Confidence: Facts and myths you need to know

The single most popular topic I come across in my work is confidence. Whether that be confidence in asserting themselves, making difficult decisions, or dealing with the stressors of life. many of my clients wish they had more confidence. 


Confidence is closely related to imposter syndrome - the belief that we have 'got lucky', don't deserve our success or status, and we will soon be found out.

So if you feel confidence is holding you back in some way, take some reassurance from knowing that you are not alone. In this regard, there is absolutely nothing special about you.

But confidence is a bit like pornography – we know it when we see it, yet it is not easy to define what it is. If you were to ask 10 friends for their definition of confidence, although there may be some overlap, confidence means different things to different people. There will be no set of coherent answers.

It is widely misunderstood, which causes problems when we want to develop more of it.

Facts and myths about confidence

  1. Fact: Confidence is one of the key psychological capabilities underpinning the development of excellence. A large volume of research in sports and performance psychology continues to back this up. But we all know that confidence plays a huge part in the trajectory of our lives.
  2. Myth: All elite performers (either in sport or the performing arts) have super high levels of confidence. They unequivocally don't. What they DO have is a belief that they can cope with the challenge they are confronting.
  3. Fact: We tend to judge the confidence of others by their behaviours, but judge our own by how we feel. We are biased in how we interpret others confidence.
  4. Myth: Confidence is about an unshakeable belief. For a rare few this may be the case. For the rest of us, it isn't.
  5. Myth: Confidence is an absence of self-doubt. You definitely do NOT want to remove self-doubt from your life. This will get you in an awful lot of trouble.
  6. Myth: Confidence involves a lack of fear or anxiety. In reality, both fear and anxiety are helpful. It is not fear that holds us back. Rather, it is our relationship with fear.
  7. Fact: Confidence is not the same as self-esteem. Self-esteem is related to your sense of worth and value. One branch of psychology doubts self-esteem even exists.
  8. Myth: Your confidence is genetically determined and, as such, you can't change it. In fact, confidence ebbs and flows and we can proactively manage our confidence. Unfortunately, very few people take control of their confidence. 

Don't leave your confidence to chance.

Developing confidence

The first step in developing more confidence is having clarity about these questions:

  • What does confidence mean to you?
  • If you had all the confidence in the world, how would you know?
  • What would you be doing more/less of? 

If you feel you would benefit from a 20-minute 'espresso' coaching session on confidence, drop me a line:

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London, SW15
Written by Paul Berry, Executive Coach & Performance Psychologist
London, SW15

Paul Berry is a Performance Psychologist and Executive coach, specialising in developing confidence and related psychological constructs

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