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Self Confidence

One thing that holds many people back from achieving their goals is a lack of self confidence. Lack of self confidence is a unique sort of fear – it’s the near certainty that one is going to fail and disappoint others. It tends to keep people from taking risks, and in playing it safe – avoiding that failure and disappointment – people who lack self confidence, ironically, ensure that that they will always disappoint themselves on some level.

But what is self confidence? Too often, self-confidence is confused with arrogance. Arrogance is usually a mask that overcompensates for a lack of confidence – and it does fool a lot of people. But it is not real self confidence. So what is?

Self confidence is inner peace. It is a deep-seated belief in yourself; it is contentment with who and what you are. It is not the misguided belief that you are perfect, or somehow better than others. It is not a delusional belief that there is no room for growth or improvement. It is not "attitude."

Self-confident people are able to take criticism with an open mind and a grain of salt.  If I disagree with criticism,  I can choose to modify my work or my behavior or not. But many people, rather than seeing constructive criticism as a gift – rather than remembering that it takes more of another person’s time and effort to give it than to say, “Nice job” – take it very personally and get defensive. Self-confident people recognize that constructive criticism may just save them from making a fool of themselves in public.

Self-confident people don’t have to belittle others to feel better about themselves. Underlying a certain sense of "There but by the Grace of God" is a mean-spirited delight or titillation in the misfortunes and stupidity of others.  I think we enjoy watching others make fools of themselves more when we are suffering our own little "crises of confidence" than when we are content with ourselves. Schadenfreude is a wonderful word; it just rolls off the tip of the tongue – but taking joy in the misfortunes of others is not the hallmark of a self-confident human being.

Self-confident people don’t have to take the offense or the defense. Self-confident people don’t have to be pushy or rude to get their way. They are not consumed with self-doubt and worry, and are therefore more able to focus on others and make others feel better about themselves. They are often mentors, who are glad when their students outshine them. They are not threatened by this; they take credit where it’s due and are happy to share it freely. These people don’t get defensive or come out fighting when things don’t go their way, or when someone criticizes or insults them. They know that there are better things to come, and that one rotten apple doesn’t spoil the barrel.

Self-confident people can feel hurt like anyone else, but because they are their own best friends, these people cannot be crushed or have their spirits broken by an unkind word.

Self confidence is attractive; love is self-confident. Ever notice how people in a steady, dating relationship often have to beat back prospective suitors with a stick? And how people who are anxiously seeking someone with whom to have a meaningful relationship are stuck at home on Friday and Saturday nights, doing their laundry or washing their hair? Neediness and lack of self-confidence scare people away. Correction: Neediness and lack of self-confidence attract some people, but generally not the sort of people you’d want to attract. When you don’t need anyone’s company but your own, yet are open to accepting the company of others, you will have it before long.

Self-confident people are not easily intimidated. And being less fearful, they are apt to smile more. They are more likely to let go of all the little distractions presented by fear and stress, and focus on planning for and achieving their goals.

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About Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri lives in Texas and claims to channel the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry and Erma Bombeck. She has known since fifth grade that she wanted to be a professional writer. Holly is a technical communicator whose imagination is allowed free rein in her short stories, children's books, and poetry. You can visit her personal blog, "It's All a Matter of Perspective," at http://jahangiri.us/new.

About Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri lives in Texas and claims to channel the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry and Erma Bombeck. She has known since fifth grade that she wanted to be a professional writer. Holly is a technical communicator whose imagination is allowed free rein in her short stories, children's books, and poetry. You can visit her personal blog, "It's All a Matter of Perspective," at http://jahangiri.us/new.

Comments

  1. Self confidence is inner peace. That sums it up for me. I can so relate with this post, I’m self confident but I’m arrogant too. I do take constructive criticism, unfazed by little distractions, I don’t belittle others and I don’t feel bitter about myself.

    Fantastic post, I loved it!

    Aditya
    Aditya recently posted..What Are Your New Year Resolutions?My Profile

    • Something to think about, regarding arrogance…

      If you are very, very, VERY good at everything you do, people will still respect you and seek you out, even if you’re arrogant. You can get by with a little arrogance when you can back it up with real substance.

      If you are extremely thoughtful, courteous, and kind, without an arrogant bone in your body, people will have more tolerance for your mistakes and lack of skill or knowledge (within limits, of course). The best place to be is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, though. Good at what you do, confident, comfortable with yourself, but recognizing that everyone deserves to be treated well and respected, and humble enough to admit that while you may be better at some things than others – they, too, may be better at their thing than you are. We can always learn from each other.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Prima MaterMy Profile

  2. Hi Holly,

    It seemed that you have summed up everything that could be said in this post. Yes, indeed there is a HUGE difference between self confidence and arrogance and as you mentioned arrogant people just totally lack self confidence.
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..What Is Hypnosis?My Profile

  3. Love that line self confidence is inner peace. So true.

  4. Great article, Holly.

  5. Holly,

    All those traits are true, and as one who has struggled with this at times, I can vouch for the arrogance characterization. Are you following up in your book ( you are still writing one, right?) with how to get to that blissful state? Or a follow-up blog post?
    david k waltz recently posted..Anchors Away!My Profile

  6. Holly, this essay give a refreshing look at the often confusing terms arrogance and self-confidence. It explains that lovely smile of yours, which I jokingly misinterpreted elsewhere. 🙂

    Thanks for writing such a lovely post!

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Oh, I can “Muahahahahaha!” with the best of ’em, Mitch. 😉 But yes – in that case, you misinterpreted and I’m glad you were joking, because I was quite serious. But you know that.

      Thank YOU for your kind words – I’m glad you liked this post. (Hey, as Neeraj pointed out, I got to open and close the week! LOL)

      I only wish I’d had Ntathu’s brilliance and had asked you if I could guest post for you this past week. 😉 Or for Anthony, since he’s traveling and could probably use some free content for his own blog! One of the things I love about this contest (at least so far) is that we’ve not let it interfere with camaraderie and helpfulness towards each other. I think there’s a strong sense that we’d all lose, if that were to happen.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Class ReunionMy Profile

      • Hopefully, I can help you next week.

        If your team doesn’t hack you to bits, first.

        Mwhahahaha! 🙂

        Cheers,

        Mitch

        • “Hack me to bits”?? Good lord, what a mental image. As those bits continue to advance to the goal like little zombies…

          Oh, hey, here’s a movie trivia question for you: In what old film did the prehistoric monster keep regenerating from its “bits”? The ending was a bit uncertain, as one of those “bits” went floating to the sea floor.
          Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Book & Nook StuffersMy Profile

          • Eek! Little, balut-munchin’ Hollys, terrorizing Denmark!

            Oh, wait, that was Reptilicus 🙂

            Cheers,

            Mitch

          • w00t! That was quick! (I actually didn’t know the answer, just remembered watching that thing as a kid. I didn’t even remember it took place in Denmark! ROFL!!)

            Okay – here’s another: Takes place on a cruise ship; a couple begins to realize that this “cruise” is not all it appears to be. Gradually, it becomes apparent that the destination is eternal. Or maybe just eternally floating around on this damned cruise ship. Unless, you know, someone breaks a window. B&W, and there are two versions. Name them BOTH.
            Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Book & Nook StuffersMy Profile

          • You’re good at these. Lucky for me, I’m good at asking Google nicely.

            <Between Two Worlds (1944) is a remake of Outward Bound (1930).

            Cheers,

            Mitch

          • Yes!! Well done. That took me years to find. I saw that when I was a kid (not sure which version, now, either) and it stuck with me, but not in sufficient detail and I’m not sure there was anything much to be found on the Internet up to recently.