’t let our confidence level stops us to try something we really love.
At least for me someone who can do that looks cooler and more attractive than someone who is saying, “This wouldn’t look good on me…”
2. It defines your happiness.
In the best seller of Stephen Chbosky “Perks of Being a Wallflower”, Charlie, the protagonist, is told this by his high school teacher:
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
When I read this first time, it felt like a wake-up call. If you love yourself, you will choose to be with someone who really loves you. But if you don’t love yourself, or if you believe that you can’t be loved by anyone, you will let someone who doesn’t love you treat you badly, without respect.
Self confidence is the key for you to choose who you let in your life, and these people will have a massive impact on whether you will be happy or not. Sometimes people in your life can make your life wonderful, but sometimes they can make it like a nightmare. But YOU can decide who’s going to be in your life. It’s only you who can decide who you let in your life and who you don’t.
Sometimes, we accept others who make us unhappy and miserable just because we are not confident enough to say ‘no’. But I believe that’s one of the saddest thing in this world and we don’t really have to do that.
3. It helps you to make right decisions in the long run.
In her book “The Willpower Instinct”, Kelly Mcgonigal writes about the connection between your willpower and how you feel about and treat yourself.
Self-criticism can always make you lose your motivation or self-control.
On the other hand, self-compassion and self-care can help you to have stronger motivation and self-control.
In this book she tells us about why it’s so hard to commit to our goals and continue working towards it, and what we should do in order to follow through and achieve our goals.
We tend to believe that we need to be strict with ourselves, but if we are being too hard on ourselves, we start to feel stress. With stress, people start to want to be free from the stress, and that’s why we end up procrastinating, distracting our selves by meaningless things, instead of doing what we really should. By being hard on ourselves we can make poor choices – instead of the right choices in the long run.
I also found a similar idea in a book called “For a Sleepless Night with Worry and Fatigue” by a Japanese author Tatsuru Uchida. (This book is available only in Japanese so this title is my translation. The original title is 『疲れすぎて眠れぬ夜のために』.)
In this book he writes about “true egoism” and redefines egoism. We tend to see egoism as being self-centered and selfish, but he says the true meaning is that making decisions by truly caring about self to get the most out of things for self.
With that’s said, he says that we often hear people saying “Young people these days are egoistic”, but they are wrong.
For example, if someone hurt somebody because he felt upset and got arrested, it looks like he hurt someone to feel better, but considering the pain and hardships he is going to face later on, hurting someone is does not make him feel better at all.
Here’s another example. If there is someone who you cannot stand at work but be patient and keep working with that person, it looks like you are protecting what you have – job, good impression, reputation as a patient person – but considering that staying with that person you hate could be harming you mentally and physically, you are not protecting yourself at all.
In the latter example, “true egoism” – making right decisions for yourself by really caring about yourself – can be tough. It will require so much courage to chose to leave that person by asking for help or changing the job. Not only about this example, it’s always not easy to choose the right thing for you, because in many cases it means a change, or trying something new. A lot of people stay in the current environment even if they hate it because they don’t believe that they can do – because they are lacking self confidence.
One thing these two great authors tells us in common is this idea – if you are confident about yourself, meaning, if you know that you are worthy and believe in your possibilities, you can prioritize what really matters and make the right decision for the long-term goal, instead of near-term rewards or pleasure.
Let’s Build Self Confidence, Together
Self confidence is not something you can have over night. You can’t have it just by thinking “I’m gonna be more confident!” but it’s something you can build and grow. If you feel you are lacking self confidence, you should work on building it, otherwise you can’t expect others to make you feel more confident – because it never works.
In upcoming posts of this series, I’m going to write about how to build self confidence, by sharing words, ideas, and tips that I found helpful.