If your self-confidence is pretty low, then paradoxically you probably spend an inordinate amount of time repressing your conscious awareness of the fact, a common solution for vulnerabilities of all kinds. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘confidence is quiet, insecurities are loud’ and it makes perfect sense from a psychoanalytic point of view, where what you repress you show in equal and opposite force to the world.
Therefore one hint that low self-confidence could be an issue that needs attending is if you constantly feel like you have something to prove to the world, if you brag and boast, if people have accused you of being arrogant. What they see is arrogance because they’re not psychologists, but if they were able to penetrate to your heart of hearts it’s likely that what they would see is a person who is not arrogant at all, that actually the reverse is true and that the outward show is simply a compensation for how you really feel deep down.
The most likely cause of your low self-confidence is having had a difficult relationship with a primary caregiver, one where you were either outright abused and made to feel worthless, or more likely that you simply had a nagging sense that you weren’t good enough, that you had to prove your worth if you hoped to receive love, that you knew it wasn’t guaranteed.
If this is all seems to fit for you, the first step is taking a more objective look at your upbringing to realize that your caregivers, teachers, or other important authority figures do not have the final say on who and what you are, and that their perspective was likely influenced by factors that really had little to do with you and much more to do with their own demons, with their inability to love due to having suffered abuse themselves as children, for example. And If you base your sense of Self on the opinion of someone else, even when this opinion is generally favorable you are in risky territory because that opinion can always change.
You’ve got to come to center your self-confidence around yourself, around your own conscious decision to grow as a person, to take whatever potential you know is inside of you and start to work on developing it. If you are absolutely sure in your bones that you are growing towards who you really are, you don’t have to be fully developed in order to have high self-confidence because you realize it’s a process and that one day soon you’ll get there. Just knowing you are on that path, that you respect yourself enough to become who you really are, to grow rather than stagnate, will make the opinions of others secondary to the opinion you have of yourself.