Everyone struggles with a lack of confidence at times. It is estimated that 85% of the world’s population experiences low self-esteem and consequently, low self-confidence at some point in their life.
We all know the feeling of inadequacy and incompetence. It can happen when you face a new job, new relationship, or an unknown situation. There is some comfort in knowing that you are not alone, but you don’t want to get stuck in low self-confidence because it can impact every aspect of your life. It can be at the root of disappointing friendships and love relationships, lower long-term earning potential and missed opportunities for high quality jobs and promotions. There is also strong correlation between low self-confidence and substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and other destructive conditions and behaviors.
How Low Self-Confidence Affects Relationships
People with low self-confidence are more likely to have trouble starting and maintaining quality love relationships compared to those with high self-confidence. This can apply in every relational context –romance, friendship or family. Very often their relationships involve lower levels of love and trust and higher levels of conflict and ambivalence. Their relationships are often less stable or more likely to experience a break-up.
Low self-confidence can stop a relationship before it starts. I have worked with many men and women who have suffered the pain of loneliness and isolation because of their fear of rejection and negative judgment. They simply cannot believe that someone genuinely likes and cares about them.
Studies on the topic of relationship self-confidence reveal that people generally believe that others perceive them the way they perceive themselves. So, if they see themselves as funny, attractive, engaging, kind, and intelligent they are more likely to conclude that others see them the same way. You can see how this boosts confidence!
On the other hand, people with low relationship self-confidence are more likely to doubt their overall attractiveness and therefore assume that people who don’t know them yet may not see them in a positive light and those who do like them are more likely to stop liking or accepting them at some point.
Because people with low relationship self-confidence are not sure they will be unconditionally loved and accepted by their partner they are less likely to be vulnerable and may hold back on committing to relationships. They may also engage in behaviors that can sabotage their relationship such as frequently testing their partners love and requiring constant proof and assurance.
How Low Self-Confidence Affects Earning Power
Research published in the Journal of Economic Psychology (2008) has shown that higher self-esteem often results in higher salary. They discovered that teenagers who reported lower self-esteem had lower earnings as adults. The less confident a person is, the less likely it is that they will assert themselves by learning new skills, taking on challenging tasks, asking for raises, expecting to be paid a higher wage, and even applying for jobs that pay more.
High self-confidence is also associated with perceived ability in your professional life. This is important because there is a positive relationship between perceived ability and effort. Someone with low self-confidence often questions or doubts their abilities and are therefore likely to put forth less effort on the job. Of course, less effort at work usually translates into less job security, fewer opportunities for advancement and less likelihood of receiving special bonuses and raises. The cause becomes the effect.
What Should You Do About Low Self-Confidence?
Talk with a friend or family member about the insecurity you feel, and you will likely find that they have experienced a lack of confidence in some area of their life. It will help to know you are not alone. Also, write down one to three things that you wish you could do better and identify the reasons you believe you fall short when you try. This will help you see, in writing, some of the thoughts that trigger your lack of confidence so you can sort out which are true and which are false.
As you consider the thoughts you identified, give yourself permission to experience some anger at the lies and some grief for the opportunities you may have passed up because you were too afraid to try. Let that anger fuel your resolve to overcome your fear of not being good enough! Every one of us is a work in progress, but with hope and hard work, you can grow in your confidence!
How about you? What helped you overcome a lack of confidence? What made you realize you could accomplish what you wanted to do? Let our readers know how you did it!
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.