What Damages Self-Confidence?

What Damages Self-Confidence?

How Our Self-Confidence Can Become Eroded over Time


Speaking on self-confidenceLast week I held the Scarlet Thinking self-confidence soiree at Dion, St Paul’s. Our evening and speakers, Hanieh Vidmar and Olive Amoh, focused on the fascinating subject of self-confidence and selfbelief. Over the last few years, I’ve become curious as to why some people seem to have an instinctive and strong sense of selfbelief and…well, others don’t.


I asked some of my colleagues and peers for their advice on how they nurture their own self-confidence and you can find that here but what can damage it in the first place?


I’m not going talk about issues that pershaps stem back to childhood; that’s more a subject for therapy. What I’m concerned with here is why your self-confidence can sometimes feel as though it is starting to shrink.  How do you notice, you might ask. Well, I would consider some signs of losing your selfbelief to be:


  • Asking everyone around you for their input before making a decision
  • Feeling indecisive and going back on decisions once you’ve made them
  • Self sabotage so you never get past a certain point. This could present as procrastination, perfectionism or always feeling that you need “that extra qualification” in order to put yourself out there.


How do I know this? Over the past years I have had many conversations with my clients around these very things, and have experienced many of them myself (perhaps not the perfectionism!). Losing self-confidence, for me, felt as though my world was shrinking. I worried what other people would think of me (in reality, people are more often concerned with what they are doing that what you might be up to) and found it very difficult to make a decision.


I can see how why it happened. It coincided with a period of upheavals in my own life. I had recently split up from my husband and was negotiating being a single parent household with three teenagers. My aunt, a strong role model from my childhood, became seriously ill and died over a period of a few weeks, and my own children were navigating exams, first boyfriends and girlfriends and then the traumatic breakups that followed.


All these things were intrinsically personal, yet they spilt over and affected my working life at the time, putting paid to that whole notion of work/life balance as if they are two entirely separate entities. They aren’t. We all know that success in your business life helps you shine with confidence in your personal life so it seems obvious that the reverse will happen and personal issues will encroach on your self-confidence at work.


However, it’s not just the biggies that can chip away at our self-confidence. Even if we are living a blessed life in that way, there are plenty of other threats, many of them experienced by my clients. These include:


  • Partners who are less than supportive
  • Comparing ourselves to other people who appear more successful, richer, happier and who take better photos for their social media pages
  • Only mixing with people like yourself so you end up with “group think”, i.e. a lack of other ideas and ways of thinking that can keep you stuck and lacking inspiration
  • Being too busy to follow our dreams, until they slowly fade and become half-remembered dreams


My work is about visibility, around getting out there and building your profile. In the past I have given out tips and advice on how to do this, but more and more I am understanding that you need to do the inside work first, and that includes checking in to see if your self-confidence could do with a little loving care and attention. Sometimes, all you might need to do is notice that and simply by focusing your attention things will change. Sometimes it might need a bit more of an effort and some of the suggestions in this post here might help.


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