Navigate / search

How to Build Confidence: 100+ Self-Confidence Tips

You set yourself up for happiness, success, and tremendous opportunity when you have self-confidence. You become intimately familiar with how you think, speak, and behave around other people, and allow your confidence to inspire confidence in others.

Strong self-confidence to me is the faith I can handle what’s ahead. That faith comes from many sources like my faith in Christ, body language, speech patterns, and ways of thinking you’re about to discover. It is not having the elusive anxiety-free life nor is it knowing I can get what I want. Confidence is the opposite.

The more I see that I am a flawed human being, the more courage I have to know things can go to the crapper and that I’ll come out ahead. I can still be anxious and not get what I want, yet remain a confident person.

Below is a list of scientifically-backed tips to build unstoppable self-confidence. They are organized into helpful categories. Confidence is formed by how we interact with ourselves and others. Little adjustments in your thinking or behavior that seem silly at first glance, add up to make you a confident person. Take a handful (or the whole set) for a spin. Instill a surplus of confidence in your life.

Appearance, Body Language, and Speech

Confidence is key
Photo courtesy of @javmorcas.

Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become.Amy Cuddy

  1. Practice Power Poses

You’re probably familiar with how other people’s body language affects your perception of them. Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s research shows that your body language also affects how you perceive and think about yourself. By practicing certain “Power Poses” for 2-minute increments, you physically and psychologically change how you feel about your sense of control, assertiveness, comfort, and self-confidence. You boost your testosterone (the dominance hormone) and lower your cortisol (the stress hormone) to handle stressful communication. Power Posing isn’t about making others perceive you differently. When we think of confidence we wrongly limit it with the mind. Power poses put your mind and body in a state of confidence. In Cuddy’s words, “Our bodies can change our minds, and our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our outcomes.”

  1. Power Pose 1: Pride

Expanding your arms or leaning back in your chair with your arms behind your head conveys an internal sense of power and control. Animals across nature do this to express their dominance and pride, and you are no exception. Practice expansive gestures with your arms and legs in the short-term to feel long-term courage and confidence.

  1. Power Pose 2: Table-Lean

Another high-power pose involves a prop. Stand beside a table, place your hands shoulder-width apart on the table, and lean forward as if you’re facing an audience. This pose is another variation on the open Power Pose. It owns the space. You communicate to yourself, “What I say and think is important.” Use this pose before your next meeting or job interview to finalize your points and strengths in your mind.

  1. Power Pose 3: Hands at the Hips

This Superman pose may bring to mind some cliché images—a mother who catches her children disobeying her, for instance. But think about what that pose says: “I am the authority figure. You need to pay attention to me right now.” Use this Power Pose in private to get you in the mind of assertiveness and remind yourself of your own confidence and authority.

  1. Power Pose 4: Sitting at Desk, Hands Behind Head

This pose crops up in the business world all the time. The boss or manager leaning back in his or her chair, feet directly under them (or even on the desk), and their hands locked behind their heads. Like the other Power Poses, this one conveys not only your willingness to listen, but your level of poise and low-stress. Practice this one in your office behind closed doors right before a stressful meeting.

  1. Power Pose 5: Arm Behind the Seat

Another open, expansive gesture. For this one, when you sit, instead of keeping your hands and arms close to your body, reach an arm behind the seat next to you. This gesture doesn’t have to be reserved for watching movies on the couch, either. Practice reaching behind the passenger side seat when you’re driving alone for 2 minute bursts. That’s enough time to feel a confidence boost.

  1. Posture and Sitting

You can also change how the world sees you outside of Power Posing. Walking with your back straight, your shoulders back, and your head forward demonstrates purpose and intent. Use what I call a “capitalizing posture” where you visualize a string tied to your sternum that gets pulled directly upwards. How you sit also speaks volumes: crossed legs and arms tell others you are self-protective and unapproachable, so don’t bunch up! It takes practice to change something so simple that you take for granted. But how you stand, walk, and sit convinces yourself and others of your confidence.

  1. Refine Your Speech

How you speak is an oft-neglected part of self-presentation, but an important one. For instance, speaking with few “ums” and “uhs” presents you as more competent than people who say them constantly. Studies have also shown that speaking quickly makes you more charismatic in the eyes of others, and even more persuasive at certain times. The speed and fluidity of your speech has tremendous potential to affect your confidence and how others remember you. Carol Fleming is my recommended person to learn speech improvement. See her guest article “5 Steps to Develop a Charming Voice that’s Sexy“.

  1. Volume and Clarity

Do you mumble when you speak? Are you lazy about how you phrase things? If so, your confidence is a casualty of your carelessness. A strong voice with good diction and word choice shows others that you take care when expressing yourself. When you feel that you have said what you want in the way you want to, you’re confident that you can always communicate your needs and grievances with clarity, strength, and precision. Every time you speak, I want you to speak 20% louder than you feel comfortable and move your mouth more than usual to boost articulation.

  1. Dress Well

Your self-image, whether you accept it or not, alters significantly depending on how you dress. Wear clothes that are clean and free of wrinkles. Tuck your shirt in for situations when it is appropriate. Even if you work at home, how you dress affects how you approach your confidence and daily tasks. Present your best external self to feel the internal gains of confidence.

  1. Groom

When we think of confidence we wrongly limit it with the mind. Power poses put your mind and body in a state of confidence.

Just as important for your sense of self-confidence are your grooming habits. Do you shave regularly? Do you wash your hair? Do you shower enough and wear deodorant? A low sense of self-confidence can throw a wrench into these necessary steps. “Looking sharp” has two major benefits. It improves your self-image, and it advertises that you are approachable and attractive to other people. Let your internal confidence shine through on the outside.

  1. Make Eye Contact

Meeting someone’s eyes during conversation tells them that you see yourself as equal to them, that you are both worthy of expressing yourselves. Lack of eye contact can send several wrong messages. You may be interpreted as weak, rude, easily dominated, or the big one, lacking confidence. Show your interest in others and respect yourself as a person worth talking to by making eye contact.

  1. Hold Your Gaze

This practice is enlightening for several reasons. First, you’ll notice that most people are just as shy about making eye contact as you are. This will give you confidence that you’re not alone. Second, a longer gaze shows deep interest and a sense of control that confident people possess. Don’t intimidate people with your stares, but show them that you are interested, and give them the confidence to be confident around you.

  1. Smile

The simple act of smiling is an enormous confidence builder. People notice you more when you smile. Laughter and smiling reduce your blood pressure and anxiety, which eases anxiety. Research also shows that smiling when you don’t feel like it activates brain areas related to happiness. The happier you are, the more room you give for your confidence to grow.

Thoughts and Beliefs

Photo courtesy of @sentinelledelmattino.
Photo courtesy of @sentinelledelmattino.

The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of being unacceptable.Paul Tillich

  1. Be Resilient

Resilience is your ability to rebound from setbacks and negative life events. All of us have an innate sense of resilience to draw from, but research shows that having a complex, dynamic view of yourself and thinking in the “abstract” about general goals increases your resilience, no matter your disposition. You can also improve your resilience by making plans, connecting with others, practicing new skills, and accepting life change. Having confidence that you’ll recover from life’s curve-balls is a great skill to cultivate. It makes you adaptable and ready to tackle tough challenges.

  1. Use Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are little phrases you tell yourself when your self-confidence is in the pits. The things you say to yourself before, during, and after setting or achieving goals have enormous influence over your perception of self-worth. And a strong sense of self-worth means a strong sense of confidence. Follow this link to make your own list of positive affirmations.

  1. Know Your Values

Values define what is most meaningful in your life. You have to stand for something to grow conviction, and be willing to share and defend your point of view with others. When you know who you are and what you believe in, your self-confidence is more personal and is less likely to be corrupted by outside voices of doubt.

  1. Know What You Can/Cannot Control

When you blame yourself for circumstances and outcomes beyond your control, you kill self-confidence. Learn that there will always be things outside your control, and no amount of personal preparation or confidence can change them. On the flip side, be sure to know what you are responsible for so that the judgement calls and decisions within your control feed your self-confidence.

  1. Don’t Be Overconfident

Too much confidence is an unhealthy thing. You feel overconfident when you lack an accurate measure of your own abilities, limits, and skills to get things done. One sign you’ve succumbed to overconfidence is when you “pass the buck” to other people. Another is never admitting you are in the wrong. Eventually, your self-confidence will take a tremendous beating if you always put yourself in situations that are beyond your grasp. True confidence practices what it preaches. Cultivate friendships where each of you are honest with each other.

  1. Know Your Negativity Bias

Human beings are prone to focus on negative aspects of situations above positive aspects. This was and remains integral to our survival. Unfortunately, focusing on the negative, no matter how inconsequential, adds up. Self-confidence needs positivism to grow, so put positive spins on situations whenever you can. All situations are neutral before you react to them—why not see the bright side, no matter how small? Tips to do this are revealed in the distortions section of the guide.

  1. Avoid Fixed Mindsets

Self-confidence requires failure to grow.

People with fixed mindsets believe their intelligence and level of motivation are permanent things that can’t be altered. For instance, believing you were terrible at math, are terrible at math, and just don’t have the mind for it. This is untrue. Thinking like this causes you to avoid situations where failure is likely and to feel pressured to continually prove yourself. Self-confidence requires failure to grow. You can’t hide behind perceived personal barriers and doubt and expect to gain any confidence. Believe you have the power to change yourself!

  1. Pursue Growth Mindsets

A growth mindset refers to how you believe your qualities to be malleable and capable of change. You don’t think of failures as personal reflections of your own permanent inadequacies. Instead, every failure is a launch pad for further development. Self-confidence doesn’t develop in a vacuum of self-blame and disappointment. Know that you can and do grow, that you can change core parts of yourself, and that your confidence is a skill like any other.

  1. Know That Happiness and Purpose are Different

Research shows us that being happy and feeling you have a purpose are not always bedfellows. You can live with purpose but not be constantly happy, and you also don’t need to have a purpose to find happiness. For self-confidence builders, this means you are unbound to always be happy or have purpose to feel good about yourself. Be flexible when it comes to short-term and long-term contentment. Your self-confidence is as flexible as your outlook on these concepts.

  1. Mental Rehearsal

Self-confidence is practiced. It takes dedication and practice to grow a sense of it within yourself. Practicing what you will say or how you will behave in a situation gives you a safe mental space to take risks and avoid the eyes and ears of the crowd. Remind yourself where self-confidence comes from (inside conviction, not outside opinion) and rehearse social encounters in private—your thoughts and opinions matter the most!

  1. Be Intrinsically Motivated

Self-confidence is born from within. That’s why it’s important to motivate yourself to change in ways that help you personally, not ways that affect others. Intrinsic motivation means doing things to help yourself, not conforming to the expectations of the outside world. As you will soon learn, you can be intrinsically motivated and help other people to boost your self-worth.

  1. Leverage Extrinsic Motivation

If you’re overly concerned with the opinions of others, you erase the great pleasure of doing things for yourself. Extrinsic motivation has its place in life (how many people would turn up to their current job without the extrinsic reward of money?) but it’s intrinsic motivation that sustains long-term change. Relying on your own personal goals, and not the fickle goals of others, helps you feel more self-secure and confident in your abilities and desires.

Intrinsic motivation—doing things for the sake of loving them—is the preferred choice for self-confidence. But there is also a place for extrinsic motivators. Once you set major intrinsic goals and processes into motion, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with an extrinsic gift. Take yourself to a movie or go out to that new restaurant. Make your self-confidence experience internally guided and (occasionally) externally validated.

  1. Focus on Accomplishments/Write an Achievement Log

The concern I have in writing such a large guide on confidence is the idea you need them all to be confident. Perfection is not confidence. One of the best things you can do for yourself in building a strong self-confidence is to set a number of small, incremental goals on the way to a larger goal. Your sense of progression and competence will thank you for taking little steps, and you’ll be less likely to give up because you know a large goal can’t happen all at once. Make your goals personal and realistic, and leave a record of your daily strides.

  1. Invest In Your Self-Image

This term (with self-esteem and self-worth that follow this tip) is confused with self-confidence, and is also integral to it. Your self-image is how you see yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally. How you think of yourself across these dimensions determines how you feel about your strengths and values, as well as your overall personality. The better your self-image, the better your sense of well-being, and the more confident you will think, feel, and behave.

  1. Enhance Your Self-Esteem

If self-image is how you look at yourself on different levels, self-esteem is to what degree you believe those qualities to be good. For example, you may consider yourself an excellent tennis player (positive self-image), but feel that you really don’t have what it takes to be better than average (low self-esteem). Think of self-esteem as how far your opinions of yourself reflect reality. Know that your qualities are likely degrees better than how you negatively evaluate them to be. That alone is a confidence booster. See Nathanial Branden’s solid work The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.

  1. Improve Your Self-Worth

You have a strong sense of self-worth when you feel you are a worthwhile human being. Think of your self-worth as the overall grade you’d give yourself as a complete package, self-confidence included. Increase your feelings of worth by learning to forgive yourself, trusting your opinions and instincts, improving your self-talk (and acting on your affirmations), and budgeting your time between personal activities and activities with others. We are created equal in God’s eyes.

  1. Think Long-Term/Globally

This one may seem like a contradiction to setting small goals. Really, it’s just a personal reminder that the daily trenches of your self-confidence program will be worth something bigger in the future than the sum of their parts today. Holding a tangible, realistic end game in mind lets you know that every small step you’ve taken, and will continue to take, is in service to a much bigger design. I encourage you to think big. Think of a future you want to be involved in that makes you uncomfortable to think how much work it’ll take to get there.

  1. Expect Success/Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Only you can define what success and failure mean; other people must fend for themselves. It’s a good idea to expect that you will succeed at what you set out to do. The more you believe and repeat to yourself a thing can come true, the more you prime yourself to act in ways that make that goal likely to come about. Confident people can’t control the future, but they do set themselves up for success, starting with believing success is an option within reach.

  1. Silence Negative Self-Talk

You would be appalled to speak to others the way you speak to yourself. Whenever you call yourself stupid, incompetent, lazy, ugly, or unworthy, you’re doing more than just putting yourself down. Negative self-talk defines how you think about yourself and your place in the world. Every negative evaluation cements neural pathways in your brain that activate negative thoughts faster in the future. At any time, you can reverse these automatic trains of thought, compliment yourself, and give your self-confidence a clear runway for takeoff.

  1. Think of Possible Solutions

People who lack self-confidence ruminate about things they’ve done wrong. They may feel that nothing they do will alter their situation and only imagine how things can get worse. Self-confidence demands options to operate. It takes just as much time and effort to think of solutions to a problem as it does roads to failure. Be upbeat, optimistic, and find solutions.

  1. Accept All Parts of Yourself

Everybody has good qualities and bad qualities, a Swan Side and an Ugly Duckling side. The sooner you make peace with your strengths and faults, the sooner your self-confidence will have a baseline from which to improve. Accept your imperfections as a consequence of being alive, not as some reflection of your worth or confidence. You are capable enough as you are, flaws and all, and are certainly worthy of change. This is revealed in-depth in Big Talk.

  1. Admit Your Mistakes

An unhealthy habit is to never admit your mistakes. For starters, this tactic reinforces the idea that you are perfect or incapable of taking the blame for situations that really are your fault. It also projects you as pompous or arrogant to your peers. Admit when you are at fault, and have the perseverance and confidence to get better in the future.

15 Common Cognitive Distortions to Reframe

Photo courtesy of @carloszgz.
Photo courtesy of @carloszgz.

It’s not my responsibility to be beautiful. I’m not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me.Warsan Shire

Cognitive distortions are inaccurate modes of thinking that put you on a biased, negative track. We all fall victim to them, so as a confidence builder, it’s your job to spot your own cognitive distortions and challenge them with the truth of things. Here are 15 common distortions to look out for during your pursuit of greater self-confidence:

  1. Filtering

You cognitive filter when you strip away any positive qualities of an experience and dwell on the negative. This is related to your negativity bias, except here you obsess and pick apart even the smallest negative details. No self-confidence ever came from putting a microscope to minute negative things. These experiences give you lessons for later use in life. Embrace the whole.

  1. Overgeneralization

This cognitive distortion turns molehills into mountains. You overgeneralize when you take a specific example from a specific situation (saying something rude at a party) and use it to draw blanket statements about your self-worth and abilities (I’m always a rude person). Differentiating the general from the specific will save you lots of heartache, undue blame, and preserve your self-respect.

  1. Catastrophizing

This is a favorite cognitive distortion of people with anxiety and low self-esteem. You snowball negative things in your mind to epic proportions. For example, if you’re running late for work, you may think you’ll get on your boss’ bad side, that she has always had it in for you, and that you’ll be fired within the week. Know that just because you can think it, doesn’t make it realistic.

  1. Control Fallacies

These kinds of cognitive distortions are cousins to your internal or external locus of control. If you feel you must have complete control over situations and outcomes, your self-esteem will never live up to this “perfect world.” And thinking that everything is beyond your control gives you no chance to gain experience or mastery. You can’t boost your self-confidence without practice, and you practice because failure is part of life. Constantly look to differentiate what you can and cannot control. Repeat to yourself, “I’m not always in control, and that’s okay.”

  1. Blaming

Blame weasels its way into everyone’s life at some point. It deprives you of self-awareness and introspection, which are strong ingredients for a self-confident existence. A person with true self-confidence, however, doesn’t have the need to blame others. They know that no one “makes” them feel or think a certain way. How you react to situations and interpret them is all up to you.

  1. Emotional Reasoning

Our feelings are the product of our thinking, reasoning, and sensory experience, all of which are imperfect systems. You can make yourself feel great though emotions are unreliable for confidence. Just because you feel lazy or stupid does not make it true. Emotions are useful and give color to our lives, but they are also very poor mirrors to hold up against reality. Don’t put all your self-confidence chips on how you feel; seek other evidence. Feeling good is not a condition of living good.

  1. Global Labeling

Global labeling is the extreme version of generalizing. When you refuse to interpret your actions or the actions of others in context, and instead apply a label to them, you’ve surrendered your critical thinking skills over to emotional thinking and self-defeating understanding. Don’t label yourself a “bad person” just because you once forgot to call a friend back, and practice giving other people the benefit of the doubt.

  1. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

The universe nor Christ does not keep a score card for your life. Make your own rewards in life through confidence-building techniques. If you’re the kind of person who sacrifices happiness or self-confidence for other things, you’re delaying a reward that will never come. Don’t expect your negative or positive behaviors to be “adding up” for some big future treasure. Christ gave you his grace and you have nothing to earn it but to accept it.

  1. Discounting the Positive

When you do something well—for instance, catch yourself in a common cognitive distortion—and still tell yourself that this somehow “doesn’t count,” you only hurt yourself. Self-confidence demands a proper acknowledgement of your small victories. Your master plan for greater confidence embodies your small victories.

  1. Fallacy of Change

Do you feel that if you can just “get through” to someone, just bully or drill your beliefs into their heads, that they’ll change for you? This is a sign that you rest too much of your confidence and happiness on the opinions and actions of other people. Self-confidence comes from within, not from forcing the world to conform to your point of view. Let others think what they will and focus on changing yourself.

  1. Using “Shoulds”

You’re not the root cause of how other people behave or how life events unfold.

Whenever you tell yourself you “should” do something or “ought” to finish something else, you prime yourself to feel dissatisfaction and guilt. It may feel like these kinds of statements motivate you to take beneficial action, but really you’re superimposing arbitrary rules and deadlines on yourself. Don’t treat your self-confidence development as some strict code of ethics that you can’t break. It is a process of experimentation and change.

  1. Fallacy of Fairness

Everyone has a different idea of what “fair” means. Yours will never perfectly match someone else’s, and vice-versa. Furthermore, fairness and self-confidence are not the same thing; something can feel unfair to you, but still present an opportunity for growth and self-worth. Start putting your self-esteem to work.

  1. Personalization

People who use this cognitive distortion feel that everything around them—from how people react to external events—is somehow related to how they think and behave. Instead of forging all control, they take on too much responsibility. You’re not the root cause of how other people behave or how life events unfold. Refocus and narrow your responsibility.

  1. Jumping to Conclusions

No matter how confident you are that you or someone else will do this or say that, your confidence needs evidence to back it up. When you jump to conclusions, you write the future in stone before it happens, blame yourself for mistakes you haven’t made, and are so convinced something negative is in store you don’t bother to ask yourself if it’s even possible. You aren’t a time traveler; you don’t know what will happen. That’s where self-confidence comes in.

  1. Polarized (Black and White) Thinking

We like to think in opposites—good and evil, right and wrong—but this thinking when narrowed to a specific moment makes it hard to see the progression of your bigger picture. When you put yourself on line between two options without any gray area between, you’re prone to label yourself as a total success or colossal failure. Self-confidence depends on sifting through the gray areas to work on particular parts of your thinking and behavior. Save the binaries for English class.

Feelings

Photo courtesy of usfwsmtnprairie.
Photo courtesy of usfwsmtnprairie.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.Eleanor Roosevelt

  1. De-Stress

Strained minds are pessimistic things that rob you of any agency to change yourself for the better. When your mind is calm and relaxed, it’s less prone to fall for the debilitating negative thoughts, distortions, and biases that throw its positive aspects off track. Take time every day to de-stress yourself, emotionally and physically. Give your self-confidence the platform of positivity it needs to fully mature.

  1. Enforce Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is psychologist Alfred Bandura’s theory that the things you say to and about yourself affect your ability to plan and follow through with action. His idea has been proven many times over. If you change how you believe you can approach challenges and goals, you fundamentally alter how you will approach thinking and behaving toward that goal. Positive begets positive, negative begets negative. There are four parts to improving self-efficacy, and they all affect self-confidence. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Self-Efficacy Part 1: Mastery Experiences

Bandura emphasized that mastery experiences are the primary way to improve self-efficacy. Essentially, you have to complete a task again and again, no matter how small. Once you master a task (changing your self-image, for instance), you alter how you approach that problem and other problems of different scale and difficulty.

  1. Self-Efficacy Part 2: Vicarious Learning/Social Modelling

Our common humanity is a great blessing for the confidence builder. Watching other people of your skill level and desire to improve complete their own tasks instills a confidence inside of you. Their success motivates you to pursue your own. You vicariously feel that their achievement is and can be yours with just a little more effort.

  1. Self-Efficacy Part 3: Verbal Persuasion

To truly believe that you have the power to direct yourself toward goals in life, you need positive feedback. Coaches, parents, and peers all help our self-confidence and self-efficacy by encouraging us. You need to know that others believe that you are competent enough to reach your goals. Self-talk, or telling yourself in the third-person that you have what it takes, is a way anyone can boost self-efficacy, especially if they don’t get positive encouragement elsewhere.

  1. Self-Efficacy Part 4: Emotional Arousal

Self-efficacy isn’t a perpetual motion machine. It feeds off your active engagement and energy—your arousal and activities—in order to fully develop. Keep your mind aimed at self-efficacy improvement by making your program as personal and uniquely yours as possible. Keep physically engaged by visiting different settings to try out your growing set of confidence skills. The more time you spend thinking about your self-efficacy and putting those thoughts into meaningful action, the more stimulated you become to invite real change into your life. Revisiting this article can provoke the arousal you need to step closer to confidence. Bookmark this page in your browser.

  1. Get Excited, Not Stressed

Stress is a natural and positive reaction. It motivates us to take action and be creative in short bursts. Long-term stress, however, makes concentration and planning difficult. Research shows that thinking about stress as “necessary” or “unnecessary” instead of “good” or “bad” reduces many of its physiological symptoms. Psychologists have another name for the positive, exciting kind of stress—eustress—which you experience doing things you really enjoy. This one-two punch of redefining stress and seeking as many eustress situations for yourself as possible helps you avoid chronic debilitating stress; less stress, more confidence.

  1. The Illusion of Transparency

Ever get the feeling that the people around you can read your thoughts? Then you’ve experienced the Illusion of Transparency bias. The good news? It isn’t true, and most people have a hard time guessing what other people think. It can be hard to remember this “in the moment,” so try to focus all of your attention and energy on what the other person has to say. This will get you out of your own head, show that you’re an active listener, and redirect your energy in a positive, outward direction. I have a habit of under-communicating in conversations so reminding myself of this cognitive distortion also improves my communication.

  1. Be Self-Compassionate

Compassionate people know that other people are flawed, deserve dignity and respect, and need gentle encouragement during life’s hard times. Self-compassion means taking these ideas and applying them to your own life. You are often your own judge, jury, and executioner. Take a large step back and be confident that you deserve the same degree of kindness and understanding that you provide for other people.

  1. Intentional Optimism

Being optimistic doesn’t mean that you’re naïve, deluded, or see the world through rose-colored glasses. It’s about rationally knowing when you have the necessary skills to come out on top. For example, if you’ve never skied before, it would be irrationally optimistic to think that you will succeed on your first slope run. If you start practicing and buy some decent equipment, however, you’ll have a better set of tools to use, and more reason to be optimistic in your abilities. “Taking stock” of what experience you still need to be successful helps you reach a realistic perch of self-confidence and avoid the burnout of overextending your abilities. Read Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism.

Behaviors

Qualen Bradley, a double below-the-knee amputee leads a group of wounded warrior and wheelchair competitors early in the 37th running of the Army Ten-Miler. Photo courtesy of @familymwr.
Qualen Bradley, a double below-the-knee amputee leads a group of wounded warrior and wheelchair competitors early in the 37th running of the Army Ten-Miler. Photo courtesy of @familymwr.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:16

  1. Risk The Risk

When you take risks, you prove to yourself that you have enough confidence to try something new, even at the cost of failure. Taking small, everyday risks (going out to a new restaurant) can be enough to shake you out of complacency or the fearful inertia of messing up. Risk and danger are separate things. Healthy risks don’t endanger your long-term health and happiness. If the only major negative outcome of taking a risk is temporary embarrassment or everyday failure, you know you’re choosing the right risks to improve your self-confidence.

  1. Slow Down

Trying to do too much at once or expecting immediate improvement from new routines is a surefire way to stress yourself out. Successful people realize that decisions demand deep thought and nuanced consideration. Apply the same principal to your self-confidence program. Is a certain new behavior not working for you? Press pause and consider why that is. Is something else working well? Figure out the underlying strength before you stretch it beyond its limits.

  1. Exercise

Self-image shares a strong link with self-confidence. If you’re on the hunt for greater confidence, working on your body image is a great place to start. Exercise increases discipline and production of the happiness chemical dopamine, and a happy mind is a confident mind. Even modest amounts of exercise boosts your self-confidence more than in people who exercise like Rocky Balboa. Give frequent, low-intensity workouts a try for a better, more confident body image. I highly recommend gymnastic body-weight training.

  1. Prepare

Risk and danger are separate things.

A plan reduces overwhelming thoughts. When laden with a messy mind, I write down anything that comes to mind. For tasks you need accomplished, this is a great way to cut stress and boost your confidence that you can handle what needs doing by seeing everything on paper. If you’re the kind of person used to “winging it,” know that following through with plans gives your confidence a serious leg up. Taking the effort to prepare cuts down on the time you spend worrying or fearing the outcome of unprepared activities. Plans let you focus on what matters: devoting more time to your confidence-building program.

  1. Set and Achieve Small Goals

Give your self-confidence the support it needs to flourish by setting small goals. Don’t let the outside pressures to be confident at all times scare you away from taking gentle steps to see your confidence grow. A great exercise is to make a short and long-term goal list and keep a record of your progress. This kind of catalog will give you confidence in what you’ve already accomplished and will remind you not to take on unrealistic goals.

  1. Practice Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness is both a practice and a mental state of noticing your inner-feelings and reactions, as well as the immediate state of things around you. To be mindful is to pretend the past and future don’t exist—only this moment matters. Psychologists have found significant benefits to mood, memory, and stress levels in people who stick with mindfulness meditation programs. A mindful state redirects your focus where it belongs—on your present strengths and goals.

  1. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing techniques activate your body’s parasympathetic responses—your muscles relax and your heart rate quiets down. Armed forces are trained to breathe tactically during combat scenarios, and you can follow their lead. Take in a breath through your nose and expand your belly for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale completely in 4 seconds, and sit with an “empty breath” for 4 more seconds. Repeat between 3 to 5 times to re-center yourself. Schedule brief periods throughout the day for deep breathe work.

  1. Visualization

The next time you feel like a sinking ship in a sea of self-blame and doubt, refresh your mental palate and visualize a calm scene. Mental imagery is a great supplement to the other more methodical ideas on this list. Even better, visualizing who you’d like to be or how confident you’d like to behave in the future gives you a target to shoot for when nothing else is working.

  1. Do What You Enjoy

Doing what you love connects you to like-minded people who help keep you motivated and goal-directed. And when you find your niche, you give yourself plenty of positive self-confidence fuel in ways “day in, day out” activities can’t hold a candle to. Pick up an old hobby or develop a new passion today. One hobby I started that has been really fun is mountain bike riding. I find myself with a little boost of confidence knowing that I will enjoy a ride on the weekend no matter how bad work goes over the week.

  1. Don’t Hide Your Interests

In a similar vein, hiding who you are and what you enjoy siphons passion out of your life. Don’t give in to the social pressures around you or try to conform and repress the things you love for fear of being singled out. Passion gives you direction, and expressing your passions provides endless chances to practice self-confidence techniques. Live that passion and share it in conversation with others.

  1. Get Creative

Even though creativity feels spontaneous, it actually activates the same self-confidence muscles setting and achieving other personal goals does. Any creative act—playing music, painting a picture, baking a cake, learning to surf—teaches discipline and exposes you to manageable failures. Self-confidence needs practice and structure to exist. Think of a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, and pursue it using all of the self-confidence tips you’ve learned so far.

  1. Assert Yourself

Assertive people communicate their needs and grievances in straightforward ways that respect themselves and their audience. If you feel someone treats you unfairly, set aside time to speak with them one-on-one. Tell them how you feel using “I” statements, not “You” statements. Assertive communication isn’t about passing blame or lording over someone else. It’s about telling the other person that your feelings and needs are just as important as their own, and “I” statements put confidence in your hands.

  1. Aim to Reframe

When you reframe negative situations, you put a positive and self-bolstering spin on them. The more ways you can reverse negative patterns of thought, the better chance your confidence has to breathe. Monitoring your thoughts through free-writing, deliberately changing your self-talk to the affirmative, and interrupting less-than-positive ideas with silver lining thinking repackages stressful events as challenges you can take on. Positive thinking leads to positive emotions and far more confident behavior. Mind-Lines is a remarkable (and complex) book that teaches you the methods to frame your thinking in an empowering manner.

  1. Pull the Plug on Procrastination

Despite what you’ve heard, procrastination is not a sign of laziness, but a complex defense mechanism you use to avoid experiencing failure. Procrastination convinces you that crises are averted, but in doing so, robs you of the self-confidence needed to believe that you are strong enough to take on what life doles out. Whenever you catch yourself procrastinating, abstain from incompetent or underprepared self-labels. Have self-compassion and realize you are only trying to protect yourself. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  1. Redefine Perfectionism

If you’re a positive perfectionist, you use conscientiousness to motivate yourself to achieve more. If you’re a negative perfectionist, your self-confidence suffers because you set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Take the brave step: see the many faces of your perfectionism. If your steps toward perfection cause you more stress than inspiration, choose a different path.

  1. Ignore Imposter Syndrome

If you feel like a fraud in life, you’re a candidate for Imposter Syndrome. This frame of mind convinces you that nothing you do or receive is the result of your efforts or inner strengths. And if you can’t internalize your accomplishments, self-confidence will melt like a snowflake. Counteract these thoughts by laying out the facts: both internal and external events shape your opportunities and success. Mindfulness shared earlier is also helpful. You deserve many of the good things that come your way!

  1. Take The Hit, Don’t Self-Handicap

A self-handicap is any behavior that lets you dodge negative feedback and criticism. Self-handicaps put the blame on your “condition” that you self-impose on yourself (bad deadlines, drinking before a test) instead of having you rectify your behavior. Do your confidence a favor and don’t make excuses; take the criticism and bolster your sense of endurance.

  1. Be Grateful

When you show gratitude, you increase your emotional resilience to negative life events. This brand of resilience has many benefits that indirectly affect your self-confidence for the better. You’ll find yourself able to relax more and feel it’s easier to set and achieve meaningful goals. An easy way to practice gratitude is to remind yourself of truly bad times in your life. This will give you a renewed sense of context and reinforces how far your self-confidence has come.

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

I like to start each day by writing down three unique things I’m grateful for. It challenges me to identify simple things and accomplishments easy to overlook.

Every day, set aside time to write down things you’re grateful for. I like to start each day by writing down three unique things I’m grateful for. It challenges me to identify simple things and accomplishments easy to overlook. Anything from the weather to marriage proposals are fair game. One I wrote this morning is the flavorful sausages like plum and chilli sausages that I get to cook from a butcher.

Gratitude training gets you appreciating the many good things in life. Keep a record of things, day in and day out because there will be times in the future when your self-confidence is in shambles. With a gratefulness journal filled to the margins, you won’t have to look far to re-motivate yourself.

  1. Ask 3 Questions

When feeling drained of confidence, ask yourself: “What have I received from_____? What have I given to ______? What troubles and difficulties have I caused_____?” The first two questions remind you that you are inherently a grateful being. They remind you not to take what others do for you, and what you do for others, for granted. The last one asks you to introspect and open yourself to receive the truth about your recent actions. It’s hard to admit that your own behavior can cause others inconvenience and pain, but self-confidence requires responsibility for things you can control.

  1. Set “Approach Goals”

Psychologists recognize two basic kinds of goals. Approach goals are by far the best to make on a routine basis. An approach goal is any goal you can use in the form of “I will do X to get Y.” These goals give you clear direction, internal motivation, and checkpoints for success, three things self-confidence thrives on. Just about every goal can be framed as an approach goal. An example, going to the gym to “feel good” instead of “to avoid heart disease”.

  1. Don’t Set “Avoidance Goals”

The other type of goal is the avoidance goal. These are goals you set in the form of “I will not do such-and-such.” These kinds of goals are the “easy out” options to make. Saying that you won’t screw up your final exam feels like motivation, but it really puts stress on your mind and sets you up to make value judgements on your abilities. Between the two options, work hard to spin avoidance goals on their heads: only approach goals have a laundry list of self-confidence benefits attached to them.

  1. Use Albert Ellis’s ABC Model

The famous psychologist’s theory states that how you think about situations dictates how you react to them. Because you want to think about situations in ways conducive to self-confidence, follow his ABC model of situational appraisal. Know what the Activating Event is, recognize what your Belief about the situation is (positive, negative, neutral), and face the Consequence of how you feel about your belief. For example, a job interview (Activating Event) may make you believe you will botch it up (Belief) based on the feeling that you are scared of failure (Consequence). You are free to change to your Beliefs in these situations, because the emotional Consequence you feel has yet to happen.

  1. Practice Public Speaking

Public speaking does wonders for your self-confidence. Why? It provides you the perfect situation to try out many self-confidence building tips. All of the strongest confidence-building tips are represented in the single act of practicing and delivering a speech. It becomes a mastery experience, filled with chances to use your voice and body language, that you can approach with a growth mindset. Toastmasters provide a good start especially if you are afraid of speaking in public.

  1. Talk to Strangers

You can also always practice self-confidence skills, body language, and creative expression with strangers anytime you want. Strike up conversations and small talk during your everyday chores and routines. Build up to more self-confident exercises likes asking someone on a date or delivering a speech, and practice your fundamentals with people who you have very little stake with. Use my list of 101 conversation starters to get ahead of brain freezes.

  1. Practice Making Phone Calls

Do phone conversations sap you of confidence? I remember a time when I refused to eat pizza one night because I was too afraid to talk over the phone. Practice phone conversations with no stakes. Cold call businesses in your neighborhood to ask them very simple questions. “What time do you close? Do you have this book?”

  1. Respond, Don’t React

Self-confidence is a strange mix of preparation and risk-taking. No matter which approach you find personally helps more, always take the time before and after a decision to respond to how you think and feel about yourself. Don’t take your initial reactions of failure for the truth. Your mind has many tricks up its sleeve to convince you of your incompetence. Evaluate yourself honestly and you’ll see your confidence reflected clearly.

  1. Fake It Till You Become It

Studies in body language and communication show that speaking and posing in a confident manner makes you more likely to feel confident and continue behaving confidently. Even minimal, consistent “faking” behavior can have a cumulative effect. Self-talk that feels fake has limits when it is not coupled with behavioral change. Start believing yourself to be confident, speak and behave as if you are, and the reality will soon follow.

  1. List Your Positive Traits

Whether you’re taking your first steps on the path toward self-confidence or you’re a seasoned pro, reminding yourself of your positive qualities is an instant stress and fear killer. If you’re shy about your own strengths, write out your traits as if you were listing the traits of a great friend or role-model. The act of writing brings unconscious thoughts into clear relief.

  1. Don’t Over-Apologize

Many people with self-confidence issues apologize. They apologize for the things they do and the things they don’t do. Go to another extreme and don’t apologize for a single thing all week to experience the other spectrum and expand your repertoire of behavior. Self-doubt’s favorite food is someone who takes no stance for themselves, who is defenseless and feels awful. Apologize once when you are in the wrong, don’t give it a long leash, and move on.

  1. Give Compliments

Do you remember the last time someone complimented your looks or behavior? Remember that feeling of being on top? Self-confidence relies on your self-image to function. If you’re feeling down about yourself, compliment someone else’s looks or behaviors. Making someone else feel confident will inspire your own confidence to compliment more, and they may also compliment you in return. Win-win.

  1. Take Compliments Well

There are infinite ways to botch someone’s compliment. The best way is to belittle yourself or to correct the person who complimented you. You can also go on and on about the deep ways their compliment is inaccurate. But you are a confidence builder! You won’t fall into this cycle of self-defeat. Instead, you’ll genuinely thank them, compliment them back, and avoid drawing attention to details outside their immediate observation.

Social Context

Photo courtesy of @jkfjellestad.
Photo courtesy of @jkfjellestad.

It’s surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you’re not comfortable within yourself, you can’t be comfortable with others.Sidney J. Harris

  1. Find Your Confidence Idol

We’ve already recommended modelling someone who’s at your same confidence level. It can also help to have an ideal person in mind. Think of a person in your life or a personal hero who embodies exactly the kind of confidence you’d like to have one day. Read about them or study their work. When your own confidence lags from time to time, they’re the paragons you can look to for advice.

  1. Keep a Great Support Network

We’ve said over and over that self-confidence is an internal state. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect the family, friends, and mentors in your life who can give you positive feedback and unconditional regard. The self-confidence road can be lonely at times, so connect with others who are striving for a similar goal as yours. Ask your social network to help keep you accountable on your journey toward self-confidence.

  1. Volunteer

Helping others is one of the greatest, yet obscure ways to build confidence. If you’re to build yourself up, aren’t you suppose to just focus on yourself? Volunteering does several things for your self-confidence. First, it connects you with other people in ways you normally wouldn’t connect in everyday life. This means you can focus on new mastery goals and self-confidence tips. And having a sense of purpose and community helps put your personal efforts into a greater context. You get to see the fruits of your labor positively affect the lives of other people.

  1. Limit Negative Social Comparisons

You compare yourself to other people, both physically and cognitively because you’re human. Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research shows that unhappy individuals are sensitive to social comparison. If you already lack self-confidence, social comparisons increase feelings of guilt, stress, envy, and defensiveness. It’s best to focus on your own personal progress and achievements as you start your self-confidence adventure. I call this a “self-to-self comparison”.

  1. Break Up With People Who Bring You Down

Nobody likes a killjoy. If someone in your life, family or friend, treats your efforts to better yourself as anything but a good thing, you don’t need to stomach their criticism and negativity. Confronting negative feedback is part of self-confidence. You must also draw the line with people who have no support for you in the slightest. Keeping contact with them will poison your progress. Be confident enough to erase their influence from your life by breaking up the relationship.

  1. Follow God’s Word

Complete courage was void in my life despite following a lot of the tips above. That is until 2016, when I accepted Christ then followed his Word. He is the “meta” source of courage that surpasses fear, anxiety, worry, life, and death. When I choose to follow his Word, I know He is beside me.

6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” 7Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.Deuteronomy 31:6-8

I ended a long-term relationship when I accepted Christ because He was not first in my life by being in the relationship. Praying for courage while in pain, I flipped open the Bible and was taken straight to the story of King Asa where the Lord re-affirms his supply of courage when His word is followed. You have nothing to fear when your footsteps travel along the path Christ has before you. With this as the foundation, I use as much as I can in this guide to build confidence. These gifts and abilities have been given to us.

  1. Encourage Other People

Once you get into a self-confidence groove, help others who are in the position you found yourself recently. Pass on your knowledge and expertise to someone else who wants to improve their self-confidence, befriend them, and at the same time keep the fundamentals fresh in your own mind. I learned a lot writing this guide for you. Teaching anything is a sure sign that you’ve learned it, so share your self-confidence wealth with other confidence-building travelers.

For everything you need to develop people skills for a great life, especially if you’re shy, I suggest you get my Big Talk course.

Enjoyed this article?
Never miss a tip
Instantly get new articles and bonus tips for free (about once a month) by signing up to the TowerOfPower.com.au newsletter:

Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"

Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy guys build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to https://www.towerofpower.com.au/free/

Comments

Timon
Reply

Wow, that was awesome! Bookmarked! Especially the “Cognitive Disorders”, well put. That shit is hard! Thanks for sharing man!

Marcia
Reply

Thank you very much for sharing! I know it is a lot to go through but I hope it will be achievable.

Leave a comment. Please read this page before commenting.

name*

email* (not published)

website

:mrgreen: :neutral: :twisted: :shock: :smile: :???: :cool: :evil: :grin: :oops: :razz: :roll: :wink: :cry: :eek: :lol: :mad: :sad:

Close