– Article republished from HealthCollective.life –
There’s a common misunderstanding about confidence. No one is born filled with confidence. It’s something we acquire with time, experiences and trust in our own abilities. At one point or another in life, you’re going to need to boost your self-confidence.
When you believe and trust in yourself, that’s confidence. Still, that self-assurance can fluctuate and be strengthened, just like a skill. Sometimes it helps to start by pretending, just to convince ourselves that we can. Better yet, by applying self-love and weeding out negative factors from our life we can build up our confidence.
Follow below for my 6 tips to boost your self-confidence durably and create positive ripple effects in all areas of your life.
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What is self-confidence?
Self-confidence has an impact on our physical and mental health and is linked to our resilience.[ref]Perry P. Concept analysis: Confidence/self-confidence. Nurs Forum. 2011;46(4):218-30. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6198.2011.00230.x[/ref]
Our confidence is based on an overall sense of trust and belief in our own abilities, capacities and judgment.
In other words, when we are confident, we don’t constantly rehash and question our decisions, because we trust ourselves.
Coincidentally, we also feel more trust for people who show self-confidence (whether real or projected) because they show they believe in themselves too.
As a psychologist, I can explain that your self-confidence as an adult is greatly affected by the amount of unconditional love you received from your caregiver. It’s true, it has a huge impact, but this removes your own willpower and self-determination from the equation.
The bottom line is, if you didn’t get enough unconditional love as a child, you simply need to work at it more deliberately to build your self-confidence.
We aren’t born with confidence, but we build it over time through our experiences and the choices that we make.
Fake it till you make it
When my patients need to develop their self-confidence, I love telling them to “fake it until you make it.” It might sound silly, how can you fake being confident?
You know what confidence looks like. Their voice is steady, they don’t question their decisions, and they invite discussion. Just do that, even if that little voice inside of you is completely uncertain.
By pretending to be self-confident, you can actually experience it and create a positive pattern. You project confidence > so others feel it and trust you > others reflect your confidence back at you > you start believing in yourself more and more. It’s a virtuous circle!
Related: 7 ways to build your resilience
6 ways to boost your self-confidence
Whether you went through a rough experience that has shaken your trust in yourself or you feel that you’ve always lacked assurance, here are 6 tips that can help on your self-confidence journey:
Quit the comparison games
Constantly comparing ourselves to others is like playing a self-sabotage game. The truth is, you only have a glimpse into other people’s lives. You didn’t see the hardships, compromises or efforts they had to make to get where they are and they certainly won’t post their self-doubt and anxieties to social media.
For example, when we see a runner doing their jogging at the park and start judging them because their form isn’t that good or they look exhausted. It’s easy to be critical, but we have no idea how much distance they’ve put in, if they are getting over an injury or how much training they’ve put in. It’s the same when we assume others have it easy and are just good at everything.
What’s worse, comparison actually brings out an ugly human trait out of us: envy. The more we compare ourselves to others, the more envious we become. And the more envious we get, the more unhappy we feel.[ref]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?. Personality Individ Diff. 2018;123:100-104. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2017.11.001[/ref]
What should you do if you catch yourself playing the comparison game? Remind yourself of the runner example and that each person is on their own path. Life isn’t a zero sum game, just because others have successes doesn’t diminish your own.
Look at the things that you do have and take note of them. There’s a lot we don’t realize we are blessed to have until we lose them. Appreciate what you have and be present in your own life, it will boost your self-confidence.
Practice self-care to boost your self-confidence
Self-care goes a lot deeper than the superficial aspects of taking care of your appearance. Practicing self-care equates to self-love and doing things that are good for our mind, body and spirit.
We take care of doing the things that make us feel good. We appreciate ourselves for it and in turn we feel more in tune and trusting with ourselves.
Here’s a few self-care practices that can increase your “self-trust” and therefore your confidence:
- Meditation: I love saying that “meditation is a shower for your mind.” Literally, practicing 20 minute daily meditation can help you clear your mind from ruminating thoughts, help you gain perspective and make you feel more aligned. I’ve seen patients who literally radiated self-confidence because they stopped doubting themselves thanks to their meditation practice.
- Sleep: We tend to underestimate the impact lack of sleep has on our morale and ability to feel good. When we don’t sleep enough our brain’s ability to produce and handle hormones properly gets affected. As a result, lack of sleep makes us more irritable, emotional and lowers our self-esteem.[ref]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[/ref] Good quality sleep is an important contributor to our self-confidence.
- Nutrition: Eating the colors of the rainbow will automatically make you enjoy your salad bowl more but will also diversify your nutrients and vitamins. When we eat junk, we tend to feel like junk. So aside from a guilty pleasure once in a while, treat your body with respect and fuel it with real food. By feeling good in your body, you will feel more self-love and confidence.
- Movement: There’s a deep connection between our body and mind and research shows that physical activity has a direct impact on self-esteem. Aside from dopamine, the feel good hormone our brain releases when we exercise, when we move and feel connected to our body, we feel good about ourselves. When we feel good, we get more self-confident.[ref]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[/ref]
Related: Being intentional about our wellbeing via a holistic lifestyle
Be selective who you hang out with
To varying degrees, we are all empaths. We feel the emotions of those around us and it affects how we feel ourselves. If we spend time with judgmental people who are constantly critical and nagging, we tend to feel bad. Similarly, if we are with people who are positive and look for the beauty around them, we feel uplifted.
Of course, our friends shouldn’t have to pretend that they are always happy and in a good mood. We should be there for them when they need a shoulder to cry on or a pat on the back. Being a good friend is actually positive for our self-confidence. However, this is more about outlook and intent.
Therefore, if the people around you are deliberately trying to bring you down, then ditch them right now.
If your friends are making you feel bad about yourself, it’s a sign that they don’t have your best interest at heart.
Having a support network, people you trust and can count on is crucial. Choose to spend time with people that are positive and really care about you. It will impact your self-esteem and self-confidence.[ref]Grav S, Hellzèn O, Romild U, Stordal E. Association between social support and depression in the general population: The HUNT study, a cross-sectional survey. J Clin Nurs. 2012;21(1-2):111-20. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03868.x[/ref]
Be forgiving with yourself
We are our harshest critic because we are the person we expect the most from. Yet we are only human and will make mistakes or defeats. By showing ourselves compassion, we accept that we aren’t perfect and that we are deserving even with our flaws.
Kindness and self-compassion teach us to be more flexible and handle emotional challenges better. When we are more emotionally agile, we adapt faster and handle complex situations better. Which means we become more self-reliant and can trust ourselves more. Again coming back to a stronger feeling of self-confidence.
Talk to yourself kindly
Negative self-talk is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. If this sounds exaggerated, it isn’t. You can’t perform your best if you’re whispering to yourself “I’m going to fail,” or “I’m not good enough.”
On the contrary, if you use positive self-talk you can actually achieve greater results. Telling yourself “I’ll do the best I can,” or “I have what it takes” generates self-compassion, increases self-trust.[ref]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[/ref]
So don’t let your self-doubt creep up on you. When you hear yourself using negative self-talk, rephrase it to boost your confidence. Try the following switches to boost your self-confidence:
- Turn “I’m not ready, I’m gonna fail,” into “I’ll do the best I can with what I have”
- Instead of “I’m always failing, I’ve got bad luck,” say “maybe it won’t work but at least I did everything I could, I make my own luck”
- Rather than “I can’t achieve anything,” be honest with yourself “I won’t know if I can until I try.”
Conquer your fears
A lot of our fears reside in our lack of self-confidence. Whether it’s asking for a raise or asking your crush on a date, tackling our fear can help us with our self-esteem and enable us to do all these things we thought we couldn’t.
This point also embraces practicing self-compassion. If you’re scared you will embarrass yourself, or fail, or make mistakes… Try anyways. Mistakes are human, you are human and can learn from mistakes.
If we don’t try, we have a 100% chance not to fail, but also 100% not to succeed. So apply the “fake it till you make it” mantra and just go for it.
Scared of public speaking? Start by practicing on your own or take some theater classes. Do things that will help you conquer your fear while giving you the tools to boost your self-confidence.
Why boosting your self-confidence matters
If you’re worried becoming more self-confident means being shallow or superficial, you need to get these false representations out of your mind. Being confident has some serious benefits that can impact many aspects of your life, from the romantic to the professional.
When we are self-confident we tend to be more successful in our personal and work lives. Even academically, people who are more self-assured tend to show higher achievements.[ref]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[/ref]
Even in terms of motivation, research shows that having self-confidence is linked to being more driven in reaching your goals.[ref]Sari I, Ekici S, Soyer F, Eskiler E. Does self-confidence link to motivation? A study in field hockey athletes. J Human Sport Exerc. 2015;10(1):24-35. doi:10.14198/jhse.2015.101.03[/ref]
- Being self-confident means that we trust ourselves and believe in our own abilities, qualities and judgment.
- Our confidence can fluctuate depending on how we feel and what obstacles we are facing.
- With self-confidence, you can “fake it till you make it.”
- There’s no magic formula to boost your self-confidence, but there’s a number of ways you can build it up:
- Quit comparing yourself to others;
- Practice self-care;
- Surround yourself with people who care about you;
- Show yourself self-compassion;
- Use positive self-talk;
- Conquer your fears.
Related: find out more about online therapy