I’m sure like a lot of people, my confidence levels can rise and fall.
No one wants to be overconfident to the extent of arrogance, but we’re all looking for that sweet spot of unshakable self-esteem.
So, how do I know if I’m confident?
Here are 10 sure-fire positive signs that you are secure with yourself.
1) You are happy being alone
There’s no doubt that we human beings are social creatures.
We’ve evolved to live, work and co-operate in small communities and our survival has depended upon it.
As much as you may enjoy sharing your time with others, it seems that the most secure amongst us also find value in solitude.
When secure people choose to spend time with others it’s usually because they enhance their life in some way and not because they feel panicked at the thought of being alone.
There is a lot of strength that comes from not only tolerating but finding pleasure in your own company.
For a start, studies have found the ability to handle being alone is linked to greater happiness, reduced stress, less depression, and better life satisfaction in general.
- Increased productivity
- Increased creativity
- Increased empathy
- Better mental strength
- Greater self-understanding
But maybe having to face these challenges can in itself serve to fuel your own inner strength and security in the long run.
In this way, you can find fulfillment and peace on the other side of loneliness.
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After all, strength is built not from avoiding difficulties but from learning to deal with them better.
2) You don’t need to be right
In fact, not only do you not need to be right, it doesn’t particularly bother you to be wrong either.
You see it as an opportunity to learn and grow and that is far more important to you.
You don’t feel any need or desire to persuade people into your way of thinking.
Your sense of identity is not so closely entwined with feeling superior to another person.
You simply aren’t threatened by the diversity of ideas and preferences people will inevitably have in life.
Difference of opinion isn’t something that you get offended by, and when you think you’re wrong, you will own it rather than try to justify yourself.
You most likely know exactly what spiritual teacher Exchart Tolle is talking about when he poses the philosophical question of whether it is better to be right or happy:
“Can you feel that there is something in you that is at war, something that feels threatened and wants to survive at all cost, that needs the drama in order to assert its identity as the victorious character within that theatrical production?
“Can you feel there is something in you that would rather be right than at peace?”
You realize that you are far more than just your thoughts or even your beliefs on certain subjects.
For that reason, learning valuable lessons and growing as a person is always more important to you than trying to save face or being seen by others as ‘in the right’.
3) You say no
We all understand that part of being an adult means having to do certain things, whether we want to or not.
I don’t know about you, but given free rein to indiscriminately turn down anything I felt uninclined to do would suddenly leave me with a lot of time on my hands.
Would I bother to work, take out the trash, or even brush my teeth if there was absolutely zero pressure to do so? Maybe not.
But some people find themselves doing a lot of things that they’d rather not do and that they really don’t have to do either.
They always get roped into “helping out”, they join their friends for drinks when all they wanted was an early night, and they take on the headache of that extra project because they don’t want to “let down” their boss.
Saying no can feel super uncomfortable unless you are an incredibly secure person.
It’s often accompanied by a worry that we won’t be accepted or liked if we turn someone down or fail to meet their expectations of us.
That’s exactly why learning to say ‘no’ is such a big sign your confidence is growing.
Because you aren’t prepared to let the discomfort or fear of what others may think to sway you from doing what is ultimately best for you.
You realize that saying no is not about being selfish, it’s about establishing and upholding boundaries — which author and holistic psychologist Nicole LePera refers to as:
“Clear limits that protect you from what feels inappropriate, unacceptable, and inauthentic.”
The most secure people in life can unashamedly say no to the things that feel unaligned to them.
4) You show compassion
True compassion is an act of strength and never of weakness.
From the outside, some cynical people may observe compassion in others and view it as being “soft” or “a bit of a pushover”.
Sadly, many people are still brought up believing that it is weak or stupid to feel emotional.
But there is a big difference between people taking from you and you choosing to give.
That giving can be as simple as your kindness, empathy and understanding.
Another reason why compassion is not for the faint-hearted is that it means cultivating a sensitivity towards the causes of suffering.
That’s why it actually takes a certain amount of courage to be able to turn towards the pain of others and yourself, rather than avoid it by looking away.
Perhaps one of the most challenging sides of compassion for most of us is learning to show self-compassion.
Oddly, giving ourselves the same love and grace we can freely share with others seems to present bigger hurdles for us.
But as Buddha said:
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
Truly secure people have created the solid internal foundations needed to be compassionate to both others and themselves.
5) You let go
If you are looking for signs of low self-esteem and insecurity, then grasping is probably pretty high on the list.
At its very core, this need to cling to the things we are being asked to let go of comes from fear, which can show up as neediness or desperation.
Experiencing loss is understandably difficult for all of us.
Non-attachment is a popular spiritual and psychological concept. At face value, the very sound of detachment can seem a bit cold.
But it’s not about trying to be careless, as the counseling website Regain phrases it, at its core non attachment means:
“Moving through life without letting things, people, or places have such a hold on you that you make wrong choices. (You) don’t let things own you.”
Even for those who thrive from it, change can still feel very uneasy. Having to give anything up usually brings with it a certain amount of grief.
But whether it’s arguments, painful experiences, people, opportunities, possessions. or things that weren’t meant for you — there is incredible power in release.
Letting go is one of the behaviors of confident people because they have faith that something else will follow.
They feel secure in themselves to know that they will always be ok.
6) You don’t worry what others think of you
It’s not that secure people don’t give a damn about the opinions of others, it’s more than what they think and feel about themselves matters more to them.
They feel self-assured that they can trust their own judgment and values.
That means if Janet in accounting thinks it’s terrible that you didn’t make an effort to go to the last office get-together, oh well, you know your reasons and don’t have to justify yourself.
Secure people know that, as John Lydgate said:
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
So they aren’t prepared to waste their precious energy trying to.
When you have the firm inner foundations of quiet confidence you understand that worrying too much about how you are perceived by others is a subtle way of giving your own power away.
You are telling yourself that your own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs should come behind those of others.
Caring too much about what others think of you gets you so caught up in other people’s business, rather than staying in your own lane.
Not to mention that constantly trying to impress people is completely exhausting)
The reality is that not everyone can handle a confident or strong person, and so being self-secure may not always win you popularity contests.
But when you are secure in yourself, you’re too busy living your best life to get sucked into the drama.
7) You don’t crave the limelight
Attention seeking is pretty much a reflection of insecurity.
But when you already feel happy and confident with who you are, you don’t need all eyes on you to top up your self-esteem.
It doesn’t mean you won’t ever find yourself at the center of attention, it’s more that you don’t rely on it in order to feel valued and appreciated by others.
Bragging or boasting isn’t tactics that you feel the need to fall back on so that everyone in the room knows exactly how smart, funny, talented, and all-around great you really are.
Because you are not desperately seeking recognition from others at every turn, the chances are that you are happy to listen as much as or more than you speak.
As you already know what you think, you are genuinely interested to find out what others think instead.
So you ask questions to understand the perspectives, ideas, and thoughts of others.
In short: secure people can afford to be more curious in their conversations because they don’t have an ulterior motive of turning everything into the “Me, me, me show”.
8) You ask for help
A sure-fire sign of emotional strength is being able to ask for help when you need it.
Plenty of us probably grew up feeling like relying on others is a sign of weakness and a potential burden to whoever we turn to.
But a significant part of self-awareness is actually understanding your own strengths and weaknesses.
When you are secure enough to know that you are not Superman or Superwoman, you realize that being the best you can means sometimes turning to others for help.
Resourcefulness is a real strength in life, and that involves the wisdom to know your own capabilities and the confidence to seek support for your limitations.
In cultures where independence and self-reliance are put on a pedestal, it takes a truly secure person to be vulnerable enough to confidently ask for help.
9) You’re prepared to try and fail
I’ve never in my entire life met anybody who likes to fail.
The feeling of failure sucks and has the potential to knock just about anyone’s confidence.
Everybody hates to fail, but some people recognize that failure is essential to success.
The difference is that when you are secure with yourself you are strong enough to face the potential knockback, with the knowledge that you will recover… eventually.
Or as the old Japanese proverb puts it:
“Fall down 7 times get up 8.”
Confident people have cultivated a habit of calculated risk because they know that they will survive, and defeat won’t strip them of all their self-esteem.
A preparedness to fail has been shown time and time again to be one of the fundamental hallmarks of successful people — far more than factors like talent, genius or luck.
I love hearing about the struggles of famous people who failed because it’s such a good reminder that:
- No one is perfect (no matter how much we idolize them from the outside).
- Tenacity actually matters more than natural gifts (which is great, because that’s something you have the power to work on).
Whether it was Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team, or Walt Disney being told he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’ — it was an inner strength and self-belief that allowed them to carry on and try again.
10) You embrace your flaws
Perfectionism is not only an impossible bar to set for yourself and others, but a sign of insecurity.
And I say that as a recovering perfectionist myself.
I thought if I could somehow become flawless, I would be able to sidestep the pain and disappointment that inevitably comes with living as a mere mortal in this world.
But what I discovered was that my attempts to ignore, push away or destroy what I perceived as my own “defects” didn’t actually make them disappear.
Whatsmore, making myself constantly “wrong” was keeping me from real self-love, and with it, being able to feel truly secure in myself.
“Don’t fight darkness. Bring the light, and darkness will disappear.”
Self-secure people don’t waste their time and energy trying to be perfect, they know that is like trying to battle with a shadow.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t value self-improvement, strive to be their best, or attempt to sidestep responsibility with excuses like “that’s just the way I am”.
But instead, they have learned to embrace the duality of life.
They don’t try to banish the dark side of themselves or others — they simply shine a light on it with love and compassion.
Bottomline: The secret to rock-solid self-esteem
If, like me, you’ve ever asked yourself ‘How do I become more self-secure?’ then the answer might be simpler than you’d think. (Although simple doesn’t mean easy of course).
What truly secure people have managed to achieve is something that sounds on the surface quite humble, but has an incredibly powerful impact…
They know that they are enough.
They’re not striving to be perfect and they don’t need to be the absolute best at everything. They realized this is an impossible task.
Instead, they focused on growth over ego.
When we manage to let go of a desire to have rigid control over everything (including ourselves) we can embrace the whole spectrum of life — the good, the bad, the light, and the shade.
In accepting all that you are, you learn to love yourself on a far deeper level.