How to Build Confidence
Have you ever noticed how successful people seem really confident? Do you struggle with confidence in yourself or your ideas?
I come across as confident and there are many things I am confident about in my life. I wasn’t always this way though. I do not know anyone who is confident all the time, however, the successful people I know don’t let failure or fear stop them. They embrace it and use that nervous energy to push them forward.
Instead of dwelling on what could go wrong, they focus on what could go right. If they are nervous before going on stage they use that nervous energy and jump around or dance before going on stage. It gets them pumped instead of scared.
Building confidence can be a slow process. I had none when I was married, then after I started blogging and I was offered opportunities like a book contract, speaking and freelance writing my confidence grew.
I want to make it clear, that while the tips I am about to give help me, if you have severe anxiety or other underlying issues, I highly recommend professional help. Whether it is a hotline to get started or a full counsellor, psychologist or similar, it is ok to get help. I have many times in my life when I felt I needed to.
To gain more confidence, try some of the following methods.
1. Know Your Purpose
Know why you are doing something. Having a strong sense of purpose gives you the confidence to keep going when things get hard. If there is no purpose behind what you do, there is no strong motivation to keep going.
2. Write a List of Things you like About Yourself
Sit down with a pen and paper and list out things you like about yourself. The first time I did it I aimed for 100 things I like about myself. It was extremely difficult as I had severe depression at the time. I started with 10, then did the next 10 and the next until I reach 100.
Starting with simple things such as “I have great eyebrows because they are shaped nicely naturally and I don’t have to wax them” made it easier. Followed by “I have long eyelashes that curl up” and “I am good at helping other people”.
I thought about things others said about me and asked close, trusted family members and friends what they thought my strengths were, what they liked about me. By listening to compliments people gave me, I realised my strengths. I was careful with where I sourced the compliments and only listed ones from people I trusted who I knew were honest and genuine.
Once I had my list I made a few copies to place in various locations as a reminder of my qualities and values when I felt low. I put one in my wallet, one on my bedroom wall, one on my computer, and took a picture to keep on my phone.
At times I struggled to believe they were all true. As I read them and thought about examples of each thing such as a time I helped someone or the discussion with a family member about the qualities they admired in me, this list became more believable and eventually I stopped needing it.
3. Have a Daily Affirmation
I mention affirmations a few things throughout this book because they are powerful. Affirmations are not simply about repeating a quote or line to make you feel good. Affirmations are meant to change your mindset and create a genuine belief within yourself based on the affirmation.
One of my favourite quotes that I use as an affirmation is “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” ~Carl Jung.
I repeat this to myself whenever I need a pep talk.
4. Write a List of Your Achievements
Similar to the list of things you like about yourself a list of achievements can help you see how amazing you are, the impact you have had on the world, and why you should be confident in yourself and your abilities.
Achievements are not limited to awards. Recently when I was looking for ideas for my bucket list I was reading through other people’s lists and was surprised by how much on other people’s lists I have done.
I didn’t think I had done much, but when I wrote down some of these things I was amazed and quite proud of my achievements.
5. When Someone Gives you a Compliment, Accept It!
Don’t talk it down. If someone says they like your top/shoes don’t say “this old thing, oh, it’s nothing” just say “Thank you, I love it too.” You can compliment them back, but stop putting yourself, your things, or your work down.
6. Change Your Mental Dialogue
We are our own worst critics. Whenever you start to think negatively about yourself, whip out your list of things you like about yourself or the list of compliments and read it. If you are not in a position to do that just change what you are thinking. It can be hard at first, but try to remember your achievements. Think of your daily positive affirmation and repeat it in your head.
7. Make Self-Care a Priority
I see many women guilty of putting themselves last. I spent years putting myself last, not going to the beauty salon despite it making me feel so much better. I felt bad if I spent money on clothes or things I wanted. I allowed myself to get frumpy, overweight, and lack confidence.
Part of this was because of the abusive marriage I was in. I was too scared to stand up for myself. When we got married he stopped me wearing pink or pretty lingerie because he didn’t want other men looking at me. He felt I looked too good in pink. I was not allowed to talk to other men and because of the way we ate, I gradually put on more and more weight. He made me feel like no one else would want me. I was depressed, unhealthy, unsure of myself and undesirable.
Because of this, I stopped dressing in clothes I liked, often didn’t do my hair or make-up, neglected my health and put myself last.
When I divorced, one of the first things I did was overhaul my look. I am fortunate that my sister, Jac Lambert, is a personal stylist, designer, make-up artist and has a keen eye for all of that naturally. She helped me find my style which boosted my confidence. I started booking in monthly to go to the salon and scheduled time with myself for other beauty maintenance such as regular facials, body scrubs and things at home. I started putting myself first and my confidence grew as a result.
Stop telling yourself you aren’t worth it. You are. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel happy with your health, mind and body. Take care of yourself.
8.) Watch your body language
Our body language is a clear indication of our level of confidence. Sitting or standing with our legs crossed, our shoulders hunched or our arms in our lap are all submissive poses. You are trying to make yourself smaller than the other person.
If you want to be confident, act confident. Use strong, confident body language such as a superhero pose – hands on hips, shoulders back, legs apart. Stand tall, with good posture. Claim and own the space you are in. Not only does it increase your confidence, but it is also better for your overall health.
9. Focus On Your Health
Aside from self-care, you need to focus on your health. Drink enough water every day, sleep properly, exercise. All these things are recommended because they matter. When I work out, even if it is just a 10-minute yoga routine in the morning, I feel so much better about myself and am more likely to take better care of myself during the day too.
Focus on your health. Work out what you need to do, take it one day at a time and implement small changes to improve your health. You don’t need to be perfect all the time, any change in the right direction is better than nothing. The more you do, the more you will be motivated to do as well.
Music is powerful, it can change your mood completely. Look how music is used in movies and the media to convey emotion, make you sympathetic to the victim, get your blood pumping in dramatic action scenes or scare you in a horror film. Music impacts your mind.
Start taking note of how music makes you feel and create a confidence playlist to use when you need a boost. I have playlists for motivation, working out, cleaning and certain songs I play before I go on a stage to speak. Music can help you overcome fears and project a sense of confidence.
11. Act It
Being happy, smiling and giving compliments will make you feel better about yourself and it makes thinking positively a whole lot easier. There used to be days I would dread doing certain things. By making a decision to act positive, try to think about things in a positive way or try to find things to be grateful for, over the course of the day I felt happier and more confident about what I was doing.
That said, there are some days this just did not cut it. And that’s ok. Accept how you feel, if you can change it great, if not, take care of yourself and try again the next day.
12. Be Prepared
Know what it is you are doing or talking about. We all have to start somewhere when learning, so accept which stage you are at, learn as much as you possibly can and be prepared. When you know what you are talking about or have to do you are a lot more confident than if you don’t know.
With public speaking, I could confidently get up on stage and discuss homelessness, domestic violence, going from homeless to CEO, motivation, my personal story, social media, blogging, blog monetisation and goal setting because these are topics I know a lot about, I speak on often and I am confident in them.
I prepare beforehand, I have key points, I refresh my memory with current statistics as needed and know that when I get up I have prepared myself as much as I can. If I was to simply get up on stage without preparation I would fail miserably, have no confidence and everyone would see right through. Preparation is key.
13. Be True To Yourself
What are your standards/principles/values? What do you live by? Without principles, we have no guidelines or direction for our life. No direction is no reason for confidence since you aren’t working towards anything. When you have direction and aim you are more confident because you know what you are doing.
14. Do Something you Love or are Good at
Whatever it is, do it regularly – painting, dancing, singing, cooking, fixing things, anything. Doing something you love and doing it regularly gives you positive feelings about yourself and what you are doing. These positive feelings can then overflow into other areas of your life. The happier you are and the more you achieve, the more confidence you will have.
When you are busy, overwhelmed and distracted it is easier to lose confidence than it is when you are calm, in control and feel secure within yourself. Take time out each day to meditate in whatever form you are most comfortable with. Getting centred regularly enables you to clear your mind, focus and feel more confident.
16. Set Some Goals and Achieve Them
To begin with, it might be something simple like pay your bills, or a to-do list such as groceries, banking, return library books, etc… Set it and complete it. Having goals gives you something to strive for.
Starting small gives you mini confidence boosts when you achieve them. Having big goals to work towards gives you direction. Don’t make goals so big you will not be able to achieve them though. If you break them up into sub-goals, every time you achieve one of those sub-goals you are a success.
Check out 10 steps to success with goals for more information.
17. Recognise What Makes you Feel Insecure
Take note of your feelings doing certain things. What makes your confidence waiver? Why are you insecure about it? What can you do to change it? I am insecure about dancing because of an incident that happened when I was a teenager. I have taken dance classes since and done well. The thought of dancing in a group or in public at all strikes fear into my heart. I dance with my daughters in private at home, that is pretty much it. This is something I am still working on.
18. Keep Good Posture
Standing up straight and ensuring your back is straight makes you look confident plus as mentioned further up, it is confident body language. When you are projecting confidence you can’t help but be confident. Keeping good posture improves health as well.
19. Get Rid of Toxic People in Your Life
What are toxic people? They are the ones who are always negative; leave you questioning yourself and what you are doing. They don’t encourage you, they just tear you down. They are often people who have been in our lives for quite a while, so we don’t realise how bad they are for us.
Also, they are NOT really friends. Backhanded compliments are common with people like this. Everything is all about them and they leave you feeling drained. You do not need that in your life. They chip away at you and bring you down.
When you are focused you are studying, getting to know what you need to do, and doing it. This leads to achievements and success which boosts your confidence-boosting!
What do you to do improve your confidence?
You might also like:
An interview with me about confidence
10 ways to motivate yourself
Time saving tips
Weight is irrelevant! Stop weighing yourself and drop dress sizes
How to stop feeling overwhelmed and stop overloading yourself (lessons from my body shutting down.)
Originally posted on October 13, 2010. Revised and republished May 6th, 2021.