How to Create Self-Confidence Despite Anxiety
Anxiety zaps self-confidence. When it knocks out our belief in ourselves, anxiety often takes with it our sense of who we are, what we can do, and how we want to be. How is it that anxiety can be such a powerful force that it encompasses not only worry and fear but our belief that we are okay, legitimate human beings in our own right? Anxiety can chip away at self-confidence but there are ways to pick up the pieces and put them back together. You can create the courage to have self-confidence despite anxiety.
How Anxiety Destroys Self-Confidence
“Imagine something infiltrating your body, controlling your behavior and, when it’s done with you, bursting out of your head.”
This is a description on Science Focus of the head-splitting fungus that attacks ants. It sounds a lot like anxiety, too.
Anxiety is more than a condition. It’s an entity that has a life of its own; and like the head-splitting fungus, it infiltrates body and mind (thoughts and emotions), controls behavior, and causes physical symptoms, such as headaches, that make it difficult to think clearly. Anxiety causes us to lose the courage to be self-confident.
When the parasite that is anxiety invades, it attacks the sense of self. The focus often shifts from who we are and the strengths we possess to how we are “less than” others. The more we worry about people and situations, the more we ruminate over what we should say or do or shouldn’t say or shouldn’t do, the less self-confident we become.
It’s a spinning spiral: your anxious thoughts involve questioning your own competence, and self-questioning (even self-loathing) increases anxiety which, in turn, further destroys self-confidence. Anxiety and the destruction of self-confidence affects behavior. It’s common to avoid people and situations because of anxiety and the belief that you’re not good enough.
The cycle of anxiety and lost confidence is formidable but it’s not impossible to break. You can develop the courage to believe in yourself despite anxiety.
Create the Courage to Be Self-Confident Despite Anxiety
Anxiety is indeed a parasite. As such, it’s invasive and unwelcome. It’s also persistent. It hangs on, clinging to our brains and the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors it governs. The good news about parasites is that they don’t kill their hosts. Anxiety might have overtaken your life, but it hasn’t destroyed you. It won’t destroy you. One way to rid yourself of this parasite is to reclaim your sense of self and self-confidence.
Fear can keep us from discovering our confidence. Thoughts like “What if I’m not good enough?” or “What if I fail?” or “I’m a horrible parent,” wipe out self-confidence. That’s anxiety talking, though. It’s not you.
These three actions will help you to be courageous and build self-confidence despite anxiety:
- Start a running list of your character strengths, positive qualities, and abilities. Look at the list daily without arguing with (or “yes, but-ing”) it, and add to it frequently (5 Character Strengths of People Living with Anxiety).
- Keep a jar or container labeled “Things I Do Despite Anxiety.” On small pieces of paper or cut-up index cards, write things that you do, actions you take, people you talk to, etc. despite feeling anxious. Do this daily, even if the action seems small. When it comes to beating anxiety and developing self-confidence, there’s no such thing as a small action. At least once every day pull out a slip of paper from the jar and read it. Close your eyes and visualize yourself doing it again.
- Keep a journal or create a vision board (or both) to record who you really are (not your anxiety) as well as your ideal self -- how you will be when anxiety is gone. How will your life be? What will it be like to have self-confidence? Return to this every day, spending a few moments visualizing yourself being this way and anxiety-free.
These exercises are powerful tools to help you create the courage to have self-confidence despite anxiety. As you return to these every day, you’ll find your anxiety begin to decrease as your self-confidence increases.
Peterson, T. (2018, June 21). How to Create Self-Confidence Despite Anxiety , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, May 10 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/6/how-to-create-self-confidence-despite-anxiety
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS