"Lack of confidence is not the result of difficulty; the difficulty comes from lack of confidence." Seneca
As Mae West once said, "If you've got it, flaunt it."
If you have confidence, friends will be drawn to you like a bee to honey. Whatever you want, you'll get. Of course, if you have too much, your friends will despise you. On the other hand, if you have too little, friends will walk all over you.
Exactly what is confidence? (Other than the antithesis of what Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown must have felt when hit in the face with that lemon-coconut pie.)
Social psychologist Dr. Clara Mayo says, "It's a state of mind. It's the feeling that you are competent and effective in a variety of life situations, and it quickly sets you apart as a winner."
Dr. Mayo, who teaches at Boston University, adds this P.S. "Those who have it, take it for granted. Those who don't would rather brood than do something about it.
"Fortunately, it's not genetic -- like blue eyes and blond hair. It's yours for developing. It comes with age, life experiences and interactions with family, friends, teachers and work associates.
"But if you're born rich, it sure helps. Money provides more opportunities for experiences and travel."
In the formative years, parents bear the responsibility for sending you down the road of esteem but, says Dr. Mayo, "only if they make deliberate effort to put you in situations where you face decisions (about what to eat, wear and play, for example) and face the consequences. This builds self-worth."
If parents (even though they are strong and powerful) dont't work at projecting confidence or if they themselves lack this trait, you are early on for failure, according to Dr. Mayo.
An then what?
Well, confidence can't be bought, but the skills can be.
"That's why we've had such an explosion of self-help groups and self-- help books," says Dr. Mayo, adding a warning that some are out for your money without too much concern for anything else. She urges you to check credentials before you plunk down a large amount of cash.
For a few basic skills to build up your confidence, she offers:
Look as though you are confident by your choice of dress, your facial expression and posture.
Talk as though you are confident. Learn to speak logically, assertively, persuasively.
Think as though you are confident. Set short-range goals (activities you've always wanted to do but didn't think you could) and try to achieve them. Adds Dr. Mayo, "Don't set yourself up for failure by assigning yourself impossible goals." For example, don't attempt to swim the English Channel if your only exposure to water has been a morning bath.
What about pills and alcohol? Can they deliver self-esteem? No, she says, though pills and alcohol may lessen your anxiety and give you the illusion when, in fact, you are not effective.
Clara Mayo flips through her dictionary. "Now isn't this interesting. The opposite of confident should be unconfident. There is no such word. Why doesn't it exist?"
Answering her question with still another, she asks, "Why is it that when the negative side of confidence is described, it is done positively? You know, to term an individual modest or unassuming?
Of course, there's still another side to confidence -- being overly sure of yourself.
"Too much confidence will alienate your friends. It could get you a repuatation for being a spoiled brat," says Dr. Mayo. "Psychologists have a special label for this. It's 'entitlement.' If you've got it, you are suffering a social disorder."
Dr. Mayo outlines the symptoms: "Always expecting you own way; always wanting the honors and the center of attention. When you don't get that to which you think you are entitled, you get angry, brood, or are depressed."
Here are a few more facts about cnfidence:
If you have it and lose it, you'll probably get it back. It's not like virginity. Explains Dr. Mayo, "There are cases where people have suffered treamendous reverses or losses, but they retain their style and sense of self-worth."
If you have it in one area of your life, it may not spill over into other areas. "Women tend to be more self-confident about matters regarding their home, family and social situations. Men tend to be more confident about business and money matters."
If you have a lot of confidence, you've probably chosen a career that puts you in the public spotlight, such as broadcasting, politics, sales or marketing.
If you lack it, you could be a painter, writer, scientist or in another occupation where you spend a lot of time on your own.
An individual with confidence offers more of a support system to a mate in marriage or partner in business.
Confidence does not guarantee happiness.