self confidence

10 Ways Low Self-Confidence Shackles You

I know you.

You have dreams for your life.

You want to be amazing. You want to achieve something great. You want to wake up happy and enthusiastic every day. You want to make good money. You want to be successful and engaged in your career. You want loving and fulfilling relationships. You want to be healthy and attractive. You want to look in the mirror and say, “Yes! I like this person. I like who I am. I can take on the world!”

You simply want to be self-confident.

It’s a lonely and depressing feeling to know what you want, to dream of living a better life, and maybe even to believe you could make it happen, if only . . . if only you had self-confidence.

Without it, you are shackled to a compromised life. You dwell in dreams, but your reality is far less than you want it to be. Every time you try to improve your life, something holds you back.

You want to ask for a promotion, but you just can’t muster up the courage to be direct with your boss.

You’d love to speak to that attractive woman, but you’ve never felt sure about your looks and personality.

That new business opportunity looks promising, but you question yourself constantly, afraid you can’t make it work.

You’ve been invited to a social event, but you always feel so awkward and uncomfortable.

If you suffer from low self-confidence, the misery of what “might have been” is a constant companion. You so want to feel good about yourself, about your abilities and skills. And on some level, you do know you’re capable. But your lack of confidence in one or more areas of your life is like a tether that allows you to move forward only so far.

Having low self-confidence is an all-too-common issue. Nearly everyone at some point or another faces the insecurities that challenge how they perceive themselves and their abilities. In my work as a personal coach, I see clients all the time who deeply desire to do great things with their lives, but they can’t get past their lack of confidence and self-doubt. In a culture where we are bombarded by the media with unrealistic images and standards, it’s no wonder there’s a global crisis of confidence.

Fortunately low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. You can unlearn the habits of low confidence and change your thoughts and behaviors in such a way that you rebuild your confidence and strengthen it over time. As with any other skill, self-confidence can be learned if you understand the techniques involved. For anyone who lives with low confidence, the message is positive — you can reclaim your innate self-confidence.

If you’d like some real motivation to rebuild your confidence, let me share some of the critical ways low confidence is negatively impacting your life.

1. Your finances

Low self-confidence definitely impacts your pocketbook. In several studies, Dr. Timothy Judge of The University of Florida, found people with high levels of self-confidence make significantly more money annually than those with low confidence. Confidence is such an important factor in financial success that self-confidence people from blue-collar families make about $7,000 more than those from the same class without confidence. And those confident people from the professional classes make a whooping $28,000 more than their low-confidence peers. Clearly self-confidence is a lucrative quality, one that pays in a big way.

2. Career success

Low confidence makes us question ourselves, our abilities and our judgment. At work, we avoid taking calculated risks, setting ambitious goals, and taking decisive actions. In fact, those with low confidence often engage in subconscious behaviors that undermine their success, making them less likely to ask for or get promotions, raises and even jobs. Confident people who believe in themselves tend to set ambitious goals, and follow through on them, leading to more opportunities and respect in the business world. Even when they hardships or setbacks, confident people aren’t as likely allow these situation to undermine their self-esteem and success.

3. Relationship happiness

In a series of studies by Murray, Holmes, MacDonald and Ellsworth (1998), researchers found low self-esteem and self-confidence impacts both a person’s self-perception but also the expectations of a relationship partner and the overall tenor of the relationship. Even though people with low confidence and self-esteem want affirmation and acceptance from their partners, their self-doubts poison the relationship with insecurities and neediness, sabotaging the love and happiness they so desire from the relationship. Often people with low confidence have skewed perceptions about what other people think about them. They greatly underestimate how their partners and other significant people view them.

4. Mental and physical health

Chronic low self-confidence can diminish your self-esteem — your general sense of worthiness and value. When you don’t have confidence in your abilities, appearance, or capacity for success, eventually you’ll begin to think you aren’t a good person and you don’t deserve positive things to happen to you. This low self-esteem in turn can trigger mental disorders including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and social phobias. These issues can translate into physical problems including weight gain, trouble sleeping, unexplained pain, and loss of energy.

5. General life achievement

Confidence breeds self-belief — the conviction that you can achieve almost anything. Having positive self-belief allow you to embrace new challenges. But low self-confidence prevents you from taking any perceived risks that might afford achievement. Other features of confidence are self-assurance and self-reliance which invite achievement and independence. For example self-confidence pushes athletes to work harder with greater commitment and increasing skill. It also affords people the desire to succeed in business, politics and social interaction. Ultimately it gives you a sense of self-respect which improves your overall character. Conversely, achievement itself fosters self-confidence, and even those with low confidence can tap into their innate desire for achievement to begin building confidence with small and achievable goals.

6. Decision Making and Problem Solving

When you lack self-confidence, you feel trapped. You don’t trust yourself or your ability to make sound decisions or to handle difficulties in the best way. Every decision or problem you encounter is excruciating because you can’t face it with the conviction you have the judgement, knowledge, or discernment you need to take the best course of action. So often you simply do nothing and allow events to play out on their own — often with disappointing or even harmful consequences. One of the best ways to rebuild your confidence is by making small decisions and managing small problems, in spite of your low confidence feelings. As you gain confidence, you feel empowered to tackle bigger issues.

7. Appearance and Attractiveness

In a recent poll on my blog, readers revealed their main issue with low confidence related to appearance. They feel self-conscious about the way they look and feel they don’t measure up to the standards of attractiveness. And it’s no wonder most people (8 out of 10) have some amount of low confidence about their appearance given our culture’s emphasis on youth and beauty. The standard of beauty portrayed by the media is achievable by less than 2% of the population. Ironically, people who suffer low confidence around their appearance behave in ways that make them appear less attractive. Regardless of your physical appearance, by taking care of your hygiene, dressing well, smiling often, standing up straight, and walking and talking with confidence, you will actually improve your confidence about yourself and your appearance.

As you can see, low self-confidence holds you back from living a full and rich life and enjoying the success and achievement you deserve. It keeps you from rising up to your innate potential and enjoying the rewards of healthy, loving relationships. By learning and practicing the skills to rebuild your confidence, you are giving yourself a lifetime gift that will markedly change your outlook and empower you to seize your dreams.

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Barrie Davenport is a certified personal coach, author, and founder of the top-ranked personal development sites Live Bold and Bloom and Barrie Davenport.com.