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Confidence, does it grow with age or experience?

Acquiring confidence

Acquiring confidence

Many of us recognise when we are feeling a lack of confidence; we feel helpless or awkward in a situation, feel unable to make a decision or maybe we apologise for ourselves, as we don’t feel confident about what we have said.

There are two types of confidence, the short lived kind which we can all experience and work on achieving e.g. psyching ourselves up to give a speech or perform at an interview but this can be short lived. The deeper kind of confidence comes from genuine self-belief and self-esteem, gives us a feeling of certainty about yourself and your abilities. It is more solid and self-assured, leads to greater satisfaction with our lives and it is likely that we acquired it at a very early age.

This deeper confidence is based on knowledge of ones abilities and comes from handling situations as they occur in our lives. We feel more confident doing a task if we have succeeded in doing the same in the past and perhaps learning from any mistakes. This means that both age and experience are relevant to our levels of confidence: As we grow older we have more experiences that we learn to handle and therefore become more confident. But it is also true to say that many people have to deal with more difficult experiences early on in their lives and doing this successfully can develop their confidence at a younger age.

Here are a few steps you can take to build self confidence and gain strength and courage:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone has different abilities and people see, feel and think about things differently. Focus on your abilities and if you catch yourself making comparisons with others, then also give a thought to those who are worse off.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who value you.
  • Always make eye contact. Smiling can also boost our sense of wellbeing in our own eyes and affect the way we appear to others.
  • Healthy eating and exercise benefits your body and mind. It is a major factor in building self esteem. Endorphins released during exercise also increase our sense of wellbeing and confidence.
  • Recognising your fears and talking about them, is the first step to conquering them. If you are faced with a task you feel you cannot cope with, share it with and friend then discuss how you can tackle it step by step. Set yourself realistic goals to accomplish.
  • You could consider contacting a professional to assist you with executive coaching services. They can help you with techniques to build your confidence levels in a professional, unassuming environment.


It is certainly true that this deeper confidence is first instilled in us during our childhood. Parental and family encouragement and support play a key role in a child developing self confidence and esteem that is their passport to a healthy life. A child learns to be confident to try new things, meet new people and operate in new environment, from encouragement and support from parents or carers. If this environment is absent in the childhood years it can often manifest itself later in life when we are adults and lack confidence in our abilities. Although, for most people, confidence does increase with age and with the experience we gain through tackling life’s challenges, it is certainly true to say that a good foundation in childhood is vital for confidence to grow in later life.