POINTS TO PONDER

Undoubtedly, most of us in our lifetime have been told to have confidence in who we are, in what we do, and in our ability to accomplish whatever we may take on as a cause or project. Psychologists tell us that confidence is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one can meet life’s challenges and succeed – and the willingness to act accordingly. Being confident requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge. Projecting confidence helps people gain credibility, make a strong first impression, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. It’s also attractive, as confidence helps put others at ease.

Furthermore, confidence is not an innate, fixed characteristic. It’s an ability that can be acquired and improved over time. Anxiety can take hold when people are plagued by self-doubt, so putting themselves in and getting accustomed to the specific situation they fear can assure people that nothing terrible will happen. And the activity gets easier with practice. Outside of a social context, one can gain a sense of confidence from personal and professional accomplishments. Continuing to set and meet goals can enable the belief that one is competent and capable.

Lindsay Tigar, a lifestyle and travel writer based in Boston, imagines that we’ve all come across those special people who ooze natural confidence and strength. Whether they’re a member of your work or friend circle, these individuals carry themselves with grace, have excellent eye contact and a firm handshake, and speak with conviction. You may have previously envied their ability to handle an audience and wondered how you could build your confidence to the same level. The truth is it takes practice. It comes from investing in ourselves.

Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based Psychologist, says that having confidence means believing in and feeling emotionally secure about yourself. It means you have healthy self-esteem and a sense of self. Confidence involves feeling self-assured in an unassuming way rather than being pretentious or arrogant about your characteristics or abilities. 

Kristi Coppa, founder of Wondergrade, a psychological service to help build emotional well-being, states that our confidence reminds us that not only can we make goals, but we must also reach them. So, no matter if we’re working toward getting a promotion at work, making healthier food choices, maintaining a self-care routine, or choosing a life partner, we can trust ourselves. What a beautiful thing. 

Confidence also helps when things don’t turn out as expected. For example, when failure or mistakes happen, confident people are more likely to look at the situation positively, learn from their mistakes, and move forward. This ability to adapt to setbacks allows confident people to pursue higher reaching goals and remain open to changes in the environment or situation.

Also, while everyone experiences periods of sadness and bouts of anxiety, those who are confident are better equipped to push past these feelings. When fears do arrive, confident people typically can calm fearful thoughts with positive self-talk and are less likely to concentrate on worries. This allows confident people to move through anxiety and difficulty and positively cope with challenging emotions. Confidence is associated with almost every aspect of a fulfilling and satisfying life.

So, how can a person build confidence? First, give yourself a break. Having an eradicator sense of confidence doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it blooms from practice, patience, and continuously trying to be your greatest fan. Here’s a look at some ways to strengthen your self-esteem. Second, invest in your natural skills. Take the things you are good at and start using them more often. Third, accept your emotions. Don’t let fear or anxiety discourage you from completing a task. Fourth, track what’s going well. Don’t spend time on shortcomings; rather, celebrate achievements. Fifth, stop formulating your statements. Don’t soften your opinion so they’ll come across more likable. When we do this, we take power away from ourselves by handing over our thoughts on a silver platter. Sixth, rephrase what you say to yourself. All day, every day, we have an inner dialogue running. While this is a natural, everyday human practice that we should embrace, we must also take an in-depth look at how we speak to ourselves. We will never build confidence if we’re constantly talking down to ourselves. If we want to grow in confidence, we must train our brains to look for positive qualities in ourselves and our situation and turn that into positive self-talk.

This is all well and good, but what does God’s Word have to say about confidence? The Psalmist David has a great idea, “Even if an army surrounds me, I will not be afraid. Even if people attack, I will have confidence in the Lord” (Psalm 27:3). David’s son, Solomon, promoted the same idea by saying, “You can have confidence in the Lord to protect you. He will not let you fall into harm” (Proverbs 3:26). Then later Solomon states that “Reverence for God builds up confidence and makes a world safe for your children” (Proverbs 14:26).

The Prophet Isaiah has this word from the Lord, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God; I will give you confidence, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Then the Apostle Paul tells us that “We must not be confident in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our confidence is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5), and “that you have confidence in the Lord that you will not believe the ideas with which someone is trying to confuse you” (Galatians 5:10). Furthermore, “You can do all things through Him who gives you confidence” (Philippians 4:13).

The writer of Hebrews also has a few things to say about confidence. First, he tells us not to “Lose the confidence we had in the past. Our confidence will be rewarded richly. We must be patient. After you have done what God wants, you will get what He promised you” (Hebrews 10:35-36), “so you can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid of what people might do to me’” (Hebrews 13:6).

Finally, the Apostle John states, “If we have a bad conscience and feel that we have done wrong, the Lord will surely feel it even more, for He knows everything we do. So, dearly loved friends, if our consciences are clear, we can come to the Lord with confidence and trust” (1 John 3:20-21). So, as we can see, as we are told to have confidence in ourselves, the Bible tells us it will be even better when we also have confidence in God.

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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