About confidence

The Oxford English definition of self-confidence is, ‘a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement’. Confidence can vary for all of us, depending on the situation. For example, you might generally feel confident at work and in your ability to do your job well, but you might feel less confident about socialising with work colleagues. Confidence can also vary with your mood or general outlook that day, or relate to your recent experiences.

What affects confidence and self esteem?

There are lots of things that can affect self confidence. When things happen to us, or people behave in a certain way towards us we have limited control over this (our external world). How we interpret situations and the behaviour of others affects how we think and feel about ourselves (our internal world). Our confidence and self-esteem is influenced by the interaction between our external and internal world.

People staring or making unkind comments

It can be a challenge to build your confidence when you live with a visible difference, especially if you have frequently experienced negative reactions or comments . If your visible difference is noticeable, you will be familiar with being stared at on a daily basis. And on occasion, people may make unkind or pointed comments. This says more about them and the type of person they are than it does you.

It’s never nice when people say unkind things about how I look, when I was younger I used to take it really personally and feel really bad about myself. Now I’m older I just think it’s really sad that people have to say horrible things about how another person looks, they must be really miserable. Fair enough if people are curious, but what possible reason does anyone have to be that unkind to someone they don’t know

Kerry

However, it can be difficult to feel confident if people are thoughtless or unkind and this is something you experience much of the time. Understandably, if you have these experiences, you might fixate on these negative reactions. This may cause feelings of worry, depression, distress, upset or anger, as well as worrying that others will stare or be unkind as well. This can in turn lead to feeling very anxious about going out and avoidance of situations where this may happen to you.

There were times when I went out and people would call me names, it really affected my confidence and I worried about going out in case people said things again. By staying in and avoiding people I started to feel less and less confident about socialising. I knew I needed to face these situations, so in the end I decided I needed to do the things I enjoyed and see my friends. I guess there was always a risk of people saying something, but it didn’t always happen, and I couldn’t let these comments stop me from living my life. I deserved better than that 

Kerry

Comparing yourself to other people

You might know other people and want to be more like them – in looks, skills or achievements. This can affect your confidence, as comparing yourself to someone you think is ‘better’ may mean you are unable to appreciate your own qualities or achievements.

The reality is that everyone is different – in appearance, talents and abilities. We all judge ourselves against others but part of building confidence is about recognising our own qualities, talents and abilities too.

Not seeing your good points

In addition to comparing yourself to others, you may generally find it hard to recognise your good qualities and think about all the things you don’t like about yourself or feel you can’t do well. This might relate to your appearance concerns, worrying about failing, or being exposed. You may not feel trust in your abilities, qualities, and judgement.’

Thinking that no matter how hard you try, you will never be accepted

Appearance worries may make us feel like we are not worthy, valued or wanted by other people as a friend or a partner. This is an understandable feeling in a world where so much value is placed on appearance, however, real relationships are based on so much more. If you think about your relationships and reflect on what is it you like or love about those people, it probably isn’t how they look! You most likely value their personality, the things you enjoy together, their sense of humour, their warmth, their conversation. Other people will think of you this way too.

If you are feeling unconfident, you might like to take a look at the Confidence Tools – these are designed to help you build confidence and to think about yourself as a whole, not just your appearance. Using these might help you to feel more confident, by recognising your strengths and boosting your self-esteem overall.

Recognising positive qualities tool

Read

The talking confidently tool

Read

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