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Why Do I Lack Self-Confidence?

By Eric Dean JD, MBA, MA, MA, LPC, CADC

A common concern I hear from clients is that they lack self-confidence, constantly doubting themselves at work and in relationships. After many attempts to fix the problem, they find themselves unable to identify and implement a sustainable solution. In many cases, this is a consequence of lacking a clear understanding of what self-confidence is and where it stems from. In this post, I will define self-confidence, identify common misconceptions, and describe ways to cultivate it. 

Getting to the Root Cause of Your Self-doubt 

Self-confidence is “[a] feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.” According to Mark Manson, a bestselling author, many believe that self-confidence can be increased by:

  1.       Achieving and accomplishing more.
  2.       Convincing themselves that they can achieve anything.
  3.       Believing that they lack nothing.

However, these measures do not yield increased self-confidence over the long-term. Achieving and accomplishing more (#1) may cause a temporary, but unsustainable, boost in self-confidence. For example, John may feel good about himself when he gets a promotion, but eventually he becomes accustomed to the new position and his self-confidence returns to pre-promotion levels. Convincing ourselves that we can achieve anything (#2) is unrealistic and counterproductive, especially in situations with which we have limited experience. For example, at first it is unlikely that John will be confident in his new job since he has never done it before. However, when he convinces himself otherwise, he puts himself in situations that he is not equipped to handle, thereby decreasing his self-confidence. While we do not want to completely shy away from situations that are unfamiliar, we also do not want to overwhelm ourselves. Adopting the belief that we lack nothing (#3) is also unhelpful. It impedes our ability to think realistically about a situation, causes us to feel overconfident, and ultimately leads to disappointment and self-doubt when our shortcomings and mistakes are revealed (Manson, 2021).

So, if self-confidence is not about the three items above then what is it?

True self-confidence is derived from being comfortable with what we lack.

In other words, self-confidence is not just about focusing on our achievements, but also being comfortable with a lack thereof. For example, instead of focusing exclusively on our promotion, we find ways to become more accepting of our mistakes and shortcomings at work. In a social setting, self-confidence is not just about how many friends we have or whether people view us in a positive light, but also derived from being comfortable with and accepting of social rejection (Manson, 2021).

To build self-confidence, reframing our mistakes is a great place to start. Those with high self-confidence can view their mistakes as indications of growth. As a result, they can more quickly and honestly examine their mistake to make positive changes. They understand that just because they made a mistake does not mean they are a mistake. In other words, their mistakes do not define them, but shape them.

It is counterintuitive that to build self-confidence we should focus more on our mistakes. Perhaps we worry that we will become failures by doing this (Manson, 2021). However, this is not the case. As we become more comfortable with our mistakes, we act with less fear and more boldness.  

A Symmetry therapist can help you identify your causes of low self-confidence and create a plan to live and feel better. 

So, let’s get started– call Symmetry Counseling today at 312-578-9990.  


Manson, Mark. “The Only Way to Be Truly Confident in Yourself.” Forge, 13 May 2021.

Self-confidence. (2021). In Oxford Online Dictionary. Retrieved from

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