Having self-confidence means that you acknowledge your innate value.
In practical terms, self-confidence can translate into the ability to take proactive steps to improve your quality of life, success and happiness.
Conversely, low self-confidence can lead to feelings of being unfulfilled, insecure and unhappy.
We all know which category we want to be in.
But if you happen to be in the category of low self-confidence, how can you move into the category of healthy self-confidence?
There are many methods and practices to develop self-confidence and positive affirmations are powerful tools that can help rewire your brain and establish a pattern of positive self-talk that can inspire greater levels of confidence.
What causes low self-confidence?
Low self-confidence often has its roots in childhood when we are most impressionable.
Everyone has challenging moments during childhood, but when the number and severity of the negative messages received outweigh our experiences of positive and encouraging messages, the result can be low self-confidence.
Receiving harsh criticism from a parent, teacher or authority figure or never being able to measure up to a talented or attractive sibling or being bullied or abused in some form can all lead to feelings of low self-confidence.
This low self-confidence often manifests in other ways as life progresses, involving poor life choices such as accepting employment that is below our potential, engaging in relationships that are destructive or abusive, developing eating disorders or alcoholism or other manifestations that reflect our inability to feel confident about our value or worthiness.
Healthy self-confidence vs. low self-confidence
Some examples of behaviors of people with healthy self-confidence are:
- They will ask for a raise when they believe they deserve it.
- They will take risks in starting a new business venture, trusting in the value of their experience and knowledge.
- They will set high goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them, persevering through challenges.
- They will nurture friendships with other individuals who have healthy self-confidence.
- They will believe they deserve a caring, loving and supportive relationship and leave one that fails to present those qualities.
- They will value their health and well-being and develop practices that support a healthy body and mind.
- They will say “no” when something is too much for them and not try to people-please.
- They will speak audibly and clearly because they believe their voice is important and their thoughts worth hearing.
- They will cultivate their physical appearance in a way that is pleasing to them, without worrying about how other people see them.
- They will feel happy for other people’s success and not feel like it’s a threat to their own success.
- They will care more about their opinion of themselves than about what other people think or say.
- They will avoid comparing themselves with others and instead focus on their goals, projects and dreams.
On the other hand, those who have low levels of self-confidence may:
- Accept exploitive or low-paying work that is not commensurate with their skills.
- Avoid risk for fear of ridicule, failure or destitution, believing that they won’t have the ability to overcome obstacles.
- Fail to set goals or make measurable progress in their financial lives or careers.
- Feel attracted to the company of people who are emotional “vampires” or who mirror their own sense of low self-worth.
- Engage in unfulfilling or abusive relationships because they believe they are unworthy of love and nurturing and feel unable to leave bad relationships for fear of being alone.
- Engage in self-destructive behavior to escape their unhappiness by seeking short-term pleasure in the form of drug use, alcoholism, compulsive eating or sex addiction.
- Always say “yes” in an attempt to please others in order to feel that they are worthy.
- Speak softly or timidly or even develop a stutter because they believe their thoughts and opinions are worthless.
- Wear clothing that draws either very little or very much attention to them in an attempt to either hide or to stand out in an attempt to gain attention or admiration.
- Feel resentful of other people’s success and happiness.
- Feel easily wounded when criticized by others.
- Spend too much time comparing their personal lives, careers, financial status or physical appearance to others who they feel are “better” than them.
Surprising members of the low self-confidence club
Self-confidence and positive self-image don’t just affect day-to-day experiences, but also the likelihood of achieving long-term success and happiness.
However, low self-confidence doesn’t always translate into a lack of success.
In fact, individuals who have achieved remarkable levels of success can experience low levels of self-confidence at the same time.
In these cases, they often experience a condition known as “imposter syndrome” where an individual feels that they aren’t deserving of the success they have received.
As Elizabeth Cox points out in her Ted talk video “What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it?”, many people would be surprised to learn that writer Maya Angelou, whose internationally acclaimed work has earned her many rewards, felt that she wasn’t deserving of her success.
And did you know that Albert Einstein felt his work wasn’t worth the recognition it received?
Even such high-performing individuals can suffer from lack of self-confidence and an inability to accept the rewards they receive for their talent, creativity and intelligence.
Positive affirmations for self-confidence
Positive self-talk is a key aspect of transforming limiting beliefs and thought patterns into positive ones.
As executive coach Bonnie Marcus told Forbes magazine, positive mantras, or positive affirmations for confidence, are key aspects of her work with her clients.
She asks clients to complete the following phrase:
“If I were more confident…” and then offers an affirmation for them to use in response to that pain point.
Some responses could be:
- “If I were more confident, I would have a career I enjoy.”
Positive affirmation: I will have the career and success that I seek.
- “If I were more confident, I would have a fulfilling romantic relationship.”
Positive affirmation: I believe I am worthy of love and nurturance.
- “If I were more confident, I would ask for what I need at work and from my relationships.”
Positive affirmation: I give myself permission to confidently ask for what I need from those around me.
- “If I were more confident, I would stop apologizing for my existence.”
Positive affirmation: I am an important part of my family, my workplace, my social circle and society and can make positive contributions to others.
- “If I were more confident, I would be able to listen to criticism without reacting negatively.”
Positive affirmation: I am able to receive feedback and acknowledge its contribution to my growth and success.
Why do positive affirmations work?
The brain’s neural pathways carry chemicals that are produced by our emotions.
In moments of stress, adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine are released.
In moments of happiness, dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins are released.
The negative chemicals lead to both short and long-term health problems and negative emotional states.
The positive chemicals lead to health in the form of achieving adequate sleep, feeling satiated by healthy portions of food, improved mental focus and clarity and a feeling of well-being.
Simply put, when our self-talk is positive, the brain corresponds by releasing positive chemicals.
Try some of these positive affirmations for self-confidence to enhance your positive brain chemistry and experience greater well-being:
- I acknowledge my own self-worth.
- I have the ability, support and knowledge to achieve all the goals I set out to achieve.
- There is nothing that I can’t do, the world is mine.
- I manifest great success, love, fulfillment, health and creativity.
- My self-worth is directly related to the success I experience and is increasing every day.
- I acknowledge my talents and possibilities and am able to manifest them in the world to great effect.
- I am good at what I do.
- I have many gifts to share with the world and I share them openly and freely.
- I am a good friend and offer support and care to those I love.
- My family, friends and partner love and cherish me and I am fully deserving of their love.
- Supported by the Divine grace, I live in abundance.
- I don’t need to change anything about myself to deserve love, success and friendships.
- I have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone so that I can learn and grow.
- I am in control of my reality and I choose to manifest positivity, happiness and love.
- I have all that I need to overcome life’s obstacles and live in abundance.
- Living in light, I greet each day as a gift to be enjoyed fully.
- Abiding in self-confidence, I share my talents and gifts with the world.
- I have the ability to overcome all obstacles between me and my goals and the energy to persevere in the face of challenges.
- My unique talents and gifts are important contributions to the world.
- I make a positive difference in other people’s lives.
- I am admired, respected, cared for and loved and I deserve to be.
- I’m a very good __ (writer, cook, friend, parent, tennis player, etc.)
- I am beautiful just the way I am.
- My thoughts and opinions are valued and well-received.
- I am safe, supported, valued and loved, and this allows me to walk through life with confidence.
Getting the most out of affirmations
Developing a positive affirmations practice and reverting negative self-talk requires some discipline.
You may find it helpful to choose one or more affirmations and write them down.
You could keep them with you and look at them throughout the day.
You could stick with the same affirmations or you could choose different positive affirmations for confidence depending on how you feel that day.
You may prefer to close your eyes and say your affirmations to yourself.
Or you might try practicing saying them to yourself in the mirror.
However you choose to develop your affirmations practice, the important part is that you start to feel better about yourself and more confident.
Choose affirmations that really speak to you and use them as tools to develop your confidence and sense of self-worth.
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