17 Ways You’re Destroying Your Confidence and Don’t Know It
Let's build you up instead of knocking you down.
The trick to accomplishing anything is actually thinking you can do it. In other words, confidence is key. Before you can start on a path of positive thinking, you need to prune out all the negative thinking. That’s easier said than done, however, when many of the confidence killers we inflict on ourselves are things we don’t even realize we’re doing.
But as with any behavior, these actions that slowly kill your spirit can be unlearned. The first step, of course, is recognizing them. So without further ado, check out these confidence-killing behaviors that afflict far too many of us. And remember, when the going gets tough, you can and you will.
“One way I see people unknowingly destroy their confidence is through the use of the word ‘sorry,'” says Carley Schweet, a self-care coach and author of Boundaries with Soul. “When someone is constantly apologizing, they are immediately telling their mind that they have a reason to be sorry, even if there isn’t one,” she explains. Over time, this can lead to you feeling indebted to those around you. It’s a serious blow to your confidence to constantly feel like you’re coming up short.
The Way You Dress
“The most under recognized confidence destroyer is the way we dress,” says style instructor Shana Berkeley. We tend to judge others based on how put together they are. Depending on someone’s look, they may be perceived as interesting and intelligent, or sloppy and untrustworthy. And that’s a judgment we place on ourselves as well. “Wearing clothing that is too big, very dark, faded or generally disheveled signals to others that you are incapable of being successful at a task of responsibility,” Berkeley says.
“Women self-sabotage and destroy their self-confidence by over-complimenting,” says Lucie B. Lindner, a fitness professional and author of Big Bottom Blues. By going on and on about someone else’s positive traits, we begin to subconsciously view ourselves negatively by comparison. “Compliment once and keep moving,” she suggests. “By dwelling on what others have, we bring ourselves down.”
Saying “Yes” to Everything
Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics in New Jersey, says that saying “yes” to everyone stems from a desire to feel needed. By “yes”-ing people to death, you end up giving in to others’ wishes too often, which can result in linking your own self-confidence to others’ approval. Instead, “put your foot down and make important boundaries for yourself while maintaining a healthy independence,” Backe suggests.
Obsessing Over Minor Flaws
“People subconsciously destroy their own confidence due to a pattern of thinking called the ‘spotlight effect,'” says Itamar Shatz, a PhD candidate at Cambridge University and founder of Effectivology. The “spotlight effect” causes you to magnify the degree to which minor flaws in your appearance may be noticed or judged by others. “For example, if you feel self-conscious because you think you’re having a bad hair day, it’s highly likely that the spotlight effect is causing you to significantly overestimate how noticeable this is, and how much people are going to care about it,” he explains.
Ignoring Your Feelings
“People tend to ignore their feelings or judge their feelings, instead of attending to what their feelings are telling them,” says Margaret Paul, PhD, co-creator of Inner Bonding. “If people treated an actual child this way, the child would be rejected and abandoned, which leads to a lack of self-confidence.” Well, the same goes for adults, she explains.
Letting Others Make Your Decisions
Confidence is built by expressing one’s desires in honest, empowering ways, according to Samantha Morrison, a wellness expert at Glacier Wellness in New York. “One of the most common ways people unconsciously destroy their confidence is by letting others dictate their lives,” she says. “It’s nearly impossible to build real confidence if you let others make decisions for you.”
Using “Always” And “Never”
Self-help expert Karen Salmansohn, author of Think Happy and Instant Happy, says a common unconscious confidence-destroying habit she sees is “saying the words ‘always’ and/or ‘never.'” Using such permanent-sounding language has the tendency to leave you feeling like you have no ability to make changes, when that’s hardly the case. “Any time you find yourself saying ‘always’ and ‘never,’ you are destroying your confidence and setting yourself up for hopelessness,” she says. Because of their seemingly intractable nature, these words cause a large amount of depression and anxiety, Salmansohn warns.
Maintaining Toxic Friendships
“We truly are who we spend time with,” says Maariana Vikse, founder of the Fulfill App. “If we are surrounded by people who are lazy, complain, and/or have a victim mentality, then that is who we become.” She recommends identifying people in your life who have a positive influence on you, and try maximizing your time spent around them.
Criticizing Your Inner Child
“Many people say things to themselves that they would never say to an actual child, yet this is how they treat their ‘inner child,'” says Paul. This comes in the form of self-reproaches like, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m a loser,” or “I’m such a jerk.” Constantly speaking to yourself this way will have the same effect as if someone else were saying those things to you, which can deal a serious blow to your self-confidence.
Minimizing the Good
“People tend to minimize their positive attributes and achievements,” says self-help expert Nina Dafe, founder of The Far Above Rubies Collection. As we learned with the spotlight effect, we tend to focus on the bad instead. “When this way of thinking becomes a habit, it leads to a toxic mindset as well as toxic behavior patterns,” Dafe says.
Comparing Yourself to Others
“People who compare themselves to someone who they perceive as better than them is diminishing their confidence,” says Ellen Palmer, a holistic health coach and creator of the Ideal Life Method. We have the tendency to tell ourselves that, compared to someone else, we are unqualified to do our jobs or lack the ability to be a good parent, partner, friend, or listener. But by doing so, Palmer says, you’re likely to feel as if it isn’t even worth trying to live up to your expectations, thus enacting a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Talking about Perceived Weaknesses
“The more we talk about our perceived negative traits, the more we will believe them,” says Hans Schumann, a life coach and founder of Hans Schumann Coaching. Not only that, but focusing on those flaws leads “our subconscious mind to look for evidence that this belief is true and create new experiences to support it,” he says. At a certain point, these perceptions will turn into a self-created reality.
“The words we use when we talk about our goals are so important,” says Schumann. “Words like ‘I will try’ or ‘I hope’ already envisage failure and make it more likely that we will fail,” he explains. Instead, stick to your own self-certainties and tell yourself you can, thus setting yourself up for success.
“One of the main ways people can damage their own confidence is not engaging in self-care,” says Backe. “A failure to schedule doctor appointments, canceling a training session at the gym, or eating unhealthily send subconscious messages to a person that they are not worth the time, money, and energy necessary to lead a healthy life,” he says.
“Sayings like ‘I’m beat,’ ‘Just my luck,’ or ‘I knew that was going to get me'” are all damaging to one’s self-confidence, says Kimberly Friedmutter, author of Subconscious Power: User Your Inner Mind to Create the Life You’ve Always Wanted. These are what she calls “defeat-minded sayings,” which can lead you to think the world can take advantage of you, and that you have no control over your own fate. Eliminating defeatist language is a good way to begin reformatting your thoughts.
Staying Stuck in the Past
If you’re consistently “referencing the negative things that were said and done to you in the past, particularly during childhood,” you’re slowly destroying your self-confidence, says Sasha Carrion, a hypnotherapist and life coach. “By internalizing all that negative stuff, we tend to make it a part of our lives,” she explains. However, what we should be doing is learning to move past or forget the memory. And now that you’re ready to build your confidence back up, make sure to check out these 70 Genius Tricks to Boost Your Confidence.
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