For the average guy, there are struggles to stay self-confident amidst a host of daily problems. It’s challenging to stay confident about our jobs, our friendships, our intimate relationships, and about ourselves, especially with so much insecurity in the world right now. There are many factors that chip away at our foundation, but if we can learn to keep that integrity of our foundation, we can learn how to deal with people and issues without letting them chip away at our self-confidence. Developing good self-confidence comes from the inside, as we’ll talk about.
Culturally, men are expected to be confident at all times. Culture expects that men (and women) have it all together, and display confidence in settings from the workroom to the bedroom.
But the reality to self-confidence is that most people struggle with it. Men struggling with self-confidence is generally not what you see in advertisements or popular culture, and if it is, it’s generally used to exploit men’s struggling self-confidence to buy their product or service. I think about the ads for Just for Men, Viagra or Men’s Health magazine, which try to get men to buy into what they’re selling to increase our experience of being a confident, always in control man. Self-confidence cannot be bought, now matter how much we convince ourselves that money, status and owning have something to do with it.
For many guys, the struggle with feeling okay about themselves is universal. It’s not just women. We struggle to be okay enough for others, for ourselves and for our families of origin. Men do indeed struggle with things like low self-esteem problems and feeling worthy enough for their wives and girlfriends. They worry about being competent enough employees or good enough fathers. These are what real guys worry about every day.
One thing to look out for when increasing self-confidence is the negative self critic. This self critic creates that negative inner dialog we experience in our minds, which feeds off off of self-abusive thinking, is the biggest challenge to increasing our self-confidence. If we can learn to deal with the negative self critic in a more positive way, self-confidence can increase on its own. Too many times, we are so caught up in a cycle of shaming and criticizing ourselves, that we fail to step back and see how we have damaged our self-confidence from the inside.
We also need to deal with the ingrained negative messages that we have around those areas where we feel lack of confidence, whether that’s with women, career, sex, money or any number of things. Dealing with those messages directly, we then take the steam out of them and stop them from running our negative self critic. We create a new type of script for ourselves, and instill self-confidence this way.
Taking calculated risks is another way that you can increase self-confidence. By creating small, attainable goals with some level of risk helps you to gradually move forward to attainment. Goals with some level of risk, whether that means disclosing something personal about yourself to your partner or signing up for a new class or hobby, provide the quickest and most realistic way to experience achievement. Men like to experience completion and success, and this has the net effect of gradually raising one’s self-esteem.
Validating and supporting yourself is a critical element to increasing good self-confidence. Many times men didn’t grow up in an environment that was supportive or validating of their aspirations, or of themselves. A lot of men don’t know how to validate or support themselves, or even know how to receive those things. Learning how to praise yourself, and give yourself kudos is extremely important to help motivate you to greater success. This sounds like common sense, but too many guys just don’t know how to do it, and need to learn.
One last tip to increasing self-confidence lies in the domain of relationships. Sometimes men are still holding onto certain emotions about a failed relationship, divorce or just relationship problems that they’ve been apart of in the past. Self-confidence gets undermined when we are still holding onto the pain, hurt, shame, self-blame or anger associated with a failed relationship. We enter into new relationships with fear or lack of self-confidence because we’ve been burned before, and don’t want to risk opening up our hearts to trust someone else again. Self-confidence in relationships is about dealing with some of that old hurt in a way that can allow you to function with confidence in the present relationship you’re in.Counseling or therapy can help you work through some of those blocks that are below your radar of awareness.
Ultimately, self-confidence is an inside job. Too often we look to fill ourselves up with self-confidence from outside sources. Although we may need support or esteem from those sources, say from our wife or boss, ultimate self-confidence arises from inside ourselves. If we can learn to deal with the inner turmoil, including the negative messages we’ve learned and our self critic, we can learn to improve self-confidence and deal with those things in our lives that have traditionally eroded our confidence.