It seems like confidence is in short supply these days. Below are 7 reasons why you should increase your self-confidence level (in case being in the minority isn’t reason enough).
1. Become a Good Winner/Loser
One of the marked traits of someone with high self-confidence is the lack of that driving need to prove yourself constantly. Think of someone you know who is a sore loser (or winner) and how they whine and complain (or brag and strut) about their victory or defeat. A confident person does not need to compensate in this way, because they know they are good at what they do and that a game or competition doesn’t make them any less of a person. This goes a long way to making someone more socially palatable and less likely to come across as a jerk.
2. Lose the Tool Kit
Speaking of compensation, there are many items that are considered trappings of someone with low self-confidence, something I’ve heard lovingly described as a ‘Tool Kit’ (because it’s what someone who is a tool carries around with them). What’s included in the kit varies depending on who you talk to, but generally it’s comprised of 1) things that are big and very visually noisy, 2) things that are very loud (sound-wise), 3) things that are very flashy and expensive but tasteless, and 4) things that unnecessarily offend others.
Items that fit into these categories include super-huge trucks and SUVs (unless you really are using it to haul things or off-roading, in which case I guess a sedan wouldn’t be the most practical choice and your ridiculously huge vehicle would make more sense), stereos turned up so loud that they make other cars vibrate, vehicles that are ‘tricked out’ in a way that annoys others (if it’s your hobby to augment your car, that’s great, but the rest of us don’t need to hear you coming from a mile away), ridiculously over-the-top jewelry or decorations (a gold clock necklace? For real?) and t-shirts that are sexist, racist, or otherwise generally offensive.
Each of these items scream ‘look at me look at me LOOK AT ME!’ and do nothing to make you look cool, only desperate. Ditch ’em.
3. Be More Attractive (Physically)
I’ve noticed something personally about self-confidence that others I’ve asked have confirmed: as you begin to feel more confident, other people find you more attractive. And trust me, I know that correlation is not causation, but something about feeling good about yourself makes you more appealing to others. It may be how you carry yourself (head held higher, more eye contact, better posture), it could be that you subconsciously begin to treat yourself better (so you actually start to get into better shape or have better hygiene), and it may just be that you have more of a ‘glow’ when you’re in a good mental state (body language and facial micro-expressions could be a big part of the reason). Whatever the ‘why’ of it might be, increasing your self-confidence level is definitely a recommended component of improving your personal aesthetics.
4. Be More Attractive (Mentally)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that confident people generally have more and better friends than those who are stuck in a cesspool of self-loathing and doubt. Individuals with high self-confidence levels have less emotional baggage, generally make more money and have a larger capacity for helping others. This adds up to a lot less time stressing about small (or even large) issues, a faster turnaround on solutions to problems, and a healthier self-image that most other people will find incredibly endearing. Think of someone that has a very magnetic personality, someone that you really enjoy being around and have a lot of respect for. Chances are, they have great self-confidence.
5. Learn More (Faster!)
One of the greatest perks of being confident is knowing that you can accomplish anything. This doesn’t mean that you think you are the best of the best, and it especially doesn’t imply that you feel you are better than anyone else (which is a trait of arrogance, not confidence, which I’ll discuss more below). What it means is that you have taken stock of what you know and realized that if you learned all that, you can learn anything else that’s thrown your way, as well. Not everyone has the predisposition to be a neurosurgeon, but with enough time and effort, a confident person knows they could achieve that rank eventually. This knowledge helps remove one of the major barriers that people erect in their mind that keeps them from learning and learning quickly: the fear that they aren’t smart or capable enough to retain the information they are studying. And why try to learn if you don’t think it will stick? Break down this wall by becoming more confident.
6. Get More Done
The impact even a small increase in confidence can have on your ability to get things done cannot be overstated. As with learning, one of the biggest hurdles standing in the way of people who want to achieve something is the fear that they will not be capable of achieving it. Fortunately, with more confidence comes a greater determination and knowledge that, even if you fail, you will have learned something that will help you achieve your goals next time around. So why worry?
7. Be a Missionary
Since college, when I really came into my own and built up a lot of the confidence that I have now, I’ve probably had a total of 15 people tell me to my face that I’d inspired them to take the reins of their lives and accomplish something they were afraid to try (I don’t think any of them used those words, but that was the gist of it). I hadn’t said anything to them about the subject, I hadn’t done anything special to try and catch their attention or point them in the right direction. No advice was given. All I had done was live my life, work towards what I wanted to achieve and inspired by example. This is something that will happen more and to a person who is increasing their confidence level because seeing someone constantly moving forward and doing what they want to do, damn the consequences, is really motivating! I personally take a great deal of inspiration from many of the speakers at the TED Conferences: each and every one of them have achieved something extraordinary where others have failed, simply because they’ve built up the personal resolve to keep moving forward, even in the face of certain failure. Find someone who can inspire you in that way, and then do your best to be an inspiration to others.
A quick note on the difference between confidence and arrogance:
In the United States especially, confidence has become a bad word, synonymous with arrogance and cockiness. It should be noted, however, that the there are some very important distinctions between these words. Confidence refers to having faith in yourself, knowing that you can accomplish something and pull through, and generally having a positive self-image. Arrogance, on the other hand, means that you have an over-inflated self-image, believing yourself to be grander than you actually are (and most definitely better than those around you). This exaggeration of one’s self-worth at the expense of those around you is arrogance, which is BAD. Having a positive self-image that helps you achieve without negatively impact those around you (and usually positively effecting them) is confidence, which is GOOD. The distinction has been made, so go out and be a positive force for yourself and others. For advice on how to increase your confidence level, read this.
Update: April 23, 2016
These points still stand, though I would add that a core component of confidence is humility. This seems counter-intuitive, but being humble enough to know what you don’t yet know, and that you could fail, encourages you to go and pursue new knowledge while recognizing that others have something to teach you. It also primes you for inevitable moments of failure and confusion, and allows you to get back up after stumbling (someone without that malleability has a trickier time getting back up, because their ego is too tied up in being right all the time, and always knowing the answer, which doesn’t incentivize asking questions).
I feel like the ‘Tool Kit’ point is a little judgey. Overt peacocking still bugs me, but I’m more inclined to say ‘to each their own’ and just ignore them, these days. My way of feeling confident and expressing myself isn’t right for everyone.