If there is one thing in this world everyone wants to have more of, it’s confidence. Men and women everywhere wish they could be more assertive, self-assured and secure. Confident people make it all look so easy. There is something magnetic and enviable about their unshakable sense of self.

Many mistakenly believe that these confident people are somehow special and unique; that they have abilities that the rest of the world doesn’t. The truth about confidence is that it’s an acquired skill. Very few people are born with it, and even fewer remain confident through the painful process of adolescence and entering adulthood, a time when most people’s self image is in tatters for various reasons. And I’m here to tell you, confident people don’t have a special gene that makes them confident. They’re not the X-men of the self-esteem world. These people went through the same painful experiences the rest of of the world did, with one key difference: at some point, they stopped allowing those experiences shape the way they look at themselves.

Many people try to fake confidence, and to the truly confident, they are easy to spot. This is what confidence isn’t:

– Fake bravado, machismo, arrogance, claims to perfection and superiority. Anyone who feels the need to constantly tout how amazing, strong, smart, rich, or beautiful he or she is, is insecure.

– Haughtiness; mocking and putting down of others. Diminishing others to raise oneself in one’s eyes is one of the oldest tricks in the “seemingly confident but actually insecure” book of conduct.

– Desire for, and dependency on, adulation and attention. Just because someone loves the spotlight doesn’t mean he or she is comfortable with who they are. Dependency on outside approval is not confidence.

Here is what true confidence looks like:

– Quietly strong and assertive. Confident people don’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone, though they are perfectly capable of standing up for themselves and what they believe is right, when it’s necessary. They know their self worth, but they’ve also learned humility. Their achievements are part of who they are, but they’re not all that they are. Often they experienced diversity and difficulty in their life, and they learned one thing: achievements and material success come and go, but the steady strength that fuels their core can never be taken away from them.

– Compassionate and genuinely happy to see others succeed. One of the hallmarks of truly confident people is that they never ridicule or put down others to make themselves feel better. They never feel threatened by another person’s beauty, wealth, talent, or success. They don’t deny others opportunities and support. You will often see a confident person working to encourage, mentor and nurture other people. They know that another person’s success does not diminish their own.

– Independent from outside approval. Confident people are not afraid of criticism. This is because their realistic feeling of self-worth acts as a litmus test that allows them to differentiate between helpful and constructive criticism, and personal attacks. They like to learn from the former, and dismiss the latter. They know that they can’t please everyone, and they don’t waste their time trying. Confident people never seek outside approval or validation. They have respect for others and are always willing to listen and learn; however, the main guiding force in their lives will always be their own internal compass.

True confidence isn't easy. It has to be learned, and earned, often through years of doubt, questioning, and mistakes. It requires open-mindedness, humility, a strong sense of personal responsibility, and a great deal of emotional maturity. But the best things in life are rarely easy to obtain - and few are worth the effort as much as confidence. It’s a powerful force that can transform every area of our lives: our sexual relationships; careers; the way we relate to others; and the way the world sees us. Today, I'm inviting you to open yourself up to true confidence, and to the amazing gifts it brings with it. The choice to become a truly confident person may just be the most important one you've ever made.

Author's Bio: 

Valeria Chuba, PhD, MS, ACS, is a board certified clinical sexologist, certified sex expert, and coach. Her approach is focused on body and sex-positivity, empowerment, and confidence-building. She is the host of the Get Sex-Smart podcast.