As you become older, it’s common to lose some confidence as your body changes and you face life-altering events, like retirement, health issues, and loss of loved ones.
“Yet many men don’t recognize the impact that lack of confidence can have on their lives,” says Fred Silverstone, a licensed mental health counselor and founder of the SAGE (Successful Aging through Group Engagement) program at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital. “It can make men more withdrawn, less active, and more fearful about everyday events like driving and handling technology. They begin to believe they can’t live like they once did.”
The researchers said the main reason for this pattern is that midlife is when people typically occupy the highest positions of power, status, and importance. They’re working, involved in relationships, and more adventurous about trying new things. In contrast, older adults often lose these roles as they enter the later stages of life.
The best way to regain confidence is to remind yourself of your capabilities, address the obstacles that keep you from feeling confident, and work around those obstacles.
“Don’t feel badly if you can’t do everything you once did, or at the same level or intensity,” says Silverstone. “The goal is to focus on what you can do now and build from there. This will help show you that you have much to offer and can still enjoy an active, satisfying life.”
Activities like learning to paint or play an instrument, studying a foreign language, or taking dance lessons or writing classes help tap into the natural desire to learn and master a new skill.
“Being a beginner again is tough, but it shows you can still accomplish new things and find enjoyment in them,” says Silverstone. “This also reminds you that it’s okay to make mistakes, so you can improve and grow, which helps build self-confidence.” Find classes through your local adult education service center, senior center, or community college.
Challenge yourself physically. Find a physical challenge that you can realistically complete, create a plan of execution, and then work to meet that goal. For example, train for a 5K, complete a series of boot camp classes, or even walk a mile a day for a month.