If you’re trying to work out how to be more confident, you’ve come to the right place.
Because people often say things like “you’ve either got it or you don’t” when it comes to self-confidence…
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Even if you see yourself as a shy person, it is quite possible to work out how to build self-confidence so you too can command yourself – and maybe the room too.
Here’s how to do it:
What is self-esteem? What is self-confidence? Are they the same?
Self-esteem and self-confidence are terms which are often used interchangeably. Technically though, there is a bit of a difference:
- Esteem comes from the same Latin root as the word “estimate”. Literally, your self-esteem is your estimation of your value as a person. This is a valuation which happens both cognitively and emotionally. It’s the emotional “value” we assign to ourselves which people usually refer to when they say they have low self-esteem.
- Confidence comes from the Latin word fidere, which means “to trust”. Self-confidence then, means you trust yourself and your ability to resourcefully manage a situation.
This difference means it is possible for a person to have high self-esteem and yet be low on self-confidence or the other way round…
Sadly, this is how it is possible for famous rock stars to have the confidence to perform on stage in front of thousands and earn millions only to destroy themselves with drugs.
While it is important to work on both aspects, “self-esteem” is probably a higher priority if you have a problem in both arenas.
Because if you see yourself as having a high value, you are more likely to treat yourself with respect, to care for yourself, be confident enough to overcome challenges and to believe that you are worth enough to deserve it when success does come your way.
How to build confidence and self-esteem – the groundwork
Figuring out how to be confident isn’t easy. Anyone who tells you it is has probably never struggled with it in the first place!
But there is a simple way to begin. The secret of how to become more confident is a little self-knowledge…
Here is a simple exercise to get you started:
- 1. Make a list of where you lack confidence: it’s time to be precise about your confidence. In which situations do you feel you lack confidence? Is it at work or socially? Have you always wanted to get out of your daily grind but don’t have the confidence to do it? Write it down.
- 2. Make a list of times when you do have confidence: are you a quiet person most of the time but feel confident when you sing because you know you sound good? Maybe it’s less specific this – maybe you remember a general time in the past when you felt confident. What were you doing? Where were you? The more precise you can be, the more helpful this will be.
- 3. Identify your skills and smarts: identify the things in your life that you are good at and should be proud of. Have you got a good eye for drawing? A solid head for mathematics? Are you a stand-out parent? Think things about yourself, physical skills, mental abilities, creative talent, musical ability… There may be far less need to “improve” or “change” yourself to be confident than you think.
- 4. No cheating! No looking over your neighbor’s shoulder! Comparing your results or yourself with anyone else is not permitted in this exercise. In fact, this is now a thing of the past for your life in general. The easiest way to feel down about yourself these days is to spend five minutes on social media comparing yourself to other people. Stop it.
How to improve self-esteem
Working out how to build self-esteem involves a great deal of work to change the way you look at yourself.
The value is there already – you just have to train yourself to see it.
Here are some handy things you can start to practice:
1) Give yourself some affirmation
The more you tell yourself something, the more you come to believe it – it’s human nature.
Self-affirmation is the practice of saying positive things to yourself.
For example, if you dislike something about your physical appearance, spend a few moments every day looking in a mirror and repeating something positive about an aspect of your physical appearance you do like. Eventually, you will start to believe it.
You should also work on rephrasing the negative statements to stop putting yourself down. “Every negative is a positive waiting for a stroke of genius.”
2) Help yourself
The key to so many good mental health habits is having good physical health.
Do everything you can to:
- Eat sensibly and well, ensuring you eat nutritious food
- Get a decent amount of sleep
- Do some exercise each and every day
The world seems a much brighter place and you feel like a much better person when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, eaten a good meal and been for a nice walk.
3) Help someone else
It’s not good practice to base your idea of your own self-esteem on what others think of you. Nor is it a good idea to put all of your efforts into supporting someone else if you yourself are struggling.
However, helping someone else is a good way to feel good about yourself. It need not be something big, even doing little things for people or animals or helping nature can be a great way to increase your self-worth.
4) Think of yourself as an equal
If you have estimated your own value as low, it is easy to estimate the value of other people as higher than you.
It’s important to realize that you are equal to everyone else. They are no more deserving than you. They are not “better people”.
Treat other people as if they were equals and you will soon see your own estimation of yourself rise too.
How to become more confident
When it comes to how to build self-confidence, again there are several things you can do which will help you not just act like a more self-confident person, but be one:
1) Cut ties with people who hold you down
Do some people around you have a huge amount of negativity which they bring to any situation? Do they put you down in private or in public? Do they fail to support you when you need them?
These are the kind of toxic people which a confident person would probably remove from their lives altogether.
At the very least, it’s time to tell them their behavior is out of line and you aren’t going to stand for it anymore.
2) Listen to your gut
If you feel unhappy or uncomfortable in a situation, listen to your gut or intuition and leave.
If you are faced with a choice and one feels naturally “better” to you, go with your feelings.
3) Try to be flexible
Don’t panic when things go wrong or change.
It can be easy to think it’s impossible to overcome even a small challenge if it appears from nowhere and you’re not feeling confident.
Just know that you can overcome it – and you will.
4) Question your inner naysayer
Many people are meanest to themselves in the privacy of their own heads.
Do you have a “voice” in your head which always tells you that you aren’t good enough? Or that you’re a failure?
Always question this voice’s conclusions. Why has it concluded that you’ve failed?
Even if a small thing has gone wrong this time, it’s not a problem. Armed with your answers to the exercise above you should have plenty of times to point to where you have succeeded.
5) Hit reset
Getting away from it all, even if it’s just a bit of time spent out in nature somewhere, can give you a fresh perspective on things.
For an even stronger reset, try a relaxation or a meditation weekend. We often find that people visit us at the Spirit Vine Center when they’re trying to work on issues of self-esteem and confidence. Ayahuasca has been used to explore the knowledge of the self for centuries. Taking a deep look into yourself and finding the source of your issues can be a way to quickly and permanently break out of patterns that have been keeping you from harnessing your full potential.
6) Set smaller achievable goals
When you return to normal life, you can give yourself a well-deserved sense of accomplishment by breaking your major tasks down into smaller, manageable goals and ticking them off as you complete them.
Make sure you have enough goals which you will be able to easily and successfully complete – they’re still goals.
You can keep these “done it” lists as well as any future “to do” lists to show you just how well you’re doing working out how to be more confident.