Self-confidence is one of the most complicated things to obtain and keep, regardless of age. It is a feverish entity that deserves all the attention of the health professional when faced with a person with low self-confidence and self-esteem.

When this lack of confidence is omnipresent and manifests itself in several areas of an individual’s life, he or she may seek to fill it by using various substances: tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, etc. These substances will give him or her the impression that his or her suffering is diminished and that he or she is gaining confidence “artificially”.

  • What are the problems that come up most often during your consultations?

I see many of my patients with a common problem: lack of self-confidence. They explain that they have difficulty loving and appreciating themselves. They judge themselves harshly and have difficulty estimating their value. This problem impacts their daily lives in several areas: professional, marital, social… It is encountered in non-smokers as well as smokers. Nevertheless, in this type of problem, the addictive substance will fill this “lack” and fill it superficially because it will allow to “make things more pleasant” (words of a patient).

  • In your opinion, what is the origin of this lack of confidence?

Self-confidence is built through three different channels:

– The first step is the family. When we are born, the first model we have is the family model. It shows us what interpersonal relationships are, what conflicts are, how to communicate… If we grow up in a healthy and loving environment, it will give us a good basis for self-confidence.

– The second stage appears around the beginning of middle school, with peer socialization. We will turn to people who are similar to us. It’s the cliché, but very true, of the American TV series with groups of teenagers who look alike in their clothing styles and attitudes: jocks, goths, geeks… We will get closer to people who have the same values and tastes as us, that will participate in the feeling of unity. Thus, our self-confidence will be reinforced by our friends, our peers.

– The last stage is the one of the love relationships. Our family and friends may value us, but we need to be appreciated and loved by someone we like and who attracts us in love. Through the eyes of the person we love, we will strengthen our self-confidence.
If one of the steps is complicated and does not go well, it will weaken the confidence we have in ourselves and potentially create problems throughout our life journey.


  • What tools do you use in practice to overcome the problem of confidence in your patients?

When I encounter this type of problem, I use tools from cognitive and behavioral therapies. I do a lot of practical exercises: list of qualities/faults, projection in the skin of someone else (a friend, a superhero…) to allow the patient to decentralize…

I also ask them about their values and the importance they have for them. Before learning to love yourself, you have to know who you are. This is the big difference between self-confidence (knowing oneself) and self-esteem (the value we give ourselves).

  • Do you have any advice to put into practice in everyday life?

In everyday life, I give my patients exercises that they have to do on a daily basis and that are based, in part, on positive psychology.

For example, I can ask them to list, every evening, a skill they have demonstrated during the day: arriving at work on time, getting ready in the morning, going for a walk during the day… This will boost their self-confidence and make them feel good.

Authors :

Maud Tijardovic (Clinical Psychologist in addiction)