Confidence – An Enemy or a Friend?

Posted on 8th December 2014 | Category: CBT

A little confidence can be good. Too much confidence can be a dangerous thing. Everyone knows the famous proverb “pride comes before a fall” but in CBT we actually recognise that confidence, or rather over-confidence can be the deciding factor in some of the biggest mistakes that we can make in our lives.

In this rather bombastically titled article in the New York Post “Why Losers have Delusions of Grandeur”  the author explores several instances where the illusion of confidence has lead various characters down the road to ruin. In the article it states that psychological research has found that those with the least amount of ability in a given area are often those most likely to over-estimate their levels of skill.

The article goes on to state that this is not something merely limited to potential X-Factor candidates and would be talent show superstars, affecting chess players, followers of a supposedly high range intellectual activity, in equal measure.

Often in CBT we see individuals who suffer from the belief that they are perfect or in ultimate control of their own destiny and their life around them. It is these people who are most likely to undergo some kind of shocking situation that occurs due to a blind spot in their over-confidence, creating catastrophic results. Not only do they have to deal with the results of the situation, they also have to learn to rebuild themselves following a complete breakdown of their self-image.

Part of CBT is teaching individuals to deal with mistakes. In the first instance this is generally learning how to accept mistakes and letting go of the process of dragging oneself over the hot coals of introspection following a personal crisis. Once this self-flagellation has ended, individuals can actually start to reframe mistakes as a good thing in life, a learning experience that teaches them the right way for them to move forward through life. By embracing fallibility and the propensity for failure in their own lives they learn a degree of real confidence in being able to overcome such obstacles as opposed to the unreal expectation that they will never, ever put a foot wrong in life.

It is only exposure to difficult situations that creates the certain resilience necessary to deal with mistakes and difficult, unfamiliar territory. I remember personally working with a ward nurse with thirty years under her belt who was convinced that she was one of the most accomplished and skilled in her role. The truth was that she’d spent thirty years in the same position, dealing with the same kind of patients, giving her around a year of challenges when she started work and then twenty nine years of repetition.

If you would like to learn more about learning to deal with mistakes, or if you feel that situations in life are often beyond you, then CBT and ACT can teach you a new way of dealing with these feelings. For more information, give me a call and I can discuss how these therapies could make a difference in your life.