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Understanding and Enhancing Self-Confidence: Unlock Your Potential Self-Confidence: Signs of Struggles vs. Confidence A person struggling with confidence:

An Informational Guide for Auburn Students

Feels a sense of control over his/her life Believes that challenging goals can be achieved with effort Remains positive and accepting of self even when some expectations are not met.

Depends excessively on other’s approval to feel good about self Avoids risk taking for fear of failure Typically expects to not be successful Often puts self down Ignores or discounts compliments Sees self as less than most, if not all, others Questions own self-worth frequently In contrast, a self-confident person: Holds a positive, realistic view of self Sees BOTH positives and negatives about self

How Self-Confidence Initially Develops While many factors affect the development of self-confidence, primary caretakers are pivotal to how children see themselves. The early years of life are particularly influential to one’s view of self. The presence of unconditional acceptance allows for a solid foundation of positive feelings about oneself. Please note, unconditional acceptance is distinctly different from unconditional agreement of decisions made or behaviors taken. It also does not mean a lack of boundaries or expressed expectations. Caretakers can disagree with children and still set expectations that provide unconditional acceptance.

Trusts his/her own abilities quietly Does not feel the need to conform for acceptance

Involvement of caretakers who are excessively critical or demanding, as well as those who are overprotective or

discourage progressions toward independence can result in a child seeing him/ herself as incapable, inadequate, or inferior. On the other hand, caretakers who encourage self-reliance and convey love and acceptance, even when their children make mistakes, provide a foundation in which children accept themselves and subsequently develop self-confidence. Often, lack of self-confidence is not related to lack of ability but rather to focusing too much on others’ (particularly parents’ and society’s) unrealistic expectations or standards. Friends can also influence one’s view of self, but this typically come after the initial impact of caretakers. At times in one’s life, however, friends’ impact on self-confidence can be more impactful than parents or society. College can be a time of vulnerability regarding one’s sense of self because students often re-examine values and further develop their own identity.

Problematic Assumptions Influencing Self-Confidence Assumption: “I must always have love


or approval from every significant person in my life.” Alternative: The statement above is perfectionistic and unattainable. A more realistic statement is, “It feels nice when people love and approve of me, but I do not have to have everyone’s love or approval all the time to be okay.” Assumption: “I must be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieve success in all important areas of my life.” Alternative: This is another perfectionistic, unattainable goal. This places selfworth solely on external achievement and suggests you have to always do super in every area of your life. A good alternative statement is, “Today I will strive to do my best in as many areas as possible.”

Self-Defeating Thoughts Related to Self-Confidence

Magnifying negatives and minimizing positives: putting excess stock in “bad” things and minimizing “good” ones (e.g., “I ran quick miles four days this week, but my slow time today makes me feel awful about myself.”)

Strategies to Improve Self-Confidence Avoid perfectionism. Respect yourself.

Acceptance of emotions without critical thinking: giving emotions validity without questioning them (e.g., “I feel stupid, so I must be.”) Overemphasis on “shoulds”: believing statements with “must” or “should” in them, which are usually perfectionistic and therefore unrealistic and unattainable (e.g., “I should know what I want to do with my life. Everyone else does; there must be something wrong with me!”)

Emphasize your stengths. Expand your perspective (look at the whole picture instead of only negatives). Practice positive self-talk. Use humor. Do not take things, including yourself, too seriously so often.

Labeling: particularly when it’s negative and conveys blame (e.g., “I am a loser, and it’s my own fault.”)

Student Counseling Services (SCS)

All-or-nothing thinking: disallowing any middle ground, seeing everything as either/or instead of both/and (e.g., “I am a total failure when my performance is not perfect.”)

Counseling services are free and confidential.

Pessimistic thinking: expecting the worst in every situation such that a single negative taints reality (e.g., “I got a C on my last math test and will never graduate.”)

Call 844.5123 to make an appointment

Office Hours: 8 am - 5 pm Monday - Friday

www.auburn.edu/scs E-mail: scsinfo@auburn.edu

Stop being self-deprecating (making undermining, snide comments about yourself). Avoid personalizing what others say. Realize that confident does not mean arrogance; it’s okay to be confident! Focus on intrinsic worth. Remember you’re human, and “mistakes” can be growth opportunities.

Suite 2086 • AU Medical Clinic • 400 Lem Morrison Dr. • Auburn, AL 36849

P/ 334.844.5123

E/ scsinfo@auburn.edu

www.auburn.edu/scs Auburn University is an equal opportunity educational institution employer.


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