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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

9 Myths About Confidence That Are Holding You Back

Have you ever met somebody, either in a social or professional situation, and been amazed at how much confidence that person projected? Did you then walk away from that encounter and tell yourself, “he was probably born confident,” or “she’s obviously an extrovert, so of course she’s confident,” to find a rational reason for this person’s perceived social advantage?

Confidence is something that everyone strives for at work and in life. Yet, as much as it’s something many of us endeavor to get, there are also a lot of misconceptions or myths surrounding confidence. And if you start to believe these myths, you can feel that confidence is unattainable, or just not for you.

Today, I want to take you through nine of these confidence myths to overturn them once and for all. It’s time to step over these misconceptions and allow yourself to feel confident inside so you can move forward and achieve the goals you’ve set for your life.

Myth #1: You Need to Be Born Confident

Absolutely not! Nobody is born confident. Confidence is something you develop as you go through life and as you put yourself in new situations or new environments. When you see others who ooze confidence, they weren’t born that way. They acquired their confidence by confronting challenging situations, pushing their boundaries, and doing things they thought they’d never be able to do—all things you can do to grow your confidence as well.

Myth #2: You Can’t Fake Confidence

Wrong. Just ask Amy Cuddy and her colleagues from Harvard University and Columbia University, who studied the impact of using specific poses on your own feelings of power. In summary, they found when you adopt high-power poses for two minutes, it increases your level of testosterone, decreases your level of cortisol, and makes you feel more powerful and less stressed. Basically, you can make yourself feel confident by simply changing your body language! For more, check out Ashley Cobert’s advice on how you can fake more confidence in meetings.

Myth #3: You Have to Be Successful to Be Confident

No way! In fact, this works the other way around; you have to be confident before you reach success. Otherwise, you’ll never believe that you can achieve it. Confidence is something you have to tap into and find at the beginning of your journey toward success. Even if all you can tap into is a small amount of confidence, that’s okay. As you move closer toward your goals, that inner confidence will naturally grow stronger and stronger.

Myth #4: You Have to Be an Extrovert to Be Confident

Wrong. Being an extrovert doesn’t always mean you’re confident. You can be an unsure extrovert, just as you can be a confident introvert. Most people believe you have to be an extrovert to be confident because we often associate being an extrovert with being the center of attention or life of the party. But confidence isn’t all about being the most talkative person in the room. It’s about feeling comfortable in your own skin and being happy with the achievements you’ve made in your life.

Myth #5: Confident People Have No Insecurities

Untrue. Insecurities are a part of everyday life. Whenever we’re faced with the unknown, it’s human nature to feel a little insecure. Just because you might have self-doubt or feel unsure when you’re changing jobs or moving to a new city, it doesn’t mean that you’re not confident. The key is to keep moving forward anyway.

Myth #6: Confident People Are Confident all the Time

Absolutely not! There can be periods of your life when you’re full of confidence and you feel you can take on the world. Then, there’ll be other times when uncertainty and self-doubt kick in. When I left Australia the last time to move to France, I went from feeling confident and “at home” to being uncertain almost all of the time. What I discovered is that confidence doesn’t hang around 100% of the time. It varies throughout life. And when you start to feel a little less confident, that’s when you really know you’re pushing the barriers of your comfort zone—and setting the stage to grow your confidence down the road.

Myth #7: Confidence Means You Like Public Speaking

Wrong. Barbra Streisand, who is known to suffer from stage fright, is a perfect example of this. Yet, she gets up on stage and performs with outstanding grace. Confidence doesn’t mean you have to like public speaking. But it does mean that you can find the faith to get up on that stage anyway. Why? Because you’ve practiced enough times to make yourself confident.

Myth #8: Confident People are Arrogant

Untrue. You can absolutely project confidence and authority without coming off as arrogant. This myth usually arises because people think they have to boast about their life to appear more confident to others. But in reality, it’s when you put yourself and your life aside and focus on the other person instead that you project the most confidence. Confident people don’t have to be the focus of the room. They’re happy and proud of their life achievements, so they don’t need reassurance from others.

Myth #9: You Have to Take Big Risks to Be Confident

Wrong. It’s not the size of the risk that’s important. What’s important is whether you’re pushing the barriers of your own comfort zone and doing things that are new for you. If you don’t often push your comfort zone, then a simple change, such as talking to the barista at your local coffee shop, will probably be a big enough risk for you to feel more confident. Then as you get more comfortable with smaller changes, you can move on to riskier ones.

Photo of powerful hands courtesy of Shutterstock.

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