Calmly build confidence in your capabilities.
With insecurities and a lack of self confidence being the primary reasons people are unkind towards others – learning how to develop an impenetrable sense of self is critical both for your own happiness, and for the interactions you have with others. We know we want to be confident, but we see people who seem to have too much and there is definitely a difference in being self-assured and being self-aggrandizing. So, what are the differences, and how can you cultivate confidence that calmly radiates throughout all of your interactions?
Confidence: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
Arrogance: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
For some, confidence is innate, for others it takes a lot of practice and constant work. Personally, I am very fortunate to have grown up with parents who instilled a strong sense of self; they used adages like: Remember who you are (and whose you are), Kelsey wins, and be true to yourself to help reinforce strong character, and consequently a clear sense of self, and a calm confidence in who I am. But with that well- rooted confidence still comes attacks in the form of insecurities (we all have them), and as a result it’s imperative that we learn to acknowledge them and reconfigure them to fuel our growth and continued respect of ourselves.
Confidence is not arrogance, but it is a deep belief and core personal & foundational understanding that you have something of value to offer, and as a result you deserve a seat at the table, knowledge that you were gifted with certain skills, and as a result, you can use them to make a difference, and you have something to contribute. Confidence is also humble, it’s the ability to understand that everyone has something to offer, that we are better off when we work together, and that while we are gifted and capable in a number of ways, there are also development areas for us to personally focus on. It is also the ability to cast off the opinions of others and give little weight to what others think of us – as long as you like who you are, and you like the decisions you are making, then no one else’s opinion truly matters – it is the ultimate, be true to who you are. While it can be intimidating to let go of other’s opinions (we’re socialized early on to find validity in what others think of us), it is ultimately freeing to only put energy into acting in such a way that you approve of. When you can stop wasting energy on acting in a manner that conforms to other’s opinions (others who have their own issues and insecurities), then you have so much more bandwidth, mental peace, and clarity to move forward in the way that you are best suited for.
Why should I care what others think of me? If I like me, and I’m comfortable with my actions, that is all that matters. It becomes easy to be confident when you don’t need the validation of others to champion your own sense of self, and to promote your internal value.
A lack of confidence often is a result of a feeling that a situation is outside of our control (we feel ill equipped to handle the demands of the interaction). This feeling of lack of control creates a sense of anxiety, that can manifest as insecurity. To help combat this, mentally slow things down, take control of your thoughts, trust that you have the skills (or the ability to learn the skills) necessary to handle the interaction, that you have gotten to this point in your life and as a result that everything will work out the way it is meant to be.
Insecurities are just fears (fear is unproductive, unless channeled to understand why we have the fear, and what we can learn from it), and it’s important that we face our fears head on: Ask yourself what about this situation am I afraid of, what is causing my confidence in this situation or interaction to wane?
Insecurity Around Others:
Typically, insecurity around others is due to feelings of intimidation by the other person.
It’s important to understand if these feelings are a result of our own manifestations and projections onto the other person or due to the other person’s actions and persona.
If they are a result of the other persons actions and arrogance, try to limit your time around those people. If you do have to engage – remember that arrogance is caused by internal conflict, entitlement, and a desire to appear greater and more capable that one may really be. As a result, there is something that the other person is lacking that is contributing to their arrogance; thus focus on the skills that you bring to the table (no one person can do everything – that’s why there are all different personality types and skill sets; we have to interact in order to be successful).
If the insecurity is due to our perception of another, and not their direct actions, then start to ask yourself what about the interaction with the other person is causing you to feel less than confident and capable.
Is it that they have more experience than you (career progression & experiences / education, etc.)?
In great shape?
Once you understand what about the other person is causing you to feel insecure, then start to focus on what you can learn from that person. Typically if we feel insecure around someone (who hasn’t done anything to directly prompt insecurity), it is often because they have something that we want (something can be skills, competencies, experiences, opportunities, or material possessions), and we let ourselves feel less than, because we do not have that something. Instead, if you go into those interactions focused on what you are great at, what you are able to contribute, and what you can learn from the person causing the insecurity, you can often reverse the insecurities and begin to make valuable self-improvements.
From this internal dialogue: “This person went to a great university, they have tons of job experience, and must be so much smarter than I am. I don’t know why I’m even in the same room with them, I’m not going to speak up, my thoughts / opinions aren’t valuable.”
To this internal dialogue: “This person went to a great university, they have tons of job experience – wow, what have they gained from that education and experience that I can learn? And what about my background and experience is different that allows me to provide a unique perspective?”
From: “She is so well dressed, and in shape, it’s obnoxious, how does she even have the time to work out, get dressed, and get all of her work done?”
To: “She is so well dressed, and in shape, I too would love to be able to find ways to work out regularly and cultivate a wardrobe I’m proud of – I’m going to compliment her, and ask if she’d be willing to share her recommendations.” FYI when given compliments – people are typically more than happy to share what works for them – innately people like to help, and make a difference (unless they are a monster, and usually those are the people that you know are actively causing you to feel insecure, and as a result you are already working to spend less time around them).
Remember: No one is better than anyone else, instead we are better at things than others, and we each have our own unique skills and capabilities to cultivate in order to establish our own form of success.
Insecurity Within Our Self:
Occurs when we don’t feel that our actions are in alignment with what we know to be right for us – when we deviate from what we fundamentally know we should be doing, how we should be acting, what we should be pursing. You have to – remember who you are. When your actions are aligned with what you know to be right, it becomes easy to operate with confidence because you have a foundational knowledge that what you are doing, saying, and pursuing aligns with your values, and skills.
Once you focus on your capabilities that you bring to the table, and what you can learn from every experience, while ensuring your actions are in accordance with your values – you will start to see that your anxiety levels decrease, and your confidence rises.
Love Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
So, ask yourself: am I conducting myself in accordance with my values (am I doing what in my heart I know is right?). If so, then I may go boldly in the direction of my dreams, and I may live the life I’ve imagined – which pertains to every interaction we have, every day – it either brings us closer to our goals, or farther from them, so best to pursue those goals with confidence.
For this corporate outfit that, while simple, enables a sense of calm confidence thus enabling my capabilities to take center stage, I’ve paired a suit dress from one of my navy suits with a different suit’s grey blazer (that suit’s matching skirt died long ago unfortunately, though the jacket is still great – all suits should come with two pairs of skirts/pants/dresses as they will always wear out 2x as fast as the blazer).
While not a formal full suit – because it is suit separates – it creates a composed ensemble. And in less formal colors it presents a more casual and comfortable aesthetic. I also like how the neckline of the dress mirrors the angled edge of the blazer with the no-lapel finish – it provides a more modern and clean façade. Adding a scarf breaks up the block colors and contributes to the overall look without interfering with the formality of the outfit.
Consider what in your life is detracting from your confidence so that you can calmly confront it, and then construct your concrete sense of self.
All my best,