By: Sheikh Moutasem al-Hameedy via Rashidoon
How can I develop self-confidence? What’s the secret to self-confidence?
Well, there’s an issue here with self-confidence because it’s not one thing. It’s a very broad concept. It’s made of different tiny bits here and there. And to deal with such a complex concept is very challenging and difficult.
So instead of dealing with self-confidence (or general self-confidence) it’s more practical and beneficial to deal with what we call efficacy, because efficacy is how we perceive our ability in a certain field. It is field specific…it is specific to a certain field or a certain skill or a certain area. So you can say: I have self-efficacy about…for example someone has self-efficacy about public speaking; somebody has self-efficacy about numbers and dealing with numbers; somebody has self-efficacy with social skills; somebody has efficacy with some kind of game or athletic competition, etc.
So efficacy is topic-specific, or area-specific, or skill-specific. This is why it is much easier to deal with. And actually scientifically this is the best way to deal with what we call ‘general self-confidence’ or ‘general self-efficacy.’
How do we deal with general self-confidence?
First, actually when you deal with a topic or with an area or with a skill where you have efficacy, where you perceive that you are actually competent in that area, your general self-confidence will rise up…will just reach a high level. So when you deal with that area…when you deal with that kind of challenge…when you deal with that kind of skill, you feel good about yourself and you have more self-confidence!
This is why – usually – experts, practitioners, and psychologists advice people to develop their skills, because there’s what we call: the skill-efficacy loop; they feed into each other. The more skill you have, the more competent you feel about yourself…the more competence you have, the more skill [you are likely seek to develop], the more confident you become (this was a bit of a mess in the video), and so on and so forth. It’s just like an upward spiral.
So it’s very practical to deal with self-confidence through skills…developing skills in certain areas. So where you have strengths, develop more skills. Generally, it affects your general self-confidence.
But I want to give you a bonus in this video. And that’s how to deal with two of what I call (Mega skills) or meta skills that can actually boost your general self-confidence. And these two skills are…the first one is what we call:
Being happy with what Allah has given you, the way Allah created you because Allah has honoured human beings. Allah made us honourable. You are honourable! It’s an inborn quality…no one has to give you value. You are valuable as a human being. Otherwise why would Allah bother create you in the first place?!
We are valuable as human beings. And this belief in our value is natural but somehow it gets taken away from us…we get conditioned into doubting ourselves…not really appreciating what Allah has given us. And sometimes we are taught this and we are conditioned or programmed to swallow that kind of self-doubt under some noble pretext like: “don’t be arrogant!” or “don’t be proud about yourself!” “Don’t be haughty!”
But who said that accepting oneself, accepting what Allah has given you is an act of pride or an act of some kind of vanity?! It’s not! Allah has given you value…you are valuable to Allah and as I said, why would He create you if you were not valuable?!
Allah gave you value and in the Quran Allah says:
“And We have dignified and honoured the son of Adam” [Surah: 17, verse: 70]
So as human beings we are dignified by Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala. No one has the right to give us this dignity…no one has the right to take it away from us because it’s a God-given right! We are born with it. No one can take it away from you so don’t even doubt it! Don’t you dare ever doubt it!
Now we have to make our way back to our fitrah, to our natural state of believing in our self- value, which Allah has given us. And the way to do this is to rehearse – everyday – the fact that Allah created us…Allah created us in the best format physically, spiritually, mentally, psychologically. Allah says:
“We have designed (created) man in the best shape (format0” [Surah: 95, verse: 4]
And this is not limited to our physical format, but also our spiritual, our mental, our psychological format. We are born perfect as human beings. Within the realm…within the limitations of human beings. So you are valuable as a human being. You don’t need to seek your value from anyone in the world. Even if people reject you…people don’t pay attention to you…people don’t accept you, it doesn’t tarnish your value! Your God-given value…Allah has given it to you.
So in order to come back to believing in it…to awaken it in your heart: is actually to rehearse that and thank Allah for creating you…for bringing you to the world…for giving you what He has given you. And realizing Allah does not create something without value. Because if you see that you are without value, somehow tacitly you are accusing Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala of creating something with no value, which Allah doesn’t do. Allah created things for a reason, and you are created for a reason, it’s a noble reason…and that’s to worship Allah. So you are valuable as a human being.
If you manage to develop this skill…it’s a thought…it’s a belief, and belief is actually a thinking skill…its how you deal with your thoughts. And the more you rehearse it, the more you practice it, just like any physical skill, the better you get at it. So if you want to develop this kind of belief, which you are already born with it but it was taken away from you; it was destroyed somehow during your upbringing. You can still bring it back by rehearsing it every day and thanking Allah for the person He made you to be…It’s a valuable thing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala.
The second mega skill that I believe can really boost your self-confidence is –general self-confidence is
#2 Believing in Your Ability to Learn
You can learn almost anything. You can learn almost any skill. Whatever you want to do in life, you need certain skills and certain abilities. And if you don’t have them, you can simply learn them. That’s all…that’s the story of life.
So why not learn what you just need to learn? Most people fail to reach their goals, they fail to have self-confidence, they fail to do something valuable…something significant in life just because doubt their ability to learn what they need to learn = the skills they need to learn to achieve their goals.
As human beings, Allah created us malleable…our brains are malleable…plastic [i.e. adaptable]. They discovered this thing in neuroscience about the plasticity of the mind [the brain]. When you learn a skill, you hardwire it. Your brain changes in order to accommodate this skill and hardwire it. We are malleable creatures. We can learn, we can develop, we can change. Whatever habits, whatever traits…you can actually change them. Whatever skills you need to your goals…to get to your goals, you can learn them.
You need to trust your ability to learn. And the way to trust this is to rehearse in your mind the moments in your life when you needed to learn something to achieve a goal and you just learned it. When you loved something, you loved a skill, you loved a new skill or some kind of practice and you just rehearsed and you practiced and you put in the time and the effort and you learned it.
You need to stretch that and generalize it so you get to the point where you believe actually I can learn what I need to learn, and this will boost your self-confidence.
And in order to increase your general self-confidence,
First of all: improve your skills…learn new skills. Learn what you need to do, develop your self-efficacy in specific areas and your general self-efficacy, your general self-confidence will actually be boosted…it will grow, and it will get better.
Secondly, then develop the two important mega skills: self-acceptance and believing you are valuable…inherently valuable: Allah made you valuable; you don’t need to get that from the world. You don’t need no one to give you this kind of value because you are already born with it. The second mega skill is: belief in your ability to learn. You can learn whatever you need to learn…you can learn it. You can achieve. Whatever you want to achieve, you can actually achieve it once you learn the skills necessary to achieve that goal.
If you actually work on these three points, they can help you develop your general self-confidence which we called: general self-efficacy. It’s a valuable thing. A lot of people as I said equate it with pride…they equate it with haughtiness but it’s not! It’s not about boasting; it’s actually believing in what Allah has given you because Allah has given you something valuable…just recognizing the truth.
I hope you found this video helpful because these notions have helped me. I was a very shy person and I couldn’t stand in front of a camera, I couldn’t stand in front of an audience or doing certain things. Then alhamdulillaah, through the help of Allah these three points helped me develop that kind of skill and improve. And life is different…you know…your outlook on life is different when you develop general self-confidence.
I ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala help us develop these skills to serve His religion and to serve humanity and to please Him [Allah], and to pave our way to Paradise.