Q: Will you be addressing the issues of how to achieve an improved sense of confidence when one is no longer in the workforce? Post retirement the usual reinforcements of salary, bonuses, peer recognition, etc. disappear and while volunteer service can be enjoyable all those usual reinforcements are missing. Taking classes, trying to learn or relearn things (fell off my bicycle, again, yesterday) can help but more than that seems to be in order. This must be an issue for stay at home moms too.
A: Yes—while much of our book may seem targeted for women at work, in fact, confidence is critical for all of us at all stages and places in life. In fact, one of my favorite definitions of confidence was from Sharon Salzberg, a Buddhist expert, who describes it as a kind of essential life force—a sort of energy necessary for moving towards challenges wholeheartedly.
You are right that once we are not at work, and driven by traditional motivations, life can become both richer and trickier—depending on what most drives us. it’s very important to have some understanding of our basic motivations, and to try to put ourselves in positions that make sense for us. I personally have found that as much as I hate them, or think I hate them, I absolutely require deadlines. I need some form of outside pressure. And, having spent a significant amount of time at home with my kids, I can tell you that requires incredible confidence, and much more. Interestingly—studies show women are in general more confident about parenting than men.
One resource I’d check out that I found quite useful—the VIA Institute, and their values survey. It’s a pretty quick test—and will tell you a lot about many of your natural character strengths. That might give you unexpected information that you can actually put to use now that you have fewer boundaries. Good luck with the bike-riding! That’s on my list.
Q: I want to start a summer book read for my friends and our daughters to experience together. My theme is confidence and each month I want to explore a different subject, for example, negative self talk, social media, etc… Do you feel that “The Confidence Code” will resonate with our 7th-12th grade girls? If not, do you have suggestions of books that will?
A: What a terrific question! My son Hugo, who will be going into 7th grade, has started to read the book, and he finds it fascinating. We do think it would resonate—especially because we have a lot of stories woven in—so it’s not all data. We also think it’s quite important for young women to see the world and their place in it from different angles—in ways that may not have occurred to them. It will be so healthy for them to understand early, for example, that a drive to be perfect in everything isn’t always healthy! If you decide to go ahead with it, would you let us know how it goes over? We’d be very interested. Best, Claire
Q: Took your test and I score a high confidence level. Which I consider that I am, in all things work-wise because I’ve had so many experiences and worked for some high profile, full on CAH RAY ZEE people. Plus my mom is a paranoid schizophrenic so it makes for a very interesting reflex to stress and work situations.
Where I suffer most is my confidence level in my personal life. How does self esteem play into confidence? I have very low self esteem, not because of my intellect, but as a whole package. From a logical standpoint I’m no chopped liver but still feel not worthy. (Mommy issues.)
How does confidence and self-esteem cohabitate and what are their differences?
Thanks for this … very insightful.
A: What a terrific question. And wonderful news about your confidence score. That fact that you have been able to create confidence when you feel low self-esteem is terrific. Most psychologists find that they are heavily linked. They are not at all the same thing … which you seem to recognize—but having healthy self-esteem actually does lay good groundwork for confidence creation. And sometimes vice-versa. All of those attributes … optimism also … are supporters of each other. But it’s quite possible to be optimistic, for example, but not confident about your abilities. Or—as is the case with many young people today—to have high self-esteem, and consider yourself valuable, and yet not feel confident about your ability to actually achieve things.
Check out our book, and the section on confidence cousins. Most especially self-compassion. That is a newcomer, and we find it quite useful as something to cultivate. It’s got a Buddhist feel to it, but there’s now a lot of research behind it’s effectiveness.
Katty and I have been traveling and talking and eating and breathing The Confidence Code lately, and we’ve been enormously gratified by the response we’ve heard. It’s a truly humbling thing to hear, on Twitter, or Facebook, or better yet, in person, that something we wrote has inspired action, changed habits, and encouraged conversation—and debate.
One theme we’ve heard consistently is that many of you are making The Confidence Code a book club pick. That is really meaningful. We found, as we’ve discussed the issue for the last few years with friends and acquaintances and even strangers, that talking about some of these themes as a group, and offering personal examples, has tremendous power.
We’ve been brainstorming about how we can not just encourage, but participate in, The Confidence Code book club movement. What follows is our initial plan to get things started.
If you are planning to read The Confidence Code for an upcoming book club meeting, take a creative picture with the book (either alone or with your group) and tweet it out to us using the hashtag #TheConfidenceCode. Add one memorable phrase about what confidence means to you or your friends. We will choose two winners based on creativity and insightfulness. (We know, we know, it’s a bit of a loose metric. If we are inundated by cool stuff, we may have to pick randomly.) Each winning group will have Katty or me Skyping into their book club meeting!
And we do want to keep engaging on this theme, and encouraging group discussions. So feel free to send us, on Twitter and Facebook, any other interesting ways we can help give The Confidence Code book club meetings a boost.
Let #TheConfidenceCode games begin!
Q: I enjoyed The Confidence Code Quiz, but I wonder why you didn’t assess raising sons? In my results page, there was section on perfectionism and daughters.
A: Thank you so much for this question. We’ve had a number of men tell us they think they could use some confidence help as well. And we’ve had a lot of parents ask us about confidence in sons. We focused on women and girls because it’s with them that the gap is most profound. In general, our research suggests that boys are either more naturally resilient and confident, or get the benefits of treatment by parents and teachers that fosters confidence. That said—our basic advice is applicable to both boys and girls. It’s critical that all children learn early to get comfortable with risk and failure for example. And both genders benefit from the rough and tumble world of sports. And it’s especially critical that boys get comfortable with confident girls! I’ve got my hands full trying to teach my son that his little sister’s role is NOT to simply agree with him constantly. (Which she does not.) Also … Raising Cain is just a fabulous book about raising both confident and sensitive boys.
Q: I wonder if you have looked at the interaction between confidence and attractiveness to men. As someone who as always been more comfortable with risk and confidence in an academic and/or workplace setting, I have more often felt insecure with my femininity and attractiveness to men. There are some huge stereotypes about this, but I’m wondering if you intend to address it in your research?
A: That is a terrific question. In our book we do dig into the very complicated relationship women have with their appearance in general. There is no question that it is unlike anything men feel or deal with. And we also discuss the fact that for many, both men and women, it’s quite common to feel confident in one domain but not in another. The wonderful thing is that confidence can spread across domains.
But I have to admit—the subject of female appearance and attractiveness to men could be an entire book, and requires much more research. I think it’s especially critical as regards girls and young women—and how we can encourage them in the right fashion. I’m filing away your interest for our next project!