The Biggest Killers of Social Confidence
For a long time people believed that the key to building greater social confidence was building a stronger sense of self-esteem. And it makes sense, considering that self-esteem is how much we like ourselves. However, as far back as 2005, researchers have suspected that by trying to build our self-esteem we might actually be doing ourselves a major disservice.
One theory is that when we focus on our self-esteem too much, we tend to compare ourselves to others. So, rather than learning to like ourselves, we instead try to find ways that we are better than others. This is called narcissism and is thought to be linked to an over-emphasis on self-esteem (Twenge 05).
Being narcissistic means that our confidence rises and falls according to our latest success or failure (as shown by Bouvrette in 2003). When we experience failure (as everyone does from time to time) our self-esteem plummets, taking with it our self-confidence. This drop in self-perception drives our narcissistic tendencies, further compounding the problem.
Trying to build self-confidence on the rocky foundation of self-esteem is like trying to build a house on quicksand. The more you struggle to claw your way up, the deeper you sink.
So, if the solution isn’t greater self-esteem, what is it?
A study published by Neff in the Journal of Personality in 2009, might help shed some light on the topic.
‘Researchers compared self-compassion (which is how much you care for yourself) to global self-esteem. It was found that self-compassion predicted more stable feelings of self-worth than self-esteem and was less contingent on particular outcomes.’
So, rather than focusing on self-esteem, self-compassion might just be the key to building stronger, longer-lasting social confidence. ‘How do you build self-compassion’, I hear you ask…
According to researchers, there are 3 components, the first of which is mindfulness. It is being able to internalise your thoughts to become more relaxed and engaged in social situations. Lucky for you, mindfulness is covered in our eBook The 3 Simple Skills of Charisma.
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