Overcoming Low Self- Esteem, Insecurity, and Self- Doubt

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2022 • 10 Pages • 188.93 KB • English
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Summary of Overcoming Low Self- Esteem, Insecurity, and Self- Doubt

ConfidenCe Overcoming Low Self- Esteem, Insecurity, and Self- Doubt Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, PhD 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 S29 N30 Confidence.indb 3 04/09/2013 12:19 First published in Great Britain in 2013 by PROFILE BOOKS LTD 3A Exmouth House Pine Street London EC1R 0JH www.profilebooks.com First published in the United States of America in 2013 by Hudson Street Press, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Copyright ©Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays, Bungay, Suffolk The moral right of the author has been asserted. All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book. A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 978 1 78125 196 6 eISBN 978 1 78283 017 7 The paper this book is printed on is certified by the © 1996 Forest Stewardship Council A.C. (FSC). It is ancient-forest friendly. The printer holds FSC chain of custody SGS-COC-2061 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29S 30N Confidence.indb 4 04/09/2013 12:19 Contents 1 Confidence Ain’t Competence 1 The Difference Between Feeling and Being Able 1 Me, Me, Me (the Narcissistic Society) 3 Wanting Versus Needing Confidence (and Coke) 7 Higher Confidence Does Not Cause Competence 10 Most Confident People Are Deluded 12 Ignorance Ain’t Bliss 15 The Perils of Chasing Confidence 19 The Confidence- Competence Cycle 24 Why Feeling Down Can Be a Good Thing 25 The Confidence- Competence Grid 28 2 Taking Advantage of Low Confidence 35 You Can Benefit from Insecurities 35 Low Confidence Protects You 40 Low Confidence Helps You Improve 46 Being Other Focused 50 Successful People Are Rarely Themselves 53 If You Fake It You’ll Make It 56 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 S29 N30 Confidence.indb 7 04/09/2013 12:19 viii Contents 3 Reputation Is King 61 If Character Is Destiny, Reputation Is Fate 64 Others Value Humility, Not Confidence 70 Everyone’s a Psychologist 73 Do Others Know What We Are Like? Do We? 77 Why You Should Care About Others’ Perceptions of You 80 Self- Knowledge Matters More Than Self- Belief 84 4 A Successful Career 91 What Top Performers Do Better 91 Debunking Career Myths (Confidence, Talent, and Arrogance) 91 Three Things Top Performers Do Better 102 How to Boost Your Career Confidence (Even Though You Don’t Have To) 112 5 Social Confidence and People Skills 117 How to Master Interpersonal Relations 117 Social Confidence as Presentational Strategy 121 The Toxicity of High Social Confidence 124 The Adaptive Side of Lower Social Confidence 126 How to Use Your Low Social Confidence to Enhance Your Social Competence 128 Early Childhood Experiences Determine Your Social Confidence (and That’s OK) 132 Turning Your Low Social Confidence into High Social Competence 135 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29S 30N Confidence.indb 8 04/09/2013 12:19 Contents ix 6 A Loving Relationship 151 How to Boost Your Dating Confidence 151 Dating Confidence Is Not Dating Competence 152 Four Ways to Succeed in Romantic Relationships 158 There’s a Time to Fake Dating Confidence 168 7 A Healthier Life 179 Your Well- being Is in Your Hands 179 The Unhealthy Side of High Confidence 183 The Healthy Side of Lower Confidence 197 Low Confidence Extends Life 199 Earning Confidence (Through Well- being) 201 8 Easier Said Than Done? 207 All You Need Is a Bit of Willpower (and Low Confidence) 207 Embracing Low Confidence 210 Success Is the Best Medicine for Your Insecurities 211 A More Competent You 215 A More Competent, Less Confident World 217 Final Thoughts 220 Acknowledgments 223 Notes 225 Index 251 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 S29 N30 Confidence.indb 9 04/09/2013 12:19 Dear Reader: If you picked up this book to increase your confidence, you are not alone. Millions of people have low confidence and most of them worry about it, not least because it is hard to boost our confidence at will. The good news is that low confidence is less problematic than you think. In fact, although society places a great deal of importance on being confident, there are no gen- uine benefits except feeling good. In fact, lower confidence is key to gaining competence, which is the only effective strategy for gaining genuine confidence— confidence that is warranted by one’s actual competence. Confidence is feeling able and competence is being able, but how are the two related? Too many people ignore this question and simply assume that higher confidence is advanta- geous per se. Although this assumption is unfounded, it has nonetheless encouraged a mindless and often self- destructive quest for higher confidence. Indeed, in much of the Western world, particularly the United States, the assumption is that more confidence is always better. 1 If it weren’t for this assump- tion, you might not even be reading this book. There is no reason to be ashamed of our low confidence. The main difference between people who lack confidence and those who don’t is that the former are unable (or unwill- ing) to distort reality in their favor. That’s right, the successful distortion of reality is the chief underlying reason so many people don’t experience low confidence when they should. 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 S29 N30 Confidence.indb 11 04/09/2013 12:19 Whereas pessimism leads to realism, optimism promotes the fabrication of alternative realities— lying, not to others, but to ourselves. There is no reason to envy people who appear con- fident, even if they are also successful; their success is usually the cause rather than consequence of their high confidence. The idea that we must do something about our low confidence is by and large the result of popular myths, which are not hard to debunk. If you are concerned about your low confidence, this book will teach you what you can do about it. The main lesson is that you should aspire not to have high confidence, but to have high competence, and I will show you how to make that hap- pen. Confidence will follow more easily when you can back it up with real accomplishments (and even then, it may be better to remain relatively unassertive). Approach this book with as critical and open a mind as you can. Do not assume that the power to become instantly more confident is simply in your hands or that high confidence should be your goal. Moreover, don’t assume that having low confidence will harm your chances of doing well in life. Or if you prefer to make these assumptions, be ready to have them challenged. Tomas Chamorro- Premuzic, PhD February 2013 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29S 30N Confidence.indb 12 04/09/2013 12:19 ) 1 Confidence Ain’t Competence It is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés, that cliché is untrue. —Stephen Fry The Difference Between Feeling and Being Able B iographers are quick to attribute the success of eminent people to their colossal levels of confidence, while downplaying the roles of talent and hard work, as if it were in anyone’s hands (or minds) to achieve exceptional levels of success merely through sheer self- belief. In line, magazines and popular blogs grossly exaggerate the role of confidence in determining fame and success. Consider the following examples:1 “No matter what you do, be sure to love yourself for doing it.” “If you have confidence you will reach any goal you have; but without it, you have no chance of being successful.” “If you love yourself, your life will be perfect.” “We all admire confident people— confidence is the most important asset in life and it will always lead to success and happiness.” Confidence.indb 1 04/09/2013 12:19 2 CONFIDENCE “We can all teach ourselves to be confident and then all our problems will be solved.” “Confident people are ten times more successful than those who lack confidence.” There are three big problems with these types of claims. First, it is not easy to make your confidence soar, just like that. If it were, nobody would worry about low confidence; we would just extinguish it like we do thirst or hunger. Second, even if we succeeded at delib- erately boosting our confidence, it would not bring us any genuine success. Contrary to what some biographers and self- nominated ex- perts suggest, Barack Obama did not become the first black presi- dent in U. S. history because he was confident; Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, did not establish four hundred companies because of his confidence; Madonna has not sold three hundred million records because of her self- belief; and Michael Jordan, Mu- hammad Ali, and Roger Federer did not achieve total domination of their sports because they felt good about themselves. The reason these exceptional achievers have confidence is that they are excep- tionally competent. It takes an extraordinary amount of talent— and even more hard work— to attain such levels of competence. In fact, the only unusual thing about these people’s confidence is that it is an accurate reflection of their competence. This sets them apart from the majority of superconfident people, who are just not very competent. The third problem is arguably the most serious one. The illusion that high confidence can help us achieve anything we want puts an incredible amount of pressure on us to feel assertive, and to trans- late that assertiveness into success. As a consequence, those who lack confidence feel guilty and ashamed, and those who feel confident Confidence.indb 2 04/09/2013 12:19 Confidence Ain’t Competence 3 have unrealistic expectations about what their confidence will help them accomplish. The high confidence premium is such that people are prepared to do just about anything to attain and maintain ex- treme positive self- views, equating feeling great with being great. The result is a society that mistakes self- importance for importance and self- admiration for admiration, driving more and more people to be obsessed only with themselves. Me, Me, Me (the Narcissistic Society) Narcissism— think Donald Trump or Paris Hilton— is a state of mind characterized by unrealistic feelings of grandiosity and in- flated self- confidence. Narcissists are self- centered and feel superior to everyone else; they pay no attention to negative comments from others and dismiss negative feedback. Narcissists are also manipu- lative and don’t mind exploiting people in order to attain power, fame, or success. 2 The word derives from the Greek myth of Narcis- sus, a beautiful hunter who was so self- obsessed that he paid no attention to others. In order to punish him, the goddess Nemesis attracted Narcissus to a pond, where he fell in love with his own reflection, not realizing that he was looking at himself. One version of the story says Narcissus drowned trying to kiss his own image; another version, that he remained on his own by the pond until his death, infatuated with his own reflection and unable to relate to anyone else. There are many reasons to suggest that we are living in a narcis- sistic era. Indeed, the fact that you may worry about your low levels of confidence is by and large the result of living in a world obsessed with maintaining inflated self- views and high levels of confidence. Confidence.indb 3 04/09/2013 12:19

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