when you lack self-confidence

Do you ever have days when you don't feel confident? When you're unsure of yourself, or fragile, or nervous? I wonder why that's always seen as something to be overcome.

I am beginning to think that the ideal of self-confidence is something invented by extroverts.

Imagine if we embraced our uncertainty. If instead of bolstering ourselves with the determination to be self-confident, we instead wrapped ourselves in self-care, and went forth slowly, gently, with mindful steps. Of course we want to trust ourselves, believe in ourselves. I'm not proposing that we turn away from that. But maybe, on those days when we're feeling doubtful, hesitant, shy, anxious, it is worth considering just dwelling within that lack of confidence for a while. Honouring it. Listening to what it has to teach us.

For me, allowing uncertainty can lead to me looking after myself more thoughtfully. Instead of building my self-esteem, I deepen my self-care. I wear clothes which comfort me. Avoid scenes which I know will disturb me. Go slowly with new tasks. Because allowing uncertainty doesn't mean giving up before we start, it just means being tender with ourselves.

It means considering what fear is trying to tell us. Because fear always has a message born from love.

I am not confident many people will understand what I'm trying to say here. It will be interesting to read any comments.


  1. Oh, this such an interesting post, Sarah.
    As a complete introvert, I very much struggle with self confidence. Honestly, though, I think self awareness is far more important. It is impossible to be confident in all situations, but we can always be aware of our feelings, nerves, and doubts. It's better to accept them and consciously work on overcoming them, then it is to deny them completely. Because as much as I wish it were possible to rid oneself of fear in any given moment -- it just isn't.
    I've been practicing 'faking' self confidence lately. I believe in a TED talk I once watched the speaker discussed 'Fake it until you become it', and how it differs from and is better than the more common phrase 'Fake it until you make it'.
    Pushing myself out of my comfort zone is never easy, but it's always worth it in the end. :)
    Not entirely sure if any of this even relates to what you wrote... I suppose I got a little carried away typing here!

    1. Yes, that's what I mean and you articulated it so well - self-awareness is the most important thing! Thank you for stating that more clearly than I did.

      I agree with the "fake it until you become it" method, at least generally. However, I'm not a big fan of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones all the time. There are many occasions when it's good, definitely. But at least in terms of being creative, I find my comfort zone is a rich and supportive place for me to speak/write in my most authentic voice.

      But having said that, faking confidence and pushing myself out of my comfort zone to attend a meeting, or give a speech, or some such thing - definitely helpful! :-)

  2. I think you're on to something important. Why the constant flogging over every perceived weakness? Instead of just accepting and openly admitting "I am vulnerable in this moment". No evaluation or judgment, simply a fact of the moment.

    I have a lifelong habit of pushing and flogging myself, so I know that nothing gets better by the whip. There, see, I said "better".

    I can feel myself being able to rant about this at some length, about being brave etc. so I'll just quickly press the button and go back to sipping my 1 morning coffee. ;-)

    1. Yes, I love what you have written here. Not judging ourselves for being vulnerable or whatever else we're feeling. Just accepting ourselves in the moment. That's beautiful. Thank you.

      And why do people perceive vulnerability as a weakness? I love how you present it as just "what it is" - neither good nor bad, just itself.

  3. Reading your post makes me want to be soft, walk softly through the world. I feel that if I were to boost my confidence it wouldn't be real. It would be me pretending to be sure of myself when I'm really not, and like you said, it makes it harder to learn. I feel insecure most of the time, and today I had a deep moment of it, doubting myself, and I sat down with it, and realized what it was teaching me.

  4. Makes perfect sense, Sarah. Some years ago I used to deliver training courses and coach, including around confidence. Based on my own experience I used to say that self confidence is not about not having fear, it is about the ability to act even when we have that fear. There is research now that says that high self esteem, which is often equated with confidence, is actually a negative thing. Fear reminds us we are not gods.

    I have revised this in recent years. Whereas I would usually push through that fear, since my health deteriorated, I have learnt to listen more to what that fear is about. As you know, fibromylagia symptoms are made a lot worse by stress, and so now I am much more careful to weigh up whether go outside my comfort zone is worth it (of course, sometimes it is necessary) and to make sure I support myself/get support.

    1. So true about fibormyalgia. I have come to appreciate my comfort zone a whole lot more over the past few years! And to be a little perplexed as to why comfort has developed such a bad reputation, lol.

      And yes, I've read research that points to high self esteem being a problem with anti-social behaviour etc, which is why its a shame the focus in schools is on raising children's self-esteem rather than their self-mastery.


  5. I'm wrapping myself in the beautiful tenderness of this post.

    Our culture insists that we must push through what are perceived as negative feelings but I've come to believe that uncertainty, hesitation, qualms, and such are actually part of our own deep knowing, deeper even than intuition. If we not only face these feelings, but embrace them, we more deeply understand our longings and what those longings can tell us.

    Sometimes I make myself do things I'm afraid to do and I'm glad I've done them, but other times I choose not to push past inner promptings that tell me to stick with the peace I find in staying home where the daily rituals and comforting familiarity soothes my very soul.

  6. this was very interesting for me to read, because it echoes so much of what i feel and how i respond to instincts are always to draw back a bit, to proceed slowly rather than to rush ahead, to wrap myself in extra rest and comfort as i contemplate how---or if---to go forward. i have always loathed that exhortation to "do one thing each day that scares you", and questioned myself as to why i respond so negatively (charged word) to that challenge...

    but we are not all strong in the exact same ways. maybe my tenderness is not weakness after all. maybe even my hesitancy about some things that others take for granted is not a character flaw. maybe my experience of pain gives me an insight into others' pain. (i have fibro too.) maybe my desire to live in a calm, rather than frantic, and adequate rather than acquisitive, way is not a symptom of laziness. maybe it's a sane response to an insane culture? maybe it's a sensible instinct to husband my energies for what is more crucial? or maybe it's simply the response of an introvert to an extrovert-centric paradigm?

    in any event, i am often uncertain, often not confident. but time has shown me that in retreat or stillness, if i listen, i can find a truth sometimes. frequently that truth differs from the common advice; but frequently too i have found in hindsight that had i pursued the more direct path, people would have been hurt or opportunities lost.

    it seems to me that we all could use a little more tenderness. and that uncertainty contains perhaps more possibilities than certainty sometimes...

    1. Trusting one's own instincts. Yes, absolutely.

  7. Ah, the things that extroverts have invented. :)
    And the things that (some -- don't mean to generalize too much) extroverts can't see -- the fact that pauses, and self-awareness, and tenderness and taking time can be huge strengths.

  8. Oh yes! Personally, I got so tired of all the admonitions, which "people" are always pushing on us. Do this! Do that! Think this way! Think that way! Pull yourself up by the bootstraps! March on and through! Never stop pushing and working and polishing yourself, according to "their" rules. Etc.

    How many "people" say, embrace how you feel? While being extra kind to one's self, of course?
    Learn from how you feel. Listen and learn... All the while treating ourselves like-little-children.

    And see how that works....

    Instead of jumping on the latest/nearest bandwagon, to strength, confidence, power, do-do-do, etc.

    I think your way, sounds Wise. And Kind. And taking care of ourselves, can never hurt.

    Gentle hugs,

  9. yes, sometimes we need tenderness with ourselves.

  10. Elizabeth WaggonerAugust 5, 2015 at 6:31 AM

    I agree. I'm very much an introvert and what I have found for myself is that when I push too much, I tend to topple over the edge. I've tried many times to appear confident and social but usually it goes so far against my "authentic self" that I believe that is how I come across - inauthentic - insincere. Better (for me) to acknowledge my own personality and be kind to my limitations. Yes - slow, gentle steps. Well said.

  11. Thank you everyone for your generous and insightful comments. I loved reading them all and really appreciated how everyone shared from their heart. I'm sorry I don't have time this morning to reply personally to each one, but they all really touched me.

  12. Having one of those days. So I will just say, yes. And thank you.

  13. What a volume of lovely comments you have! I understand completely. Earlier this week I had a post on the word "wait," for there seems so much hurrying around us. I love the words from Rainer Maria Rilke advising the young poet to "live the questions." Live the uncertainty. This was an affirming post, thank you.

  14. A lovely post that will carry me through today, thankyou. xx

  15. This is beautiful and true. When we run at something full steam ahead we so often miss the subtle signs and signals that Life is trying to leave for us along the way. There is a lot to be said for being hesitant and fear is a great teacher. I would like to be more confident but I understand the blessings in making my wobbly way without that. Thank you so much for writing these wise words xxx


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