5 Myths About Confidence We Need To Stop Believing
To clarify: the ‘C’ word I’m referring to is: CONFIDENCE.
It’s a word that has been, for me, muddied with the likes of ‘confidence gurus’ and other extroverted characters I’ve never been able to relate to.
When speaking to my coach about this confidence conundrum, he reminded me of the origin of the word: ‘confidence’ comes from the Latin fidere, ‘to trust.’
To be confident is to trust in yourself, your actions and your place in the world. Words like trust and faith happened to be very meaningful to me at that point: they were my anchors; my antidotes to the fears I was facing at every turn in building my business.
So I decided that instead of running away from the word, I’d reclaim it. Take it back to it’s origins, and dispel any myths and identity crises it’s had over the years since the self-help revolution captured it.
Here are some of the most common myths I’ve found popping up when the concept of ‘confidence’ is discussed:
Myth #1: Confident people are arrogant
We all know someone who gives off the impression that their opinion of themselves is far greater than the rest of the world holds. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of self-belief (in fact, that’s what we’re shooting for) but there is a kind of cockiness or arrogance that is not attractive to us — and can often show up as that person tries to put others around them down.
This kind of high self-esteem isn’t built on the solid foundations of internal, unconditional self belief: instead, it’s as fragile as fine bone china and based entirely on external validation.
That means these people are often intolerant of feedback that might challenge their delicate opinion of themselves. While they may appear confident to us, they quickly become defensive and dismissive of situations and people they feel are threatening to their inflated sense of self.
When our self esteem comes instead from the inside, we don’t appear cocky or arrogant. We don’t need external validation to thrive, and won’t get defensive at the first sign of a threat — we can bring the people around us up instead of putting them down.
A truly confident person does not require arrogance, which is nothing more than a smoke screen for insecurity. A confident person — knowing and believing in her identity — carries tools, not weapons. A confident person does not need to one-up anyone else. A confident person can be present to others, hear their perspectives, and integrate those views in ways that create value for everyone. True belief — in oneself, in one’s ideas — is grounding; it defuses threat.
~ Amy Cuddy
Myth #2: Confidence can be faked
Have you ever been told that old piece of advice: ‘Fake it till you make it’? You might have even given it a go.
It may have even worked for you.
But for many of us, simply putting on a facade and telling ourselves we are confident when we’re feeling butterflies in our stomach and our heart going like a jackhammer; we can’t simply turn on the tap and expect a flood of bravery and self assurance to come out.
Faking anything doesn’t sit well with us: it feels dishonest, and we then get hit by the additional fear of being ‘found out’.
So attempting to fake confidence isn’t how I choose to frame it.
For one, those who do remarkable things: from stepping up on stage in front of hundreds or even thousands of eyes, to climbing mountains or running into burning buildings: these people aren’t free from fear.
They have learned to feel the fear: and do it anyway. Simply pretending the fear isn’t there isn’t going to work in these cases: the bravery comes from doing something DESPITE the fear.
Then, knowing what’s possible and using that confidence (based on fact, no faking required) to move forward and tackle future challenges.
Myth #3: Introverts lack confidence
One need not be loud or gregarious to be passionate and effective. In fact, a bit of quiet seems to go a long way toward being present.
~ Amy Cuddy
As much as I’m a clear proponent for taking personality typing tests and exploring our unique combinations of preferences and traits: there is one misunderstanding that I can get daily wound up over: that introversion means low confidence.
It’s perfectly explained by Keith Blakemore-Noble from the Confidence Alchemist blog:
I remember one time taking the Myers Briggs test, and it came as no surprise to me whatsoever to learn that I was classified as introvert. It seemed pretty logical, I was shy and didn’t like meeting new people therefore it made sense that I was intimate.
Many years later once I had completely conquered my shyness I decided to retake the test to see how things are changed — now that I was outgoing, happy to sing dance and act on stage, speak to groups, go to parties and speak with complete strangers, surely I would now be very high up on the extrovert scale!
Surprisingly, I got the results and they were exactly the same as they had been all those years ago; I was still very clearly marked as introvert. “Surely that can’t be right!?” I thought to myself. I wasn’t an introvert any more, I was outgoing I enjoyed socialising with people I enjoy performing on stage; these aren’t the traits of an introvert!”
So while introversion and extroversion are characteristics that do relate to how we interact with others: they don’t determine how confident we are. These terms simply describe how we source our energy and how we process information.
You can be a shy extrovert, and outgoing introvert: it really doesn’t matter! What’s important to remember is that confidence can be changed, but introversion and extroversion are fixed.
Myth #4: Confidence is determined by our genetics
Confidence is something we are all born with. It’s vital to our survival. If an infant lacked the confidence to attempt walking, we wouldn’t get very far.
No link has ever been shown between confidence and our genetic make-up!
It’s true that our genes and brain chemistry are responsible for around 25–35% of our personality, but what about the rest?
The remainder has been sculpted — and continues to be sculpted by:
- Our environment — how we were raised, the people around us, and
- Our mindset — how we interpret what happens around us
So regardless of what you were told as a child or an adolescent, and wherever you rate your current confidence level: you can change it at any stage in life.
Myth #5: Confidence is fixed
Just as our confidence level is not fixed from birth: it can also fluctuate on a daily basis.
It can fluctuate depending on who we’re with, what we’re doing, where we are — heck, even the weather can influence how confident we feel.
If you associate the number 13 with bad luck for example, and you’re giving a presentation on Friday the 13th… there’s a good chance you’re feeling less confident than you would have been on the 12th.
There are a lot of variables that affect how confident we feel: but the first step towards working to feel more confident is noticing this. Take note of how you feel reading this post.
Or whatever you go onto do next, how you rate your current confidence level. It could surprise you as to what is fuelling or draining to your confidence level.
Well I’m glad that’s out of my system! Tell me, did you hold any of these beliefs about confidence?
I’d love to know your thoughts — leave a comment below or send me an email.
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