by: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
The Encarta World English Dictionary defines “confidence” as “a belief or self-assurance in your ability to succeed.”
Personal confidence is totally different than professional confidence in that personal confidence is about who you are and professional confidence is about what you do.
What creates personal confidence? How does one become confident in who they are?
If you grew up with parents who valued their own inner qualities and were role models for inner confidence, and valued your inner qualities and supported you in being who you are, it is likely that you feel personally confident.
But must of us did not grow up that way. Most of us grew up with parents or other caregivers who not only lacked personal confidence, but who may have blamed and shamed us, undermining our sense of self.
However, no matter how much we may have been de-valued as children, it is never too late to learn to value ourselves now. The secret in gaining personal confidence is to get to know your true Self – your soul essence – who you really are.
Your true Self is your essential inner qualities that you were born with, such as your ability to love, to be kind and caring, to be compassionate and empathic, and to listen well. It is about your basic goodness. It is also about your creativity, your unique talents, your particular forms of intelligence, your sense of humor, your smile, your laugh – all that is uniquely you.
If you were not valued for your true Self, then it is likely that you are not seeing or valuing your essence qualities. In fact, you might have decided a long time ago that you are not good enough – that you are somehow inadequate as a person. It is this false belief that creates feelings of inadequacy and a lack of personal confidence.
Right now, imagine that you can see yourself, not from the eyes of your programmed ego wounded self, but from the eyes of your higher self – the eyes of love. Visualize yourself as a very small child and look inside at who that child is. What do you see? Is there anything about you as a small child that makes you unlovable? What are the wonderful qualities that are inherent in you as a child? If this child were your actual child, how would you feel about him or her?
Throughout the day today, practice noticing and valuing your inner qualities. If you do something kind, say to your inner child, “I really value your kindness.” If you are creative or funny, express appreciation for these qualities. Day by day, as you consistently value your intrinsic qualities, you will find yourself gaining in personal confidence. When you learn to appreciate rather than judge who you are you will feel personally confident.
Professional confidence comes with time and practice. The more you learn and practice a particular skill, the better you become at it and the more confidence you have regarding this skill. With enough time and practice, anyone can become confident in their ability to perform.
Some people attempt to define themselves by their performance, believing that what they DO defines who they ARE. When this is the case, they will continue to lack personal confidence, no matter how successful they are professionally. When you attach your worth to your external success, then you have to continually succeed to be worthy, which creates much inner stress. If you find yourself constantly judging yourself to get yourself to perform, you might want to notice that it is this self-judgment that erodes your personal confidence.
Confidence as an adult does not come from others approval. Valuing both who you are and what you do is what creates a deep level of inner confidence.