The Acting Space - Acting Classes in North London

Self-confidence:Our defence mechanisms

Monday 8th May 2017


Being a drama teacher, I come across lots of different people who struggle with self- confidence and its now more common than ever. Fear of being judged, being humiliated and just generally being gawped at in certain situations scares the living daylights out of many of us. ‘The Fear’ usually rears its ugly head when we do something out of our routine, something we don’t do regularly like interview for a job or making a speech at a wedding. And when we’re put in the firing line, we often adopt some defence mechanisms to protect us from failure/embarrassment. Here are 3 most common ones, see if you can spot yourself:


  1. The Class Clown

You can spot these guys a mile-off. Very over the top, gag a minute type. They’re the ones so embarrassed by what they are doing that they take the mickey out of themselves as self-defence. Their logic is: “If I put on the silly hat, then everyone will be laughing at the hat, not (the real) me”.


  1. The Half-Arsed

Not giving it your all and really putting in 100% is another tactic to ensure that one doesn’t feel failure. No one likes to lose at something or not do well at it, so doing a half-arsed job creates a sort of alibi.  “Its ok. If I did it properly, I would probably be the best…”.


  1. The Negative-Noras

These guys really haven’t got a nice word to say about any of their attributes. The classic British ‘can’t take a compliment’ thing features heavily. Lots of ‘Oh I couldn’t possibly do that, I’d be rubbish!’ ‘This jumper? Oh I’ve had it years, doesn’t even fit me…’ You get the picture. The logic behind this trick: “If I point out that I’m no good first they’ll have lower expectations. Then when I do it well; I will look better and maybe get more praise…”


As drama teachers, whose sole focus is the building up of confidence in our students, seeing these tactics employed in classes can be very frustrating. It is the sense of lack of worth, of never being good enough and it can be very damaging in the long run. Other people can be far too eager to put people down so please stop doing it to yourself as well. Think about what you are good at, what you can do that others can’t and what you can offer. Then celebrate these things and the next time you see yourself acting the fool or being self-deprecating stop and think; why am I doing this?