Do you feel doubtful about your abilities and inadequate at times? Do you doubt your ability to be successful as an individual? Do you concentrate on your failures, mistakes, and limitations? Do you feel like you are going nowhere and lack the confidence to move your life in the direction you choose?
Dr. Robert Anthony, a specialist in behavioral therapy, helps us explore the reasons we underestimate ourselves in his book The Ultimate Secrets of Total self-Confidence. The following is a brief review of a few of his thoughts I would like to share with you:
People who feel dependent believe that others are more capable and wiser. They become dependent upon someone or some organization outside of themselves to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. They look to others for their welfare and happiness.
It is impossible to become a self-confident person until you can stand on your own two feet. Self-confidence requires self-reliance. The main obstacle to self-reliance is the doubts you have about yourself in your own mind. When you believe you are dependent upon another person, you are.
When you doubt your self-reliance, you question your ability to solve your own problems. You may find security in another person or affiliation with an organization, but this security comes at a cost of your independence. Dependency upon others creates a situation where your happiness relies on external factors.
One common sign of dependency is when you compare yourself to others, looking up to those you think are more capable than yourself. Comparing yourself to others is counterproductive thinking to becoming a self-confident, self-reliant person. When we compete with others to prove to ourselves we are superior, we are placing ourselves in a position where we are always comparing ourselves to someone else’s achievements. In comparison, a self-reliant person compares himself to no one; he strives for excellence only within his own standards; he sets his own goals. The person who is self-reliant does not need others to lean on. They do not derive their motivation or inspiration from others. They rely on their internal powers to motivate themselves to become who they want to be.
Keep in mind every time you do something for someone else when they are capable of doing it themself, you are stealing an opportunity for them to become self-reliant. Even children must be given as much responsibility as is age appropriate to help them build self-confidence. You must allow children to make their own mistakes, from which they can learn. The more you deprive them to think and do things for themselves, the more you undermine their self-confidence. We must allow people to think for themself so they may grow and become self-reliant. It is our job to love, encourage, and offer recognition for their decisions and actions.
It is important to understand the control system of reward-and-praise and blame-and-punishment that we incur during childhood. This control system can become destructive, as it makes you identify with your actions; praise says your actions were good. The result is individuals who conform to norms to seek praise. Unfortunately, conformity is one of the greatest restrictions placed on an individual in the pursuit of self-confidence.
You cannot be both praise seeking and self-confident. Self- confident people never seek praise or place others above themselves. They respect people for their accomplishments but never look up to anyone. The conformist has a need for constant approval from others. As a child, he seeks approval from parents and teachers, as an adult from spouse, friends, co-workers, and supervisors. People who have a need to seek approval to bolster their self-worth struggle with understanding how to take responsibility for creating their own success and happiness.
Nothing can stop you from achieving total self-confidence and self-reliance. But first you must free yourself from dependency, comparing yourself to others, and conformity. You must free yourself from needing the approval of your family, friends, co-workers, and supervisors. It is your responsibility to break away. You can do it anytime you want. The question is freedom versus bondage.