What Does it Mean to Be Self-Assured?

onthegoCan being self-assured help us to go boldly into unknown life territory? This is a question I’ve been thinking about lately. But what does it mean to be self-assured? To me, it seems like a very desirable quality, something to cultivate in oneself and in our children. In my curiosity, I did some research. According to Merriam-Webster Online, the term means “sure of oneself: self-confident.” It says that related words include: vain, egotistical, pompous.

I partly agree, but I have some issues with this definition and with the “related” words. I guess this begs the questions: Who am I to take issue with the dictionary? Am I self-assured or really pompous after all?!

In my mind, being self-assured means having a sense that one can make it through what life throws our way. It means cultivating helpful self-talk and being on your own team. Life is hard, you don’t always know what to do. You may be scared or unsure. Being self-assured (in my unofficial dictionary), is having some acceptance of this and still trying our best. It means showing up physically and emotionally and being in the driver’s seat of our lives. Even the self-assured need to buckle up because it’s often a bumpy ride.

In my humble (and yet self-assured!) opinion, self-confidence is a little different. I think confidence is the belief that you can accomplish something. Usually we gain confidence through previous life experience. I am confident in my skills as a therapist from roughly 10 years of training and practice. Prior to becoming a parent (where you clearly cannot get the experience until becoming one), I did feel self-assured because I was committed to managing my emotions, accepting things I cannot control, and willing to get help and support whenever or wherever I hit an inevitable bump in the road. These two examples feel really different to me.

It seems to me that confidence is trust on one’s abilities and self-assurance is trust in one’s self. I need previous experience to be confident. I need a rich knowledge of my internal resources (emotional, physical, spiritual) to be self-assured.

Self-confidence is great for preparing in many aspects of life. It’s a positive thing, but I don’t think it goes far enough. I think we need to develop self-assurance for the many situations for which you cannot prepare.

What do you think? Is there a difference between self-confidence and being self-assured? How do you feel about the term?

Next post, I’m going to take on those “closely related” words. If you have thoughts on that, too, I’d be very interested.

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  1. Colette Watier

    I agree with your definitions. If I had to choose – if I could only be one or the other- I would want to be self-assured. Because being self-confident is outside yourself. You have to know something or have a skill. But being self-assured is an inside job. It’s with you no matter what

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