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5 Reasons People Have Low Self-Confidence

Understanding the causes of low self-confidence is a first step in boosting it.

The most important thing to know about low self-confidence is that it is not your fault.

The factors that contribute to low self-confidence combine and interact differently for each person. Your genes, cultural background, childhood experiences, and other life circumstances all play a role. But don’t lose heart — although we can’t change the experiences in our past that shaped us, there is plenty we can do to alter our thoughts and expectations to gain more confidence.

Genes and Temperament

Some of what molds our self-confidence is built into our brains at birth. I mention these factors not to overwhelm you, but to let you know that you shouldn’t blame yourself for your self-image.

Studies have shown our genetic makeup affects the amount of certain confidence-boosting chemicals our brain can access. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with happiness, and oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” can both be inhibited by certain genetic variations. Somewhere between 25 to 50 percent of the personality traits linked to confidence may be inherited.

Some aspects of our behavior also stem from our temperament. If you’re naturally more hesitant and watchful, especially in unfamiliar circumstances, you may have a tendency called “behavioral inhibition.” When you’re confronted with a situation, you stop and check to see if everything seems the way you expected it to be. If something appears awry, you’re likely to move away from the situation.

Behavioral inhibition is not all bad. We need some people in the world who don’t impulsively jump into every situation. If you’re a cautious and reserved person, self-confidence may have eluded you. But once you understand yourself and the tools in this book, you’ll be able to work with your temperament and not fight it.

Life Experiences

A number of individual experiences can lead to feeling completely unsure of yourself or even worthless. Here, I’ll discuss a few.

Trauma. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse can all significantly affect our feelings of self-worth. If you find yourself replaying memories of abuse or otherwise feeling tormented by or ashamed of your experiences, please consider seeking treatment from a licensed clinician.


Parenting style. The way we were treated in our family of origin can affect us long after childhood. For instance, if you had a parent who constantly belittled you, compared you to others, or told you that you would never amount to anything, you likely carry those messages with you today. A parent’s struggles with mental health and substance abuse can also change your relationship with the world.

Bullying, harassment and humiliation. Childhood bullying can leave a mark on your confidence when it comes to looks, intellectual and athletic abilities, and other areas of your life. Humiliating experiences in adulthood, including workplace harassment or a peer group that disrespects or demeans you, can also make you less willing to speak up for yourself or pursue ambitious goals.


Gender, race, and sexual orientation. Scores of studies show women are socialized to worry more about how they’re perceived and, therefore, to take fewer risks. Racial and cultural background and sexual orientation can make a difference, too. If you’ve been on the receiving end of discrimination, you may have internalized some negative, untrue messages about your potential and whether you “belong.”

Misinformation

Lack of self-confidence can come from not knowing the “rules” of the confidence game. For example, if we think we have to feel confident in order to act confidently, we set ourselves up for failure.

Perfectionism is another form of faulty thinking that contributes to low self-confidence. If we believe we have to have something all figured out before we take action, those thoughts can keep us from doing the things we value. Even learning and understanding what confidence is and isn’t is a big step toward boosting it.

The World Around Us

Many media messages are designed to make us feel lacking. Companies that want to sell you products usually start by making you feel bad about yourself, often by introducing a “problem” with your body that you would never have noticed otherwise. (The movie Mean Girls memorably skewered this idea: The main character, new to American high-school culture after years of homeschooling in Africa, is bewildered when her new clique stands around a mirror criticizing themselves. “My hairline is so weird,” says one. “My nail beds suck!” proclaims another.)

Now that social media has become ubiquitous, the messages hit closer to home. It’s easy to believe that everyone around you has the perfect marriage, a dream career, and supermodel looks to boot. But remember: What people post online is heavily curated and edited. Everyone has bad days, self-doubt, and physical imperfections. They just don’t trot them out on Facebook!

     “One reason we struggle with insecurity: We’re comparing our behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.” —Steven Furtick

Anxiety and Depression

It’s common for anxiety and depression to go hand-in-hand with self-confidence issues. If you’ve already been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or depression and are working with a therapist, you could bring in your workbook and perhaps go through it together. It’s brave of you to address your self-assurance stumbling blocks, and building confidence will also help you lessen anxiety and depression.

Questions to Consider:

Which of the contributing factors described in this section resonate the most with you?

What specific experiences in your life do you think had the biggest negative effects on your self-confidence?

Next Steps:

1. Take this self-confidence quiz. Self-confidence begins with knowing yourself. You might also enjoy spending some time answering these questions designed to help increase your confidence level.

2. Learn why self-confidence is so important. Start here.

3. Avoid these self-confidence traps (“13 Things the Most Confident People You Know Never Do”).

4. Try these four proven approaches to increase your confidence level.

Adapted from The Self-Confidence Workbook: 
A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem.
Copyright © 2018 by Barbara Markway and Celia Ampel.
 
About the Authors
Barbara Markway, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience. 
She is the author of four psychology books and has been featured in media nationwide.
 
In Print:
The Self Confidence Workbook: 
A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem
Online: Dr. Markway online
  
Greg Markway, Ph.D., is a psychologist and has coauthored three books, including Painfully Shy.
In Print:
Painfully Shy: How to Overcome Social Anxiety and Reclaim Your Life
Dec 07, 2018
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How Expressing Gratitude Might Change Your Brain

A lot of so-called “positive psychology” can seem a bit flaky, especially if you’re the sort of person disinclined to respond well to an admonition to “look on the bright side.” But positive psychologists have published some interesting findings, and one of the more robust ones is that feeling grateful is very good for you. Time and again, studies have shown that performing simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, can bring a range of benefits, such as feelings of increased well-being and reduced depression, that often linger well after the exercises are finished.

Now a brain-scanning study in NeuroImage brings us a little closer to understanding why these exercises have these effects. The results suggest that even months after a simple, short gratitude writing task, people’s brains are still wired to feel extra thankful. The implication is that gratitude tasks work, at least in part, because they have a self-perpetuating nature: The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.

The Indiana University researchers, led by Prathik Kini, recruited 43 people who were undertaking counseling sessions as a treatment for their anxiety or depression. Twenty-two of them were assigned to a gratitude intervention; for the first three sessions of their weekly counseling, this group spent 20 minutes writing a letter in which they expressed their gratitude to the recipient, an hour in total (whether they chose to send these letters was up to them). The other participants acted as a control group, so they simply attended their counseling as usual without performing the gratitude task.

Three months after their counseling was over, all of the participants completed a “Pay It Forward” gratitude task in a brain scanner. Each was “given” various amounts of money by imaginary benefactors whose names and photos appeared onscreen to add to the realism of the task. The researchers told the participants that each benefactor said that if the participant wanted to express their gratitude for the monetary gift, they’d appreciate it if the participant gave some or all of the donation to a named third party (again, identified by photo and name), or a named charity. The participants knew this was all an exercise, but were all told that one of the transactions, chosen later at random, would actually occur — that is, they’d actually receive the cash amount offered to them by one of the benefactors minus the amount they chose to pass on (and the money they opted to pass on really would go to charity).

The researchers found that, on average, the more money a participant gave away, and the stronger the feelings of gratitude they reported feeling, the more activity they exhibited in a range of brain areas in the frontal, parietal, and occipital regions. Interestingly, these neural-activity patterns appeared somewhat distinct from those that usually appear when brain-scan subjects complete tasks associated with emotions like empathy or thinking about other people’s points of view, which is consistent with the idea that gratitude is a unique emotion.

gratitude

Most exciting, though, is the finding that the participants who’d completed the gratitude task months earlier not only reported feeling more gratefulness two weeks after the task than members of the control group, but also, months later, showed more gratitude-related brain activity in the scanner. The researchers described these “profound” and “long-lasting” neural effects as “particularly noteworthy,” and they highlighted that one of the main regions that showed this increased sensitivity — the “pregenual anterior cingulate,” which is known to be involved in predicting the effects of one’s own actions on other people — overlaps with a key brain region identified in the only previous study on the neurological footprint of gratitude.

This result suggests that the more practice you give your brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mind-set — you could even think of your brain as having a sort of gratitude “muscle” that can be exercised and strengthened (not so different from various other qualities that can be cultivated through practice, of course). If this is right, the more of an effort you make to feel gratitude one day, the more the feeling will come to you spontaneously in the future. It also potentially helps explain another established finding, that gratitude can spiral: The more thankful we feel, the more likely we are to act pro-socially toward others, causing them to feel grateful and setting up a beautiful virtuous cascade.

However, let’s not allow the warm glow of all this gratitude to melt our critical faculties. It’s important to realize this result is incredibly preliminary. For one thing, as the researchers openly acknowledge, they didn’t conduct a baseline brain scan of the participants before they started the Pay It Forward game, so it’s possible, though unlikely given that participants were randomly assigned to the gratitude and control groups, that the participants who performed the gratitude task simply had more neural sensitivity to gratitude already, not because they performed the gratitude task. Another thing: Members of the control group didn’t perform a comparison writing task, so we can’t know for sure that it was the act of writing a letter of thanks, as opposed to any kind of writing exercise, that led to increased neural sensitivity to gratitude.

Still, neurological investigations into gratitude are in their early days, and this research certainly gives us some intriguing clues as to how and why gratitude exercises are beneficial. For that we can be, well, grateful.

Dr. Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer), a Science of Us contributing writer, is editor of the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest blog. His latest book is Great Myths of the Brain.

By Christian Jarrett   JAN. 7, 2016
 


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How Well You Age Is All About Attitude, Says New Global Study

VANCOUVER—A simple shift in attitude could improve a lot for the world’s elderly population, according to a new global study.

That’s because how well we age is connected to how we view old age, the study stated, noting those with a positive attitude toward old age are likely to live longer — up to eight years — than their negative counterparts.

And older people in countries with low levels of respect for seniors are at risk for worse mental and physical health as well as higher levels of poverty, the Orb Media study found. By compiling global data, researchers also surveyed 150,000 people in 101 countries to discover levels of respect for older adults, which varied from country to country.

Canada ranked in the lower third of all for respect, along with Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

But one British Columbian expert pointed out that the study may not entirely reflect Canada’s position with the elderly.

“Our human rights legislation, federally and provincially provide protections against age discrimination,” said Christopher McLeod, associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of population and public health. “And many countries do not have these protections.”

McLeod said the association between negative views on aging and the relationship to health “made a lot of sense.” But he warned about statements of causality with specific attitudes toward health decline.

Despite that, seniors’ loneliness and social exclusion are key risk factors leading to declined health, he added. A 2017 report by the Vancouver Foundation found that people report high levels of social isolation and loneliness, noting a decline in community participation over the last five years.

“When we think about determinants of health, there are features in our society that are influenced by social or policy decisions, like income, education, your employment and its conditions,” McLeod said. “What we know now, is many of those things are far more important in terms of determining an individual’s health than medical care.”

 

The world is facing a rapidly aging population —
by 2050, roughly one in six people will be over 65.

Countries everywhere are aging rapidly, and if trends continue, by 2050 roughly one out of six people will be over 65 and nearly half a billion will be older than 80, the report noted. Yet, public debate about this demographic shift is often focused on the anticipated economic and social challenges.

Analysis from the World Health Organization found that 60 per cent of people surveyed across 57 countries reported low levels of respect for seniors, viewing them less competent than the young and considering them a burden on society and their families.

Something as simple as how you think about aging can have a huge range of health factors, said Jim Rendon, a journalist with Orb Media.

“There’s less likelihood of dementia, heart attacks and a longer life span according to research out of Yale University,” he said. “If you have a positive attitude, you’re more likely to recover quickly from a disabling accident, like a broken hip. And less likely to be depressed and anxious.”

And the report dispelled some of the cultural myths in the East and West, Rendon said. In fact, the research found the West had more respect for the elderly than eastern countries. He cited the example of Japan — at the leading edge of the demographic shift with low birth rates and long life spans — but ranked low when it came to social respect for seniors.

But in Pakistan, well-being was less associated with youth and Rendon speculated that might have something to do with cultural traditions such as extended families living with older adults.

“Intergenerational relationships can be very helpful in terms of breaking down the stereotypes about age,” he said.

Notably, the study revealed no meaningful connection between the gross income of a country and level of respect. Rendon said that indicates respect is not limited to economic status.

To understand how attitude may impact health, he pointed to studies about biomarkers of stress: The more negative the attitude the higher the stress level. In addition, Rendon said “if you think you’re going to have an active life, you just take care of yourself better.”

And you don’t need to be “old” to have a positive attitude age: Studies out of Yale University followed people in their twenties through a lifetime and found that those with a positive view were less likely to have a heart attack in their 60s.

“That brought home the idea that it’s not just what you think when you’re old,” he said. “But it’s how you perceive aging.”

 

By MELANIE GREEN     StarMetro Vancouver   Wed., June 13, 2018
 


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Key To Willpower Lies In Believing You Have It In Abundance

North Americans believe they have less stamina for strenuous mental activity than their European counterparts – an indication that people in the U.S. perceive their willpower or self-control as being in limited supply, a new study suggests.

More than 1,100 North Americans and 1,600 Europeans – including 775 Swiss and 871 German-speaking adults – participated in the study, which tested the validity of a widely used psychological assessment tool called the Implicit Theory of Willpower for Strenuous Mental Activities Scale.

People taking the assessment are asked to rate their level of agreement with statements such as, “After a strenuous mental activity, your energy is depleted, and you must rest to get it refueled again.”

North Americans in the study were more likely to indicate that they needed breaks to rest and recover after performing mentally taxing activities, while their European counterparts reported feeling more invigorated and ready to jump into the next challenging task immediately.

“What matters most is what we think about our willpower,” said the study’s lead author, University of Illinois educational psychology professor Christopher Napolitano. “When we view our willpower as limited, it’s similar to a muscle that gets tired and needs rest. If we believe it is a finite resource, we act that way, feeling exhausted and needing breaks between demanding mental tasks, while people who view their willpower as a limitless resource get energized instead.”

Napolitano and co-author Veronika Job of the University of Zurich sought to test whether the ITW-M measured the concept of willpower consistently across sexes and different cultures. Participants’ scores on the ITW-M questionnaire were compared with their scores on similar assessments that explored their beliefs about intelligence, life satisfaction and trait self-control, which relates to their ability to rein in their impulses.

The data indicated that the ITW-M had strong invariance between men and women. The instrument was slightly less consistent across cultures, demonstrating some variance in one of the seven U.S. samples and in one of the five samples of Europeans, the researchers found.

However, the researchers hypothesized that an imprecise translation of the word “energized” may have skewed some of the Swiss and German participants’ interpretation of one question.

Why do some people seem locked in a lifelong battle for self-control while others are so self-disciplined – impervious to overeating, overspending or binge-watching TV shows when they feel pressured?

The secret to having ironclad willpower lies in believing that you have an unlimited supply of it, Napolitano said.

“Your feelings about your willpower affect the way you behave – but these feelings are changeable,” Napolitano said. “Changing your beliefs about the nature of your self-control can have positive effects on development, leading to healthier behaviors and perceptions of others.”

The study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Story Source:
Materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Original written by Sharita Forrest. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.  
January 18, 2018


Journal Reference:
Christopher M Napolitano, Veronika Job. Assessing the implicit theories of willpower for strenuous mental activities scale: Multigroup, across-gender, and cross-cultural measurement invariance and convergent and divergent validity. Psychological Assessment, 2018 DOI: 10.1037/pas0000557


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Intelligent men tend to be more faithful.

  • If you eat pizza once a week it can decrease the risk of esophageal cancer.

  • Cheaters think everyone cheats. Liars think everyone lies.

  • People with anxiety perceive the world differently — their brain lumps both safe and unsafe things together and labels them all unsafe.

Happy Friday!
source: @Fact


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This Vegetable Will Make You Look 50% More Attractive

…or try the supplement that contains the same critical pigment.

Yellow and red skin pigments are perceived as 50% more attractive in Caucasian people, new research finds.

Although these pigments in the skin are supposed to be signals of good health, they can be faked.

Taking beta-carotene supplement, for example, will have the same effect.

Beta-carotene is the pigment that gives carrots — and other fruits and vegetables — a strong red/yellow colour.

For this research 43 Caucasian men were given a beta-carotene supplements for 12 weeks.

Below you can see the effect of the supplementation on their skin tone.

The left hand picture shows a typical face before supplementation, the right-hand one shows afterwards.

Notice the slightly more red-yellow hue in the right-hand face.

The supplementation group were compared with a placebo group who were given a dummy pill.

Women were then asked to rate men’s pictures before and after supplementation.

The results showed that beta-carotene supplementation increased the overall redness and yellowness of the men’s faces (but did not change how light or dark they were).

Women were 50% more likely to choose men who had taken the supplementation.

This was all despite the fact that taking beta-carotene did not make the men any healthier — it only changed their appearance slightly.

Mr Yong Zhi Foo, the study’s first author, said:

“Carotenoids are known to be responsible for the striking mating displays in many animal species.
Our study is one of the first to causally demonstrate that carotenoids can affect attractiveness in humans as well.
It also reaffirms the results of previous studies showing that what we eat can affect how we look”

The study was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology (Foo et al., 2016).

FEBRUARY 16, 2017  source:  PsyBlog


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10 Self Esteem Tips to Feel Proud of Where You Are Right Now

“Love who you are, embrace who you are. Love yourself. When you love yourself, people can kind of pick up on that: they can see confidence, they can see self-esteem, and naturally, people gravitate towards you.” – Lilly Singh

Everyone needs a boost every once in a while. As much as we like to think that our self-esteem is fine, it always helps to give ourselves little boosts and reminders. If you find that your day-to-day life could use a little self-esteem boost, never fear. You’re not the only one, not by a long shot!

“Recognizing inner worth, and loving one’s imperfect self, provide the secure foundation for growth. With that security, one is free to grow with enjoyment, not fear of failure — because failure doesn’t change core worth,” says author of The Self-Esteem Workbook Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D.

If you’re looking to find tricks that will help boost your self-esteem whenever you need it, look no further. You’ll be able to get your own self-esteem back up in no time.

10 SELF-ESTEEM TIPS TO MAKE YOU FEEL PROUD OF WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW

1. LOOK AT YOUR LIFE OBJECTIVELY

If things aren’t going so well, take a step back. Are they really that bad? It doesn’t do anyone any good to compare your suffering to someone else’s, but stepping back and looking at your life and situation objectively can help you stop feeling so low. After all, things probably aren’t as bad as they seem at first. Once you’re able to see that, your self-esteem will bounce back easily.

2. ADMIRE PAST ACHIEVEMENTS

When your self-esteem feels like it’s falling, don’t forget to look back at all the things you’ve accomplished. Look at where you were two years ago versus where you are now. Look back on all your school awards, your accomplishments, job advancements or relationship milestones. Whatever reminds you of how far you’ve come! It’ll make you feel much better.

3. ACKNOWLEDGE 5 POSITIVE THINGS

Sometimes, it can be hard to see the good things in life, and that can damage our self-esteem. When that happens, try pointing out five positive things about yourself and your life. Maybe you’re good at making people feel better, or great at handling difficult phone calls. No positive thing is too big or too small to make you feel better. Remember, “Reminding yourself of all your assets is a sure confidence booster,” says licensed psychologists Leslie Sokol, Ph.D. and Marci Fox

4. DETOX YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

Seeing the carefully constructed lives of all the people around us can really start to put us in the dumps. It looks like people are doing and achieving so many amazing things, and it feels like we’re just stuck. To boost your self-esteem, turn off your social media. Delete your apps, log out, and focus on your life. Enjoy your time with friends and family without documenting it on Instagram or Snapchat.

5. READ AN OLD DIARY

If you have a journal that you’ve kept since high school, then a good way to feel a little better about yourself is to read back through it. All of your silly, high school drama will seem so hysterical now. It’s a good way to remind yourself that you’re not that person anymore, and thank god!

6. GIVE YOURSELF A PEP TALK

Yep, out loud. Talking to yourself is a great way to shake yourself out of feeling poorly. Not only that, but talking out loud to yourself is guaranteed to make it easier to internalize your messages.

“Remind yourself that, despite your problems, you are a unique, special, and valuable person, and that you deserve to feel good about yourself. You are, after all, a miracle of consciousness, the consciousness of the universe,” adds psychiatrist, philosopher and author Neel Burton, MD.

So, when you’re feeling particularly low, give yourself a pep talk. Treat yourself the way you would a close friend.

7. NO NEED TO BE PERFECT

Analyze your perception of what ‘perfect’ means. Are you trying to reach the heights of someone else, or are you trying to achieve an impossible standard? Letting yourself stop worrying about being perfect can be an amazing self-esteem boost.

Ariana Grande once said, “Be happy with being you. Love your flaws. Own your quirks. And know that you are just as perfect as anyone else, exactly as you are.” Remember, perfection is entirely subjective. Doing your best can be perfect, and your best won’t be someone else’s best. It’s all about doing what’s right for you.

8. YOU’RE NUMBER ONE

Sure, doing things for friends and family members is important, but you have to remember that it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes. If you need a day to relax, it’s okay to say “no” sometimes. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first if you need to have time to let your self-esteem reboot. It’s okay to treat yourself when things get too much!

9. BE SPONTANEOUS

Get in your car and take a road trip one town over! Go out to a new bar! Play a game you usually wouldn’t, or read a genre of book you’ve never tried before. Being spontaneous and acting out of character can be a great way to change up your life and give you a little boost of excitement. When we’re feeling low, sometimes all we need is a little change of scenery.

10. HANG WITH FRIENDS

This is a sane way to remind yourself how loved and appreciated you are. When you’re not feeling so hot, getting together with friends is an automatic self-esteem booster. After all, friends are there to lift you up and validate you.

“A healthy dose of skepticism and uncertainty about ourselves is a good thing because it helps us make better decisions. No one knows everything or has perfect instincts, and having good friends on whom we can rely for advice helps improve our sense of self-confidence and make better decisions,” says psychologist and author Irene S. Levine, Ph.D.

Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need some self-esteem boost. Your friends will always have your back!

Final thoughts

No matter how you usually feel in your day-to-day life, it’s probably true that your self-esteem isn’t always infallible. You may need a reminder from time-to-time, like everyone. Learning the best way to boost your self-esteem will make it easier for your self-esteem to stay high.

REFERENCES:
https://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BLOG/NURTURING-SELF-COMPASSION/201703/8-STEPS-IMPROVING-YOUR-SELF-ESTEEM
https://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BLOG/THINK-CONFIDENT-BE-CONFIDENT/201001/SIX-WAYS-BOOST-YOUR-SELF-ESTEEM
https://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BLOG/HIDE-AND-SEEK/201205/BUILDING-CONFIDENCE-AND-SELF-ESTEEM
HTTPS://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BLOG/THE-FRIENDSHIP-DOCTOR/201110/FIVE-WAYS-FRIENDS-HELP-BUILD-OUR-SELF-CONFIDENCE