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  • Steven Sutton, LCSW

Why trying to be more confident isn't working

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

Many of my clients come to me saying they need more confidence to be successful with their goals. They believe that if they could just summon up enough confidence, they could finally make the changes they want in their lives. Some men also understand that women find confidence attractive, and so they see it as a worthwhile goal to pursue. However, aiming for confidence as a goal is misguided and a misuse of a person's attention and energy.

The truth is that confidence is an outgrowth of courage. To feel confident, we need to cultivate the courage to do the things most consistent with our values. When we act in alignment with our values, we feel more confident as a result. This means taking risks, facing our fears, and stepping outside of our comfort zones. It means being willing to fail and make mistakes, knowing that failure is an essential part of the learning process.

Aiming for confidence can result in people feeling like they're failing. They become focused on their perceived lack of confidence, which can lead to self-doubt and anxiety. This demonstrates a fundamental confusion about the nature and relationship between courage and confidence. Confidence is not something you can switch on without practicing being brave. It's the byproduct of having the courage to take action in the face of fear and uncertainty.

Rather than focusing on building confidence as a goal, try to focus on cultivating the courage to act in alignment with your values. This means setting goals that are meaningful to you and taking action towards them, even if it feels uncomfortable or scary. You've got to be willing to take risks and embrace failure as a necessary part of the growth process. Doing so will slowly raise your confidence across the board.

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