(Reading Time: 7 Minutes)
Learning how to grow and develop your confidence is a skill that will serve you well for life. Confidence building will empower you in all aspects of your life: personal, professional, and social situations. There is lots of talk and discussion about confidence but very little about the craft of actually increasing it – of confidence building. In this article, we take a deep dive into some of the strategies that you can use to build your confidence.
From the outset, it’s worth saying that confidence is best built on a foundation of truth. It comes as a result of those things that you have achieved in your life of which you are tremendously proud. It comes from those things that inspire you and makes you unique. It comes from the values that you hold, those non-negotiable truths that you live your life by and will defend vehemently.
Despite this, it’s also worth saying that most of us are our own worst critics and that we often feel uncomfortable with celebrating our achievements. This can be bad for our confidence as it means that we don’t make the most of the opportunities that we have to grow and develop it.
Sometimes we have to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones and recognize the fact that we are actually more fabulous that than we give ourselves credit for.
The Confidence Building Guide
This guide is written in three sections and contains 15 tips to help you in different aspects of building your confidence:
The Inside – Looks at your thought patterns and how you can shape these to boost your confidence
The Outside – Looks at how you present yourself and how making some small changes can boost your confidence
The Behaviour – Looks at behaviors so that you can be more productive and more confident.
Part 1: The Inside – How to Feel More Confident
1.) Learn the Art of Self-Discipline: Set Goals and Measure Your Success
We all need goals – they give us direction in life. Life goals should be ambitious they should scare and excite us in equal measure.
The best way to achieve our goals is to break them down into smaller ones that are easier to work towards and monitor. So even if your dream is to own a holiday home in Italy, get the next promotion or buy your first house, set yourself some targets to work towards and monitor your progress.
Some people like to do this at the start of each new year but it really can be done at any time. Take each big goal, break it down into smaller ones, and work out a way of measuring your success. For example, if you want to buy your first house set yourself a monthly savings target and each month hold yourself to account for it. If you want to loose weight, set yourself a target each week that adds up to your overall goal.
The most important thing here is to be strict with yourself. Nothing will change and you won’t achieve your big goals if you don’t work towards the smaller, incremental milestones. Sometimes this means making sacrifices, working hard and struggling but ultimately traveling this journey will mean that you can achieve your goals. Even climbing Mount Everest involves taking one step at a time.
Holding yourself to account in this way and measuring your success is great for building your confidence as you will see the progress that you are making as a result of your actions and effort. Writing a journal is a great way to do this. It keeps your successes in one place to inspire you if you ever lack motivation.
Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.
2.) Be Brave
Self-doubt killed more dreams than failure ever did. Confidence building can help you to banish self-doubt.
Too many people are derailed by self-doubt, not by failure. Too many people give up because they are afraid of failing. They quit before they even got to the part where they might fail.
Being ambitious for your life means setting big goals. It also means that there will be times when you feel utterly overwhelmed and you will feel that you are not up to the challenge that you have set yourself. This is tough but it’s in these moments that those who rise to the top emerge. Every single successful person on the planet has experienced these dark moments. Every single one of them has been afraid and has suffered from self-doubt.
At times like these, you have to look within and draw upon your inner strength and that determination that you have to achieve your dreams. Only you can get you through this period. Sure, it’s great to talk to a loved one about how you feel but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to get down and get it done. Be the wo/man in the arena.
3.) Cut Out Negative Self-Talk
Many of us have a powerful internal narrator that criticizes our every move. Many of us may even suffer from a touch of Imposter Syndrome.
The critical thing here is not to listen to the voice. Many of us assume that because it exists inside our heads that it’s speaking the truth. This is baloney! The voice is simply the workings of your overactive mind.
Instead, replace what the voice says with positive self-talk. At first, this can be quite hard to do but it’s a skill that builds over time. At first, question what the voice says and replace what it says with positive factual statements.
For example, you might hear “Who are you trying to fool?! You won’t get that promotion – you aren’t good enough!” Instead, replace it with phrases such as “I am good at my job, I have the highest sales in my team, I stand a good chance of getting the promotion.”
Practice being an advocate for yourself and be your own champion. Those of us that give the voice too much attention and air time allow it to dominate, and this saps your confidence.
Proactively build your confidence by being conscious of positive self-talk. Off-loading with loved ones is a great strategy – you will find that everyone feels the same way no matter who they are and how self-assured they may seem on the outside.
4.) Give Up Caring What Others Think
In life, there are always going to be people that tell you that you cannot achieve your goals. There will be times in your life where you are rejected or even fail. Regardless, you dust yourself down, chalk it up to experience and climb straight back into the saddle.
Every day people change the world against the odds. Every day people achieve things that they were told could not be done or were impossible. Every day people beat the system and break free.
There is no reason why this cannot be you. We are all just people at the end of the day. You can make a decision: you can to listen to the detractors and give up on your dreams or you can keep on going with fire in your heart.
Follow your dreams, don’t ever give up.
5.) Go With Your Gut
The limbic brain kept humans alive long before evolution came into play. In short, it told us when we were in danger and when we needed to take action. Responsible for our emotions, memories, and stimulation the limbic brain gives you that gut-feeling when something is not right. Lots of people ascribe this to nothing more than some kind of flaky intuition. Do not be fooled – this is science.
Embrace your gut feelings and listen to them. Your limbic brain is like a finely tuned personal bodyguard, it works to protect you and keep you safe from harm.
If you feel uncomfortable, remove yourself from a situation. If you feel negative vibes, don’t hang around. These kinds of social interactions allow the internal narrator a veritable feeding frenzy of negativity. Instead, simply remove yourself from situations that allow it to run riot. By removing these episodes from your life you will soon see your confidence build.
Professor Steve Peters in his book The Chimp Paradox, recommends that we give our ‘chimp’, our limbic brains, a name. Learn to love it, and listen to it when you feel it in your gut.
Part Two: The Outside – How to Look More Confident
6.) Be the Best Version of You – Be Body Confident
We can usually spot the uncomfortable person in the room. They fidget a lot and seem to squirm. Body language is a telltale sign of the person lacking confidence.
Social Psychologist and Researcher Amy Cuddy, in her phenomenally successful TED Talk, outlines the power that our body language has over both other people’s perceptions and our own perceptions of ourselves. In short, if we act in a powerful manner, we are likely to feel more powerful.
By focussing on your body language you can actually grow your confidence. In the TED Talk, Cuddy outlines a particular pose that is proven to build our confidence. Watch the TED talk – you won’t be disappointed.
Be conscious of your body language – yes, because of how others perceive you, but more importantly because of how much more confident you can make yourself feel. Don’t make yourself small and hideaway; be big and be powerful. You will feel so much better for it and it will help you when it comes to confidence building.
7.) Dress to Impress YOURSELF
Scientific research has proven that the way we dress impacts our confidence levels: we feel and behave more confidently when we dress well. So when it comes to confidence building, dressing to impress is key.
To really build your confidence you need to understand your own sense of style, what suits you and what you feel most comfortable in. If your budget can stretch to it go and see a personal stylist. Don’t simply follow the crowd and wear what everyone else is wearing. Be strong and wear what suits you.
Don’t be ashamed of your size. Buy clothes that fit you regardless of what the label says. Wear clothes that make you feel proud and make you feel good – it’s a fast track to confidence building, reduces stress, and leaves headspace for thinking about more pressing issues.
8.) Be Present – Listen, Don’t Just Wait to Talk.
When engaging and conversing with others most people really aren’t listening they are just waiting to talk. Think about this. There is a huge difference between the two.
When interacting with other people don’t let this be you. Be present, really present. This will show others that you are confident and don’t feel anxious, but more importantly, it will make you feel and look more confident too. It’s amazing what you can learn about other people when you listen to what they say and how they are saying it.
Ask questions, show with your body language and facial expressions that you really are listening. Pay attention to them – make them the center of your world for that moment. Not only will you look and feel so much more confident, but you will also make the other person feel more confident too if you take the time to engage with them fully. The feeling of being fully present and in control is great for confidence building.
9.) Talk the Talk
People are judged not only on how they look but also on what they say and how they say it. Nothing commands a room quite like a rich, resonating voice.
One of the greatest ways to boost your confidence is to ensure that you present the best possible version of yourself at all times. We are all self-conscious about the way we look and the way that we sound to others. Have you ever recorded yourself and hated your voice when it’s played back?! Well, we all feel the same way about this! It’s perfectly normal and safe to say that others don’t hear what you do.
Without extensive vocal training, it’s highly unlikely that we can alter the register and overall sound of our voice. However, we can adopt certain practices that ensure that we remain calm and articulate even in the most stressful of situations. This does wonders for your confidence.
Slow down when talking, breathe deeply to open up your chest, speak out, and let your voice resonate. These techniques can be practiced. Do that dreaded thing and record yourself and practice until you hear changes that you are happy with.
10.) Smile and Enjoy
Life is short; live and love often. There is nothing more attractive and affirming than a happy person who has an open smiling face from which warmth and love radiate.
The old adage, when you smile the world smiles back, is true.
Debbie Hampton, of the Best Brain Possible writes:
“Your brain also releases feel-good neurotransmitters, including dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, when a smile flashes across your face. These brain chemicals aid in calming your nervous system by lowering heart rate and blood pressure. … Each time you smile, a little party happens in your head.”
Look people in the eye, smile and enjoy the moment. It’s a great, easy way to boost confidence.
Part Three: The Behaviours – How to Be More Confident
11.) Exercise – Pure and Simple
The overall health benefits of exercise are well published and are now a part of mainstream consciousness. The positive impacts of exercise on mental health are also commonly discussed so it should come as no surprise that exercise is brilliant for confidence building.
Not only will you benefit from the physical benefits of improved heart health, better muscle tone, and fitness level, stronger bones, the lowering risk of chronic disease and high blood pressure, but it also helps you to manage your weight and improves your body image. There is no doubt about it: exercise boosts your self-esteem. The endorphins released when we exercise make us feel happy.
In addition, if you create an exercise plan and stick to it you can also boost your confidence by celebrating your success and achievements.
12.) Know Your Values – Have Integrity
One of the best ways to be self-confident is to be in touch with the person that you really are. Don’t try to be anything other than your true self.
A good place to start is to work out what your values are – use this article here to help you, then ensure that you live them each day. Your values are akin to your moral compass and they will let you know if you are in the wrong or not.
The richness of life means that we will all be put in positions where we feel compromised from time to time. When this happens, stop, take a breath and think about what you need to do. Your gut will let you know if something is right or wrong – listen to it and trust it. At the end of the day, you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror at night and go to sleep knowing that you did what you thought was right.
Not standing by your values is a pernicious and dangerous habit for the toxic way is slowly erodes your confidence.
As the very wonderful CS Lewis said:
“Integrity is about doing the right thing – even when no-one is watching.”
Remember this, it will serve you well.
13.) Be Productive – Constantly Take Action
Every journey begins with a single step. If you don’t take that step, and then another and another, nothing will ever change and you will never achieve your goals.
Action gives words meaning. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep – not only will others grow tired of your hollow words, it also eats away at your self-esteem as you know that you are full of untruths.
We all get a little afraid sometimes, and we all get overwhelmed by starting a new goal, a big task, or a new chapter in our lives. The first step is usually the hardest but once you have taken that decision, to start, you will quickly find that momentum builds and that you get a sense of achievement and self-belief.
14.) Be Your Own Super Hero
At the end of the day, we have to champion ourselves. It’s all well and good being humble and self-deprecating, however, there is a limit to this. You have to be passionate about your life, you have to be your own leader and fight for your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that you, or your dreams, are worthless. Make sure that you stand up for yourself.
There is no need to be rude, but it’s perfectly fine to be assertive and forthright. You have enough negativity of your own, courtesy of your internal narrator, to contend with – you don’t need anyone else’s baggage.
Stand firm, be proud, put your shoulders back, and hold your head up high. You are worth it. You are good enough, and you believe in yourself. It’s a great way to build confidence. At first, you may need to ‘fake it until you make it’ for a while, but this will soon change. Go back to Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk for a little more inspiration on this.
15.) Have Perspective – Live Your Life
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
We all get bogged down by the humdrum intricacies of life. It’s easy to stress over the washing still in the basket, the lack of money in your bank account and the homework that you didn’t do with your kids. However, when the chips are down, we have to face facts that we only live once. We only get one shot at this. We all need to work hard to get our worrying under control.
The beautiful words above spoken by Maya Angelou show wisdom thought, and a clear view of what she wanted from life. This mantra gave her a barometer to live by.
When you are old what do you want to be able to tell people about the way that you lived your life?
What do you want your life experiences to say about you and the type of person that you are?
Being able to get perspective on things is a great way to build confidence because it encourages you to focus on what is most important, and get the trivial things, that often hold us back, under control.
We hope that you have found this article on confidence building useful.
Live your life. Love often. Be Happy.
Further reading from The Rediscovery of Me