Did you ever meet someone that just seemed to exude confidence? Someone with great confidence might walk tall with their head held high, and their voice may be steady and unwavering. These are just a few characteristics of confidence. If you’re thinking to yourself that you aren’t even close to having these qualities, I invite you to keep reading.
The following tips are a mixture of evidence-based strategies, life experience, and recommendations from some of the best in the field. As with anything you read on the internet, take what you need and leave the rest. Keep in mind that not all of these tips will be specifically for you, but I encourage you to give them a try. The secret to success is to have an open mind!
1. Develop Your Awareness
Change doesn’t happen until awareness is created. Off the top of your head, you might not be able to recognize the events or situations that can be triggering.6 These events often leave us with feelings of low self-esteem or low confidence. It may be helpful to use a guided meditation to increase awareness for change and reflection.
2. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
There is nothing more empowering than to step out of your comfort zone, and as Brené Brown would say, step into the arena. I encourage you to watch her talk about why your critics aren’t the ones who count.7 The more you practice this, the easier it becomes, and the more confident you’ll feel.
3. Give Yourself Credit
Take a nice deep breath and reflect on all of the times you have stepped into the arena and outside of your comfort zone. Whether you failed or not, at the end of the day, what matters most is that you tried. Stop and give yourself credit and recognize your efforts. It may even help to write down all of your achievements and display them somewhere that you’ll see every day.
4. Power Pose
Amy Cuddy has a TEDTalk all about using Power Poses to boost your confidence.8 The episode is titled, “Your body language shapes who you are” and goes into the benefits of standing with your limbs outstretched or with your hands on your hips like a superhero for two minutes a day. Studies show that there is a decrease in your cortisol levels, thus, an increase in confidence.8
5. Visualize Your Success
When you imagine yourself succeeding and achieving your dreams, you’re able to embody the feeling of success. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and envision yourself achieving your goals. Feel free to practice this as often as you need, and remember there is no limit on how big your goals can be.
6. There’s Enough to Go Around
Gabrielle Bernstein shares in her teachings that there is enough to go around for everyone. She writes, “when you see others who have what you want, celebrate it! Let their success mirror back to you what you’re ready to receive.”9 Believe in yourself, believe there is enough, and you will achieve.
7. Positive Self-Talk
Your subconscious is always listening to how you treat yourself. Whether you speak negative things aloud or silently think them, your subconscious knows. Try to make it a daily practice to use positive self-talk. You can do this through daily affirmations, following positivity accounts on your social media, etc. I encourage you to surround yourself with as much positivity as possible, because let’s face it – life is hard! You don’t need to make it harder for yourself by being your own enemy and bully too.
8. Increase Your Self-Care
Once you begin to include yourself in your routine of caring for others, without feelings of guilt, you may begin to see an increase in confidence and self-esteem. Begin by setting at least 5-10 minutes a day to do something you enjoy that helps you recharge. Similar to stepping out of your comfort zone, the more self-care you practice, the more routine it becomes.
9. Establish Healthy Boundaries
People with low confidence and low self-esteem usually have a harder time saying no. It is common to want to please others and avoid any discomfort or conflict. Nothing is more empowering than saying no to something when “old you” would definitely have said yes. It may take time for you, and everyone else around you, to adjust, but trust me – it’s worth it.
10. Stop the Scroll
For the sake of self-love – stop comparing yourself to others! As mentioned in tip number 6, there’s enough to go around. If you keep scrolling through social media looking at everyone else’s success, you’ll never feel like you’re doing enough. I used to be a chronic-scroller, so I’m telling you this from experience. Stop trying to be something you’re not. Be honest, be true, and be authentic.
11. Comfort Your Inner Child
It’s always a good idea to have an inner look into yourself. Your life experiences might have brought you to many of your present-day thoughts and behaviors. Cognitive behavior therapy creates space to challenge and question your inner critic and communicate with your inner child.10 I strongly recommend you to do this with the help of a therapist to help you work through your past traumas or negative experiences. Deep inner reflection can be heavy work, but eventually it makes room for so much more self-love and self-appreciation.
12. Be Honest With Yourself
Lastly, it is totally okay to admit that you need help and learn something new. This allows you room to grow and continue to expand your knowledge and abilities, which in turn, will improve overall confidence. Admitting and asking for help is such a humbling experience. Be honest with yourself and ask what area in your life needs some improvement. If I were to guess, you’re here to gain confidence and self-esteem, and I applaud you for your honesty.
What Is Self Confidence?
Self-confidence focuses on the ability to overcome daily life challenges. It refers to focusing on capability, achievement and skill set. You can have good self-confidence and feel confident in certain areas of your life and feel less confident in others. For example, you may feel self-assured when it comes to work or school, knowing you are organized and do well at meeting deadlines in a timely manner. On the other hand, you may not feel as confident in your relationships or social life.
By definition, self-esteem is your inner belief in self, but can also incorporate your inner critic. If you have low belief in yourself, you tend to have low confidence as well. People can also possess what I like to refer to as “Counterfeit Confidence” where they may imitate someone that has a high level of confidence. They may use this apparent confidence as a mask, to compensate for their true feelings of low self-esteem and low confidence.
Is There a Difference Between Confidence and Self Esteem?
Some people, including myself, use the terms self-esteem and self-confidence interchangeably, although they can exist on varying levels and combinations. Your level of self-esteem greatly influences your self-confidence. Bridget Webber, a former counselor and current writer for Medium, states, “lack of self-esteem exists on a primal level; it seeps into your psyche and influences everything you do. Lack of confidence is usually solved via gaining knowledge, expanding skills, and practicing until your ability increases.”1
RMIT University compares them best: “both self-confidence and self-esteem relate to your perception of yourself…[self-confidence] relates to your perception of your abilities and [self-esteem] relates to your perception of your worth or value.”2 As mentioned earlier, self-confidence is more of the outer-focus and ability—what others see. Self-esteem is more of the inner-focus and how you feel about yourself.
Picture a Venn diagram: In comparing confidence and self-esteem, focus on the overlap or the link between the two. In that overlap, notice that it all comes down to your perception of yourself and how others perceive you. This is where the opportunity for change happens.
Why Do Confidence Levels Matter?
Harvard Health explains that self-confidence usually follows a bell curve, where the peak of highest levels of self-confidence happens midlife, reasoning that, “midlife is when people typically occupy the highest positions of power, status, and importance.” Harvard Health continues to support this theory by explaining self-confidence that “gradually rises during the late teen years, peaks during middle age, and tends to decline after age 60.”3
Recall your awkward middle-school and high school years where you’re trying to understand who you are and what you want to be. For many, those years are when the lowest levels of self-esteem and self-confidence occur. To help my clients who suffer from this low level of self-esteem, I help them to visualize themselves in positions of power, without judgment or disbelief. That helps to empower them to be honest with themselves in finding their life’s truest calling. Once the visualization is over, I work with them to go “backwards” so that they can develop small goals that will help them to get to where they want to be.
What Keeps People From Being Confident?
It is important to highlight that society plays a huge role in keeping someone from feeling confident. Marketing strategies are designed to aggravate or draw out insecurities and offer you a “solution” that the company just so happens to have developed for you. In today’s climate, the issues of sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism and many other systems of oppression may leave victims feeling powerless, and for these victims, powerlessness may be the ultimate feelings of low confidence and low self-esteem.
The feeling of powerlessness is one that is not easily resolved. The victim may not overcome these feelings by merely taking ten minutes to self-care. Adopting a mindset shift would have to occur that allows the victim the space and ability to acknowledge, cope with, and ultimately overcome these feelings in order to reclaim their power and confidence.
The Link Between Low Confidence and Other Mental Disorders & Distress
Studies show that people with low confidence tend to have more signs and symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other interpersonal issues, though this relationship is not necessarily causal. According to NAMI, low confidence and low self-esteem have been linked to anxiety and depression, addiction, and poor relationships.4 NAMI describes someone with low self-esteem as having “negative feelings about themselves, believing that they are not worthy of love, happiness or success.”
Low self-esteem and low confidence can reduce the quality of life over time, which can affect how you feel about yourself. When you ignore feelings of low self-esteem and confidence, this can lead to anxiety and depression due to developing unhealthy habits to cope.5 If you are barely functioning and things around us seem to be falling apart, it’s that much harder to believe in Yourself. This can very quickly lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
It is common for people to use unhealthy methods to cope with ongoing life stressors and these negative feelings. Drugs and alcohol are commonly used to “help ease the negative feelings” (this is known as escapism), which can lead to addiction and a perpetuating cycle of negative feelings of self.
Relationships can be impacted due to these feelings of low self-esteem and confidence, as it can often be a cause of negative interactions between loved ones. As a result of not believing in themselves, people often use defense mechanisms such as projection to push others further away out of fear of rejection or confirmation of the negative feelings they have about themselves.
How to Find a Therapist to Help You Build Confidence
To find a therapist who can help you address what may be holding you back from being confident, you could explore options from an online directory, ask someone you know and trust if they have any recommendations, or seek a referral from your doctor. Therapist fees will vary, with session rates often between $50 and $150 without insurance. With insurance coverage, the out-of-pocket costs per session could be very low.
For Further Reading
The following links are organizations that continue to expand on this message and continue to build confidence within yourself. Take part in the conversation, and you’ll be surprised at how many people will feel the same way that you do.
Skills to Try:
How to Build Confidence Infographics