This week we are asking you a hard question…how self-confident are you?
Sometimes if we look at ourselves in the mirror, we might see a person looking back who we wish was more confident. Or some of us might see a person looking back who is overly confident ( there might even have a passing thought that we should bring down our confidence a notch!)
But before deciding what we have to do - before we even start thinking about what we might need to do give ourselves a confidence boost (or dial-down) - we have to take a step back. First we have to identify what’s our actual level of confidence.
Each of us are different and have different life experiences. We believe that these differences mean that each of us have a varying level of confidence. It also means that each of us demonstrate self-confidence in different ways1.
But scientists and psychologists have agreed on what having confidence means and what it means to have a certain level of confidence.
In this article we have simplified the levels of confidence from low to high. After discussing these, we provide three questions to help you identify your level of confidence.
Photo by Thought Catalog from Burst
What it means to have a high level of confidence
When discussing levels of confidence, it’s best to determine what it actually means to be confident. This is best expressed by Cognitive Psychologist Dr.Therese Huston . She states that if you are confident, there’s a realistic alignment between your actual skills and abilities and how you perceive those skills and abilities2. Simply, confidence is having an accurate sense of what you know and what you can do2.
In her book How Women Decide, Therese provides a great example of this (please note her metrics are American):
“You’ve decided to sign up for a 5k run with a friend who is an experienced runner, but it’s the first 5k run you’ve ever done. Perhaps you think you could run a ten-minute mile, so you hope to finish a 5k (which is 3.1miles) in a little over half an hour. You line up with the other people who plan to run a ten-minute mile, waving to your friend as she lines up with the faster runners, and sure enough, you happily cross the finish line at thirty-one minutes. That’s an appropriate level of confidence, or what some scientists call well-calibrated confidence. Your abilities line with your beliefs.”
In this instance, we consider that when our abilities match our beliefs, we have a “high” level of confidence.
What it means to have a low level of confidence
When we consider that a high level of confidence is when our abilities match our beliefs, then a low level of confidence is when our abilities far outweigh our belief in our abilities. In this instance you have low confidence because you have the ability to do much more than you are telling yourself. And that is really a devastating mindset to have, because you aren’t realising your true potential. With low confidence you also then find it hard to deal with day to day challenges or you just give up so quickly on something once it gets hard2.
If we go back to Therese’s example above, she calls the people with low confidence the “under confident ones (who) join the slow-moving walkers at the back of the line or in many cases don’t show up to race day at all”
How to identify your level of confidence:
From reading the above, you should get a feeling of what level of confidence you might have, but like we mentioned, how we perceive ourselves might be just a bit different to reality.
We want to note that in this blog article we are not discussing over-confidence, where we exceed what we consider a “high” level of confidence, and we overestimate ourselves. This we would like to dedicate another blog piece on separately.
We have outlined below some questions to help determine your level of confidence,
1/ Do you handle challenges and difficult situations well?
2/ Do you deliver on things that you promised and do others believe you can too?
3/ Do you problem solve and not give up?
If you answered “Yes” to most of the questions, then it sounds like you have a high level of confidence. If you answered mostly “No”, then you may be low in confidence and you have some work to do to build your confidence!
Below is a short video compilation of 7 steps to help you immediately build confidence, take a look and see what you can implement today!
2 “How women decide”,Therese Huston (2016), Mariner Books page 172,173