Disclaimer: The contents from this section are opinions and personal experiences of the author and SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS MEDICAL/PROFESSIONAL HELP. It is always best to seek help from a licensed professional.


Confidence. It is that small something that sets things apart. It is said to be something that emanates from a person, and that makes all the difference on how one is viewed. For example, quiet man with confidence is described as mysterious, meanwhile one without any hint of it is described as a weirdo. A loud person with it is deemed expressive while the one without it is just noisy.

Funny how that works, right? But what exactly is it? Scientific literature defines it as a person's sense of competence and skill (Uglanova, 2014). It is one's perceived capability to do something or to handle a situation. Older literature claims that it is an evaluative self-concept which impacts a person's cognitive representation of oneself (Shrauger & Schohn, 1995). From the definitions, it can be said that confidence has two factors: first is the actual skill level and competency of a person, and second is the level of conviction the person has to said skills and competencies.  

Throughout the ages, there has been innumerable misconceptions about having confidence. From the hundreds, here are a few of them:

1. One is born with confidence. Hell no. Human psychology states that humans are born "tabula rasa" or blank slate (Myers, 2000). From this claim, it is inferential that confidence is acquired or learned. And with that said, it logically follows that confidence is something that could be acquired and developed.

2. Fake it 'til you make it. This is something that a lot of people have heard at some point in their lives. There are even clinical studies which claim the power of placebo with regards to confidence. However, considering the definition of confidence that involves skills and competency which cannot be faked, it only logically disproves the claim that it can be faked. In a sense, confidence without skill would only be seen as brashness at best.

3. Only extroverts can be confident. Such a perspective is just simply erroneous. Looking back again at the definition of confidence, it mainly stems from oneself. Therefore, both extroverted and introverted people can both become confident beings. Fun fact and as proof, one of the most famous introverts is Kobe Bryant.

Although it might seem highly unlikely, the average confidence levels among teens and young adults have been steadily declining over the past few decades. Various reports and studies have made such a statement (dating to the early 2000's). As more studies and research have been done about the issue, experts in the field have come up with realizations and interconnections between confidence and various aspects of life. Among the said interconnections, the most curious might be the relationship between confidence and mental health. There are various literature discussing how confidence affects mental health and vice versa, the most prominent observation is that mental health issues increase as the esteem levels go down. 

This is affecting more and more of the younger generations. Various reports and studies regarding the cause of mental health issues among teens is the lack of self-esteem. Statistically, there has come to a point where data shows that 1-in-5 teens have experienced depression before even reaching adulthood. Further worrisome is that about half of mental health disorders due to low self-esteem are established as early as the age of 14. Another study absolutely agrees since its result identified that low confidence and esteem levels factor significantly towards experiencing anxiety, depression, and even self harm (Nguyen, et. al., 2019). 

On the flip side of the research results, the study finds kids who are participating in extra curricular activities at school seem to have normal self esteem levels. The underlying conclusion is that the extra curriculars (i.e. sports, and arts), which often require skills and practice, impact the esteem levels of the students who participate. Said outcomes truly define the strong proportional connection between confidence and mental health; that is to say that teens with good confidence levels also have good mental health status. 

Further, there are numerous other studies which identify root causes of lowered confidence levels. Some point out causes such as adverse childhood experiences, chronic criticism, societal expectations, and attacks on identity. Also notable from researches is the fact on how parents affect their kid's esteem levels. This involves the parents' status, their parenting styles, and even their individual behaviour as seen by their kids. Meanwhile, other literature points to environmental factors. This includes the interactions with other family members, friends, and peers; experiences with various communities (i.e. school, work, social media, etc.), and others. With the vast amouns of literature that points out root causes of lowered confidence levels, it is quite rare to come across one that points the lack of accountability and discipline. It is quite curious as to why that is.

The AntiThesis Mindset on Confidence

The AntiThesis Mindset believes that confidence is a combination of key personal aspects. The perception is that it is a two sided coin. On one side is a person's actual skills and competencies; on the other is the said person's belief and conviction in the abovementioned. And as one side increases, the same goes for the overall level of confidence. Also, I believe that having both is necessary. If one is non-existent, there will be no actual confidence observable. A mathematical equation might prove to be a good representation of the idea.

(Skills&competency)  x  (Belief&conviction) = Confidence level

As such, this equation agrees that both are necessary to have a certain degree of confidence. High skill with no belief often leads to self-doubt and/or procrastination which yield zero results. High belief without any skill is simply just arrogance; and it is nothing but factual to say that arrogance simply does not give anything. 

Putting things in perspective, consider a young boy who has a talent in drawing. The boy would probably be drawing a lot of the time for the purpose of enjoying it. But if the boy does not believe in any way what-so-ever that there is actual talent within him, then there will never even be an attempt to find out how said skill level fares with the rest of the world. Why? Because there is no belief that he has talent in the first place.

On the flipside, consider a person who is loud and brash about how good of a driver he is even though he does not actually know how to drive yet. There will come a time where people will ask to a showcase of driving performance. Without actual driving skills, only two outcomes can happen: either he gets mocked because the circumstances will prove that he is lying about his driving skill or he might get into an accident (this is why the "Fake it 'til you make it" attitude is not that good).

Skill without belief, belief without skill; both circumstances are not good things to even imagine. From there, imagine simply adding values at miniscule levels on one side of the coin. The results are going to be far from perfect but definitely not as bad as the abovementioned scenarios. High skill with little belief will be most likely seen as too meek or shy. High belief with little skill will be most likely seen as a braggart. Thus, it is deemed that a healthy proportional dose of both would be best.

Developing it the AntiThesis Way

Just like with almost anything that undergoes development, building up one's confidence is a process. Now since each and every individual has varying talents and aptitudes, it can be said that building up one's confidence is subjective. That is true to an extent because it involves, to a certain degree, the concept of design and development paradigm. Such is typical for coming up with new products or technology.

The steps in this process is quite personal to the author. This stems from lived experiences which involved numerous failures along the way. Essentially, consider this process as a compilation of trials that led to the desired output and realizations.

1. Self Assessment.

Be brutally honest.Of all the steps herein, perhaps this one is the most challenging. It is human nature to have a certain degree of bias into not seeing one's own shortcomings. Some people even reach a point where their shortcomings are being rationalized, finding excuses, and even shifting blame. Overcoming this and being actually able to assess oneself objectively can truly be a challenge, but it is not impossible to get done. Acceptance of the shortcoming is the key to this step. Similar to the first principle of the AntiThesis Mindset, brutal honesty, most specially with oneself, is a good stance to have. Otherwise, self-improvements would probably half-baked at best. 

2. Reality-based goal setting of what you want to become.

Long term and short term. This part of confidence development requires a certain degree of critical thinking as it concerns the entirety of your future self. When it comes to confidence, one of the most common things people say that will improve their esteem levels is to improve their physical appearance. And for the purpose of discussion, improving one's fitness is going to be the example.

To continue, the effective way to go about this is quite similar to how businesses set their goals: following the SMART acronym.

Specific - this trait of a goal refers to the preciseness of what it is. For goal setting, most people tend to aim at something broad and/or vague of an idea; and this usually is part of the reason why so many fail to reach any goals. To clarify via example: "to get fit" as a goal is a bit vague because there are a variety of categories that can be deemed "fit". A more specific goal is something that goes along the lines of "to lose weight".

Measurable - this trait refers to how progress towards a goal can be observed. This is one of the characteristics of a goal or objective that makes it definitive. Additionally, it might seem unlikely, but this is also what makes even the smallest progress motivating. To clarify adding unto the example above, a specific and measurable goal would be "to lose 5 kilograms of body weight".

Attainable - moving along the acronym, attainability is the trait that should keep goals and objectives grounded. That is to say, a goal must be something that is possible to achieve. Failing to set attainable goals are usually the main reason why people do not get even started on pursuing their goals. For example, "to lose 50 kilograms of body weight" is pretty hard to achieve as compared to something like "to lose 5 kilograms of body weight". And that makes all the difference.

Realistic - in essence, this is a complementary trait for the one above. What separates the two is that this one is a little bit more situational. Realistic goals align with the circumstances of the one setting them. Setting unrealistic goals usually tend to lead towards demotivation and discontinuation of effort towards reaching it. This is why a lot of people quit. Again as example, "to lose 50 kilograms of body weight" is not only highly unattainable, but unrealistic too. Particularly if the person setting it weighs at 70 kilograms.

Time-bound - since time is a globally used metric, this is a complementary trait to measurable. This helps measure how certain activities affect the overall progress towards reaching a goal. This leads towards good decision making of whether to continue on with the current activities or to perhaps change something. In the context of losing weight, a person recorded a 200-gram weight loss for an hour of walking daily. That gives an insight as to what to adjust for the coming week depending on the goal. If the goal is to lose more weight, the answer is either to add more time walking or to do a more intense cardio.

In summary, A SMART goal is something that allows a person to see it more clearly. Thus making it easier to focus on and commit. It is trackable, progress is measurable, and ultimately allows a person to take the best actions that will yield the most optimal and/or favorable results. To finalize an example: a SMART goal is something similar with "to lose 5 kilograms of body weight in a year".

3. Identifying the differences between self assessment and the goal.

As this phase begins, a person's current situation is already identified, and the goal/s are also already established. The differences between the two is called the gap. That is the distance between what currently is and what a person want it to be. Supposedly, this is one of the reasons why there is a saying that goes "Success is a journey". One goes through a journey from point A (what it is today) to point B (what one wants to become for tomorrow).

Consequently, the nature of that gap is also the reason why brutal honesty and reality based goal setting is paramount. Truthfulness to oneself is a foundation of confidence. This is also why for the above example of losing weight, it would be important to measure one's weight at the start, and compare it to the goal desired weight. Otherwise, the gap might be to skewed or unrealistic; and more often than not, that will only lead towards a path of failure. Nobody wants that.

4. Identifying what to do to reach goals.

By this point, a person is going to device a plan which would ultimately allow the set goals to be achieved. And similar to goal setting, a good plan also has the SMART traits. If not, the activities will not align, and doing them might just become a waste of time, energy, and resources. Additionally, a plan which is not SMART tend to have a counter-productive result in most cases.

To explain by example using the SMART goal of "to lose 5 kilograms of body weight in a year". A SMART plan to get started towards achieving that might be something such as:"Run 3 kilometers, 20 push ups, 20 squats. Do this daily from 4am to 5am"

The latter plan above follows the SMART traits. What needs to be done is specified (run, push up, squat); and measurable (3kms, 20reps, 20reps); attainable and realistic since that is a beginner-friendly routine that any regular person can do; and time-bound because it is set to be done daily from 4am to 5am. Such is something that any person can actually add into their schedule. All it is going to take to progress is the willingness to get started with it and see it through.

5. Grinding it out.

Arguably, getting started may be said to be the hardest part of any journey. However, starting is the easy part in the context of building up confidence. The tougher portion is maintaining efforts consistently. The journey towards something better is always paved with hard choices which are inevitably necessary.

Change is always hard and what makes this part tougher is perhaps due to what is being changed. In this case, those are the easy-to-do, dopamine-releasing activities of which one becomes accustomed to doing daily. Drastic improvements are said to come from changes in habits; and most people who want such changes often have a lifetime of bad habits under their belt.

Fully commiting towards any change include consistency. One needs to continuously keep doing the activities that lead towards reaching the set goals. Lots of people find it challenging to start running. A whole lot more find it more challenging to keep doing the runs three times a week. And most definitely there are much more people who quit after a few months with those runs added into their schedule. 

Unfortunately, there is no shortcut or secret to staying committed to a goal. The only way to do it is to keep at it. Put one foot in front of the other and repeat. Keep going until the desired destination is reached. In light if this paragraph, perhaps a different perspective might help: Getting started and keeping at running does not make the run any easier. However, it makes the runner stronger and more capable to run further. That capacity to go further is actually where confidence can begin to stem from.

6. Self-evaluation of improvements 

Like the saying goes, "You'd never know where you're heading if you don't know where you've been." In every journey, looking back is always a necessary thing to do. This is the part where you reflect and evaluate what has been achieved in a certain span of time or after a certain set of objectives have been reached. The term "milestone" fits perfectly into this phase.

This is where one gets to quantify how much has been achieved and how further away the goal is. This is where progress is measured. And seeing the differences is always rewarding and/or satisfactory. This part also gives a window of opportunity to evaluate what was being done to reach the goals. By evaluating, it can be identified whether to continue the grind or to do some adjustments to get further improved results.

Again explaining with the example of the goal that is "to lose 5 kilograms of body weight in a year", evaluating the involved activities to reach it (run 3 kilometers, 20 push ups, 20 squats done daily from 4am to 5am) can be evaluated in a series of steps:

First comes measuring how much was its impact, aka how much weight was lost since starting the routine. Whether it be a few grams to a kilo, taking note of the results is significant. This is the rewarding part of the process because of the results.

Second, evaluating the results by simply asking oneself if said results are satisfactory. If the yes, then simply continue on. If not, the next step is to further improve the way of the grind.

Improving the tasks set to reach the objectives may come in various forms. There are a few easy ways to go about it. The most common are to either add volume in the task, add intensity in the tasks, or add another set of tasks. Using the same example for adding volume, the distance to run can be lengthened to 5 kilometers and the number of push-ups and squats can be increased to 50 each. To improve the task via intensity, a way to do it is to keep doing the same tasks while wearing weights. Adding volume and intensity may be a considered as well. Lastly, adding another set of tasks may be as simple as adjusting food intake that is aligned towards reaching the goal of losing 5 kilograms within a year.

Third, continuing the journey. With all the adjustments set, all that is left is to grind it out.


There are definitely numerous other ways in order to build one's confidence. Of all the possible paths, it is a certainty that efforts are always necessary. Such efforts need to be appropriate and consistent, which is why it is challenging. The fact that it is challenging is more than enough to discourage some people. What separates those who have it from those who do not is the will to try and do what is needed despite knowing it to be challenging.


Myers, David G.. (2000). Psychology, 6th Edition Textbook. Worth Publishers. ISBN-10: 1572599588. ISBN-13: 978-1572599581.

Nguyen, Dan Tan., Wright, E. Pamela., Dedding, Christine., Pham, Tam Thi., and Bunders, Joske. (2019). Low Self-Esteem and Its Association With Anxiety, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation in Vietnamese Secondary School Students: A Cross-Sectional Study. Front. Psychiatry, 27 September 2019. Sec. Public Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00698

Shrauger, J. Sidney. and Schohn, Mary. (1995). Self-Confidence in College Students: Conceptualization, Measurement, and Behavioral Implications. American Psychological Assosiciatin, Society for Clinical Psychology (Division 12), Section IX (Assessment) Vol.2 Issue 3. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191195002003006.

Uglanova, Ekaterina. (2014). Self-Confidence. In: Michalos, A.C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_2624.

MikeDAntiThesis Creator

Disclaimer: The contents from this section are opinions and personal experiences of the author and SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS MEDICAL/PROFESSIONAL HELP. It is always best to seek help from a licensed professional.