What is Confidence?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines confidence as ‘a feeling of self assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities”. What it doesn’t add is that a lack of confidence can affect your whole life, making absolutely everything seem harder, gloomier and less achievable. On a very basic level confidence is a feeling of emotional security that comes from having faith and believing in yourself and your abilities.
Feeling confident is essential in all aspects of your life – it helps you reach your goals to try new things, to believe in your decision making capabilities and to be independent. It enables you to manage stress and equips you to deal with emotional, practical and physical problems. It’s how you measure your ability to cope and to succeed, so a lack of confidence can be exceptionally debilitating, making you feel you don’t measure up in some way. No one feels confident all the time and feeling stressed, anxious or worried should in no way be considered a weakness.
I like to think that confidence is a like a water tank you continually have to top up to keep a good supply in reserve. Its about focussing on the times when you have felt confident, and learning what made you so confident.
Common Confidence Problems
Outlined below are some experiences which can impact on your confidence. The severity with which the experiences below might affect you depends on how often they happen, how much you believe them at the time and how long they last.
Feeling you can’t cope with stress; believing that you can’t handle a current event or situation can make you feel discouraged, demoralised and lonely. This will undermine your confidence and your self esteem. Examples include being bullied or intimidated at work or school, being in an abusive relationship, going through a break up, feeling isolated from friends or family, going through a life change (i.e becoming a parent or being made redundant), financial hardship, uncertainty about the future, experiencing a traumatic event or health problems (your own or someone close to you).
Not meeting standards: this can be two told – you don’t feel you’re meeting the standards that others expect of you and you expect of yourself. You may know you’re not performing well or it may be openly acknowledged by others and you can be criticised, dismissed or made fun of. Being able to accept constructive criticism is an integral part of being a functioning adult, but when the criticism is unwarranted severe or constant and is never balanced by praise and acknowledgement of your successes it can shatter your confidence.
Feeling like an outcast – you feel (or felt when you were a kid) like the odd one out either at school, home, work or in general. Although you might not be criticised for your “different” interests abilities or personality you feel they are negatively emphasised, while your peers’ attributes are praised or celebrated.
Absence of positives. No one is overtly horrible to you, but there’s a distinct lack of attention, praise, encouragement, time, warmth and affection lavished on you. No one seems that interested in you personally. As a child you will conclude that this is because there’s something wrong with you and you don’t deserve it, but these feelings can be triggered or re-triggered in adulthood too.
Family Problems: Divorce, illness or job loss can hugely affect families – how they interact and whether they offer the stability they used to or they’re expected to. Also your role within a family – how you are viewed and represented within the dynamic – can play a big part in how you view yourself and how you think others view you. You might feel unable to update the character you believe you were assigned a long time ago (i.e the black sheep, the clever one, the unreliable one etc).
How can I help?
The first step after you contact me (either by phone or email) will be a brief telephone conversation with me. This is so you can raise any questions or concerns and share a little about your situation. Each and every telephone call is conducted in strict confidence. If you feel uncomfortable with a telephone conversation, please express this on an email and we can organise your initial free consultation in person.
Following this, you can choose whether to book in sessions with me and we can discuss how and when these will happen. The initial consultation is designed to give you freedom of choice and to ensure you are comfortable talking and working with me
Your first session will give you the chance to talk freely in a calm, quiet and completely confidential environment to explore your situation and how it impacts you day to day. I look to understand what you hope to achieve from therapy and from this we can explore some techniques and ideas to help you to achieve improved health and wellbeing, so you are armed with a unique set of tools that you can use to continue to feel well. Most importantly I work at a pace and frequency that feels right for you with regular check ins to see how you are progressing.
More information on my approach can be found here.