Limiting Beliefs That Sabotage Your Confidence

By: Lisa Philippart

The annoying thing about confidence is how simple and effortless it looks in people who have it. And while some people may well be naturally confident — at least in certain situations — it’s always possible to improve your own confidence. I have found that we struggle to feel confident because of our beliefs about confidence itself. So, let’s take a look at three limiting beliefs that may be holding you back from developing more confidence. By identifying them, we can be well on our way to replacing them with healthier, more confidence-promoting beliefs.

Limiting belief #1: I need to feel confident to act confident. No, you don’t. And in fact, that’s completely backward. You’ll only feel confident once you start acting confident, despite not feeling it. Whatever thing it is that you’d like to feel more confident about doing, it’s literally untrue that you need to feel more confident to do it. Have you been thinking about suggesting a new idea to your team but are terrified what people will think? It would be wonderful if you felt confident that everyone would be on board, but that has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to present. Feeling confident is great, but not necessary for action. No matter how you look at it, you’ll only be able to start doing the hard things if you embrace the belief that you can do those difficult things without feeling ready. Remember: Actions, not words, change beliefs. If you want to feel more confident, make your actions more courageous.

Limiting belief #2: I care too much about what other people think. Our culture is infected with the idea that to be confident and genuine you shouldn’t care at all about what other people think. That’s rubbish! Humans are fundamentally social creatures. Our advantage in this world is our ability to form complex social relationships and coordinate together. And we are good at this relationship organization because we have the ability to understand (and sometimes feel) what other people are thinking and feeling. Thus, it is completely normal to care about, and feel anxious about, other people thinking badly about you. What is holding you back from confidence is the belief that you shouldn’t feel anxious about what others think. If you lack confidence in social situations, the most important thing you can do is not judge yourself for caring about what other people think! Initially, you can’t control whether you feel a little anxious or indecisive, but you can control where you go from there. The secret to being socially confident is the willingness to accept some anxiety at first as part of our humanness.

Limiting belief #3: I’m not as confident as people think I am. In other words, your confidence depends on other people’s beliefs about how confident you are! Many people refer to this as imposter syndrome. But here’s where people go wrong with this. Imposter syndrome isn’t a lack of confidence. It’s the belief that your confidence (not necessarily your abilities) isn’t good enough compared to your peers. The solution is to resist the impulse to use external standards and other people as a yardstick for your own confidence. Instead, allow yourself to be the one who decides what confidence really is. You are the final authority on your own confidence. Don’t outsource the job to someone else.

Hat tip to Nick Wignall at

By: Lisa Philippart

Licensed Professional Counselor