How to be more confident in myself?

In social settings I find myself always feeling insecure, concerned with either the way I look or how others might perceive me. I also tend to avoid eye contact and always feel so unsure in everything. This has come to a point where it’s affection my life decisions, such as being unsure of the future career path I want to pursue. I guess I can say fear sort of governs my life and I’m not sure how to combat it.
Asked by ana

In order to approach the topic of confidence at first we need to understand what it is. Simply put, confidence is knowing who you are and being ok with it, or, in other words, being comfortable in your own skin. It implies self-knowledge and self-acceptance, which can only be achieved by doing a lot of emotional work.


This is, probably, not the answer many people would like to hear. People often want to get clear instructions on how to resolve their problems, but, when it comes to emotions, there is no clear instruction manual to follow. There are many exercises, affirmations and other techniques designed to raise confidence. It’s fine to do all of those, but I don’t believe they are key to solving the problem. They could be used as a nice addition to your self-reflection and self-exploration, but, in and of themselves, they are not a solution.


I would say that if you are serious about raising your confidence, you would absolutely need to engage in the insight-oriented form of therapy or some other deep emotional work. This will be a long journey and there will be no shortcuts.


It’s important to remember that you will never get to a point where you will no longer experience any insecurity. A big part of being confident, as strange as it may sound, is accepting your insecurity as something natural, because it is.


Feeling insecure to some extent is a part of human nature, and so, in and of itself, it is not an indication that there is something wrong with you. It becomes a problem only when it reaches the level of becoming unmanageable and makes you unable to take initiative and other necessary actions. Accepting your insecurity as something normal will make it easier to manage it.


Another thing to remember when trying to gain confidence is that other people don't spend much time thinking about you (unless they are close to you), and so, even when they judge you one way or another, they don’t invest much of their emotional energy into their judgments. More often than not, their judgments aren’t strong, they are transient and fleeting and don’t play any role in how they treat you.


Last but not least, in your question you mentioned that fear governs your life, which is something that goes beyond just not being confident. When fear governs your life to a point where it affects your life decisions, this is a much deeper and more serious problem than just being insecure in social situations. The best way to address it is to get to the root of it, and for that you would need to get some professional help.