When you enter an unfamiliar environment or ponder a difficult decision, what do you feel? Do you second-guess yourself and agonize over what to do? Confident people are not immune from self-doubt, but they enjoy a strong sense of security, clarity, and trust in themselves. Confidence (or a lack of it) affects every area of your life, including work and relationships. Many experiences can damage your confidence, but it’s worth making the effort to build it back up again. Here are 15 reasons why confidence matters.
#1. Confidence and self-esteem are different, but related
Confidence and self-esteem don’t always go hand in hand. Why? While confidence in your abilities and skills can take you far, it does not necessarily translate into positive feelings about your identity or inherent self-worth. You can feel confident in your abilities around a certain subject (or even many subjects), but suffer from low self-esteem. This explains why there are so many people who act confidently, but at the end of the day, they admit they feel like imposters or like they’ll never be good enough. Whether you’re struggling with low confidence or low self-esteem, working on one can help build up the other. Knowing your value and what you bring to the table boosts your confidence, while confidence grounds you in who you are and what you’re capable of.
#2. Confidence is linked to good health
Studies indicate that confident people tend to be healthier and live longer. It could be due to the positive effects of emotions associated with confidence, such as happiness, optimism, and satisfaction. Confidence can also help you with fitness goals. If you have the desire and confidence to exercise, you’re more likely to see success and better health outcomes than if you doubted your ability to rise to the challenge. What can happen if you’re not confident? People with low confidence often struggle with emotions like fear and anxiety, which are associated with negative health effects. Studies have also shown connections between low self-confidence and riskier health behaviors, like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
#3. Confidence and depression are connected, too
Health conditions like depression are very complex, but research shows confidence can be affected. In one study, people who self-reported symptoms like anxiety and depression also reported low confidence in their ability to do well on tests related to general knowledge and perception. These participants ended up exceeding their expectations, which shows depression and low confidence can warp someone’s view of themselves! Why does this matter? If low confidence results in low expectations for yourself, you probably won’t engage in certain activities for fear of failure. In reality, however, you may be holding yourself back from success.
#4. Confidence can help manage anxious feelings
Everyone feels anxious sometimes. Maybe you need to get an important presentation at work or you need to have a difficult conversation with a loved one. Confidence helps shield you from the nervous voice that says “You can’t do this. You should just give up.” Instead of trapping you in negative self-talk, confidence offers an alternative message: “You can do this.” You’re focused on your strengths rather than your perceived weaknesses. You’re able to go into anxiety-inducing situations with a calmer, confident attitude.
Note: Clinical anxiety functions differently than the situation-specific anxiety we all face. Building confidence may help with some effects of clinical anxiety, but we understand that anxiety is a mental condition that requires more treatment than just increased confidence. For clinical anxiety, please consider professional help.
#5. Confidence may keep you safer
Everyone gives in to peer pressure sometimes, but people with low self-confidence are more vulnerable. This isn’t always a problem; not all peer pressure is harmful. However, when you’re being pressured to engage in risky or outright dangerous behavior, being confident in yourself may make it easier to say no. Consider why teenagers are at a higher risk for poor decisions or recklessness. There are many reasons why, but one of them is that young people are still building their confidence and sense of self. To fit in and boost their self-esteem, they may engage in behaviors they know are risky. When you feel more confident, however, you’re more comfortable saying no and avoiding dangerous situations.
#6. Confidence helps you try new things
Fear of failure doesn’t hold confident people back from trying new things. New things present an opportunity to grow and improve. For people with low confidence, new things can bruise their self-esteem. They don’t want to risk feeling disappointed because that disappointment is deeply internalized. Confident people are less likely to take failure so personally. They understand trying new things can help them grow personally and professionally, so they are willing to take the necessary risks to achieve their goals.
#7. Confidence helps with decision-making
Many people struggle with making decisions, but if you lack confidence, the process can create significant stress. You may delay a decision until most of your options are gone. Then, when you finally do make a choice, you may immediately try to backtrack. If the decision doesn’t produce the outcome you hoped for, you may criticize yourself so harshly, you have even less confidence to face future decisions. This cycle can be vicious. Confidence helps keep things in perspective. You’ll feel more secure in your ability to make decisions and even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you want, you’re more likely to be able to adapt.
#8. Confidence helps increase personal resilience
Speaking of when outcomes aren’t exactly what you hoped for, confidence helps you put failures in perspective. No one likes making mistakes or being disappointed, but when you have confidence in yourself, you know you have the skills necessary to tackle the challenges that come your way. The more challenges you take in stride, the more your confidence and resilience increase. How do you build your resilience? Working on your confidence and self-esteem is critical. Many people benefit from seeing a professional therapist, especially if they have trauma or other issues that affect confidence. Positive self-talk, journaling, and an encouraging community can help too.
#9. Confidence improves your relationships
There are a handful of reasons why confidence matters in relationships. For one, confident people are less dependent on others for assurance and approval. This makes it easier for them to show up as authentic selves in relationships and make their needs clear. Relationships built on authenticity and honesty tend to be stronger and more rewarding. Confident people are also more likely to maintain healthy boundaries. This is a vital skill in any relationship, though it can be very difficult. Confident people are more likely to establish their boundaries early and stay strong even when others test or dismiss their boundaries.
#10. Confidence makes you a better communicator
Confident people are often good communicators. They aren’t afraid to be direct when necessary. They don’t second-guess themselves or try to hide their true feelings. Someone with low confidence may struggle with making their needs and wants clear because they aren’t sure of themselves or they’re afraid of how others will respond. This lack of clarity and honesty makes misunderstandings more likely. Conflict can often follow. Confidence, on the other hand, ensures more direct, honest communication.
#11. Confidence earns you respect
It’s no secret that people respect confidence. Confident people give off the impression that they know what they’re doing and are therefore more trustworthy and inspiring. The world’s best leaders – in every field – are all confident. They’re not always looking to others for validation and approval; they get those from within. Remember that “confidence” doesn’t mean “arrogance.” Arrogant people are obsessed with their self-image and refuse help or feedback because they believe they’re better than everyone else. Arrogant leaders do not inspire trust or respect. Confident people, on the other hand, understand their strengths and their weaknesses. They listen, accept criticism, and seek out other perspectives.
#12. Confidence inspires those around you
Confident people are respected, but they also inspire those around them. There’s a reason successful politicians, business leaders, and self-help gurus attract such massive followings, even if the substance of their messaging is lacking; they exude confidence. This makes them more attractive, more reassuring, and more inspiring. They display a clear sense of purpose and direction, which makes them appear more authoritative. Others want to replicate that confidence and success. If you want to become a good leader, don’t forget about confidence. Your ideas may be amazing, but if you don’t present them with confidence, you won’t inspire people to listen to you.
#13. Confidence is a powerful motivator
To achieve your goals and be successful in any area of life, you need motivation. You can find motivation in many forms, but confidence is one of the most important. Why? Confidence helps you look back at your previous successes, no matter how small, and use them as fuel for the future. It helps you feel proud of what you’ve accomplished in the past and hopeful for what you’ll achieve next. Confidence also helps you look back at your failures. If you have low confidence, you most likely want to avoid thinking about when you’ve failed, but then you miss out on important lessons. Confidence motivates you to figure out what went wrong and what you can do to avoid failure in the future.
#14. Confidence is perceived differently depending on your gender
When it comes to confidence, there’s a double standard. For years, people thought women were naturally less confident than men, but the reality is more complicated. It has a lot to do with what we consider “confidence.” In the workplace, many people think confidence looks like speaking up in meetings, projecting your voice, speaking directly, and promoting your own work. Because many women don’t engage in these activities as often, we’re led to think they’re less confident. That’s not the case. Women engage in these activities less because when they speak up or promote themselves, they’re seen as “bossy” or “aggressive.” Sexism is still a major issue and how we perceive and reward confidence is not immune.
#15. It’s possible to be too confident
We’ve spent this article talking about all the benefits of confidence, but you can have too much confidence. According to VeryWell Mind, too much confidence can result in taking on too many projects, projecting arrogant energy, and taking too many risks. Too much self-esteem can have negative consequences, too. According to a research review, high self-esteem was linked to risk-taking behaviors, blaming others for relationship problems, and even engaging in more violent behaviors. Does this data mean we shouldn’t try to build people’s confidence and self-esteem? It certainly casts doubt on confidence and self-esteem as exclusively good things, but it doesn’t negate all their benefits. Balance seems to be the key.