Why do we lack confidence in ourselves?

It manifests as a combination of self-criticism, self-doubt, and fear of failure that affects our personal and professional lives. Does something similar happen to you?

By: Veronica Gimenez

Beyond an inherent lack of confidence, it is a psychological phenomenon called imposter syndrome and makes people unable to internalize their achievements. What’s more, they exhibit a common behavior: they are highly successful, regularly outperform, and admired by others, but not by themselves.

Deep down they feel like frauds, afraid of being unmasked at any moment, they even come to believe that others are wrong about their opinion of them and that they will soon be discovered, publicly humiliated and ashamed.

More from psychology: Being grateful provides greater emotional resistance

This lack of confidence makes them experience an internal conflict that develops into a huge discrepancy between the false image they have of themselves and the one others see. The personal problem means that there is no partner or job that makes them feel good, no matter the external evidence.

The low self-esteem with which they live daily creates behaviors that in turn lead to self-criticism, self-doubt and fear of failure, such as pleasing people, being a perfectionist, having codependent relationships, thinking that others can and should fix them somehow, finding yourself stuck in the wrong patterns over and over again, and so on.

Why does it affect women more?

The journalist Elisabeth Cadoche and the psychotherapist Anne de Montarlot address the issue in their book entitled The impostor syndrome. Why do women still not believe in themselves, where they expose that it could have its origin in childhood.

“You have to keep in mind that children are ‘conditioned’ to seek their parents’ approval. If one has received harsh criticism, indifference, coldness, a conditional gaze subject to value criteria (we will love you if you succeed), an attachment style that is not really reassuring, it will be complicated: because deep down, we are going to feel like little people. valid, not so good, people who say to themselves ‘if they treated me like that… it’s because in a way… I deserved it!’”, they explain.

The fact, according to the authors, of “being labeled within the family as ‘the intelligent’, ‘the skilled’, etc., also sometimes has an influence, which also affects the integrity of the child and encloses him in a definition that it slows you down and can lead you to doubt yourself.”

And they add: “Furthermore, alternating negative criticism with praise creates a mismatch that will then make it difficult for that child to take credit for successes and internalize their abilities,” they say. “25 years later, the same person will have difficulty believing that her boss can consider her for this or that promotion and she will say to herself: ‘he thinks I’m capable, but I’m not; It’s only a matter of time before he finds out!’”

Cadoche and Montarlot argue that women have a very important historical and social heritage, since they were raised for centuries in fragility, under male domination. “For a long time they have been confined to the private sphere: to take care of their families, get married, have children. And society bombards them with a mandate to beauty, to performance, to perfection”, they describe.

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According to the writers, we have internalized all the stereotypes linked to this heritage. Despite the fact that things have changed in the last fifty years, clichés die hard, they are almost written in our DNA. Of course, there may also be family reasons: just as society gives women this conditional gaze, integrated without their knowledge, the role of educational and parental beliefs also helps to establish a fertile ground for chronic insecurity.

Exercises to change the way you look

I made a list. Write down at least 10 things that show you are as qualified as anyone else for the position you are looking for or already have, and read your notes whenever you need to.

Say your name out loud. Research found that simply taking a positive affirmation like “I am amazing” and adding your name to it, for example “Veronica is amazing” can have a powerful and positive effect on how you perceive yourself.

Own your achievements. Women tend to explain their successes by attributing them to things like “luck,” “hard work,” or “help from others” rather than innate ability or intelligence. Try to take ownership of your role as a successful woman by refraining from making excuses and practice saying out loud “I’m proud of what I accomplished.”

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