By Jackson Hale
Hello Forward All Inquiries,
Recently i have been wondering, how do i become more confident? I don’t know what i would do with my confidence once i get it (probably talk to people more) but sometimes i feel that if i was more confident i could do more things and feel more fufilled.
So please, if it is no problem, please let me know how you might try to build your confidence?
- Scaredy-cat Harri-et
Hello all, and welcome to Forward All Inquiries. This is an advice column for GMA, where people ask me questions, and I answer even though I may not be a person who you should listen to for advice – unless you want to know how to play Overwatch better. And even then I am pretty much only good at three characters. [He’s a damn good D-VA – Ed.]
My name is Jackson, and I am not particularly good at feeling confident. But I have an admission to make: I think we talk about self confidence all wrong.
Before I start, i also want to say, there are many reasons someone might not have confidence. If your confidence problems are preventing you or causing you harm in some way, please seek help from a source that isn’t an Undergraduate in Global Studies: Politics and Economy please.
Ok, lets begin.
Now when we normally talk about confidence, we are referring to a state of belief. Confidence is a belief that a particular action or proposition is more accurate than alternative actions or propositions. With this type of confidence, we can think of it as the weight someone places in a conclusion.
For example, I might say with confidence that fried chicken is better than baked chicken. I have strong belief in the correctness of my beliefs.
In this way, confidence seems like it is grounded in a type of logic, because we instinctively feel it. It is the natural conclusion of us weighing two or more items, and choosing a preferred one. When we are playing trivia, and the answer to a question clicks in our brain, we have confidence in our answer.
Self-confidence though can be totally bogus. With normal confidence, you are determining belief in correctness of a selection from a set of options. But with self-confidence, the only tangible point of reference about ourselves is the thing we are judging. Its like only ever seeing one movie (Julie and Julia) and then being asked how it fits into the American Cinematic tradition.
Surely you can see how bogus this is?
When we make our judgements that lead to us determining our self-confidence, we will decide what exactly we are basing our value on. Here are some potential categories:
- Moral rightness
- Ability in sports
- Ability in Overwatch
- Sticking up for yourself
- Speaking your mind
- Listening to the opinions of others
- Collection of spoons from 50 states of the US
- A really expensive guitar
- Having a Japanese significant other
- Political affiliation
- Religious affiliation (or non-affiliation (or religiously angry non-affiliation))
- What you eat (and what you think about what others eat)
Whatever you feel is important, you will probably base your value around the things you believe are of value. But value is weird, because none of the items you could base your concept-of-self around are particularly quantifiable. And so if you are so inclined, you could still find a way to focus on things that you might lack and feel bad.
So I think that seeing confidence as you recognizing value maybe not the best. (mostly because everyone has value, and we are very bad at determining value anyways because value is pretty situational anyways.)
So, what I would do is think about self-confidence as knowing that everything is going to be ok when you make mistakes. You should find something you are good at, find a way in which it is good for the world so it makes you feel good, and then try new things.
And here is why!
When most people start something new, they are not good at it. In this way, they are going to make more and more mistakes. And realistically, that is the only way to get better at something. If you want to study something, you are going to have to try to remember and come up empty a few times before you will start remembering really quickly.
And further, almost everything has a social component to it. When our actions have a positive effect on the world around us, we feel better about ourselves because we can see ourselves in the good in the world.
So Scaredy-cat Harri-et, if your lack of confidence is keeping you from trying new things, i would say you should try those new things and then let the confidence come when it comes.
Until then, there is a really good podcast called Invisibilia, and this link will take you to their page. It has lots of stuff about confidence, changing your way of thinking, all sorts of good happiness stuff for the restless mind.