“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings
For many years, I was held back from pursuing and achieving my dreams due to a fear of failure and lacking the self-confidence I needed to overcome those fears.
Being confident these days can be tough. We see messages every day in the media and social media that can make us doubt our talent, our skills and even our appearance. So many people appear to be more successful than we are, richer, happier, smarter. Yet, low self-confidence and low self-esteem are perfectly normal. And it can seem that even if we overcome these doubts, we might then be called arrogant or egotistical.
So we have to tread a fine line between confidence, ego and self-assurance. The answer? To have a sense of quiet confidence in ourselves. This is the key to living our lives fully and achieving those things that are important to us. So how do we improve self-confidence and why is it so important?
Confidence is a fickle beast. It comes and it goes in the same way our emotions can ebb and flow on a daily basis. There are days you’ll feel you could take on just about anything, yet on others you question every decision and every judgment that you make.
Confidence in many ways is a culmination of our life experiences. Our upbringing, those around us and closest to us can all impact our confidence. But because confidence is not static, it can be grown or destroyed. It can be strong in some areas of our life and weak in others.
Often, confidence comes in those areas of our life where we have achieved excellence in a particular skill – something we have done frequently and do almost automatically. Yet if you were to try something new, you might not feel the same level of confidence, at least initially, as you won’t be clear that you can succeed.
Confidence is about believing in yourself first and foremost and the great news is, there are things you can do to improve your own self-confidence. Like learning a new skill, you can learn to practice self-confidence until you are able to genuinely believe in yourself.
As with anything, positive self-confidence is about balance. Self-confidence is not about being loud or brash – we’ve all come across people who dominate the room or the conversation. This isn’t self-confidence, at least in my view. And it’s possible that people who exhibit these behaviours are in fact covering up their own lack of confidence.
Self-confidence is having a quiet inner-belief in yourself, that what you do, you know you do well. Or knowing that your words carry authority. It’s an intimate thing and unique to each of us. So whilst self-confidence can come and go, be built up and be knocked down, there are many steps you can take to build your self-confidence.
My top tips for building self-Confidence
Find a confident role model
This is not about simply copying the actions of another person, it’s about understanding and then modelling their behaviour. Start by thinking about someone you respect for their quiet self-confidence. Start thinking about how they act in certain situations. Talk to them – find out how they maintain their confidence levels. Understand how they deal with things they won’t stand for or accept. Doing this will help you to understand some of the things you need to do to develop your own self-confidence.
Write in a gratitude journal at the end of each day
It’s easy to get caught up in negative thinking. To worry about what we don’t have or haven’t achieved. This will negatively impact our self-behaviour. A key thing to remember is that our unconscious mind drives our thoughts, our thoughts drive our feelings, and our feelings drive our behaviour.
So instead of focusing on what you perceive as lacking, focus on what you do have and what you have achieved. This will help you foster a feeling of gratitude and positivity. You’ll find that you’ll be rewarded in the future as a result.
Feelings of gratitude put you in a positive frame of mind and when you feel positive, you feel good. When you feel good, good things happen.
Know your worth
None of us are perfect. That doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of love, respect, care and attention. So when you find yourself being treated poorly, by others, or in your own mind, take a moment to take a few deep, slow breaths in and out and remember that you don’t deserve to be treated in this way. When you recognise a basic level of respect you deserve from other people, you’ll recognise confidently when you deserve more. Knowing your worth is a real confidence boost.
Re-frame your thoughts
Too often, we put ourselves down in our thinking. When you find yourself thinking “I can’t do this”, or “this is too hard”, it’s important that you reframe your thinking to something more positive. “I can’t do this until I achieve that”, or “this run is too hard, but I’ve only got one mile left and I know I can do that”. In this way you’ll develop confidence by recognising when you need more support or need to take a different action or approach. Confidence is not about being good at everything, it’s about recognising those things you are less good at and recognising you need to take action – perhaps asking someone for help.
Develop a self-care routine
This could be anything that works for you. It might be meditating, going for a walk in the woods, a long bath or writing a journal. This is about taking a little time each day just for you. During this time you can reflect on your achievements and think positively about the things you need to do to move forward. Doing this will help you to get more in touch with yourself, build your self-confidence and support your inner resilience.
Facing your fear
Striving to get better at things you find challenging, learning and practicing new skills will help you develop your self-confidence. When you challenge yourself, you’ll feel more confident and mentally and emotionally stronger.
Surround yourself with positive people
It’s always easier to see the good in others. Surrounding yourself with people who see the good in you and your abilities, even if you don’t at that moment in time will really boost your confidence. So ensure you spend time with people who will support you, help you improve and recognise the things you should be proud of. When others are confident in you, its easier to be confident in yourself.
Why build up you self-confidence?
Growing confidence takes time and focus. It’s not easy or straight forward. It can take plenty of work, yet the rewards are worth the effort and never ending.
Confident people tend to be happier, after all they aren’t worrying and doubting themselves constantly. Being comfortable in your own mind is a significant achievement.
When you have self-confidence, even your worst days won’t feel so bad. You might still feel rubbish or make bad decisions, but you’ll know that ultimately everything will be OK. Confidence will give you the strength to tackle problems and get through bad days, recognising when you need to ask for help.
Some of the benefits of increased self-confidence
- Improved mental health
- Clarity of thinking
- Cope and perform well under stress
- Better and stronger decision-making abilities
- Greater leadership skills
- Stronger personal relationships
- More motivation
- Ability and drive to learn new skills
- Positive outlook
- More energy
Growing your self-confidence isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Confidence impacts every aspect of your life, including your career, personal goals, relationships, and mental health. It takes time and focus, but you can do it!
If you need a little support, don’t be afraid to get in touch.