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The Fine Line Between Confidence and Self-Confidence

confidence external validation self-confidence Feb 02, 2024
Confidence vs. Self-Confidence

“See One, Do One, Teach One” is an oft-used tool to rapidly build confidence as medical students and residents learn procedures. Although imperfect, each step builds the learners knowledge and skill, creating the confidence necessary to continue to perform the procedure. 

And yet, once you have moved out of learner mode, you may find yourself as an Attending needing to do a procedure that you have never formally learned. What then?

This is where Self-Confidence comes in.

Confidence is trusting that you can handle a situation/challenge/procedure because you have handled this situation/challenge/procedure before. Maybe you have even been observed, signed-off, privileged specifically for this instance, providing the external validation we all love.

Self-Confidence is trusting that you can handle a situation/challenge/procedure because you trust yourself to do hard things, even when you haven’t encountered this type of situation/challenge/procedure before. 

It’s a fine line, but a really important difference.

Because physicians are so reliant on external validation during our training, it is often a major challenge when you no longer have those protections in place. And, because we have often delayed non-medical life (romantic partnerships, child-bearing, house-buying, investing) for such a long time, we may feel especially shaky on anything not related to work and medicine.

But Self-Confidence is critical for navigating challenges. It’s essential as we tackle the difficulties of burnout, or deciding to leave an employed position, or start a business, or start dating again, or work on our health. Learning to trust yourself, to have confidence in your ability to navigate challenges, to take care of yourself and accept your emotions, to get the help that you need; all of these things require Self-Confidence.

It’s one of the reasons why I emphasize celebrating wins so much. Noticing something, even something tiny, that maybe doesn’t feel worthy of celebrating, helps to build our self-confidence. It helps to show ourselves our own progress.

You are 100% capable of navigating the challenges you encounter on the road to change. Whatever your goals are, decide that you will notice and celebrate successes along the way, that you will practice self-compassion with the tough bits, and get the help you need.

Flex your Self-Confidence muscles; choose to trust that you can handle challenges. You don’t need to have tackled a particular challenge before; there’s a first time for everything.

And if you need someone to cheer you on? Let’s talk!

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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