Self-confidence is often one of the main reasons that people feel uncomfortable in the gym, fail lifts, and don’t stick to their goals. You might think that self-confidence is just something that some people naturally possess, but I believe everyone can build confidence no matter who you are.
What is Self-Confidence?
Self-confidence is described as “the belief that you can successfully perform a desired behaviour.” We can be confident in one area of our lives, but less so in other areas. I’ll be referring to self-confidence in a fitness environment but most things mentioned here can be transferred to daily life! How confident we are depends on the specific behaviour or task and factors such as those around us, the environment, previous experiences etc.
Researchers often describe two “types” of self-confidence – trait and state-like- which refer to the stability of our confidence.
Trait-like self-confidence is often part of one's personality and is therefore stable. Those high in trait-like self-confidence will be relatively confident in most walks of life, and generally an overall confident person. I’m sure you’re already thinking of a few people you know who possess this type of confidence, or maybe you’re one of these people!
State-like self-confidence, however, varies depending on the social context, behaviour and time. State-like self-confidence is therefore relatively unstable and often changes with our mood.
Self-efficacy is often used interchangeably with self-confidence. Much like state-like self-confidence, self-efficacy relates to situation specific self-confidence and is the belief in our ability to perform a given task.
Why Is Self-Confidence Good?
Being more self-confident or more self-efficacious has several key benefits which are as follows:
Brings about positive emotions
Influences goal setting
Increases performance (at given task; gym, work, life)
So how can you be more self-confident? Here are some tips to becoming more confident!
Sources of Self-Confidence
Performance Accomplishments: Experiencing success or failure at task such as setting/failing a one rep max attempt. Getting involved in the task will help us a) experience success and pursue this feeling more often and b) learn from any failures and improve on this next time.
Vicarious Experiences: Seeing others performing the task. Seeing our friends, family or colleagues perform similar tasks may help us learn and have more belief in ourselves.
Verbal Persuasion: Receiving positive or constructive feedback can help persuade us that we do have what it takes. Seeking out this feedback from your coach, training partners, or friends can sometimes help to improve self-efficacy.
Imaginal Experience: Call me a hippy, but using imagery will help you imagine performing the task at hand and can stimulate similar physical feedback and provide a confidence boost. Practising your task over in your head can actually help!
How To Improve Self-Efficacy
By no means is this an exclusive list, but here are a few ways to improve self-efficacy!
Grasp at opportunities to experience success, get involved! Expect some failures but see them as a positive learning curve. If you don’t try, there’s no way that you’ll ever succeed.
Act and think confident. Confident thoughts, feelings, body language, and behaviours are linked. Even if you don’t feel it, pretend to be confident!
Prepare for the task. The old saying “fail to prepare, then prepare to fail”. If you are prepared you will feel more confident.
Goal setting. Map out your goals to perform and get better at the task. Ticking off short term goals all the time will help you feel more competent.
Last of all, something that I think suits the AG gym very well. Try to surround yourself with positive people. A friendly and welcoming social climate will help you get the support and feedback you need to become more confident.