How do you find the right amount of self-confidence?
Self-confidence is faith in one's own abilities. When I have high self-confidence, I typically have little fear of the unknown, am able to stand up for what I believe in, and have the courage to risk embarrassment (such as giving a presentation to a large group of people). But if I am overconfident, I do not see the need to consider all possible outcomes, which means I might not perceive something important. It's easy to become reckless due to overconfidence.
With confidence, there needs to be a balance. We need to know that negative outcomes are possible for certain things. But rather than exaggerating them, minimizing them, or fearing them, we can give the possible consequences the necessary attention. There's a strong idea that helps with confidence, which comes from Psalms 118: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man" (8).* We can put our faith in God, be happy, and not agonize over the little things. Confidence requires balanced perceptions and preparation.
The problem I've had to deal with the most is a lack of self-confidence. Losing confidence happens when I no longer believe I can perform. It happens sometimes as the result of past failure to perform, or because I doubt something. Speaking up in classes and talking with new people can be difficult for me. I have a lot of self-doubts, am often very critical about myself, and can have a low opinion of myself. But I've found a thought from Proverbs very helpful: "Be not afraid of sudden fear … For the Lord shall be thy confidence" (3:26). I realize that I do not have to be afraid of anything because God is my confidence and assurance.
Some helpful things I've done to build my confidence are to practice setting goals and make little accomplishments for myself -- like starting a conversation with someone or just saying hi to anyone I walk past. Finding your God-given strengths is important. It's also quite comforting to know you are valued by God. Above all, being happy and knowing that every thing is okay help the most in building your confidence. I have found that it's also important not to rely on people or other things to make me happy or confident. Instead, I lean on God for support. I have found it helps not to try and raise myself up but focus on helping others instead. And even if everything isn't easy, you still get through it.
Kenneth Stack, age 14
"Trusting in the Lord" is the real basis for a balanced and strong sense of confidence. When we place our trust in God rather than on ourselves or on others, we have all the confidence we need. We know that our confidence comes from God, not from ourselves. If we place our confidence in ourselves or in others, we're placing our trust in something that is limited and less than God. So why not let our confidence come from the knowledge that we are God's "image"? As image, we do what God does. That should give us lots of confidence and lots of humility.