6 myths about self-confidence people still believe (but shouldn’t)

by Joyce Ann Isidro | April 22, 2024, 11:21 pm

Developing self-confidence is imperative in every person’s journey, but let’s be real—it’s peppered with various misconceptions and unfounded beliefs.

I, for one, despite being well-read and informed, often find myself in discussions—with confused acquaintances, curious friends, and even self-help enthusiasts—all subtly suggesting that my confidence is the “wrong” way to be confident.

Some tell me it’s outright arrogance, while others think I lack the assertiveness to be “truly” confident.

But why am I continuously made to question my understanding of self-confidence?

Our society tends to perpetuate certain myths about self-confidence, often leading people to cultivate an artificial sense of confidence driven by societal expectations rather than personal growth.

That is why, in this article, I’ll debunk 7 common myths about self-confidence that people still hold onto, but absolutely shouldn’t.

Let’s begin.

1) Confidence equals arrogance

“Being confident” often gets misinterpreted as being arrogant or cocky.

But the truth is that confidence and arrogance are poles apart.

Think about a person you consider confident. Most likely, they are self-assured, they believe in their abilities, and they are not afraid to voice their opinions.

Now, think about someone you consider arrogant. They might overestimate their abilities, belittle others, and stubbornly believe they are always right.

That’s the difference between arrogance and self-confidence. Confidence is about self-assurance and positivity, while arrogance is about superiority and negativity.

If you’re going to build genuine self-confidence, know that confidence isn’t developed by looking down on others or boasting about your achievements—it’s developed by recognizing your worth and capabilities without undermining others.

2) Confidence is inborn, not learned

The notion that “confidence is innate” suggests that you’re either born with it or you’re not. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Now, I embrace the idea of growing my confidence. Sometimes I may come across as shy. Other times, I might appear bold.

But what remains constant is my belief in the potential for growth and development.

Consider any skill, let’s say, playing a musical instrument. No one is born knowing how to play a guitar or a violin. It’s a skill that’s developed over time through practice and persistence.

Confidence is no different. It’s a skill that can be nurtured and honed over time.

Think of building confidence as learning a new language. It requires practice, repetition, making mistakes and learning from them. Don’t expect perfection; expect progress.

When you buy into the myth that “confidence is inborn,” you relinquish your power to grow and evolve. You fall into a fixed-mindset trap.

It’s better to put yourself out there, take risks, and face challenges head-on if you truly want to cultivate confidence.

3) Confidence means never feeling fear

Often, we chastise ourselves for feeling fear, as though it’s an emotion we should completely eradicate.

You might find yourself constantly battling it, thinking it’s an obstacle to your confidence. You might even find yourself being judged by others for showing fear, as if it’s a sign of weakness.

If you can relate to this, it’s critical to question the role of fear in your perception of self-confidence. Perhaps you’re feeling afraid because you’re stepping out of your comfort zone.

But there is strength in admitting your fears openly. Understand that fear is a part of all our lives, but believing that it negates confidence is a dangerous path to tread.

Maybe it’s time to accept these feelings of fear. They could be an indication that you’re challenging yourself and growing, which is a crucial part of building confidence.

4) Confidence means not needing anyone’s approval

This viewpoint is one that I’ve often grappled with in my exploration of self-confidence.

The belief is that “being confident” includes being completely independent of others’ approval. While there’s merit in not being swayed by every opinion, this doesn’t mean we should completely disregard the views of others.

In my case, I enjoy sharing my accomplishments and receiving recognition. It’s a natural human desire to be acknowledged.

But when I immerse myself in this mindset, I can slip into the illusion that I don’t need anyone’s approval, at all. I can distance myself from meaningful interactions. I might come across as aloof or detached.

Instead, because I don’t limit my understanding of confidence to this one aspect, I can reflect on my actions and modify my behavior where necessary. I am learning to balance self-assurance with connection and empathy.

This helped me realize that confidence is about self-belief and resilience, not about disregarding the value of others’ perspectives.

5) Confidence is about always knowing the answers

For a long time, I believed that being confident meant always having the right answers, always knowing what to do or say. This belief was quite ingrained in me, largely due to societal expectations and personal insecurities.

Let me share a personal example.

Early in my career, I found myself leading a project team at work. I was convinced that my role as a leader meant I had to have all the answers. After all, wasn’t that what confidence looked like?

But the reality was different.

There were times when I was unsure—confused, even. And instead of admitting my uncertainties, I bluffed my way through those situations.

This not only affected the project outcomes but also my relationships with my team members. They began to see me as unapproachable and infallible—an unrealistic image that was hard to maintain.

Over time, I’ve learned that confidence isn’t about having all the answers; it’s about being honest when you don’t know something and open to learning. It’s about seeking guidance when needed and admitting mistakes.

In the end, true confidence lies in embracing vulnerability and acknowledging that we’re all works in progress.

6) Confidence equals success

A common belief is that confidence directly equates to success, implying that all confident people are successful, and all successful people are confident. This notion, however, oversimplifies the complex relationship between confidence and success.

In reality, confidence contributes to success by fostering a mindset that embraces challenges and learns from failures. But it’s not the only determinant of success.

But it’s not a simple cause-and-effect relationship. There are confident people who may not be traditionally successful, and there are successful individuals who constantly wrestle with self-doubt.

This is because success is a multi-faceted concept, influenced by a myriad of factors such as perseverance, resilience, talent, luck, timing, and yes, confidence.

Understanding this nuanced relationship can liberate us from the pressure of equating our confidence and self-worth with our achievements.

It encourages us to value the journey as much as the destination, fostering a healthier and more holistic view of success.

Final thoughts

The exploration of self-confidence and the myths surrounding it often leads us to a deep understanding of our individual psyche.

For those wrestling with self-confidence, this could be a game-changer. The belief that we’re not confident can potentially limit our actions, leading us to behave in ways that confirm our lack of confidence.

On the flip side, challenging these myths and fostering a belief in our capability to be confident can set off a positive cycle. This belief can inspire actions that reinforce our self-confidence, leading to more assertive behavior and positive outcomes.

So, whether it’s standing up for your ideas, expressing yourself honestly, or embracing your vulnerabilities, the underlying mindset might be what truly amplifies your confidence.

And as we debunk these myths about self-confidence, we not only liberate ourselves from limiting beliefs but also pave the way for personal growth and authenticity.

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