Lacking self confidence is rarely what it seems

A lack of self confidence arises when a life is not working. But then self confidence returns when that life begins to be better.
lacking self confidence

Self confidence  returns when you are ready

Almost without exception, my clients will come to me with their self confidence low and battered. And very frequently, that will be the first piece of information they will proffer – often indeed before we even meet. It will be on the phone or by email that they will use their chronic lack of self confidence as the justification for seeking help.

Lacking self confidence is the consequence of mental problems and not the cause

The reasoning is clear – if only I was more self-confident then my life would be better? But what if it’s the other way round? What if you devoted your efforts to getting your life working better and then your self-confidence returns of its own accord? What if a lack of self-confidence is the consequence of a life not working and not the cause?

Lacking self confidence is a red herring

What I have discovered over the years, having helped my depressed, anxious and addicted clients overcome their extreme distress, is that more often than not, a lack of self confidence is a red herring. I have found that an authentic lack of self confidence was surprisingly rare.

Why am I saying this?

The answer is not to jump on the obvious and fashionable answer to a problem but instead to ponder what the emotion of a lack of self confidence might be communicating. Is the message useful and will its deep comprehension help to relieve your depression (or anxiety or addiction).

Think about it from a human givens perspective. You are not getting your essential needs well met and are living a life without balance.  And this is despite all your efforts, Well then a lack of self confidence is only to be expected. And if this lack in your life reflects the fact that your emotional resources are not working well, then low self confidence will be an honest and authentic emotional communication.

This lack of self confidence emotion needs to be listened to and not wished away.

What is needed is not to raise self confidence above what is justified by the lack and failures of a life right now. But instead, to heal these resources and then direct efforts to getting your life working better. When you do this, then lo and behold, self confidence will return. It will just happen. As night follows day or as better sleep follows a day without unproductive rumination.

When no self confidence really is the problem

lacking self confidence

The almost universal lack of self confidence of depressed individuals (and indeed pretty well everyone in mental and emotional distress) should not mean anything more than that their life is not working.  And they don’t know why and how to deal with it.  So naturally their confidence takes a hit.

One reason why I do not focus directly on the lack of self-confidence is that every now and again, I have a client who genuinely and profoundly has no self confidence. 

Their situation is very different and unfortunately, they are very hard to help.


You can read about two such clients at length – Vernon and Kate.  Or listen to their stories in this short audio. Listen/download

As you understand, you will see how unusual they both were.


In outline, Vernon had tried and failed for many years to become a serious photographer. He would not let go of this ambition and so his self-confidence eventually drained away.


For Kate, it was harder to pinpoint. She seemed to lack anything from her life experience and sense of who she was that she could hold onto. Or that I could use.

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