The Confidence Formula

19 August 2019

ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE who love to reduce a problem down to pure logic? Well here’s a simple formula to determine your level of self confidence, and it all hinges on your ‘self image’. It’s much easier to state than it is to apply, but understanding it is crucial to having better self confidence, and ultimately to achieving so much more with your life.

Cartoon of a professor pointing to formulas on a blackboard

Confidence formula

Your level of self confidence is inversely proportional to the difference between the person you think you are and the person you’d like to be.

Confused?  Then let me explain...

Self image

Several parts go to make up your self image – the way you see yourself – and your ‘negative self’ and ‘fantasy self’ are the two we’ll be talking about here.

  • Negative self – This is the person you ‘believe’ you are, and is usually an inaccurately negative view of yourself; nonetheless, you believe it implicitly. Because it contains so much that you dislike about yourself, it’s something to be deeply ashamed of and something to keep hidden from the world at all cost.
  • Fantasy self – To compensate for this negative self image, in your mind you create another view of yourself; your fantasy self. This is the ‘you’ you want everybody else to see, and it’s as unrealistic in the opposite extreme. However, you unwittingly endeavour to live up to that fantasy at all cost because, heaven forbid, if you don’t it’ll reveal that flawed and incompetent ‘you’ to the rest of the world. Yikes!

Confidence formula

The interesting thing about self confidence is that it seems to be proportional to the gap between those two inaccurate views of yourself. The person you believe you are; your negative self, and the person you’d like the world to think you are; your fantasy self. The greater the gap, the lower your level of confidence. This is because it feels like you won’t be able to live up to the expectations of that fantasy person you want the world to see.

Not living up to those unrealistic expectations would be a catastrophe because it would reveal all those flaws and weaknesses to the world. It becomes a huge fear; a fear so great that it robs you of your confidence and resigns you to a mundane life of under achievement and disappointment. It’s such a shame.

Bringing these two views of yourself closer together is the key to having better self confidence, and one way to do that could be to start actually believing you’re more like your fantasy self. That would work, but for one fatal flaw. How can you be that super capable person in a situation you’ve never experienced before? When a person does attempt to be like that, they run the risk of becoming arrogant – believing they’re better than their abilities – and sooner or later that fragile confidence is shattered.

This is not good...

Another way might be to lower the expectations of who you’d like to be, right down to the level of your negative self. That would work, but it does nothing for a person’s self esteem. Believing that they won’t cope, will look foolish, appear incompetent, etc, does nothing to encourage them to ‘give it a go’, and doing something, as you know, is a necessary step in building confidence.

This too is not good...

Be realistic – be yourself

The secret to having better self confidence lies in bringing together those two inaccurate images that you carry around in your head, by being yourself; accepting who you really are while having a more modest and reasonable perception of who you’d like to be. When you more realistically align the two, there’s no reason to be afraid of not living up to your own expectations.

Remember, a person can be very modest yet still have unshakable confidence. The important factor is, who they believe they are and who they’d like to be seen as are one and the same. Their abilities perfectly match their expectations, and they feel confident.

Confident people

That’s what confident people do; they hold far more realistic opinions of themselves. The person they believe themselves to be is much closer to the person they’d like to be seen as, therefore, their beliefs and their expectations about themselves are more closely aligned. They feel confident, or more accurately, they don’t feel ‘unconfident’.

Confident people just are.

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