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How to Be More Confident: 9 Tips That Work

Believing in yourself will take you far

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.

write 5 tips to improve self confidence

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

write 5 tips to improve self confidence

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

Ways to Be More Confident

Confidence vs. insecurity, being more confident has a lot of benefits, frequently asked questions.

The majority of us probably want to be a little more confident. A feeling of trust in your abilities, qualities, and judgment? Sign us up. The American Psychological Association defines self-confidence as "a belief that one is capable of successfully meeting the demands of a task."

It can refer to a general sense of trust in your ability to control your life , or it might be more situation-specific. For example, you might have high self-confidence in a particular area of expertise but feel less confident in other areas. Research suggests that confidence is important to health and psychological well-being .

But cultivating and maintaining confidence isn't easy and it's an easy thing to lose when you feel like you've failed or made a mistake. That's why actively working on building up your self-confidence is so crucial, it's something you have to maintain. As cheesy as it sounds, you do have to believe in yourself!

"The doubt that comes with second-guessing yourself has both internal and external repercussions," explains Hannah Owens, LMSW. "Confidence not only affects you and how you feel about yourself, but it also communicates to others that you are trustworthy and capable—which can be helpful both socially and at work."

Having a healthy level of self-confidence can help you become more successful in your personal and professional life. Research has found, for example, that more confident people tend to achieve more academically. Your level of confidence even affects how you present yourself to others.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can increase your self-confidence. Whether you lack confidence in one specific area or struggle to feel confident about anything, these nine tips can help you be more confident.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Do you compare how you look to people you follow on Instagram? Or maybe you compare your salary to what your friend earns. Social comparison theory explains that making comparisons is natural. But it isn't likely to help boost your self-confidence. It may even have the opposite effect. 

A 2018 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found a direct link between envy and the way we feel about ourselves. Specifically, researchers noted that when people compare themselves to others, they experience envy. And the more envy they have, the worse they feel about themselves.

How do you build self-confidence when you notice that you are drawing comparisons? First, remind yourself that doing so isn’t helpful. Everyone is running their own race and life isn’t a competition.

If you’re feeling envious of someone else’s life, it's also helpful to remember your own strengths and successes. Keep a  gratitude journal to better recall the areas in life where you are blessed. This can help you focus on your own life versus focusing on the lives of others.

"Social media is especially nefarious in this way," says Owens. "It is a system practically designed to foster comparison. But remembering that people generally only post the very best and the very worst of their experiences can help you celebrate your daily victories, which can boost your confidence."

Surround Yourself With Positive People

Take a moment and think about how your friends make you feel. Do they lift you up, or do they bring you down? Are they constantly judging you, or do they accept you for who you are? 

The people you spend time with can influence your thoughts and attitudes about yourself, perhaps more than you realize. So, pay attention to how others make you feel. If you feel bad about yourself after hanging out with a particular person, it may be time to say goodbye . 

Instead, surround yourself with people who love you and want the best for you. Seek out others who are positive and can help build your confidence. Self-confidence and a positive attitude go hand-in-hand.

Take Care of Your Body

This tip for how to be more confident is based on the idea that it’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’re abusing your body. When you practice self-care , you know you're doing something positive for your mind, body, and spirit—and you'll naturally feel more confident as a result.

Here are a few self-care practices linked to higher levels of self-confidence:

  • Diet : Healthy eating comes with many benefits, including higher levels of confidence and self-esteem. When you fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods, you feel healthier, stronger, and more energized, which can result in feeling better about yourself.
  • Exercise : Studies consistently show that physical exercise boosts self-confidence. For instance, a 2016 study found that regular physical activity improved participants’ body image. And when their body image improved, they felt more confident.
  • Meditation : More than just a relaxation practice, meditation can help boost self-confidence in several ways. For one, it helps you to recognize and accept yourself. Meditation also teaches you to stop negative self-talk and disconnect from unhelpful mental chatter interfering with your confidence.
  • Sleep : Skimping on sleep can take a toll on your emotions. Conversely, good-quality sleep has been linked with positive personality traits, including optimism and self-esteem.

Caring for yourself is important to self-confidence. Make sure you are getting what you need to feel good about yourself and your abilities.

"Taking care of your body doesn't just mean looking good," explains Owens. "When you make yourself and your self-care a priority, you are projecting to the world that you matter—which convinces others to feel the same way about you."

Be Kind to Yourself

Self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness when you make a mistake, fail, or experience a setback. It allows you to become more emotionally flexible and helps you better navigate challenging emotions, enhancing your connection to yourself and others.

Hannah Owens, LMSW

Taking care of your body doesn't just mean looking good...When you make yourself and your self-care a priority, you are projecting to the world that you matter—which convinces others to feel the same way about you.

A 2015 study connects self-compassion with self-confidence. So the next time you're in a challenging situation, recognize that being imperfect or falling short at times is a part of being human. Do your best to navigate these experiences with compassion toward yourself.

Practice Positive Self-Talk

Negative self-talk can limit your abilities and lessen your self-confidence by convincing your subconscious that you "can't handle" something or that it is "too hard" and you "shouldn't even try." Self-talk that is optimistic, on the other hand, can foster self-compassion and help you overcome self-doubt and take on new challenges.

The next time you begin to think that you have no business speaking up in a meeting or that you are too out of shape to work out, remind yourself that your thoughts aren’t always accurate. Then find a way to turn those thoughts around into more positive self-talk .

Here are a few examples of ways to challenge pessimistic self-talk and reframe your thoughts into a more positive way of thinking, increasing your self-confidence along the way:

  • "I can't handle this" or "This is impossible" becomes "I can do this" or "All I have to do is try."
  • "I can't do anything right" becomes "I can do better next time" or "At least I learned something."
  • "I hate public speaking" becomes "I don't like public speaking" and "Everyone has strengths and weaknesses."

Face Your Fears

Stop putting things off until you feel more self-confident—like asking someone on a date or applying for a promotion. One of the best ways to build your confidence in these situations is by facing your fears head-on .

Practice facing some of your fears that stem from a lack of self-confidence. If you’re afraid you’ll embarrass yourself or think that you’re going to mess up, try anyway. A little self-doubt can even help improve performance. Tell yourself it’s just an experiment and see what happens.

You might learn that being a little anxious or making a few mistakes isn’t as bad as you thought. And each time you move forward, you gain more confidence in yourself. In the end, this can help prevent you from taking risks that will result in major negative consequences.

"This is, of course, easier said than done," says Owens, "but even small victories can help. Consider this a kind of exposure therapy - even a little progress is still progress!"

Do Things You're Good At

What happens when you do things that you are good at? Your self-confidence starts to soar. Your strengths become even stronger, which helps improve your belief in yourself. Taking this approach also has another benefit: it can increase how satisfied you are with your life.

One study found that believing in your ability to build on your personal strengths is moderately related to life satisfaction levels. This starts with identifying what those strengths are. Then, work to make them stronger by engaging with them regularly.

If you're good at a certain sport, for instance, make it a point to train or play at least once a week. If you're good at a particular task at work, try to do that task more often. Building on your strengths can also help you build your self-confidence.

Know When to Say No

While doing things you're good at can give your self-confidence a boost, it's equally important to recognize situations that can cause your confidence to plummet. Maybe you find that every time you participate in a certain activity, you feel worse about yourself instead of better.

Saying no to activities that tend to zap your self-confidence is okay. Certainly, you don't want to avoid doing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable because discomfort is often part of the personal growth process. At the same time, there's nothing wrong with knowing your boundaries and sticking to them.

Setting social and emotional boundaries enables you to feel safer psychologically. It can also help you feel more in control. Self-confidence is, in part, feeling like you have control over your life. Boundaries help establish this feeling of control.

The next time someone suggests doing something that you know will lower your self-confidence, respectfully decline. You don't have to avoid that activity forever either. Once you learn how to be more confident, you may feel strong enough to try it again—without hurting the confidence you have in yourself.

Set Realistic Goals

Pursuing your goals often involves failing several times until you figure out what works. This can make you wonder if you have what it takes to succeed. It can also leave you questioning how to be more confident while still achieving your dreams. The answer lies in setting realistic goals.

Setting high-reaching goals and failing to achieve them has been found to damage confidence levels. Conversely, realistic goals are achievable. And the more you achieve your goals, the greater your confidence in yourself and your abilities.

To set realistic goals , write down what you want to achieve. Next, ask yourself what chance you have of attaining it. (Be honest!) If the answer is slim to none, the goal may be a bit too lofty. Dial it back so it is more realistic and more achievable.

This may require doing a bit of research on your part. For instance, if you have a goal to lose weight, experts recommend losing one to two pounds per week for healthy, long-term weight loss. Knowing this helps you set a goal in line with this guideline, boosting your self-confidence when you hit it.

Press Play for Advice on Confidence

Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares strategies that can help you learn to truly believe in yourself, featuring IT Cosmetics founder Jamie Kern Lima. Click below to listen now.

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When learning how to be more confident, it can be helpful to understand how someone with self-confidence is different from someone who is more insecure. Here are just some of the differences between the two.

Celebrate other people's success

Open-minded

Willing to take risks

Laugh at themselves

Always learning and growing

Admit mistakes

Accept responsibility

Judge and are jealous of others

Close-minded

Pessimistic

Afraid of change

Act like a know-it-all

Make excuses

Blame others

Being confident in yourself just feels good. That said, having self-confidence can also bring many additional benefits at home, at work, and within your relationships. Here's a look at a few of the positive effects of learning how to be confident:

  • Better performance : Rather than waste time and energy worrying that you aren't good enough , you can devote your energy to your efforts. Ultimately, you'll perform better when you have more self-confidence.
  • Healthier relationships : Having self-confidence not only impacts how you feel about yourself, but it helps you better understand and love others. It also gives you the strength to walk away from a relationship if you're not getting what you want or deserve.
  • Openness to try new things : When you believe in yourself, you're more willing to try new things. Whether you apply for a promotion or sign up for a cooking class, putting yourself out there is a lot easier when you have confidence in yourself and your abilities.
  • Resilience : Believing in yourself can enhance your resilience or ability to bounce back from any challenges or adversities you face in life.

Learning how to be more confident can have a range of positive effects on your life. In addition to helping you feel better about yourself and your abilities, self-confidence can make your relationships stronger and make you more resilient to stress.

Keep in Mind

Everyone struggles with confidence issues at one time or another. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to boost self-confidence. In many cases, learning how to act confident can actually help you feel more confident.

"This is similar to the adage that the physical act of smiling can trick your brain into feeling happier," says Owens. "If you exude confidence, even when you don't feel that way, others will treat you differently, which will boost your confidence—and thus the cycle continues."

Sometimes low self-confidence is a sign of a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety . If your self-confidence interferes with your work, social life, or education, consider talking to a mental health professional. A therapist can help you better understand the issue, recommend treatment, and work with you to develop skills to build your self-confidence.

If your confidence tends to lag in social situations, try to change your perspective. Instead of looking at group interactions as a stressor, view them as an opportunity to work on building your self-confidence. Taking someone with you who makes you feel confident can also give you the self-belief needed to feel more comfortable around groups of people.

Creating the social event yourself may help as well because you will know what to expect and have some level of control. If social situations cause you great anxiety along with reduced self-confidence, talking to a mental health professional can help.

One way to develop self-confidence in a relationship is to recognize your worth. When you know the value you bring to others, it helps you feel more confident in yourself. It can also be helpful to stay in the present and not worry about the past or the future.

If your lack of confidence in relationships is due to a fear of being rejected, remember that not everyone is compatible. Just as you might not be for them, they might also not be for you—it's nothing personal.

If your lack of confidence in the workplace is tied to concerns about your performance, check in regularly with a superior to see how you're doing. Ask for feedback about areas where you can improve, then work on them to feel more confident in your duties.

It can also be helpful to consider where you excel at work and perform these activities as often as possible. If you do make a mistake, admit it, learn from it, and move on. No one is perfect, so you shouldn't expect yourself to be either.

If your self-confidence is tied to your physical appearance, developing a more positive body image can help. Instead of focusing on areas of your body that you dislike, spend more time appreciating the areas you feel good about.

Another tip for how to become more confident is to not compare your body to anyone else's. No two bodies are the same and each has its own strengths. Remember that there is room in this world for people of all shapes and sizes.

American Psychological Association. Self-confidence .

Perry P. Concept analysis: Confidence/self-confidence . Nurs Forum . 2011;46(4):218-30. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6198.2011.00230.x

Stankov L, Morony S, Lee YP. Confidence: The best non-cognitive predictor of academic achievement? Educat Psychol . 2014;34(1):9-28. doi:10.1080/01443410.2013.814194

Vrabel JK, Zeigler-Hill V, Southard AC. Self-esteem and envy: Is state self-esteem instability associated with the benign and malicious forms of envy?   Pers Individ Diff . 2018;123:100-104. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2017.11.001

Rafiei H, Senmar M, Mostafaie M, et al. Self-confidence and attitude of acute care nurses to the presence of family members during resuscitation . British J Nurs . 2018;27(21). doi:10.12968/bjon.2018.27.21.1246

Duke University Personal Assistance Service. Self-care tips for the body & soul .

Zamani Sani SH, Fathirezaie Z, Brand S, et al. Physical activity and self-esteem: Testing direct and indirect relationships associated with psychological and physical mechanisms . Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat . 2016;12:2617–2625. doi:10.2147/NDT.S116811

Lemola S, Räikkönen K, Gomez V, Allemand M. Optimism and self-esteem are related to sleep. Results from a large community-based sample .  IntJ Behav Med . 2013;20(4):567-571. doi:10.1007/s12529-012-9272-z

Arslan C. Interpersonal problem solving, self-compassion and personality traits in university students . Educ Res Reviews . 2015;11(7):474-81. doi:10.5897/ERR2015.2605

Walter N, Nikoleizig L, Alfermann D. Effects of self-talk training on competitive anxiety, self-efficacy, volitional skills, and performance: an intervention study with junior sub-elite athletes .  Sports (Basel) . 2019;7(6):148. doi:10.3390/sports7060148

Martins I, Perez Monsalve JP, Velasquez Martinez A. Self-confidence and fear of failure among university students and their relationship with entrepreneurial orientation: Evidence from Colombia . Academia Revista Latinoamericana de Administracion . 2018;31(3):471-85. doi:10.1108/ARLA-01-2018-0018

Woodman T, Akehurst S, Hardy L, Beattie S.  Self-confidence and performance: A little self-doubt helps .  Psychol Sport Exer . 2010;11(6):467-470. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2010.05.009

Tsai CL, Chaichanasakul A, Zhao R, Flores LY, Lopez SJ. Development and validation of the strengths self-efficacy scale (SSES) . J Career Assess . 2013;22(2):221-232. doi:10.1177/1069072713493761

University of South Florida Counseling Center. What is self-confidence?

Höpfner J, Keith N. Goal missed, self hit: Goal-setting, goal-failure, and their affective, motivational, and behavioral consequences . Front Psychol . 2021;12:704790. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.704790

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is healthy weight loss?

Hyseni Duraku Z, Hoxha L. Self-esteem, study skills, self-concept, social support, psychological distress, and coping mechanism effects on test anxiety and academic performance .  Health Psychol Open . 2018;5(2):2055102918799963. doi:10.1177/2055102918799963

By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.

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13 ways to actually build confidence in yourself, from experts.

Stephanie Catahan

Confidence—everyone wants it, and we can easily spot it in others. But when it comes to summoning our own confidence, it can feel like an impossible task. The good news is this sense of confidence isn't as elusive as it might feel. There are ways to develop self-confidence.

Where confidence comes from.

Confidence is self-trust in your skills, choices, and values. It comes from within yourself and feels like an inner knowing of your strengths and weaknesses while still thinking positively about yourself.

"Self-confidence comes from the information and ideas we take in through the world that support a positive perspective about ourselves," says licensed psychotherapist Rameya Shanmugavelayutham, LCSW . "Often we enter into the world with an abundance of self-confidence. Consider the young child who feels confident taking risks like jumping off the swings or dances without a care in front of a crowd. When a young child is affirmed and encouraged, they strengthen their sense of self and begin to hold cognitive schemas that confirm they are worthy, valuable, beautiful, intelligent, etc."

While many people often have a strong sense of confidence as a child, life often throws curve balls that can diminish confidence. Low self-confidence can feel like being unable to handle other people's criticisms or difficulty trusting yourself and others.

The great thing is, every moment is a chance to build evidence toward your self-confidence. To make up for what was lost, you can rebuild confidence over time through small and large moments that ladder up toward more self-trust. 

Notably, although they look similar on the surface, being shy or introverted does not equate to a lack of self-confidence. Shyness is a personality trait where some people are naturally timid around others. Being an introvert is also a personality trait, first described by Carl Jung as someone who prefers to turn inward to their internal world for reflection and insight. This is in contrast to extroverts, who prefer to engage with other people. (Here's a quick quiz to find out if you're an introvert or extrovert .)

What causes low confidence? 

Just as you can build positive self-confidence, there are things that can erode it. According to Shanmugavelayutham, the way people are socialized and seen by those around them, in addition to difficult transitions in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, can all lead to lower self-confidence.

She says some factors that can contribute to a negative sense of self include:

  • Caregivers that are overly critical or reprimanding
  • Caregivers that limit a child's exploration
  • Feeling rejected by peers
  • Difficulties transitioning into a constructed idea of "adulthood"
  • Media representations and data from the world about what's "ideal" in a person

Varying levels of confidence can also show up in different situations. You may feel very confident in math because you were socialized and praised to succeed in your academic studies. You may feel less confident when it comes to public speaking because you've previously received criticisms from peers and haven't yet processed their feedback in a useful way.

Again, the good news is that low self-confidence is fixable, and you are totally in charge of making it happen.

13 ways to build confidence:

Figure out where your lack of confidence stems from..

Finding the root cause for low self-confidence can provide a map of how to build up more positive self-confidence. A good place to start is through self-reflection and journaling.

Try this exercise to help you get to the possible root cause of your low self-confidence:

  • For one week, record any low self-confidence thoughts or sayings that keep showing up for you. 
  • For each thought or saying, ask yourself "Who or what told you that?" 
  • Decide if you want to allow that voice to have authority over your thoughts in this stage of your life.
  • Journal out your reactions and create a plan of action to move forward.

If you're struggling with this, it can also help to work with a therapist or coach to identify and transform the unhelpful low-self-confidence thoughts.

Understand what self-confidence feels like for you.

Take some time to figure out what confidence feels like in your body. A good question to ask is "How will you know that you've reached a satisfactory level of self-confidence?" Perhaps you will start speaking up more at work. You might finally wear that outfit you've always wanted to. You may even introduce yourself to your crush at your co-working space. This will be different from person to person, so it doesn't have to make sense to anyone else. This is your personal measurement of confidence. 

Align with yourself.

If you find yourself frequently using the word "should," (for example, I should be married by 30 , I should have a house by next year, or I should have my life together by now ) , take a step back and reflect. Where is this "should" coming from?

Many of the "shoulds" in life stem from cultural or familial expectations. With all of these statements, it's helpful to always ask yourself: Is this what I truly want for myself?

You have the power to reclaim your life at any point. The more that you make decisions aligned with your true self and your desires, the more confident you will become in your decision-making.

Start small.

Most of us don't like experiencing a ton of change at once. A very important key for self-improvement work is starting small. 

Shirin Eskandani , life coach and founder of Wholehearted Coaching, says one way to build self-confidence is to make small promises to yourself and then follow through. "And the key word is small . Do things that are a stretch but also realistic for you. So perhaps if you're not a morning person, not committing to waking up at 6 a.m. every day to do a morning routine but instead trying out an evening routine."

Adopt a growth mindset.

A growth mindset encourages you to explore beyond your current skills and knowledge, keeping the possibility of improvement open. Instead of using phrases like "I'm not confident," just add "yet" to it, which transforms the old belief into "I'm not confident yet ." This adds the qualifier that you are in the process of gaining skills to become confident.

A 2019 study 1 found that growth mindset interventions led to better math grades for high schoolers and improved even more when students were immersed in environments that encouraged growth mindset principles. So it's worth exploring your new growth mindset with like-minded people.

Know you will fail, and that's OK.

We live in a failure-averse culture where people mostly just talk about their accomplishments. Rarely do you ever get to hear about people's accounts of failure. Understanding that failure happens and is a part of the process of living will help you to live more fully. 

"For a lot of us, we were usually taught that self-confidence comes from achievements," certified life coach and leadership coach Nicole Cruz tells mindbodygreen. "However, this means that when we achieve, we feel great about our abilities, but when we fail, our self-confidence takes a hit. I truly believe that self-confidence comes from our own thoughts about our abilities rather than external achievements. So that regardless of whether we succeed or fail, we have the power to retain our self-confidence."

Stand up to your inner critic.

Sometimes you might hesitate to trust yourself because you've received critical feedback from authority figures earlier in life, like parents, teachers, or community leaders, and you have adopted their criticisms as your own beliefs. But there comes a point when this feedback no longer serves your current life. Standing up to those old criticisms can unlock a new level of confidence.

"Confidence can also be built by rewriting the narratives in our heads about our worthiness. This involves identifying self-limiting beliefs and reframing them," Shanmugavelayutham explains. "Often the voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough is not our authentic voice but an aggregate of all the voices of those who have criticized us in the past. When we talk back to the inner critic enough, the confident inner-child that we lost touch with can reemerge."

Understand that emotions and feelings are temporary.

In the book Come As You Are , sex educator and researcher Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., writes, "Emotions are tunnels. You have to go all the way through the darkness to get to the light at the end."

Emotions go through a cycle of beginning, middle, and end. Although emotions can feel really intense in the moment, they are only temporary. At the very basic level, emotions are physiological responses to stimuli in your environment. If your Wi-Fi goes out right before your work presentation, you may experience an acute pang of stress. If you receive a surprise package from your sister, you may be overcome by heartfelt joy. If you get a text from your ex, you may feel a sharp streak of hot sadness. Whatever the stimuli and paired emotion, they're all data points to inform your next action step. 

In terms of confidence, any emotion like anxiety, stress, or fear that is holding you back from taking action is only temporary. Once it subsides, you can make your next move. As the saying goes, "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

Focus on what you can control.

"A lot of times, we base our self-confidence on things we actually have no control over—what other people think, the outcome of a project, others' reactions, etc.," Cruz explains. "To build self-confidence, we need to release our attachment to the things we can't control and start basing our self-confidence on what we do have control over."

Take, for example, when you're working on a presentation, she says. You might invest a lot of energy into other people's opinions, the outcome of your project, or your peers' reactions to your work. To build self-confidence against things you don't have control over, Cruz advises to focus on the things you can control—for example, how prepared you are, your passion for the presentation topic, and how much work you've put into it. 

"Remind yourself of these things consistently and repeatedly until they become your new beliefs," she adds. 

Grounding yourself in things you can control, even just one aspect of your goal, will provide you with more stability to move forward. And remember: Building confidence builds more confidence. By starting in the places you have control over, you can ensure that you build confidence from a place of inner strength.

Build a like-minded community around you.

Research suggests that our views of ourselves are usually inaccurate. Whether you underestimate or overestimate your abilities, you can't create a more accurate level of self-confidence in isolation. You need to interact with your environment, hobbies, and other people to build confidence.

Curating an intentional environment to develop your budding confidence is crucial. Share your experience with a few close friends who are on the same self-development journey. Find resources in your community like therapists, coaches, podcasts, blogs, and books to help build a foundation for your new confidence.

Take a break from social media.

A 2018 study published in Europe's Journal of Psychology found that people who have lower self-esteem tend to gravitate toward building a "false self" on social media 2 , which can lead to an inaccurate sense of self and self-worth. So consider taking a break from social media to reconnect with the person you truly are, free from comparisons and trying to impress others. 

Cultivate compassion.

Cultivating a sense of self-compassion can help you to sympathize with yourself when you experience difficulties in life. This can help you turn away from negative, demeaning self-talk and toward more loving, nurturing ways to talk to ourselves .

"Compassion is key in cultivating self-confidence," Eskandani says in an email interview. "Holding on to past 'mistakes' or 'failures' really affects how confident we are. If we can be kind to ourselves and allow ourselves to let go of these moments, then we allow ourselves to trust ourselves." 

Find professional support

If building self-confidence has become a discouraging pursuit, it might be time to lean on professionals for some guidance.

"There are many ways to build self-confidence. One approach involves processing and uprooting the formative experiences that may have contributed to a negative sense of self. While this can be done through personal reflection and journaling, it can often be more effective when done in relationship with a safe support person such as a therapist," Shanmugavelayutham says.

The benefits of boosting your confidence. 

While it may feel unnatural and like a lot of work, there are plenty of benefits of building self-confidence, such as:

Building resilience to try new things

"Confidence is the life source for much of what we seek in life. It gives us the fuel we need to try new things and take risks," Shanmugavelayutham says. 

Better performance

Whether at work, in sports, or in personal endeavors, having confidence can help you accomplish tasks 3 with more ease and, therefore, success. "Confidence in one area can beget confidence in other areas," Shanmugavelayutham adds. "Confidence has even been proven to be a higher predictor of performance than competence!"

Creating the life you want

"When we don't believe in ourselves, we tend to take actions that actually create the exact outcome we're fearing," Cruz explains. "By boosting our self-confidence, we can take actions and create outcomes that better reflect the incredible power that's within us." 

Discerning other people's motives versus your own desires

In a study exploring the relationship between self-confidence and social interactions , economists note that, although many people tend to derive confidence from other people's compliments, other people benefit from your ability to produce. For example, a manager may praise your event-planning abilities because your efforts also make her job easier. You can be good at a lot of things, but with self-confidence, you'll be able to determine which things you want to become good at, not just build confidence in the things you get external praise for.

Making your own decisions according to your true self

When you're confident in yourself, Eskandani says, "you start making decisions that are in line with what you truly want. You listen less to the well-meaning advice around you telling you what you should do, and you start doing things that you truly want to do." 

The bottom line. 

While most of us are born with a healthy level of confidence, life throws us challenges that can derail our sense of confidence. However, reclaiming that self-confidence is possible and worth every effort for living a more fulfilling life.

  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1466-y
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266525/
  • https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02640410903089798

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How to Build Self-Confidence

Preparing yourself for success.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

Self-confident people seem at ease with themselves and their work. They invite trust and inspire confidence in others. These are all attractive characteristics to have.

But it's not always easy to be confident in yourself, particularly if you're naturally self-critical or if other people put you down. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to increase and maintain your self-confidence.

This article explains what self-confidence is and why it matters. We'll explore how to believe in yourself and how to project this belief to others, so that you can be more effective and happier in your life and work.

People who are self-confident perform better at work, so it's important to nurture your team members' self-confidence, too. Our article, How to Build Confidence in Others , discusses how you can do this for co-workers or even your boss.

What Is Self-Confidence – and Why Is It Important?

Self-confidence means trusting in your own judgment, capacities and abilities. [1] It's about valuing yourself and feeling worthy, regardless of any imperfections or what others may believe about you.

Self-efficacy and self-esteem are often used interchangeably with self-confidence. But they are subtly different.

We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves mastering skills and achieving goals. This encourages us to believe that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we'll succeed. [2] It's this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges and keep going in the face of setbacks.

Self-esteem is a more general sense that we can cope with what's going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy.

Also, self-esteem comes, in part, from the feeling that the people around us approve of us. We may or may not be able to control this, and if we experience a lot of criticism or rejection from others, our self-esteem can easily suffer unless we support it in other ways.

Confidence and Behavior

Take a look at the table below, which compares confident behavior with behavior that's associated with low self-confidence. Which thoughts or actions do you recognize in yourself?

As these examples show, low self-confidence can be self-destructive, and may manifest itself as negativity.

Self-confident people are generally more positive – they value themselves and trust their judgment. But they also acknowledge their failures and mistakes, and learn from them.

Take our short quiz to find out how self-confident you are right now. You'll also discover ways to improve your confidence levels by building self-efficacy.

Why Self-Confidence Matters

Self-confidence is vital in almost every aspect of our lives, yet many people struggle to find it. Sadly, this can become a vicious cycle: people who lack self-confidence are less likely to achieve the success that could give them more confidence.

For example, you may not be inclined to back a project that's pitched by someone who's visibly nervous, fumbling, or constantly apologizing. On the other hand, you're persuaded by someone who speaks clearly, holds their head high, and answers questions with assurance.

Confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their co-workers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways to succeed. In the following sections, we'll see how you can do this.

How to Appear More Confident to Others

Picture anyone you know that you think of as highly confident – what characteristics do they have that make you think this? It's most likely one or more of these things:

  • the way they speak (tone, how they project their voice, words),
  • their energy and enthusiasm,
  • how expert or knowledgeable they are about something.

You can show self-confidence in your behavior, your body language, and in what you say and how you say it.

Projecting a positive image to others can help you to improve your self-confidence. It's not simply a matter of "faking it" – if you project with confidence, others are more likely to respond well, and this positive feedback will help you to believe in yourself.

Body Language

In her book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges , Amy Cuddy argues that you can build confidence just by the way you move your body and hold yourself.

When we feel anxious, at meetings for instance, we tend to make ourselves smaller by slouching, hunching our shoulders, and bowing our heads. Simply sitting up straight can make you feel less stressed and more assertive .

If you're presenting, spreading your hands apart with palms slightly toward your audience shows openness and a willingness to share ideas.

Read our article, Body Language , for further tips on looking – and feeling – more confident.

Face-to-Face Communication

People with low self-confidence often find it difficult to make a good first impression – whether they're meeting a client, addressing a meeting, or giving a presentation. You may be shy or unsure of yourself, but you can take immediate steps to appear more confident.

Engaging with people is important, so maintain eye contact while you talk. This shows that you're interested in what the other person is saying, and that you're taking an active part in the conversation. Don't fidget or look away while the conversation continues, as this can make you appear distracted or anxious.

Build Expert Power

You are likely to appear (and feel) confident when you know what you're talking about. With a wealth of knowledge on a subject, you'll be more prepared to answer questions and speak on the spot.

If you lack confidence because of a gap in your expertise, work on finding out more information. Are there any relevant webinars or events you could attend? Is there a course you could take? Or perhaps you could find a mentor. See our article, Building Expert Power , and our Skillbook for more tips on this.

Rebuilding Confidence at Work

Changes to the way they work and long periods away from work negatively impact many people's confidence. One study found that over a third of people returning to the workplace after a year or more away experience a loss of confidence in their own ability. [3] You might struggle to make your voice heard in meetings, or feel lost or isolated without the company of your colleagues while working from home, for example.

To address dips in confidence, first try to identify the cause of the problem. If you feel that there are tasks you can't do, it makes sense to improve your skills. Carry out a Personal SWOT Analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Then draw up an action plan to work on the areas where you're not so strong.

Other people's attitudes or behavior can contribute to your lack of confidence. You might feel that your co-workers make unfair assumptions about you. Maybe you're being bullied or are subject to microaggressions. If so, you need to call this behavior out.

You can use the Situation-Behavior-Impact Feedback Tool to make it clear to the person responsible that their behavior is harmful. If you don't feel safe talking to them, seek help from your line manager. If they're part of the problem, speak to a team member, HR, or an employee support network if you have one. Workplace bullying or discrimination is never acceptable in any situation.

People with low self-confidence often feel that they don't deserve to be happy, and that it's somehow justifiable for others to treat them badly. While the feeling may be very real, the belief is certainly not!

Three Ways to Build Your Confidence

While there are quick fixes to address acute issues with your self-confidence, building confidence in the long term requires making some changes to your lifestyle and forming robust plans. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Build Confident Habits

To develop and improve your self-esteem, aim to develop good habits – and break bad ones ! Regular exercise and a healthy diet can dramatically improve your physical and mental health . And studies have shown that getting a good night's sleep is linked with increased optimism and self-esteem. [4]

Working on your personal branding can also help. If you project a positive image of your authentic self, you'll likely start to receive the positive feedback that's so important to your self-confidence.

2. Review Past Achievements

Your self-confidence will increase when you're able to say, "I can do this, and here's the evidence." As part of your Personal SWOT Analysis, you'll have identified things that you're good at, based on your past achievements.

List the 10 things that you're most proud of in an "achievement log." Then use them to make positive affirmations about what you can do. These statements are particularly powerful if you tend to undermine your confidence with negative self-talk.

You can learn to identify and defeat any negative self-talk that's harming your self-confidence. See our article, Positive Thinking, Thought Awareness, and Rational Thinking , for more on this.

3. Set Confidence-Boosting Goals

Setting and achieving goals – and seeing how far you've come – are key ways to develop self-confidence.

Use your Personal SWOT Analysis to set goals that play to your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and take advantage of your opportunities.

When you've identified the major goals you want to achieve, clarify the first steps you need to take. Make sure that they're small steps, taking no longer than an hour to do. This will get the ball rolling and improve your confidence through the achievement of appropriate goals.

When you're self-confident, you trust your own judgment and abilities, and have a strong sense of self-worth and self-belief.

You can take immediate steps to project greater self-confidence and address the factors that dent it. You can then develop these short-term strategies into ways to build and maintain self-confidence in the future.

Developing good habits, reviewing past achievements, and setting yourself targeted goals will improve your self-esteem, and build and maintain your confidence for the long term.

[1] Psychology Dictionary, Self-Confidence [online]. Available here .

[2] Bandura, A. (1997). ' Self Efficacy: The Exercise of Control ,' New York: Worth.

[3] Vodafone U.K., (2021). Lost Connections: Supporting returners into the workplace in 2021 and beyond [online]. Available here . [Accessed October 6, 2021].

[4] Lemola, S., Räikkönen, K., Gomez, V., et al. (2013). 'Optimism and self-esteem are related to sleep. Results from a large community-based sample,' International Journal of Behavioral Medicine , 20, 567-571. Available here .

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I really appreciate this post! Lots of great ideas here!! I read another article tonight about how to increase self esteem (https://debpreston.com/how-to-increase-self-esteem/ if you're interested) and found a tip that I think would also apply to self-confidence...master a new skill! If you pursue your interests and hobbies and gain some level of expertise, or even more than the average bear, you've got that feather to stick in your cap and give you a boost. Thanks again!!

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Self-esteem: Take steps to feel better about yourself

Harness the power of your thoughts and beliefs to raise your self-esteem. Start with these steps.

Low self-esteem can affect nearly every aspect of life. It can impact your relationships, job and health. But you can boost your self-esteem by taking cues from mental health counseling.

Consider these steps, based on cognitive behavioral therapy.

1. Recognize situations that affect self-esteem

Think about the situations that seem to deflate your self-esteem. Common triggers might include:

  • A work or school presentation
  • A crisis at work or home
  • A challenge with a spouse, loved one, co-worker or other close contact
  • A change in roles or life events, such as a job loss or a child leaving home

2. Become aware of thoughts and beliefs

Once you've learned which situations affect your self-esteem, notice your thoughts about them. This includes what you tell yourself (self-talk) and how you view the situations.

Your thoughts and beliefs might be positive, negative or neutral. They might be rational, based on reason or facts. Or they may be irrational, based on false ideas.

Ask yourself if these beliefs are true. Would you say them to a friend? If you wouldn't say them to someone else, don't say them to yourself.

3. Challenge negative thinking

Your initial thoughts might not be the only way to view a situation. Ask yourself whether your view is in line with facts and logic. Or is there another explanation?

Be aware that it can be hard to see flaws in your logic. Long-held thoughts and beliefs can feel factual even if they're opinions.

Also notice if you're having these thought patterns that erode self-esteem:

  • All-or-nothing thinking. This involves seeing things as either all good or all bad. For example, you may think, "If I don't succeed in this task, I'm a total failure."
  • Mental filtering. This means you focus and dwell on the negatives. It can distort your view of a person or situation. For example, "I made a mistake on that report and now everyone will realize I'm not up to the job."
  • Converting positives into negatives. This may involve rejecting your achievements and other positive experiences by insisting that they don't count. For example, "I only did well on that test because it was so easy."
  • Jumping to negative conclusions. You may tend to reach a negative conclusion with little or no evidence. For example, "My friend hasn't replied to my text, so I must have done something to make her angry."
  • Mistaking feelings for facts. You may confuse feelings or beliefs with facts. For example, "I feel like a failure, so I must be a failure."
  • Negative self-talk. You undervalue yourself. You may put yourself down or joke about your faults. For example, you may say, "I don't deserve anything better."

4. Adjust your thoughts and beliefs

Now replace negative or untrue thoughts with positive, accurate thoughts. Try these strategies:

  • Use hopeful statements. Be kind and encouraging to yourself. Instead of thinking a situation won't go well, focus on the positive. Tell yourself, "Even though it's tough, I can handle this."
  • Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. But mistakes aren't permanent reflections on you as a person. They're moments in time. Tell yourself, "I made a mistake, but that doesn't make me a bad person."
  • Avoid 'should' and 'must' statements. If you find that your thoughts are full of these words, you might be putting too many demands on yourself. Try to remove these words from your thoughts. It may lead to a healthier view of what to expect from yourself.
  • Focus on the positive. Think about the parts of your life that work well. Remember the skills you've used to cope with challenges.
  • Consider what you've learned. If it was a negative experience, what changes can you make next time to create a more positive outcome?
  • Relabel upsetting thoughts. Think of negative thoughts as signals to try new, healthy patterns. Ask yourself, "What can I think and do to make this less stressful?"
  • Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes. For example, "My presentation might not have been perfect, but my colleagues asked questions and remained engaged. That means I met my goal."

You might also try these steps, based on acceptance and commitment therapy.

1. Spot troubling conditions or situations

Again, think about the conditions or situations that seem to deflate your self-esteem. Then pay attention to your thoughts about them.

2. Step back from your thoughts

Repeat your negative thoughts many times. The goal is to take a step back from automatic thoughts and beliefs and observe them. Instead of trying to change your thoughts, distance yourself from them. Realize that they are nothing more than words.

3. Accept your thoughts

Instead of resisting or being overwhelmed by negative thoughts or feelings, accept them. You don't have to like them. Just allow yourself to feel them.

Negative thoughts don't need to be controlled, changed or acted upon. Aim to lessen their power on your behavior.

These steps might seem awkward at first. But they'll get easier with practice. Recognizing the thoughts and beliefs that affect low self-esteem allows you to change the way you think about them. This will help you accept your value as a person. As your self-esteem increases, your confidence and sense of well-being are likely to soar.

In addition to these suggestions, remember that you're worth special care. Be sure to:

  • Take care of yourself. Follow good health guidelines. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Limit sweets, junk food and saturated fats.
  • Do things you enjoy. Start by making a list of things you like to do. Try to do something from that list every day.
  • Spend time with people who make you happy. Don't waste time on people who don't treat you well.

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  • Orth U, et al. Is high self-esteem beneficial? Revisiting a classic question. American Psychologist. 2022; doi:10.1037/amp0000922.
  • Levenson JL, ed. Psychotherapy. In: The American Psychiatric Association Publishing Textbook of Psychosomatic Medicine and Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. 3rd ed. American Psychiatric Association Publishing; 2019. https://psychiatryonline.org. Accessed April 27, 2022.
  • Kliegman RM, et al. Psychotherapy and psychiatric hospitalization. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 27, 2022.
  • Fusar-Poli P, et al. What is good mental health? A scoping review. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 202; doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.12.105.
  • Van de Graaf DL, et al. Online acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) interventions for chronic pain: A systematic literature review. Internet Interventions. 2021; doi:10.1016/j.invent.2021.100465.
  • Bourne EJ. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. 7th ed. New Harbinger Publications; 2020.
  • Ebert MH, et al., eds. Behavioral and cognitive-behavioral interventions. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry. 3rd ed. McGraw Hill; 2019. https://www.accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed May 4, 2022.
  • Self-esteem self-help guide. NHS inform. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/mental-health-self-help-guides/self-esteem-self-help-guide. Accessed May 4, 2022.
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Practical Ways to Improve Your Confidence (and Why You Should)

Self-confidence is just one element in a triad of things that make up our overall “confidence.” Here’s what you can do to boost yours.

write 5 tips to improve self confidence

By Eric Ravenscraft

Self-confidence is a bit like the running water in your house. You may not know every detail about how it works or where it comes from, but it’s painfully obvious when it’s not there. Like when your water is shut off, a dearth of self-confidence has a huge negative impact on your health and lifestyle. Fortunately, there are things you can do to shore it up.

What is confidence?

In everyday conversation, self-confidence is often confused with self-esteem, and it overlaps with the less well-known term “self-efficacy.” However, psychology gives each of these terms a specific definition. It’s helpful to distinguish among the three:

Self-Efficacy : This term, as defined by Albert Bandura, a Canadian-American psychologist , refers to your belief in your ability to accomplish specific tasks. If you believe you’re capable of cooking dinner or completing a project, this is reflective of high self-efficacy. People with low self-efficacy often put less effort into a task if they don’t believe they’ll succeed at it, increasing the likelihood of failure.

Self-Confidence : In contrast, according to Dr. Bandura , self-confidence is more of a general view of how likely you are to accomplish a goal, especially based on your past experience. When you practice playing piano, you increase your confidence in your ability to play the piano. This can also apply to how likely you believe you are to be accepted in a social group. If you’ve been made fun of for your underwater basket-weaving hobby, you might be less confident sharing it with others next time. Self-confidence and self-efficacy are both rooted in experience, but self-confidence reflects a broader view of yourself, rather than your confidence in specific tasks.

Self-Esteem : The term most often confused with self-confidence is the one perhaps least similar to it. Self-esteem refers to a belief in your overall worth. Broad statements like “I’m a good person” fall into this category. Self-esteem is one of the levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs , and improvements to self-confidence can contribute to your broader self-esteem.

These concepts overlap, and psychologists disagree about where the lines are between each one . You can have enough confidence to believe that you’re capable of learning how to play a new game, for example, while simultaneously lacking the self-efficacy to believe that you’ll be any good when you first start. Likewise, you can have zero confidence in your ability to cook while still believing you’re a good person and deserving of love.

[Like what you’re reading? Sign up here for the Smarter Living newsletter to get stories like this (and much more!) delivered straight to your inbox every Monday morning.]

High confidence leads to more chances to improve

Self-confidence is your belief in how good you are at something, but it’s not a measure of your actual skill. So why does it matter if you believe in yourself? According to Charlie Houpert, the author of “Charisma on Command” and the founder of a 2.7-million-subscriber YouTube channel of the same name, confidence doesn’t just make you feel better, it also helps you take risks to make tangible improvements to your life.

“Internally, true self-confidence will lead to more positivity, happiness and resilience,” Mr. Houpert said. “Externally, high self-confidence will lead to taking more risks, which directly correlates with reaping more rewards.”

The “Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology” puts it another way: “If the person lacks confidence, again there will be no action. That’s why a lack of confidence is sometimes referred to as ‘crippling doubt.’ Doubt can impair effort before the action begins or while it is ongoing.”

If you believe you can get your dream job if you apply, there’s a chance, however small, you might get it. If you don’t believe that you can get it, and you don’t apply, it’s guaranteed that you won’t. Self-confidence doesn’t magically make you better at what you do, but it does prime you to take the risks necessary to achieve your goals .

How you can improve your self-confidence

If building self-confidence is a matter of changing your beliefs about yourself, it’s going to take some work. You can say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me” into the mirror every day — and it couldn’t hurt — but there are more practical, effective tools you can use, too.

Be ‘hyper honest’ with yourself

Mr. Houpert suggests being “hyper honest” with yourself as a simple, everyday way to exercise your confidence.

“For example, let’s say someone asks you what you do for fun or what you do for a living,” he said. “If you find yourself biting your tongue or hiding something, evaluate that. That’s an indication to either stop doing that thing or, more likely, accept that part of yourself and own it.”

This doesn’t mean you have to share every part of your personality with everyone you meet. You can share your geeky hobbies with your geeky friends but stick to work topics at work. However, you can find someone to share yourself with. “When you stop hiding parts of yourself from other people, you’ll find you feel more confident in who you are,” Mr. Houpert said.

Start working out

Many people start working out to lose weight or build muscle, but exercise can also be a huge boost to your self-confidence. The American Psychological Association has noted that exercise can improve your mood and — along with regular treatment and therapy — help combat depression and anxiety . It can also help improve your confidence if you stick with it for a while . Working out regularly requires a commitment, and keeping that commitment is an accomplishment. Not only does sticking to a new healthy habit make you feel more confident, but you can also spot physical improvements to your body and health over the long term.

Try things that make you uncomfortable

Stepping outside your comfort zone is, as you might expect, uncomfortable. Mr. Houpert said that’s the point.

“Confidence is ultimately about being comfortable in a wide variety of situations that would make most people feel uncomfortable,” he said. “So if you stretch your comfort zone every day, very quickly you’ll have a large comfort zone and be able to feel more comfortable even when outside of it.”

This can involve more daunting changes, like taking a new job or confronting someone you usually avoid. However, it can also take smaller forms, like striking up a conversation with someone new if you’re normally shy, or trying a new food. According to Mr. Houpert, it’s more important that you regularly expand your comfort zone rather than occasionally throwing yourself into the deep end.

Try a new look

How you dress can affect how other people perceive you , but it can also affect how you perceive yourself. Wearing different clothes can prompt you to think or behave differently. This effect isn’t just limited to feeling good about yourself. Dr. Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, found that participants in a study who wore a white lab coat exhibited more focused attention. In other words, when people dressed like a doctor, they behaved more like a doctor, or at least how they thought a doctor might behave. If you want to feel more confident, dress the way a confident version of yourself would.

Defy your impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome is a nasty mental bug that convinces you that your accomplishments don’t really count and that you’re going to be found out as a fraud. This doubt can creep in because it’s easier to remember faults but more difficult to remember successes. Make a habit of periodically writing down or reflecting on times you’ve done things well. It’s easier to be confident in your abilities when you remember them .

Adjust your posture

Much like how you dress, the posture you adopt can affect how you feel about yourself. While it might feel a little silly at first (remember that tip about stepping outside your comfort zone), trying out powerful stances can help adjust your frame of mind. Research from Ohio State University suggests that something as simple sitting up straight can make you feel more confident in what you’re doing.

Avoid the arrogance trap

As you start to express yourself more confidently, it’s natural to worry about becoming arrogant in the process. However, according to Mr. Houpert, arrogance isn’t confidence run amok.

“Arrogance is more the result of insecurity than high self-confidence,” he said. “Confidence is self-satisfied while arrogance requires external validation to feel good. So you get people who brag to solicit the recognition of others. Someone with true self-confidence is capable of being assertive and standing up for themselves, but they’re unlikely to adopt a tone that others perceive as arrogant. Oddly enough, the best defense against arrogance is developing true self-confidence.”

If you start out doubting yourself, it will take time before you feel like you belong. In the interim, your own creeping doubt can try to tell you that feeling good about yourself or standing your ground is really arrogance. Recognizing that this is a symptom of insecurity — and that being aware of the symptom is its own form of inoculation against it — can help you push past it.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Dr. Adam Galinsky was a professor at the Kelogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He was, and was at the Kellogg School when the study referenced was published, but he has since joined the faculty at the Columbia Business School. That reference has been updated.

What Is Self-Confidence? (+ 9 Proven Ways to Increase It)

Self-Confidence: 9 Essential Ways to Become More Self-Confident

This movement started with a book published in 1969, in which psychologist Nathaniel Branden argued that most mental or emotional problems people faced could be traced back to low self-esteem. Branden laid the foundation for the Self-Esteem Movement with his assertion that improving an individual’s self-esteem could not only result in better performance but could even cure pathology.

Since then, there have been thousands of papers published and studies conducted on the relationship between success and self-esteem. This is a popular idea not only in literature but in more mainstream mediums as well. Before we begin exploring the complexities of self-esteem it is essential to unpack the differences between the overlapping concepts of self-efficacy , self-confidence, and self-esteem .

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

E.E. Cummings

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our three Self-Compassion Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will not only increase your compassion and self-esteem but will also give you the tools to help your clients, students or employees show more kindness and compassion towards themselves.

This Article Contains

Defining the difference: self-efficacy, self-confidence, and self-esteem, popular theories of self-confidence, the importance of self-confidence, too much of good thing: the consequences of self-esteem education, the benefits of fear: practicing courage and building confidence, 9 lessons for practicing self-confidence.

  • A Take-Home Message: It’s a Process

Frequently Asked Questions

While most people generally think of self-esteem and self-confidence as two names for the same thing, and probably rarely think about the term “self-efficacy,” these three terms hold slightly different meanings for the psychologists who study them (Druckman & Bjork, 1994; Oney, & Oksuzoglu-Guven, 2015).

What is Self-Efficacy?

Albert Bandura is arguably the most cited author on the subject of self-efficacy, and he defines self-efficacy as an individual’s beliefs about their capacity to influence the events in their own lives (Bandura, 1977).

This differs from self-esteem in an important way: the definition of self-esteem often rests on ideas about an individual’s worth or worthiness, while self-efficacy is rooted in beliefs about an individual’s capabilities to handle future situations . In this sense, self-esteem is more of a present-focused belief while self-efficacy is more of a forward-looking belief.

What is Self-Confidence?

This is likely the most used term for these related concepts outside of psychological research, but there is still some confusion about what exactly self-confidence is. One of the most cited sources about self-confidence refers to it as simply believing in oneself (Bénabou & Tirole, 2002).

Another popular article defines self-confidence as an individual’s expectations of performance and self-evaluations of abilities and prior performance (Lenney, 1977).

Finally, Psychology Dictionary Online defines self-confidence as an individual’s trust in his or her own abilities, capacities, and judgments, or belief that he or she can successfully face day to day challenges and demands (Psychology Dictionary Online).

Self-confidence also brings about more happiness. Typically, when you are confident in your abilities, you are happier due to your successes. When you are feeling better about your capabilities, the more energized and motivated you are to take action and achieve your goals .

Self-confidence, then, is similar to self-efficacy in that it tends to focus on the individual’s future performance; however, it seems to be based on prior performance, and so in a sense, it also focuses on the past.

Many psychologists tend to refer to self-efficacy when considering an individual’s beliefs about their abilities concerning a specific task or set of tasks, while self-confidence is more often referred to as a broader and more stable trait concerning an individual’s perceptions of overall capability.

What is Self-Esteem?

The most influential voices in self-esteem research were, arguably, Morris Rosenberg and Nathaniel Branden. In his 1965 book, Society and the Adolescent Self-Image, Rosenberg discussed his take on self-esteem and introduced his widely used accepted Self-Esteem Scale.

A Free PDF of the Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale is available here .

His definition of self-esteem rested on the assumption that it was a relatively stable belief about one’s overall self-worth. This is a broad definition of self-esteem, defining it as a trait that is influenced by many different factors and is relatively difficult to change.

In contrast, Branden believes self-esteem is made up of two distinct components: self-efficacy, or the confidence we have in our ability to cope with life’s challenges, and self-respect, or the belief that we are deserving of happiness, love, and success (1969).

The definitions are similar, but it is worth noting that Rosenberg’s definition relies on beliefs about self-worth, a belief which can have wildly different meanings to different people, while Branden is more specific about which beliefs are involved in self-esteem.

What about those who have too much self-esteem? Could narcissism be the result of having too much self-esteem? A psychological definition would be that narcissism is an extreme amount of selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration.

Self-esteem at high and low levels can be damaging, so it is important to strike a balance in the middle. A realistic but positive view of the self is often ideal.

Where does self-esteem come from? What influence does it have on our lives? Self-esteem is often seen as a personality trait, which means it tends to be stable and enduring.

There are typically three components which make up self-esteem:

  • Self-esteem is an essential human need that is vital for survival and normal, healthy development
  • Self-esteem arises automatically from within based on a person’s beliefs and consciousness
  • Self-esteem occurs in conjunction with a person’s thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and actions.

Self-esteem is one of the basic human motivations in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow would suggest that individuals need both esteem from other people as well as inner self-respect. These needs must be fulfilled in order for an individual to grow and thrive.

These needs must be fulfilled in order for an individual to grow and achieve self-actualization . Self-confidence and self-esteem are two closely related psychological phenomena, both based on past experiences and both looking forward at future performance.

With these definitions in hand, we can take a closer look at common beliefs and popular theories surrounding self-confidence and self-esteem.

As noted earlier, Branden’s theory of self-esteem became a widely referenced and understood theory, but there were also other theories and frameworks for understanding self-esteem in the psychological literature.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an iconic although somewhat out-of-date framework in psychology, theorizes that there are several needs that humans must have met to be truly fulfilled, but, generally, the most basic needs must be met before more complex needs can be met (1943). In his pyramid, self-esteem is the second highest level of need, just under self-actualization.

According to Maslow, humans must have their needs of physiological stability, safety, love and belonging met before they can develop healthy self-esteem. He also noted that there are two kinds of self-esteem, a “higher” and a “lower,” the lower self-esteem derived from the respect of others, while the higher self-esteem comes from within.

In the years following his introduction of the hierarchy of needs, Maslow refined his theory to accommodate the instances of highly self-actualized people who are homeless or individuals who live in a dangerous area or war zone but are also high in self-esteem.

This hierarchy is no longer considered as a strict theory of unidirectional growth, but a more general explanation of how basic needs being met allow individuals the freedom and ability to achieve their more complex ones.

Terror Management Theory

A darker theory that delves a bit deeper into the human experience to explain self-confidence is the Terror Management Theory .

Terror Management Theory (TMT) is based on the idea that humans hold great potential for responding with terror to the awareness of their own mortality, and that worldviews that emphasize peoples’ beliefs in their own significance as humans protect them against this terror (Greenberg & Arndt, 2011).

TMT posits that self-esteem forms as a way to protect and buffer against anxiety, and subsequently, people strive for self-confidence and react negatively to anyone or anything that could undermine their beliefs in their comforting worldview .

Sociometer Theory

Mark Leary, a social psychologist who researches self-esteem in the context of evolutionary psychology, also contributed a theory of self-esteem to the literature.

The Sociometer Theory suggests that self-esteem is an internal gauge of the degree to which one is included vs. excluded by others (Leary, 2006). This theory rests on the conception of self-esteem as an internal individual perception of social acceptance and rejection.

There is some strong evidence for the accuracy and applicability of this theory. For example, studies have shown that the outcomes of events on people’s self-esteem generally match up with their assumptions about how the same events would cause other people to accept or reject them (Leary, Tambor, Terdal, & Downs, 1995).

Finally, evidence shows that social exclusion based on personal characteristics decreases self-esteem (Leary et al., 1995).

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“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Regardless of which theory you may personally subscribe to, the outcomes of high self-confidence are generally agreed upon by researchers.

A broad review of the correlates of self-esteem found that high self-esteem is associated with better health, better social lives, protection against mental disorders and social problems, healthy coping, and mental well-being (Mann, Hosman, Schaalma, & de Vries, 2004).

Children with high self-confidence perform better at school and, later in life, have higher job satisfaction in middle age. Self-esteem is also strongly linked to happiness, with higher levels of self-esteem predicting higher levels of happiness. High self-confidence has even been found to increase the chances of survival after a serious surgical procedure (Mann et al., 2004).

As noted earlier, there have been thousands of papers published on self-confidence or self-esteem, and many of these papers connect self-confidence with success in life.

Some studies show a strong relationship between self-confidence and positive mental health (Atherton et al., 2016; Clark & Gakuru, 2014; Gloppen, David-Ferdon, & Bates, 2010; Skenderis, 2015; Stankov, 2013; Stankov & Lee, 2014). The success of individuals with high self-esteem lies in these six attributes:

  • A greater sense of self-worth
  • Greater enjoyment in life and in activities
  • Freedom from self-doubt
  • Freedom from fear and anxiety, freedom from social anxiety, and less stress
  • More energy and motivation to act
  • More enjoyable time interacting with other people at social gatherings. When you are relaxed and confident others will feel at ease around you.

In less hopeful news, some research has shown that increasing confidence does not always lead to enhanced positive outcomes (Brinkman, Tichelaar, van Agtmael, de Vries, & Richir, 2015; Forsyth, Lawrence, Burnette, & Baumeister, 2007).

Journalists in mainstream media have pointed out that there are also negative correlates with self-confidence. For example, self-confidence has steadily increased over the last 50 years, and with it, narcissism and unrealistic expectations have also increased (Kremer, 2013). Maybe there is such a thing as “too much a good thing,” when we are building our children’s self-esteem.

Self-confidence or self-esteem has been praised in Western society for the past 25 years. During this time, it was believed that a positive self-image was the key to a happy and successful life, leading to the birth of the self-esteem era of education.

Children of this generation are taught in schools and at home to consider themselves to be special, to only focus on their positive traits , and to receive praise for very little accomplishment.

Recent research, however, suggests that these practices and beliefs, rather than protecting people from depression, may contribute to low motivation and a decrease in goal-directed behavior (Dweck, 2007).

If boosting self-confidence is better at increasing narcissism and ambition than achievement and success, what should we do? Do we ditch the idea of improving self-confidence?

Baumeister and colleagues have an answer. There are certain contexts where a boost of self-confidence can improve performance, and these opportunities should not be ignored.

They recommend continuing to boost self-esteem, but in a more measured and cautious manner (Baumeister et al., 2003). They encourage parents and teachers to give children praise in order to increase their self-confidence, but only as a reward for socially desirable behavior.

This method ensures that children receive some positive attention and have the opportunity to develop healthy self-esteem, and it does not run the risk of convincing children that they are exceedingly competent whether they work hard or not.

Steve Baskin (2011) lays out another positive move parents can take: letting their children fail.  Recently, parents have taken great care in shielding their children from pain and problems and forming a protective bubble of love and esteem-building around them. This often has the unintended consequence of not only protecting children from struggle but also from growth.

Baskin suggests taking a step back as parents, and letting children figure out how to deal with disappointment and pain, an undertaking that will likely result in the development of resilience and successful coping skills. If we want to encourage all children to not only feel their best but to also do their best, these seem like good solutions.

In his TED Talk Dr. Ivan Joseph (2012), a former athletic director and soccer coach connects his dedication to building self-confidence with his subsequent career success and encourages the audience to follow some tips to build healthy self-confidence in their children.

Fear exists to protect us from physical danger; it is our instinct to prevent ourselves from being eaten by a predator. However, in the absence of such predators and with protection designed into our homes, cars and parenting styles, fear has adapted to respond instead to modern day stresses, which can trigger past negative feelings of shame , hurt or fear.

These experiences operate in the background of our psyche, taking up mental bandwidth and memory, just like mobile apps which run in the background of your phone using memory and battery power.

When we stay in our comfort zone protected from these experiences by the familiarity of routine activities, we live life unaware of our ability to grow and develop new strengths and skills. The less we experience opportunities for mistakes and failure, the more scared we become of what could happen if we were to step outside of our comfort zone.

However, when we do take that plunge, even without confidence in our abilities, courage takes over. In the realm of the known, confidence operates without any hindrance, but in the realm of fear of the unknown courage takes over.

Courage is typically a more noble attribute than confidence because it requires greater strength, and typically a courageous person is one without limits for growth and success.

We can be grateful for fear. We can learn to eagerly embrace it, understand its origin and use it as a signpost for what needs to be dealt with, a powerful tool to declutter the mental closets. And just like actually cleaning out our closets, we can sort through what we want to keep and what no longer fits us . And when it’s cleared out we can feel renewed and energized.

But fear can’t always be overcome just by crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

We, humans, are strange creatures. We expect our fear to disappear in an instant, however, we accept that we cannot just pick up the violin and play Vivaldi in an instant.

“To build confidence, you have to practice confidence”

Martin Seligman reminds us that a positive self-image by itself does not produce anything. A sustainable sense of security in oneself arises from positive and productive behavior (Seligman, 1996).

This is not to say that feeling secure and trusting in yourself is not important for wellbeing. High self-confidence or self-efficacy has been linked to many positive physical and mental health outcomes (Pajares, 1996).

Many of us would like to have higher self-confidence but struggle to overcome insecurity, fear, and negative self-talk. With some reflection, hard work, and perhaps a shift in perception we can work towards a strong and stable belief in ourselves.

“Wellbeing cannot just exist in our own head. It is a combination of actually having meaning, good relationships, and accomplishment.”

 Martin Seligman

1. Stand or Sit in a Posture of Confidence

Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy and others have studied the positive effects of confident body postures on our hormones.

Look for the sensations of confidence and practice feeling them more in your body. Feel your feet on the ground, keep your body relaxed and open. Think regal.

Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk about all about the effect of posture on self-confidence.

Her basic message in the video is that an individual’s posture does not just reflect the level of confidence or insecurity. Posture sends messages to the brain that can actually change the way you feel. So, if you want to feel more powerful, sit up straight, smile, or stand in a “power pose,” and that message will be sent to your brain.

2. Practice Presence

Mindfulness is proven to have significant benefits for your physical and psychological wellbeing. You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere. You can give try it right now by following these steps:

  • Become aware of your awareness; that is, begin to observe yourself and your surroundings.
  • Start with your body sensations, feeling your feet and legs, your belly and chest, your arms, neck, and head.
  • Notice your breath flowing in and out, the many sensations that you are experiencing.
  • Let your eyes notice what is in your visual field, your ears, what they are hearing. Perhaps sensations of smell and taste will come to awareness as well.
  • Go beyond these simple sensations to feel the energy, the quiet, or the noises that surround you. Feel your presence.

3. Build Your Capacity for Energy

What does this mean? A bit of stress can be useful to keep us alert and give us the extra energy needed to perform. Try reframing your nervous jitters as excitement! Knowing how to engage with these feelings in your body will expand your presence rather than shrinking it down.

4. Exercise Regularly

Exercise has a powerful effect on confidence. Regular exercise releases endorphins which in turn interact with the opiate receptors in the brain, which produces a pleasurable state of mind and, in turn, you’ll view yourself in a more positive light.

When you exercise regularly, you will not only get better physically but you will feel more motivated to act in ways that build your self-confidence.

5. Visualize: Imagine Confidence

Close your eyes and relax your body completely. Stay firmly connected to the sensation of relaxation and in your mind’s eye, see yourself speaking on camera or doing whatever activity for which you would like more confidence. Allow the feelings of a comfortable presence to pervade your body and your mind.

6. Give Yourself Permission To Be In The Process, Take Risks and Make Mistakes

From the outside, we often think, “wow, everybody else is more happy, beautiful, creative, successful, active, etc. than me. I’m just not good enough to be like them.” What we don’t tend to consider is that failure is inherent in accomplishment and that in order to pursue our goals, we have to work hard and face our weaknesses. Even those who are exceptional in some areas of life are likely struggling in others.

Allow yourself to be a learner, to be a novice. Trust that it’s okay not to be perfect; in fact, you’ll likely provide inspiration to others in similar situations.

When breaking out of your comfort zone and starting something new, you are expanding your own limitations. When you successfully complete something that is out of your confidence zone, you are building confidence in yourself.

7. Clarify Your Goals

Making progress towards personally meaningful goals is the scaffolding upon which healthy self-confidence is built. In his book, Flourish Seligman proposes PERMA , a five-factor framework for wellbeing in which the “A” stands for accomplishment.

The S.M.A.R.T goals system offers a guideline for goal-setting in which goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This system is based on research that suggests that these types of goals lead to greater and more consistent achievement (Locke, 1968).

When considering what goals you’d like to set for yourself, it may be helpful to start big considering your core values and life goals . Then you can come up with actionable steps to work toward these. Writing a personal mission statement is a great way to give yourself some direction.

“Happiness does not simply happen to us. It’s something that we make happen and it comes from doing our best.”

Mihali Csikszentmihalyi

8. Speak Well to Yourself

It’s always delightful to get good feedback from others. However, always seeking approval from outside yourself is an easy trap.

“Approve of yourself; be the one that says the words of encouragement you long to hear.”

Speak to yourself with self-compassion , kindness, and encouragement. After all, the most important relationship you have in your life is with yourself- make it a good one!

9. Ask For Help and Offer Your Help to Others

Many of us struggle to ask for help due to fear of rejection or being seen as incompetent. In Western cultures, the high value placed on self-reliance gets in the way of reaching out to others even though this is a necessary part of working toward our goals. However, conversely, a core feature of self-confidence also lies in being valued by others.

A sense of belonging within our social system is fundamental to personal wellbeing (Baumeister & Leary, 1995).

In a recent review of contemporary literature, Stephen Post, head of Case Western Reserve University Medical School, found a profound connection between giving, altruism, and happiness (2008). When we play a positive role in our families, friendships, and communities we rightly feel good about ourselves. We feel that we are fulfilling a greater more meaningful purpose in our lives.

A study by Frank Flynn, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, revealed that people tend to grossly underestimate the willingness of others to help (2008). Flynn says “our research should encourage people to ask for help and not to assume that others are disinclined to comply” (2008).

Collaboration among people creates the most powerful results. When we reach out to others, we can see our efforts flourish in ways that we could never achieve on our own.

“Doing a kindness produces the single most reliable increase in momentary wellbeing than any other exercise we have tested.”

Martin Seligman

A Take-Home Message: It’s a Process

The bottom line is that a healthy sense of self-confidence is not something that we achieve once and then just have for the rest of our lives. If you are a parent, teacher, or someone else who interacts with children frequently, notice whether you are trying to build children’s self-esteem through protecting and praising them.

Consider what you are encouraging the child to learn from their actions, provide them with enough opportunities to safely learn through failure and offer them space to build their courage and express their self-efficacy.

No matter how confident they are, there will be a moment when they will need to draw from a deep well of self-esteem, resilience, and problem-solving to successfully navigate a complex and challenging world.

Self-confidence waxes and wanes and takes work to build, develop and maintain. We all experience moments which challenge our confidence. However, when we understand the sources of healthy self-confidence we can always work on cultivating it within ourselves.

What do you think about the challenge of building self-confidence? How do you feel about building self-confidence in education? What is your greatest confidence maker or breaker? Let us know in the comments box below.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Self Compassion Exercises for free .

There are many reasons why someone may lack confidence, including:

  • past experiences of failure or criticism,
  • negative self-talk or beliefs,
  • comparison to others, or
  • lack of experience or knowledge in a particular area.

The 3 types of self-confidence are:

  • Task-specific: confidence in your ability to perform a specific task or skill
  • General: overall confidence in yourself and your abilities
  • Situational: confidence that varies depending on the situation or context, such as public speaking or social situations

You can stop being insecure by:

  • Challenging negative self-talk and beliefs
  • Focusing on your strengths and accomplishments
  • Practicing self-care and self-compassion
  • Seeking out positive and supportive relationships
  • Practicing mindfulness or meditation to increase self-awareness and decrease anxiety
  • Developing new skills and knowledge to increase competence and confidence
  • Seeking professional help if necessary, such as therapy or counseling.
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  • Forsyth, D. R., Lawrence, N. K., Burnette, J. L., & Baumeister, R. R. (2007). Attempting to improve the academic performance of struggling college students by bolstering their self-esteem: An intervention that backfired. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26 , 447-459.
  • Gloppen, K. M., David-Ferdon, C., & Bates, J. (2010). Confidence as a predictor of sexual and reproductive health outcomes for youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46 , S42-S58.
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  • Weisul, K. (n.d.). 2 Quick Exercises That Will Boost Your Confidence. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/kimberly-weisul/ two-short-simple-exercises-that-will-boost-your-confidence.html.

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What our readers think.

Bryan J

Great article and I appreciate the references to other resources!

I disagree with “What about those who have too much self-esteem? Narcissism is the result of having too much self-esteem.” No, Narcissism is an extreme form of selfishness, entitlement and self-delusion – not self-esteem.

As your paragraph continues: “A psychological definition (of narcissism) would be an extreme amount of selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration.” Confident people don’t need to be selfish, and don’t need to crave admiration.

Perhaps the greater point, we can agree on, is that self-confidence needs to be aligned with reality, not self-delusion.

Aside from this one point of disagreement, thank you for a great article and the nine ways to build self-esteem.

Kristy Watts

Self confidence is so important especially in the workplace when surrounded by great talent.

Joe Magna

Hi, Dr. Nathaniel Branden and I disagree with the research involving, “too much self-esteem.” Branden ( 2011) states the following, “The question is sometimes asked, “Is it possible to have too much self-esteem?” No, it is not; no more than it is possible to have too much physical health or too powerful an immune system. Sometimes self-esteem is confused with boasting or bragging or arrogance; but such traits reflect not too much self-esteem, but too little; they reflect a lack of self-esteem. Persons of high self-esteem are not driven to make themselves superior to others; they do not seek to prove their value by measuring themselves against a comparative standard. Their joy is in being who they are, not in being better than someone else. I recall reflecting on this issue one day while watching my dog playing in the backyard. She was running about, sniffing flowers, chasing squirrels, leaping into the air, showing great joy in being alive (from my anthropomorphic perspective). She was not thinking (I am sure) that she was more glad to be alive than was the dog next door. She was simply delighting in her own existence. That image captures something essential of how I understand the experience of healthy self-esteem. People with troubled self-esteem are often uncomfortable in the presence of those with higher self-esteem and may feel resentful and declare, “They have too much self-esteem.” But what they are really making is a statement about themselves. Insecure men, for instance, often feel more insecure in the presence of self-confident women. Low-self-esteem individuals often feel irritable in the presence of people who are enthusiastic about life. If one partner in a marriage whose self-esteem is deteriorating sees that the partner’s self-esteem is growing, the response is sometimes anxiety and an attempt to sabotage the growth process. The sad truth is, whoever is successful in this world runs the risk of being a target. People of low achievement often envy and resent people of high achievement. Those who are unhappy often envy and resent those who are happy. And those of low self-esteem sometimes like to talk about the danger of having “too much self-esteem.”” (p. 33).

Branden, N. (2011). The six pillars of self-esteem. Bantam.

Nicole Celestine

Hi Joe, Thanks for sharing your thoughts and yours and Dr Branden’s thinking. I quite liked the analogy regarding the dog running amongst the flowers. You make a great point about the conceptual confusion regarding arrogance and self-esteem. Just because a person is highly content wth themselves, it doesn’t mean that will translate into comparison or arrogant behaviors. As you note, such behaviors would likely suggest underlying problems with self-esteem. – Nicole | Community Manager

Hello Nicole, thanks for your perspective! I find it somewhat upsetting that self-esteem is not clearly defined by the general sources that I have researched. I have found that the most logical and precise meaning of self-esteem has been explained by Dr. Nathaniel Branden in his book mentioned in my post.

Bousselham

Confidence is like an artist/journey, the more an expert one becomes, the more one can unravel: there is no limit to it. However, it’s important that one keeps a balance through the journey.

Hi there, I should have added, it was due to your article, I came up with the thought

riya

nice one to the world

Rocky

Your 9 ways made feel as if I was surfing a big long wave, (and I don’t surf) . What you have compiled here I have known about, but I enjoyed how you wrote and how you referenced. I am 64 and just beginning a bachelor of psychology course online with no prior tertiary education(scary). I’m very interested in self-confidence as in education because of how much it strangles potential, in my observations of self & the more I listen to many deprive themselves because of this

Vanessa Rondine B Teixeira

The best of learning on your new path, Rocky!! I love how you are putting yourself out there for your new educational path! 🙂

Marcus Klyne

I have been researching this subject for some time now, and I found your article to be the most comprehensive, unbiased and well researched treatment of the concept of self confidence that I have yet to come across. Hats off to you Courtney! Very well done!

Loren Wingenter

I think you have noted some very interesting points, thankyou for the post.

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Home » How to build confidence » How to be confident

18 tips for being confident from within

Does it sometimes seem like everyone around you is confident and sure of themselves? Chances are, they have doubts just like you. So what’s the secret they’ve discovered about how to be confident ? They know that confidence is not something you have , it’s something you create . Being confident is nothing more than a feeling of certainty that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. Confidence comes from within, and you can find ways to believe in yourself at any time.

That’s not to say learning how to build confidence will solve all your problems. Everyone has bad days or moments that upset them. Being confident also doesn’t mean you’re completely sure of yourself at all times. Creating confidence is not about knowing it all; it’s about trusting that no matter what happens in a particular situation, you’ll be able to handle it and learn from the outcome.

Take this quick quiz to discover your top human need

Why is confidence important?

Learning how to be confident is important in every part of your life, but there are some instances where it’s crucial – especially at times where you feel like giving up . If you are a leader and in a position that requires being convincing and trustworthy, being confident is non-negotiable. No one will follow a leader who appears unsure of themselves. Lack of confidence can seriously impact your ability to put together a winning team and guide them to achieving your shared goals.

Even if you’re not in a leadership role, confidence is vital to being a team player in many situations – whether you’re in a sales position or need to present a confident face during frequent client interactions. Being confident helps you make instant connections and build relationships that will ensure you and your company succeed.  

Knowing how to be confident in yourself is important beyond the workplace, too. Learning how to be more confident can help you attract a partner you can build a healthy relationship with. It can also help you effectively handle conflict and seek out new opportunities ­that will foster your personal growth.

The principles of how to be confident

If you want to learn how to build confidence , you must be willing to change your state . Your state is essentially your mood at any given time of day. Your mood is influenced by how you feel about yourself at that point in time. The good news is you can change your state at any time – no matter what’s going on around you – as long as you know how to do it. Here are the main principles of building confidence and certainty that anyone can use to their advantage – and some real-life examples to help you apply them in any area of your life.

Body language

Physiology is key when learning how to be confident . M astering the body language of confidence can put you on the path to success. Think about someone you know whom you consider extremely confident. When you first met them, you probably knew they were confident before they even started speaking. You knew they were self-assured because of the way they carried themselves and moved. They made eye contact, shook your hand firmly and stood up straight. Now do a quick inventory of your body. What’s your posture like? How are you breathing? We all get in negative states, which can lead to slouching, shallow breathing or hanging your head. You have the power to change how you’re feeling by controlling the way your body moves and the way you present yourself.

Thinking positive can manifest itself in several ways. First, change your focus – because “Where focus goes, energy flows,” as Tony says. Instead of getting hung up on all the ways something could go wrong, focus on all the ways it could go right . Think about how you’re going to nail your presentation and how pleased your coworkers will be to hear it. What you focus on becomes your reality – and that includes what you focus on within your own mind. Replace negative words with positive ones and start seeing the bright side of situations. By changing your focus, internally and externally, you’re changing your state. And by changing your state, you’ll change your life.

Emotional control

Humans have the unique and incredible capacity to experience a wide range of emotions. But if you let your emotions dictate your experience of life without pinpointing why you feel a particular way, your emotions control you. The truth is that you control the way you feel , including whether or not you feel confident. Confidence is not something people are born with – it’s something you must create. Building confidence creates the feeling of certainty that you can accomplish what you set out to do. Confidence is like any other emotion. It is something you feel, and you can train yourself to access it in an instant.

A growth mindset

What do you think being confident entails? You may have some idea that confidence only stems from prior success – that you can only know how to be confident in yourself after you’ve become wildly successful. This sort of core belief severely limits you. Confidence doesn’t come from your outward achievements – it comes from within. Being confident means that if you do fail, you can pick yourself back up and try again instead of throwing in the towel. Once you start taking actionable steps toward your goal of being confident, your beliefs will gradually start to solidify. It’s time to adopt a growth mindset and start believing that you can learn how to build confidence . As Tony Robbins says, “Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.”

where focus goes energy flows

How to be confident

What do those principles have in common? They are all about becoming the master of your emotions. You must change your perspective and your mindset, and choose to be confident. And part of achieving this is believing – building certainty – that you are confident. That can sometimes be easier said than done , but there are specific actions you can take to apply these principles and become confident.

1. Practice self-love

To truly learn how to be confident , you need to love yourself first. When you fall in love with yourself , you’ll have confidence no matter what happens in life, because that confidence will come from within.

To master the art of self-confidence, first master the arts of self-awareness and self-love. Determine your values , and be proud of them. Embrace your strengths and weaknesses equally. That doesn’t mean you can’t work on those weaknesses. It’s about appreciating who you are and what makes you different from everyone else on the planet. When you start questioning your self-belief, remember to love yourself first.

2. Conquer your limiting beliefs

Without self-love, people unconsciously adopt limiting beliefs about what they are capable of or what type of relationship they deserve. This leads to self-sabotage and reinforcement of these beliefs – and overcoming them is the first step to total confidence. Ask yourself: What are the beliefs that are causing your lack of confidence in the first place? Negative emotions like self-doubt or anxiety are deeply connected to the opinions we have of ourselves based on our life experiences. They’re your brain telling you that it’s time to examine these limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering ones . 

3. Connect confidence to your goals

Why is learning how to gain confidence important to you? Do you present at conventions where you interact with a huge number of people? Do you run a company or a team and need to present a strong sense of leadership? Maybe you’ve started dating and want to make a good impression when you meet a potential new love interest. The first step is knowing the purpose behind why you want to achieve it. Once you know your purpose , learning how to build confidence becomes a matter of retraining your brain.

4. Change your physiology

The fastest tip for building confidence to radically change your physiology. Stand up straight. Square your shoulders and open up your chest. Breathe deeply. Maintain brisk, purposeful strides when you walk to cover more ground. Maintaining a posture like this makes you feel stronger and where your body goes, your mind follows. You can also observe others’ physiology to learn more about them and gain an edge in negotiations . Certain signs, such as body angle and amount of physical space they take up, can clue you in on how a person perceives a situation – and how they can be persuaded .

5. Take credit for your achievements

Just as adjusting your body language can make you feel confident even when you’re not, speaking up for yourself even when you don’t feel you deserve it can also have that effect. Confident people may make more money in the workplace due to one straightforward reason: they take credit for their achievements – and they do it when it matters most. If you made a contribution that accomplished a goal for the company or led to a positive outcome, it isn’t bragging to point it out to your manager or CEO – it’s a fact. As long as you state it in a matter-of-fact way, it won’t just make you look good – it will make you feel good, too.

6. Assess your top human need

Another vital step toward knowing how to be confident in yourself is to determine what drives your decisions. We all have Six Human Needs : certainty, significance, variety, love/connection, growth and contribution. We value one of these needs more than the others, and it affects every decision we make in life. It can even affect our confidence. If your top need is certainty, you may feel unsure in unfamiliar situations. If your top need is significance , you’ll start feeling insecure if you don’t get the recognition you need. Take Tony’s Driving Force Quiz to determine your top need and start thinking about how it could be affecting your confidence levels.

7. Improve your self-talk

Our words create our emotions, and our emotions create our world. If we’re not feeling confident, it’s a result of the stories we tell ourselves – and the words we use to tell them. The self-talk you use has an important effect on your confidence. What kind of questions are you asking yourself? If the things that come to mind are, “How come I’m not successful?” “Am I not smart enough to reach my goal?” “Do other people see me as a failure?” then you are setting yourself up for failure. Catch yourself when you are thinking negatively and shift the pattern of your thoughts. Ask yourself things like, “Why wouldn’t I accomplish everything I set my mind to?” and “Why would I waste time on my anxieties instead of focusing on my strengths?” When you ask better questions , you get better answers . 

8. Shift your perspective

If you’re feeling discouraged, sometimes all you need to do is reframe your mindset. First you must change your perspective on failure. Tony has said, “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” This is his top tip for how to be confident : See failures as opportunities, not obstacles. Focus on the positive, instead of the negative. Embrace all of the gifts of life – and live fearlessly.

9. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is key to living a happy life. Tony says, “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” Stop thinking of your body as existing only to look at – or worse, for others to look at. Your body is more than a vessel or a painting to be admired. Think about all the things your body does for you. Think about all the things you have to be grateful for, instead of what you don’t have. When you change your mindset from one of negativity to one of abundance , you’ll stop approaching life with a scarcity mindset that breeds negativity and anxiety and start believing that no matter what, the universe will provide for you.

10. Use power poses

One of the deepest ways to increase confidence is to connect to your inner power. All of us have strength within us, but when we’re feeling low it can be difficult to remember it’s there. Consider developing your own personal power pose and breathing deeply to reconnect to your strong core. Your pose can be a yoga pose – warrior is an especially empowering one – standing with your hands on your hips and your feet shoulder width apart or standing with your head held high and your back straight. The important thing is that your pose achieves the goals of awakening your inner strength and carrying that strength and confidence into every interaction.

11. Think of past successes

There’s one incredible trick that will help you figure out how to be confident even when you’re at your absolute lowest: thinking about something you’re proud of. If you’re nervous or feeling unsure about an upcoming situation, picture a recent accomplishment or a time where you successfully handled a similar situation. Maybe you’ve never given a company-wide presentation, but you have confidently presented to clients on calls. Reliving these moments can help you unlock your potential . Your mind will begin to think in positive terms, not negative ones. Channeling moments of pride can help you to see the big picture more clearly – ultimately building your confidence.

12. Use goal visualization

Positive visualization is a powerful tool to wield on the road to understanding how to build confidence . When you visualize something over and over again, your mind begins to believe that it has already happened. When the situation finally arises – you’re making that presentation, asking for a raise or confronting a coworker – your brain thinks, “I got this.” That’s confidence. Visualize a specific situation at work. Think of yourself succeeding and do your best to minimize any thoughts of failure. Remember that you get what you focus on.

13. Make eye contact

For those who aren’t sure how to be confident , making eye contact can be uncomfortable at first. But like changing your physiology, you need to just do it – confidence will follow after you take the action. Connecting with people and showing confidence through eye contact is one of the quickest ways to exude confidence when you meet new people and can strengthen relationships long-term. Use the 80/20 rule of meeting someone’s eyes 80% of the time and focusing on something else the other 20% so you don’t appear too intense or make the other person uncomfortable.

14. Create healthy routines

To get in touch with your personal power, you need to adopt new routines. Consider building a meditation practice into your routine. Mindfulness meditation is shown to reduce anxiety and help you focus on your core competencies. You can even use incantations – a powerful way to use your body and your voice to set intentions. Or, start your day with priming , an exercise Tony himself uses every morning that’s a combination of all three of these routines. By incorporating how to believe in yourself into your morning routine, you can set the tone for a day filled with confidence.

15. Unlock the power of proximity

Learning how to believe in yourself is like running a race set on an uphill course. You’ll need fuel for the journey. To fuel self-belief, surround yourself with people who inspire and support you. This is the law of attraction – the idea that, as Tony says, “Proximity is power.” Whatever you want to achieve in your life, find people who will elevate you, not bring you down. You can do this by finding a mentor or joining a mastermind group . This is different than your group of friends or your family. When you tap into the power of proximity , you’ll gain trusted advisors who can not only support you, but challenge you to be better.

16. Feed your mind

The law of attraction isn’t just about who you associate with. It’s also about how you feed your mind : what you read and watch on a daily basis. Make a point to seek out advice from others who have achieved your goals, even if they are not your mentor or coach. Watch documentaries about people who have done great things in life. Read inspirational quotes and write down your favorites. Learn about new topics that will help you reach your goals, like finance, or that will help you face your fears – like how to be confident or deliver a presentation. You’ll condition your brain to believe in yourself , because it will know that you have the skills you need to succeed.

17. Learn a new skill

It’s human nature to experience fear and anxiety . But when you believe in yourself, you realize that those emotions are there to encourage you to take action, not to hold you back. Face your fears by learning a new skill. Whether you learn how to write code or how to play the piano, you’ll increase your feelings of self-efficacy – your belief in your abilities to execute tasks, control your own behavior and attain your goals. Research has even shown that learning is directly related to happiness – it releases dopamine in the brain, known as the “reward molecule.” You’ll make new neural connections, strengthen your decision-making skills and more. You’ll begin to have faith in yourself, one new skill at a time.

18. Live in the present

Confidence in relationships can be one of the most challenging areas. If you’ve been wronged in a previous relationship – or your current one – it can be hard to let go of the past and forgive. We want to avoid pain and fulfill our need for certainty, but this prevents us from living in the present . Learn to appreciate what you have right now, without worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow – or what happened yesterday. Free your mind, be here now and confidence will follow.

Learn how to look confident

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Feeling confident starts from within with positive thinking. Learn how to reframe your mindset to start thinking more positively and feel more confident as a result.

Believe you are good enough

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Our psychology is the only thing standing between us and total confidence. Learn how to stop standing in your own way and allow yourself to feel confident in your skills.

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5 Easy Ways to Be More Confident Every Day, According to Psychologists

It’s time to get out of your head, and build yourself up with these simple strategies.

woman flexing muscles in front of superhero shadow

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Confidence — a feeling that everyone wants, yet most of us still believe we need a boost of it some days.

“Self-confidence is about your skills, whereas self-esteem is actually about how much you value yourself ,” explains Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D. , a clinical psychologist and author of Get Out Of The Red Zone: Transform Your Stress and Optimize True Success . “So someone can think, 'I am a good person' — that's self-esteem — 'but I have low confidence in social situations.'"

.css-107b7z2{font-family:MajestiBanner,MajestiBanner-weightbold-roboto,MajestiBanner-weightbold-local,Georgia,Times,Serif;font-size:1.625rem;font-weight:bold;letter-spacing:0.03rem;line-height:1.2;margin:0rem;}@media(max-width: 64rem){.css-107b7z2{font-size:2.5rem;line-height:1;}}@media(min-width: 48rem){.css-107b7z2{font-size:2.8125rem;line-height:1;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-107b7z2{font-size:3.125rem;line-height:1;}}.css-107b7z2 b,.css-107b7z2 strong{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;}.css-107b7z2 em,.css-107b7z2 i{font-style:italic;font-family:inherit;} Self-confidence is about your skills, whereas self-esteem is about how much you value yourself.

Feeling incompetent may stem from negative past experiences, especially ones we have aggrandized, Lombardo continues. “Maybe you stumbled over your words as a kid when you read a report in front of your class, so now the thought of speaking in front of a group does you in. Perhaps you were on a date that flopped, so now you have no confidence in dating. Or maybe your mother always said in a loving way, ‘Honey, you’re not good at math,’ and you were left not trusting yourself.”

Hendriksen states that gender could also be a factor. “I think women were often raised to be helpful or to play a supporting role,” she explains. “Being confident means charging ahead yourself and taking the lead.” Interestingly, a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that women are more likely to underestimate their job performance, while men tend to overestimate their abilities.

And then there’s our inner critic. “It’s the little voice inside your head that says: ‘You don’t know what you’re doing! You are in way over your head! People will laugh at you!’” Lombardo says. “Sometimes the voice is really quiet, sometimes it’s silent, yet sometimes it’s overbearing. And all of us have an inner critic. Why? Because we’re human!”

While anyone can feel unsure of themselves in any area, Lombardo believes the COVID-19 pandemic could be the cause behind one current theme. “FOGO is the Fear of Going Out, and I think many people are feeling less confident in their social skills because they haven’t been meeting in person for a long time.”

Furthermore, Lombardo states that lacking in self-confidence can lead to other issues, such as imbalanced personal and professional relationships (“We could let people walk all over us”), inability to be resilient (“If we have lack in our abilities, we may stop trying”), and even impact our health (“Lack of confidence can cause tremendous stress ”). And Hendriksen adds it could hinder you from living your best life.

“I think a lack of self-confidence is a vicious cycle because it can keep us from taking the initiative and, to use the cliché phrase, putting ourselves out there,” she says. “And then we’ll never learn that we can be successful — and that we’re more capable than we ever thought.”

However, the good news is that confidence can be learned and built (or in some cases rebuilt). Here, Lombardo and Hendriksen offer five practical strategies to boost your confidence.

Strategy #1: Practice

getting a feel for the water to practice confidence

Even though it may sound counterproductive — even counterintuitive — both psychologists say the initial step in becoming more self-assured is to keep working at it. “We are often pulled to think we need to feel confident before we take action, but it’s the opposite,” Hendriksen states. “I phrase it like this: Put action before confidence.”

She offers the analogy of inching your way into the pool, while Lombardo refers to a similar comparison of gently easing yourself into a hot tub (an example she's coined the Hot Tub Syndrome). “We dip one toe in and out of the water until we can put our entire foot in, then our leg and eventually our entire body,” Lombardo explains. “We do this to acclimate ourselves to what was previously stressful. The more we do something, the more comfortable we will become.”

One way to begin is to start small. “If you’re lacking in social confidence, don’t start with a 300-person wedding reception where you don’t know anyone,” Hendriksen says. “Instead, start with a small gathering of people you know well, then work your way up.” Lombardo advises taking advantage of classes and counseling services. “For example, if you’re lacking in your confidence as a parent, get parenting training. There are courses on nearly everything!”

Strategy #2: Surround yourself with people who lift you up

hands of two man people fist bump team teamwork

“Our confidence diminishes when we’re around those who point out our not-so-positive traits,” Lombardo states. “We’ve all heard people say to get rid of toxic people in our lives , but the truth is there are times when we can’t remove everyone from our life.” She says the key in dealing with energy vampires is to limit your time and interaction with them.

For example, if you’ll be spending Thanksgiving with an in-law whose nonstop critiques chip away at your confidence, keep yourself busy. “Prepare to have an out, like walking the dog or doing the dishes,” she continues. “Then reward yourself afterwards, like buying a favorite coffee drink or reading a book. These actions will help lower stress levels.”

Strategy #3: Remove yourself from the “Red Zone”

dancing in the city streets

Yes, stress can play a major role in your levels of confidence. “On a scale of 1 to 10, when levels of distress are 7 or higher, we are in the Red Zone — this is when our nervous system hijacks our rational thinking,” Lombardo explains. As a result, the brain begins to interpret people, situations and events through a negative filter, and our confidence plummets. “We are in fight-or-flight, we could feel like we’re drowning, and our inner critic is much louder.”

The goal is to get yourself into the Green Zone , an area where the mind and body are in low levels of stress and we are using the frontal lobe of the brain — the part associated with speech, motor skills, organization and reasoning. Lombardo suggests going from red to green by following her ELM approach. “E stands for exercise, and I don’t mean taking a 90-minute workout class. Going for a brisk walk or doing a few squats or push-ups can release biochemical responses related to stress [such as increased heart rate or elevated blood pressure].”

“L” stands for laughter. In fact, a review published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine discovered that laughing leads to chemical changes in the body that have the ability to minimize stress — so try watching a funny movie Netflix . Lastly, “M” stands for music. “My clients have a get-out-of-the-red-zone playlist because music is very powerful on impacting our moods,” Lombardo continues. “Better yet, if the song is upbeat, you can dance for exercise while listening to music!”

Strategy #4: Give yourself permission to mess up

upside down ice cream

Since struggling with self-confidence tends to stem from overthinking and being too hard on yourself, Hendriksen reiterates that any so-called slip-ups serve as valuable life lessons. “Try it out, make some mistakes, learn from those mistakes and keep in mind this is not an exam.”

Lombardo adds that striving for perfection could be holding you back from success. “Perfectionism is all or nothing — you’re either perfect or a failure,” she states. But to find more balance in your thinking and land in a place of self-acceptance, choose words that will reframe your mindset. “Get rid of the word ‘should’ and change it to ‘like,’” she advises. “Instead of, ‘I should be better at public speaking,’ say to yourself, ‘I would like to be better at public speaking.’ The word ‘should’ is very judgmental, where using the word ‘like’ is empowering.”

When in doubt, Hendriksen suggests asking yourself what is the worst thing that could possibly happen if you don’t think you’ve done well at fill-in-the-blank activity. “Oftentimes, the worst-case scenario isn’t that bad,” she says. “You don’t have to be your best self, just be yourself.”

Strategy #5: Focus on others

back view of a woman wants to ask a question on a seminar

“Our attention is like a spotlight and we get to choose where to point it,” Hendriksen states. “If we point it inward, which we naturally do when we’re feeling anxious or less confident, we highlight our inner critic and start overthinking.” So if you’re in a situation that involves interacting with others (such as attending a networking event or going on a date), point the spotlight towards the other person. After all, it’s not your responsibility to “perform” throughout the conversation.

“We tend to feel better once we take the attention away from ourselves,” she adds. “It’s not miraculous, and while the inner critic may still be making noise, the volume has been turned down significantly.”

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10 tips to boost your self-confidence

Have you ever seen people who seem to have natural self-confidence and wondered where it came from? If so, you’re not alone.

Below, we’ll explore 10 strategies for boosting your self-confidence.

Having high self-confidence and self-esteem is often viewed as a component of mental health. When you feel good about yourself, it may reflect in the way you interact with people. Negative self-talk and negative thoughts might hinder your ability to feel good and may lead to feelings of inadequacy. However, there are ways to improve your self-esteem in the long term. 

By identifying and challenging negative self-talk, you can learn to feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin. Taking small steps to boost your confidence and feel good about yourself can have a significant impact on your mental health and overall well-being.

These tips might help boost your self-confidence so you can feel more comfortable with who you are. 

Quell negative thoughts

Our inner dialogue can play a significant role in our self-confidence. When you have negative thoughts about yourself, your job, your relationships, etc., they might affect your self-esteem. It may help to silence the negativity as much as possible and start replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones. To begin identifying negative thoughts , you may find it useful to write down any unhelpful thoughts when you notice them. This may improve your awareness so that you can stop yourself from identifying with negative thoughts and begin replacing them. 

Surround yourself with positivity

Cultivating positive thoughts can serve as a good foundation, but the people around you can have a significant influence on your self-confidence as well. Consider surrounding yourself with people who build you up and encourage you to pursue what you want in life, not people who make you feel bad about yourself.

Learn how to say “no”

Cultivating self-confidence often entails controlling our own actions. Sometimes, regardless of their intentions, the people around us push us to do things that make us feel uncomfortable or create stress in our lives. When these circumstances arise, it may help to be assertive and have the confidence to say no when you need to. You may think that you're being mean, but it’s acceptable to safeguard your mental health and practice assertiveness when needed.

Think about what makes you feel attractive

It can be easy to fall into the trap of looking for imperfections in ourselves, both inside and outside. Instead, you might make a list of things that make you attractive. You might begin with qualities that make you a good friend, sibling, parent, or coworker. Then, you might list some of the physical attributes that make you unique. 

You can also find ways to bring out your natural beauty by making small changes. Sometimes, even the simplest change to the way we look can make us feel good about ourselves. For example, you might try a new hairstyle, buy an article of clothing that you like, get a manicure, etc. These kinds of changes can sometimes go a long way toward making us feel more confident in the world. 

Work on body language

Small things like walking with our shoulders back and our chin up can cultivate feelings of confidence, as can making eye contact and projecting our voice appropriately when speaking with others. You might consider trying to be confident in the way you carry yourself, even if you don't necessarily feel that way yet. How you act in front of others may not only make them think you're confident but also boost your confidence.

Do something brave once a week

It can be frightening to put ourselves out there, but sometimes the risk can be worth the reward. Taking risks—even when they seem random—doesn't necessarily mean going bungee jumping or mountain climbing. You can simply do something to step out of your comfort zone. Perhaps you might talk to that person you’re interested in. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, just taking the leap shows self-confidence and may make you feel proud of yourself.

Be prepared for self-criticism

Sometimes people's criticism can be harsh, but our criticism of ourselves is likely the hardest. We all know that no one is perfect, yet most people tend to expect more from themselves than is realistic. To combat this habit, it may help to write down all your strengths and remind yourself of them each time you begin to criticize yourself. 

Set goals for yourself

Achieving goals is one way to feel accomplished and confident. You don’t have to set large goals; you might begin with small goals that you can easily achieve. For example, you might set a goal to take a walk every day after work. It may be helpful to keep a list of the accomplishments that have made you feel proud. You can use this list as motivation to get you to achieve your bigger goals.

Love yourself

How you feel about yourself can often affect how you treat yourself. Caring for and nourishing your health, both physical and mental, may help you see yourself from a more caring perspective, similarly to how you might see a friend or loved one. When you love your mind and body and look after them, you may find that you feel more confident in yourself.

Acts of self-care like improving your sleeping habits or exercising can go a long way. You might also consider picking up a sport to increase your energy and reduce stress. Also, eating healthy meals and caring for your hygiene might boost your self-confidence. 

Be grateful and helpful

Doing good things for others can make us feel good about ourselves. The smallest gestures, like smiling or holding the door for someone, can make a big difference to someone. You can also consider taking an active role in volunteering. Being able to make a positive difference for someone may make you feel good and improve your self-image.

Seeing all the positive changes that you can bring to others may also make you more grateful for the people and things in your life. 

Get personalized self-confidence tips from a licensed counselor

Boosting your self-confidence may take time, but if you stay committed to cultivating self-love, your self-confidence will likely follow. For further assistance, you can also speak to a licensed counselor who can coach you through a personalized plan to boost your self-confidence. Having a professional with experience helping people establish a healthy sense of self can be an effective way to set yourself up for success. 

If you need a boost of self-confidence, or if you feel that your lack of self-confidence may stem from a deeper mental health concern, speaking to a therapist online may be an effective, comfortable option. Online counseling allows you to gain advice and treatment via phone or videoconference, which may be easier if you are experiencing low confidence at this time. Numerous studies in peer-reviewed journals have demonstrated that online counseling can be just as effective as in-office counseling, and it tends to be more affordable. 

Counselor reviews

“Cameron has helped me navigate some incredibly challenging things within my relationship. With his help, I’ve developed the confidence to be a more assertive person. Therapy has helped me understand myself and my partner much better, in addition to implementing practices and taking action to improve a situation whereas I otherwise may feel stuck or hopeless. I really loved that he took the time to get to know me and my history before trying to “tell me what to do.” I feel like he really understands how my mind operates and therefore can give great, valuable advice, in addition to being a comforting sounding board.”

“Like talking to a friend, I have gained confidence, and was able to have a tough conversation that took years to have, thanks to her encouragement and advice. I thoroughly recommend Cynthia.”

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How to silence your inner critic: a four-step approach, you are deserving of positive self-esteem, top categories.

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Everyone is in favor of high self-esteem — but cultivating it can be surprisingly tough. Psychologist Guy Winch explains why — and describes smart ways we can help build ourselves up.

Many of us recognize the value of improving our feelings of self-worth. When our self-esteem is higher, we not only feel better about ourselves, we are more resilient as well. Brain scan studies demonstrate that when our self-esteem is higher, we are likely to experience common emotional wounds such as rejection  and failure  as less painful, and bounce back from them more quickly. When our self-esteem is higher, we are also less vulnerable to anxiety ; we release less cortisol into our bloodstream when under stress, and it is  less likely to linger in our system.

But as wonderful as it is to have higher self-esteem, it turns out that improving it is no easy task. Despite the endless array of articles, programs and products promising to enhance our self-esteem, the reality is that many of them do not work and some are even likely to make us feel worse .

Part of the problem is that our self-esteem is rather unstable to begin with, as it can fluctuate daily, if not hourly. Further complicating matters, our self-esteem comprises both our global feelings about ourselves as well as how we feel about ourselves in the specific domains of our lives (e.g., as a father, a nurse, an athlete, etc.).  The more meaningful a specific domain of self-esteem, the greater the impact it has on our global self-esteem. Having someone wince when they taste the not-so-delicious dinner you prepared will hurt a chef’s self-esteem much more than someone for whom cooking is not a significant aspect of their identity.

Lastly, having high self-esteem is indeed a good thing, but only in moderation. Very high self-esteem — like that of narcissists — is often quite brittle. Such people might feel great about themselves much of the time but they also tend to be extremely vulnerable to criticism and negative feedback and respond to it in ways that stunts their psychological self-growth .

That said, it is certainly possible to improve our self-esteem if we go about it the right way. Here are five ways to nourish your self-esteem when it is low:

1. Use positive affirmations correctly

Positive affirmations such as “I am going to be a great success!” are extremely popular, but they have one critical problem — they tend to make people with low self-worth feel worse about themselves. Why? Because when our self-esteem is low, such declarations are simply too contrary to our existing beliefs . Ironically, positive affirmations do work for one subset of people — those whose self-esteem is already high. For affirmations to work when your self-esteem is lagging, tweak them to make them more believable. For example, change “I’m going to be a great success!” to “I’m going to persevere until I succeed!”

2. Identify your competencies and develop them

Self-esteem is built by demonstrating real ability and achievement in areas of our lives that matter to us. If you pride yourself on being a good cook, throw more dinner parties. If you’re a good runner, sign up for races and train for them. In short, figure out your core competencies and find opportunities and careers that accentuate them.  

3. Learn to accept compliments

One of the trickiest aspects of improving self-esteem is that when we feel bad about ourselves we tend to be more resistant to compliments  — even though that is when we most need them. So, set yourself the goal to tolerate compliments when you receive them, even if they make you uncomfortable (and they will). The best way to avoid the reflexive reactions of batting away compliments is to prepare simple set responses and train yourself to use them automatically whenever you get good feedback (e.g., “Thank you” or “How kind of you to say”). In time, the impulse to deny or rebuff compliments will fade — which will also be a nice indication your self-esteem is getting stronger.

4. Eliminate self-criticism and introduce self-compassion 

Unfortunately, when our self-esteem is low, we are likely to damage it even further by being self-critical. Since our goal is to enhance our self-esteem, we need to substitute self-criticism (which is almost always entirely useless, even if it feels compelling) with self-compassion . Specifically, whenever your self-critical inner monologue kicks in, ask yourself what you would say to a dear friend if they were in your situation (we tend to be much more compassionate to friends than we are to ourselves) and direct those comments to yourself. Doing so will avoid damaging your self-esteem further with critical thoughts, and help build it up instead.

5. Affirm your real worth

The following exercise has been demonstrated to help revive your self-esteem after it sustained a blow:  Make a list of qualities you have that are meaningful in the specific context. For example, if you got rejected by your date, list qualities that make you a good relationship prospect (for example, being loyal or emotionally available); if you failed to get a work promotion, list qualities that make you a valuable employee (you have a strong work ethic or are responsible). Then choose one of the items on your list and write a brief essay (one to two paragraphs) about why the quality is valuable and likely to be appreciated by other people in the future. Do the exercise every day for a week or whenever you need a self-esteem boost.

The bottom line is improving self-esteem requires a bit of work, as it involves developing and maintaining healthier emotional habits but doing so, and especially doing so correctly, will provide a great emotional and psychological return on your investment.

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About the author

Guy Winch is a licensed psychologist who is a leading advocate for integrating the science of emotional health into our daily lives. His three TED Talks have been viewed over 20 million times, and his science-based self-help books have been translated into 26 languages. He also writes the Squeaky Wheel blog for PsychologyToday.com and has a private practice in New York City.

  • mental health
  • self-esteem

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Self-Esteem

10 ways to boost your self-esteem, doing these simple exercises can improve your sense of self-worth..

Posted September 22, 2020 | Reviewed by Kaja Perina

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We all have a need to have a little confidence when it comes to dealing with others, and the more we understand about how to improve our own self-image , the better we will feel. There are many different techniques that you can employ to increase your self-confidence . The key is to identify what is keeping you down and then do something about it. Here are 10 ways to boost your self-esteem .

1. Have a positive attitude

In order for us to be able to achieve anything in life, we must first believe in ourselves, that we can achieve amazing things, and that it is not only possible but also likely that we will. If you can find the source of your own self-doubts, you are halfway towards overcoming them.

2. Don't be ashamed to talk to friends

Although we might think it is rude to do so, it is very important that we speak to people who we feel will listen to us. This way we can get some feedback on how we are doing, and if anyone tells us that we do have something to learn, then it is our turn to try and improve ourselves.

3. Get up and get moving

We need to realize that we are never going to do anything well, unless we actually have to. So, even if you do have a job, take a few minutes and go for a walk, or join in with an exercise class, and then sit back and enjoy yourself for a little while.

4. Do something with a purpose

This may sound like common sense, but many of us end up doing things for nothing other than the thrill of doing something different and trying something new. Even if it is only doing your weekly shopping or going for a drive, taking part in something for a reason is far more beneficial than simply going along for the ride.

5. Put things off until the next day

The problem is that when we get things done early on, then we forget about them later, and it takes a lot longer to put them off. So, try to plan everything out in advance so that you don't have to work this hard.

6. Listen to your body

When we are trying to improve our self-esteem, we tend to focus too much on our outward appearance, rather than the inside of our bodies. But, the fact is that the whole of our being is inside us, and it is important to accept this rather than being concerned with our external appearance.

7. Make sure you eat right

Remember, eating the right food helps us feel good about ourselves, because it gives us energy and is a great way to ensure that we are ready for whatever comes our way. It is also important to remember that when we are feeling down, it is very easy to give up, but when we eat healthy food we make sure that we are full, this gives us more energy and will help to boost our self-esteem.

8. Set time aside for yourself

One of the best ways to boost our self-esteem is to set time aside for ourselves, this is not just a time for doing something different, it is also a time where we can enjoy some alone time. It can be an ice breaker, it can be a time when we get together with our friends or family, it can be even a time when we get a bit of alone time and just reflect.

9. Write down your goals

If you want to improve your self-esteem, you need to set goals for yourself. Whether you are aiming to lose weight, stop smoking , or be more successful in your workplace, you need to set short and achievable targets so that you are motivated to achieve them. Remember, this is your life, and you cannot do everything at once, it takes consistent effort and a long-term plan.

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10. Have fun!

Remember, it is all about enjoying yourself, and having fun is one of the best ways of improving your self-esteem.

If we can achieve these 10 ways to boost our self-esteem, we are well on our way to making a positive change in our lives. We have to start by changing our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, but after that, all we need is to take action.

Sarah-Len Mutiwasekwa

Sarah-Len Mutiwasekwa is a mental health advocate whose efforts are invested in breaking the stigma around talking about mental health and increasing awareness of these issues in Africa.

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Psychology-Backed Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence Quickly

Last Updated: October 9, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was written by Leah Morris and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Leah Morris is a Life and Relationship Transition coach and the owner of Life Remade, a holistic personal coaching service. With over three years as a professional coach, she specializes in guiding people as they move through both short-term and long-term life transitions. Leah holds a BA in Organizational Communication from California State University, Chico and is a certified Transformational Life Coach through the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 352,863 times.

Do you need an immediate confidence boost? While building unshakeable confidence might take some time, there are a variety of little things you can do to put a spring in your step and raise your self-esteem in the moment you need it most. Read on for some expert psychological tactics you can try that will help you feel more self-confident right away. This article is based on an interview with our life and relationship transition coach, Leah Morris, owner of Life Remade. Check out the full interview here.

Affirm yourself through positive self-talk.

Tell yourself that you're going to do great.

  • "This is an opportunity for me to try something new."
  • "It took guts for me to do this and I'm proud of my effort."
  • "I am up for any task that comes my way."
  • "I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way."

Think about things you're good at.

Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

  • For example, if you're nervous about a presentation but you know you're great at making presentation slides, you might think, "My presentation might not go great, but that's okay! I know people will love the slides and easily be able to follow along regardless."
  • This might be hard to do at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it will become. After a while, you'll find you can do it without even having to consciously think about it.

Be kind to yourself.

Treat yourself like you would your best friend.

  • Remember that nobody is perfect—including you. If you expect perfection from yourself, you'll always find something to criticize yourself over. Focus on the effort you put into things rather than the outcome.
  • For example, you might say, "I didn't get the position I wanted, but I had a really good interview and I learned more about what I want out of work. Now I have the opportunity to pursue something else."

Express love for yourself.

Give yourself unconditional respect and love.

  • One way to do this is to take 10 deep breaths in and out slowly. As you breathe, focus on nothing but love for yourself as a whole person. It could be as simple as saying, "I love myself" in your mind.
  • When things happen in your life, nothing can take away the love that you feel for yourself. With practice, this will become a natural state for you.

Repeat a motivational mantra.

Create a motivational mantra that pumps you up.

  • "I am enough."
  • "I am at peace in this moment."
  • "I am worthy of taking up space."
  • "I am strong."

Visualize yourself succeeding.

See yourself doing well and focus on how it feels.

  • When you can picture yourself there, you're more likely to actually achieve your goal. You've made success real in your mind—now all you have to do is make it a physical reality.
  • Don't just visualize the success itself—walk yourself through all the things that need to happen to achieve your goal.

Spend time with people who give you a boost.

Build positive, fulfilling relationships that help you feel good.

  • If you cultivate curiosity and work on being more open-minded , you'll be less likely to assume that the worst will happen, which can help you build confidence in yourself.
  • When you spend a lot of time with people who are curious and interested in the world around them rather than dismissive and skeptical, that curiosity will rub off on you.

Set realistic goals for yourself.

Achieve a small goal to get an instant confidence boost.

  • For example, you might want to eat more healthy foods . You might start by making a commitment to yourself to cook one healthy meal for yourself each week. When you accomplish that for several weeks in a row, you'll really feel your confidence improving.
  • Not only do you get a confidence boost from doing something that you wanted to do, you also get a confidence boost from the fact that you made a commitment to yourself and then respected yourself enough to keep that commitment.

Face your fears head-on.

Stand up to things that cause you anxiety.

  • For example, if there's someone in a group you're in who you find intimidating, take a minute next time you're there to walk up and say "hi" and introduce yourself.
  • When you face your fears , you not only improve your self-confidence but also your self-esteem, which could be defined as the reputation you have with yourself.
  • These two concepts are interrelated because when your reputation with yourself is strong, you're more likely to have faith in yourself.

Breathe deeply to calm your nerves.

Use a deep breathing exercise to relax and focus.

  • Deep breathing exercises also help bring your attention to the present moment. A lot of self-doubt comes from thinking about the future. If you stay in the present , you'll feel more confident.

Stop procrastinating on small tasks.

Accomplish something so that you feel that burst of confidence.

  • It's important to avoid slipping into negative self-talk here. If the task turned out to be super easy, you might wonder why you put it off for so long. Just say to yourself, "I'm glad that I accomplished that today. I did a great job with it and now I no longer have it hanging over my head."

Groom yourself and dress nicely.

Put extra effort into your appearance for a quick confidence boost.

  • Listen to confidence-building music while you're getting ready to enhance the whole moment and make your boost even stronger.

Smile broadly and project happiness.

Look happy to see the world around you.

  • Smiling also projects confidence to those around you. When you smile , you seem more open and welcoming. You'll seem like you belong and are comfortable being there.

Sit or stand with good posture.

Straighten your back and open your shoulders for a quick boost.

  • In contrast, if you're slouching or hunched over, you might give people the impression that you're not interested in what's going on or don't want to be there.

Get up and move around.

Try some short, light exercise or an activity to get your blood pumping.

  • For example, you might do some quick jumping jacks or push-ups before you have to give a presentation that you're nervous about.
  • A short, brisk walk can also help you clear your mind and feel more confident about whatever situation you're about to face.

Talk to a friend, family member, or coworker.

Ask someone you're close to for a pep talk.

  • For example, you might say, "Hey, I've got this date coming up. I really like this person and I'm feeling pretty nervous about it. Could you tell me some things you like about me to pep me up a little?"

Expert Q&A

Lauren Urban, LCSW

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Build Self Confidence

  • ↑ Leah Morris. Life Coach. Expert Interview. 19 June 2020.
  • ↑ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222428460_Mechanisms_underlying_the_self-talk-performance_relationship_The_effects_of_motivational_self-talk_on_self-confidence_and_anxiety
  • ↑ Kamal Ravikant. Author, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. Expert Interview. 2 December 2019.
  • ↑ https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/tips-to-improve-your-self-esteem/
  • ↑ https://www.inc.com/mandy-antoniacci/how-to-write-a-powerful-mantra-that-will-change-way-you-think.html
  • ↑ https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/use_visualization_for_success
  • ↑ https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/5-quick-hacks-to-instantly-boost-your-confidence.html
  • ↑ https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/19-simple-ways-to-boost-your-self-esteem-quickly.html
  • ↑ https://wp.nyu.edu/mind/2023/03/10/building-confidence-from-the-ground-up-10-small-changes-you-can-make/
  • ↑ JT Tran. Dating Coach. Expert Interview. 5 May 2020.
  • ↑ https://www.unisa.edu.au/Media-Centre/Releases/2020/when-youre-smiling-the-whole-world-really-does-smile-with-you/

About This Article

Leah Morris

Having a lack of self-confidence can be challenging, but if you reframe your thoughts and use confident body language, you can start to see an improvement. Whatever you’re doing, tell yourself that you’re going to do the best you can and be awesome. Sometimes, just telling yourself positive things can help to build your confidence. Make sure you stand up straight with your shoulders relaxed and smile, which can help to make you feel more confident right away. You can also ask a friend or family member to give you a quick pep talk to boost your self-confidence. For more tips from our co-author, including how to ask for validation from others, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Be More Confident: 9 Tips That Work

    Face Your Fears. Stop putting things off until you feel more self-confident—like asking someone on a date or applying for a promotion. One of the best ways to build your confidence in these situations is by facing your fears head-on. Practice facing some of your fears that stem from a lack of self-confidence.

  2. 5 Tips for a Confidence Boost

    If we can get ourselves into this positive feedback loop, we can start growing our self-confidence, one experience at a time. Here are some tips to help with this. 1. Talk back to your inner ...

  3. 6 Proven Ways to Build Confidence

    5. Reframe your negative self-talk. When you talk down to yourself, you hold yourself back and decrease your confidence. Your subconscious buys into the idea that certain things are "too hard ...

  4. Building Strong Self-Belief: 16 Tips & Activities

    The team from the Mind Tools (2016) website listed several tips and suggestions for improving your self-confidence based on where you are on your journey: Preparing for your journey. a. Take inventory of what you have already achieved. b. Think about your strengths and weaknesses (but especially your strengths).

  5. 13 Ways To Actually Build Confidence, From Experts

    A very important key for self-improvement work is starting small. Shirin Eskandani, life coach and founder of Wholehearted Coaching, says one way to build self-confidence is to make small promises to yourself and then follow through. "And the key word is small . Do things that are a stretch but also realistic for you.

  6. How to Build Self-Confidence

    1. Build Confident Habits. To develop and improve your self-esteem, aim to develop good habits - and break bad ones! Regular exercise and a healthy diet can dramatically improve your physical and mental health. And studies have shown that getting a good night's sleep is linked with increased optimism and self-esteem.

  7. Self-esteem: Take steps to feel better about yourself

    2. Step back from your thoughts. Repeat your negative thoughts many times. The goal is to take a step back from automatic thoughts and beliefs and observe them. Instead of trying to change your thoughts, distance yourself from them. Realize that they are nothing more than words. 3. Accept your thoughts.

  8. 5 Tips for a Confidence Boost

    Here are some tips to help with this. 1. Talk back to your inner critic. As a start, we may want to formulate affirmations that shift our negative beliefs about ourselves. For example, if we have ...

  9. Practical Ways to Improve Your Confidence (and Why You Should)

    Be 'hyper honest' with yourself. Mr. Houpert suggests being "hyper honest" with yourself as a simple, everyday way to exercise your confidence. "For example, let's say someone asks you ...

  10. What Is Self-Confidence? (+ 9 Proven Ways to Increase It)

    Close your eyes and relax your body completely. Stay firmly connected to the sensation of relaxation and in your mind's eye, see yourself speaking on camera or doing whatever activity for which you would like more confidence. Allow the feelings of a comfortable presence to pervade your body and your mind. 6.

  11. 18 Ways on How to be More Confident

    9. Practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude is key to living a happy life. Tony says, "When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.". Stop thinking of your body as existing only to look at - or worse, for others to look at. Your body is more than a vessel or a painting to be admired.

  12. How to Be More Confident: 5 Easy Ways to Build Your Self-Esteem

    Strategy #2: Surround yourself with people who lift you up. "Our confidence diminishes when we're around those who point out our not-so-positive traits," Lombardo states. "We've all ...

  13. 10 Tips To Boost Your Self-Confidence

    Quell negative thoughts. Our inner dialogue can play a significant role in our self-confidence. When you have negative thoughts about yourself, your job, your relationships, etc., they might affect your self-esteem. It may help to silence the negativity as much as possible and start replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones.

  14. How to Be Confident: Tips to Boost Self-Confidence

    In her research, she's discovered that positioning our bodies to occupy more space can elevate our testosterone levels and lower cortisol levels, a combination that raises self-confidence. Sit up straight in your chair: This alone will make you feel like you're in command. While this may seem like a teeny-tiny change, it can have big ...

  15. How to Build Self Confidence: 20 Ways to Be More Self Assured

    4. Get proper sleep. According to experts, being properly rested actually helps you have more self confidence. The average adult needs at least 7 hours of sleep each night, while teens need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep. Follow a sleep schedule to help you get the sleep you need to glow with confidence.

  16. A Psychological Guide to Building More Self-Confidence

    To truly construct a solid foundation of self-confidence, we have to dig a little deeper. There are many positive, psychological steps we can take to feel good about ourselves. Most importantly, we have to do two things: 1. Challenge the inner critic we all possess and 2. Practice self-compassion.

  17. 5 ways to build lasting self-esteem

    For example, change "I'm going to be a great success!" to "I'm going to persevere until I succeed!". 2. Identify your competencies and develop them. Self-esteem is built by demonstrating real ability and achievement in areas of our lives that matter to us. If you pride yourself on being a good cook, throw more dinner parties.

  18. How to Be Confident: 8 Tips for Building Confidence

    How to Be Confident: 8 Tips for Building Confidence. Confidence can feel elusive for those plagued by self-doubt; though this sort of self-assurance might come naturally to some, it's a learnable trait for those who want to grow their confidence. Learn how to be more confident. Confidence can feel elusive for those plagued by self-doubt ...

  19. 5 Strategies To Build Unshakable Self-Confidence

    Remember not to act on the directives of your inner critic. Take actions that represent your own point of view, whom you want to be, and what you aim to achieve. 2. Reflect on accomplishments ...

  20. 10 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem

    1. Have a positive attitude. In order for us to be able to achieve anything in life, we must first believe in ourselves, that we can achieve amazing things, and that it is not only possible but ...

  21. How can I improve my self-esteem?

    See our pages on food and mood for more information. Try to do some physical activity. Being active can help your mental wellbeing. This may include helping to improve your self-esteem. See our pages on physical activity for more information. Spend time outside. Being in green space can often help how you feel.

  22. How to Improve Your Self-Confidence Right Now: Expert Tips

    Breathe deeply to calm your nerves. Use a deep breathing exercise to relax and focus. When you breathe deeply and focus on your breath, it helps you center yourself and keep anxiety at bay. Try this: take a deep breath in for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, and then hold it at the bottom for 4 counts.

  23. How To Build Self-Confidence in 7 Steps

    2. Consider past accomplishments. Identify the goals you've already achieved and the ones you're close to reaching. For goals longer-term goals, list the steps you have to take to reach them and what steps you've already taken. These reminders can help you build confidence by recognizing your hard work so far.

  24. 10 Tips To Help Increase Your Child's Confidence With Ease

    This helps them build resilience and confidence in their ability to bounce back from setbacks. Photo credit: Deposit Photos. 15 Values You Need To Teach Your Young Child