From childhood, we learn to gain our self-approval from others. We learned that when we get a good grade on a test, it means we are worthy of success. Today, many of us attribute our success to how many likes our social media posts get.

Feeling we need to accomplish things in order to please others can take a toll on our mental health and prevent us from moving forward in our lives. This is especially true when we also experience depression and anxiety. In order to gain self-confidence, we need to understand what it is, where it comes from, and when to get help.

The difference between self-esteem and self-confidence

There is a subtle difference between self-confidence and self-esteem. Self-esteem has to do with how we view our inner selves. In contrast, self-confidence has to do with our interactions with the outside world. Self-confidence involves trusting and believing in our own abilities. Self-confidence and self-esteem often go together, however; if you struggle with self-esteem it is harder to be confident.

The term confidence comes from the Latin word fidere, meaning “to trust.” For us to have self-confidence, we must first learn to trust ourselves. But it is easier said than done. Believing in ourselves can be especially difficult if we struggle with mental health conditions such as depression, social anxiety, or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Finding self-confidence is a complex process that takes time and patience. It can be challenging to turn inward to find confidence, especially when society has taught us that we must seek praise from others for our accomplishments.

How can we learn to develop self-confidence without focusing on validation from others? First, we must understand how our self-confidence can grow.

Where does self-confidence come from?

Our level of self-confidence originates from many factors, from genetics and upbringing to culture and personality traits. Most of the time, confidence is not something we are born with. It develops over time as a result of life experiences. However, several factors play a role in creating healthy self-confidence and self-esteem.

1. Culture
The degree to which we value ourselves is embedded in our culture. According to a global survey of 5,000 youth and young adults in 19 countries, researchers found that regardless of personal values, the majority based their self-esteem on fulfilling the dominant values of their culture.

The study also determined that self-esteem was influenced by where the participants lived. In Western countries, people tended to base self-esteem and self-worth on having control of their own lives. In contrast, those who lived in parts of the Middle East and Asia were more likely to base self-esteem on their duty to the family.

2. Personality traits
Personality traits may also contribute to a lack of confidence. For example, having an external locus of controlcan lower self-confidence by causing the person to attribute their accomplishments to chance and fate rather than something they did themselves. On the other hand, people with an internal locus of control are more likely to be more self-confident, because they attribute their accomplishments to their actions, such as working hard to get a promotion.

3. Upbringing
Our upbringing also influences our level of self-confidence. People with confident parents are more likely to have higher self-confidence because their parents modeled that behavior. In contrast, people with parents who were very critical of them while growing up may struggle with self-confidence as an adult.

4. Trauma
Experiencing trauma at any point in life can also damage your self-confidence. Trauma can alter your perceptions, giving you a negative self-image and outlook. Sometimes after experiencing a traumatic event, we blame ourselves for what happened. It can be hard to develop a healthy sense of self-confidence after experiencing trauma, but it is still possible to do so.

5. Depression or anxiety
Another reason people may suffer from low confidence is having a mental health condition such as depression, social anxiety, or GAD. Experiencing depression or anxiety can affect how you think and cause you to perceive situations more negatively and doubt your abilities. However, seeking help from a therapist can significantly benefit you and will help you learn how to challenge your negative thinking.
Signs you have low self-confidence:

● Constantly comparing yourself to others

● Blaming yourself

● Thinking you never do anything right

● Apologizing all of the time

● Taking criticism personally

● Having anxiety about your abilities

● Feeling needy or unworthy

Strategies for developing self-confidence

Practice self-compassion. Next time you experience a setback in life, remember to treat yourself with compassion. It’s okay to be imperfect and to make mistakes, it’s all part of being human.

Practice healthy self-talk. Notice the way you talk to yourself. Sometimes we find it difficult to talk to ourselves in a helpful way. If you are constantly getting down on yourself, try talking to yourself as you would to a friend.

Finding our bravery and courage. We have confidence when we know a certain result is likely to happen; courage, on the other hand, requires us to take chances despite our fear of the unknown. If you are not feeling confident, remember you will get there, and you can still choose to act with courage.

Focus on small accomplishments. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the big picture and our future that we forget to focus on small achievements. When you reach one of your goals, remember to give yourself a pat on the back, such as treating yourself to a coffee or ice cream.

Set goals and monitor your progress. It can be helpful to break goals down into smaller steps to make them less intimidating. Meeting your goals, even if they are small, will help you begin building greater self-confidence.

Benefits of therapy in Edmonton for self-confidence:

At Rediscover, we provide mental health therapy services to individuals of all ages, at every step of the journey. At Rediscover, we offer evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which will assist you in becoming aware of unhealthy behaviours and help you to challenge and overcome the negative thinking that undermines confidence. If you are struggling with confidence, don’t despair, it is possible to overcome it with the help of a therapist.