But how do we do it?
Radical Confidence. We went to the true expert in radical confidence: Lisa Bilyeu. She co-founded Quest Nutrition, which grew 57,000 percent in its first three years. She is also the co-founder and president of Impact Theory Studios, a revolutionary digital-first studio that produces wildly entertaining original content focusing on themes of empowerment. Throughout her career, Lisa has created a slate of content that has more than half a billion times, and she and her husband have built Impact Theory’s global audience to more than 7.5 million. As host of the digital series Women of Impact, Lisa conducts real, uncensored conversations with inspiring women. Her new book is Radical Confidence, and it is the ultimate guide for women wanting to be inspired.
What is Self-Confidence? (Definition)
Self-confidence is a feeling of self-assurance from appreciating your unique qualities and abilities. It’s that inner belief that you are enough and inherently worthy.
Confident people don’t need validation from others to acknowledge their achievements. Instead, they act like their own cheerleaders and trust their inner compass to guide them where they want to go.
24 Habits of Confident Women (and How to Implement Them)
True confidence is something everyone wants, but many don’t seem to have.
Everywhere you look, someone is trying to sell you confidence. If you just had this outfit, this body, or this car, you would love yourself more. It’s a profitable business because it leaves you constantly longing for something out there to make you feel good enough.
The reason none of it works is that confidence is an internal job.
If you want to build lasting confidence rather than the phony facade kind, a few simple habits and mindset shifts could catapult you into new levels of self-love.
Make self-care your top priority
The most confident women take immaculate care of themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet society often perceives this as “selfish” or “self-absorbed.”
Though traditional gender roles tend to expect women to care for everybody around them, there is significant evidence that self-neglect from overinvolvement with others depletes your self-confidence.
Regardless of relationship status or the care for children, women tend to put others’ needs before their own, and they can often suffer from more depression and lower self-esteem as a result.
To be more confident and share your gifts with the world, you must begin by filling your cup.
“Your real work in life is to fill yourself ’til your cup runneth over so that you’re never grasping and needy, clamoring and insecure.”— Oprah
Action Step: Take a holistic mind-body-soul approach to your self-care. Block off as little as 10 minutes in your daily calendar to fill your cup.
- Mind: Nurture your mind by setting aside time to decompress. For example, take your lunch break outside and listen to the birds. Or promise yourself to avoid checking emails after 6 pm. It is also helpful to set boundaries“The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an inner scorecard or an outer scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an inner scorecard.” –Warren Buffett around your mental and emotional energy. For example, if your friend wants to vent all her problems on you but you already feel emotionally drained, clearly communicate that you don’t have the energy right now.
- Body: Treat your body like a temple and give it the best fuel possible. Drink at least 2 liters of water per day and eat various fresh fruits and vegetables, clean protein, and mood-boosting fats like extra virgin olive oil. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try minimizing your caffeine intake to help reduce anxiety. Read more about how nutrition can affect your confidence in this article.
- Soul: Create a self-care ritual that makes you feel like a goddess. Try a scrumptious facial, candlelit bubble bath, soothing massage, or affirmation meditation.
Use expansive posture
Posture is one of the key nonverbal ways people communicate their self-image to others.
When women feel nervous, they often try to make themselves smaller—slouching over and curling inwards often signal inferiority, insecurity, or fear.
On the other hand, an open, expanded posture signals confidence. Studies show that expansive postures make people feel more powerful by altering their hormones and social cues.
Action Step: Even when you’re not feeling so sure of yourself, practice standing up tall and widening your stance to take up more space. Straighten your spine, roll your shoulders back, and lift your chin.
Talk the talk
Women with lower voices look as more dominant and authoritative than those who speak in a high tone.
Take Elizabeth Holmes, for example. In a trailer for The Dropout – a series about Holmes’ rise to the top – you can hear actress Amanda Seyfriend practicing speaking in an intentionally lower voice as she practices her business pitch in the mirror. Though her company later turned out to be fraudulent, her baritone voice and masculine presence reinforced the impact of Holmes’s powerful public persona.
Action Step: Try speaking louder and lower. Go in front of your mirror and practice different vocal inflections to find something that feels natural for you.
Remember, you don’t want to be obnoxiously loud nor sound like a female embodiment of Tom Waits. Start with slight adjustments to your tone that make you feel more captivating. You may also enjoy this guide on How to Speak With Confidence and Sound Better.
Walk the walk
How should a lady walk? With a relaxed swagger that radiates poise and purpose.
There are all sorts of guides online about how to do a runway walk or walk like a model, but the real secret to walking like a confident woman is to walk your walk, with a few powerful modifications:
- Know your purpose for where you are going.
- Find a speed that is relaxed yet deliberate.
- When in doubt, move slower so you don’t appear rushed.
- Carry only one purse or item with you to appear organized.
- Allow your hips to sway naturally.
- Keep your neck vertical and shoulders back.
- Fix your gaze straight ahead or slightly upward.
- Take slow, deep breaths as you move.
Enter like you own the place
Nothing says “insecure” like entering a building and rushing to the side, grabbing your phone, or immediately sitting down.
If you want to captivate people with your presence and simultaneously feel more confident about yourself, recalibrate your habits for making an entrance.
|Do’s for Confident Entrances
|Don’ts (Insecure Entrances)
|Pause a few feet from the doorway and take a deep breath
|Quickly move to the perimeter of the room
|Stay present and calmly examine the room
|Reach for your phone
|Do a sweeping gaze at the people around you
|Darting eye contact or looking down
|Rollback your shoulders and stand up tall
|Slouch and make yourself appear smaller
|Pre-define your objective for attendance
|Aimlessly going out of obligation or habit
Watch this video on How to Make a Grand Entrance and Enter Any Room Confidently:
Action Step: Practice a confident entrance in your bathroom mirror. Then, visualize yourself stepping into a crowded room or event with the utmost confidence and poise. Before entering an event, repeat this visualization and use an internal affirmation like “I’ve been here before” or “I am comfortable and free to be myself.”
Get out of your comfort zone
While it may seem counterintuitive, getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to get more comfortable. As you try new things, you feel more empowered and courageous.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to go skydiving or launch a business to get uncomfortable (though those will certainly do the trick!) Instead, start small by simply trying a new hobby or attending a class.
Action Step: Commit the next week to try at least one of these 20 Simple Ways You Can Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.
How often do you say sorry when you don’t need to?
- At a restaurant: “I’m sorry, could I have more water, please?”
- At work: “Sorry to bother you, but I have a question.”
- Check out the grocery store: “I’m sorry I’m taking so long.”
- On the phone: “Sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
- In a social setting, if your spouse says something embarrassing: “I’m sorry, he/she isn’t usually like this.”
Over-apologizing is often associated with people-pleasing, low self-esteem, or a feeling of responsibility for other people’s actions. You may even say “sorry” just for expressing your feelings, doing regular activities, or merely existing.
By apologizing too often, you can inadvertently lower your self-esteem. You may also appear less confident amongst other people.
Unless you indeed did something that warrants an apology, avoid apologizing for small daily actions like taking up space or making your needs known.
Action Step: For one day, keep a mental tally of how often you apologize unnecessarily.
Then, replace the habit with something more productive:
- Instead of saying “I’m sorry” for getting in someone’s way, say “pardon me.”
- Instead of apologizing for expressing your emotions to a loved one, say “thank you for listening.”
- Instead of apologizing for someone else’s actions, remember that you are only accountable for yourself.
Romanticize the ideal version of you
From childhood, many girls learned to romanticize their future partner or wedding. They visualize their wedding dress, their hair, the venue, and their lover. What if you applied this same concept to visualizing the ideal version of yourself?
To become the best version of yourself, you have to start by figuring out who you want to be. Start by brainstorming:
- What are your core values?
- What does the most confident version of you look like? How does she walk and talk?
- How does she feel when she’s in public?
- How do people feel when they’re around her?
Action Step: Turn this idea of you into a sort of muse. Use this guide to create a vision board of empowering quotes, beautiful imagery, and photos of women you look up to. Visualize yourself, embodying her daily.
Compete with yourself instead of comparing to others
Many insecurities are rooted in comparison. But external comparisons are only surface-level.
Analyzing yourself based on somebody else’s external achievements won’t bring you the lasting confidence you crave. Instead, try to focus on what Warren Buffet calls “the inner scorecard”:
“The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an inner scorecard or an outer scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an inner scorecard.”— Warren Buffett
Perhaps you’re familiar with the self-destructive cycle of “if only”…
- “If only I were as pretty as her, I’d be confident.”
- “If only I were as successful as her, I could be happy.”
- “If only I had her body, I would feel sexy.”
But you’re not them. You are you. You can only be you.
You are your only competition.
The only worthwhile comparison to make is to look at where you are today compared to where you were 1, 5, or 10 years ago. Think of how much you have learned and grown.
Action Step: Grab 3 index cards and reflect on the past few years of your life. On each card, label the year and write 1-3 key realizations, accomplishments, and/or phrases that summarize that chapter of your life. Lay these cards out in chronological order and admire how far you’ve come.
Set achievable goals
Goal-setting closely correlates with higher self-esteem. But one of the biggest mistakes women make is setting goals that are too big and lofty for them to achieve in a reasonable time frame. You can accidentally hurt your self-confidence by falling short of extremely high or unrealistic standards you set for yourself.
Instead, it’s easier to accumulate small wins that build confidence over time.
You want to give your brain little dopamine rushes daily to convince yourself that you really are capable of doing incredible things.
Pro Tip: This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream big. If you have a huge goal, like making six figures, writing a book, losing 50 pounds, or traveling the world, break it into smaller bite-sized chunks.
This could mean asking for a modest raise, writing for 15 minutes every morning, walking 1 mile every day, or planning your first destination. As you achieve each milestone, you can feel even more confident about your ability to conquer the next.
Be compassionate with yourself
Compassion and confidence go hand-in-hand, but we often reserve our empathy for other people while being incredibly hard on ourselves.
Surely you’re not the first human (nor the last) to embarrass yourself in front of someone you admire or make a huge mistake at work. You’re not the first to pick your nose, fart in a yoga class, or forget someone’s name.
Yet you may still say to yourself:
- “You’re so stupid!”
- “I can’t believe you did that”
- “OMG, how embarrassing, you idiot.”
Instead of beating yourself up for your mistakes or flaws, give yourself a generous dose of grace. Your insecurities can only have as much power as you give them.
How to Do It: Think about the last time you accidentally spiraled into negative self-talk after a mistake or mishap. Imagine someone you know (perhaps your daughter, sister, or close friend) made the same mistake that you did. What would you have said to them?
Would you have criticized her, called her names, or forced her to relive the moment repeatedly? Probably not, so why did you inflict that pain on yourself? Instead, practice telling yourself the same things you would say to comfort someone else in the same situation.
Acknowledge your inner critic
You know that ruthless internal voice who seems to hang on your every downfall, relentlessly compare you to others, and torture you with negative self-talk?
Your inner critic, or what Sigmund Freud called the “superego.” Psychologists believe this self-punishing and often cruel force is rooted in childhood relationships with your caretakers.
In adulthood, it may be the same voice that tells you you’re unworthy or not good enough.
Creating an external identity for your inner critic can help you decipher that mean judgemental voice from your true self.
Action Step: Psychologists use ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) to help disempower the inner critic by identifying, labeling it, and letting it go.
Begin to quiet destructive self-talk by naming and characterizing your inner critic. You can use the name of a childhood bully, a critical teacher, or a random neutral name of your choosing. When negative thoughts bombard you, begin to recognize them as separate from you.
Watch this TEDx Talk to learn more about rewiring your inner critic:
Disclaimer: We are overjoyed to help you overcome inner insecurities and feel more confident in yourself. However, nothing on Science of People is medical or psychiatric advice. If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to a qualified professional.
Take yourself on solo dates
Whether you’re single or in a relationship, it is empowering and nurturing to take yourself out for a change. Spending time alone is linked to more confidence, greater creativity, and more emotional stability in challenging situations. Calling it a “date” just adds a unique flair to the experience of celebrating your magnificence.
Action Step: Set aside an evening or weekend morning for a particular date with yourself.
- If you prefer quiet places: Put on your favorite creative outfit and head to a museum or botanical garden.
- If you love nature: Pack yourself a picnic and hit up a local beach or trail for a relaxing sunrise or sunset stroll.
- If you enjoy crowds: Make a reservation for 1 at your favorite restaurant and get dressed up to celebrate yourself.
During your “date,” remind yourself of all the things you love about being you. Bring your favorite book, journal, or sketchpad along for a bit of creativity and reflection
Embrace your social mistakes & keep showing up
The fear of social embarrassment can often feel crippling. Women who aren’t sure of themselves are more likely to hesitate and hold themselves back from attending parties, happy hours, or networking events.
Nobody was born with social confidence- they built it through trial and error. When in doubt, just laugh off social mishaps and learn from them. It’s OK to feel awkward or shy, but you can grow your confidence by continuously showing up and making mistakes.
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it, and eventually, the confidence will follow.”— Carrie Fisher
Action Step: Identify 3 areas where your social game is lacking. For example, maybe last weekend, you were stuttering when you talked, checking your phone too often, or making some lame jokes that got awkward silences. Don’t sweat it; everyone has awkward social moments!
Use this self-awareness to improve your social skills for the next event gradually. The most important thing is that you showed up! That action alone deserves a celebration.
If you want a few tips, check out our guide to overcoming social awkwardness.
Exercise is scientifically proven to improve your self-esteem, along with all its other mental and physical benefits. Whether it’s running, weightlifting, yoga, dancing, biking, or anything in between, daily movement can alleviate symptoms of low self-confidence and social withdrawal.
Pro Tip #1: The psychological phenomenon of “enclothed cognition” explains why wearing certain clothes changes the way people think and act.
In other words, when people put on workout gear, they feel more athletic and more inclined to work out. Use this to your advantage by investing in a cute workout outfit that makes you feel empowered to move.
Pro Tip #2: Group fitness classes and adult sports leagues are great ways to make new friends and build more confident social skills. Try out an athletic, social hobby that offers you a double-whammy, greater self-esteem, and more chances to meet like-minded people.
Be assertive with your boundaries
How often are you afraid to say “no” because you don’t want to disappoint someone?
Do you ever hold back on sharing a differing opinion because it feels easier to conform to the group?
Do you find yourself brushing it off when someone openly insults you?
Unfortunately, many women have fallen into the trap of people-pleasing that robs them of their confidence. When you are willing to stand up for yourself, “own your no,” and proudly express your viewpoint, you metaphorically put your foot down to say, “I matter.”
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”— Maya Angelou
Politely and proudly stand up for yourself by responding assertively to challenges, for example:
- When someone asks you to do something you don’t have time for… “I am busy this week, so I won’t be able to help you with that. I hope it works out!”
- When you have a differing opinion… “That’s interesting you see it that way. I believe this….”
- When someone insults you… “I don’t appreciate what you said about me and found it insulting.”
Action Step: Learn to set clear boundaries around your time and energy and assertively express them by using these 5 Ways to Draw the Line Politely.
Surround yourself with uplifting women
Confidence is undeniably contagious. Neuroscientists have found that some regions of your brain light up when the people around you feel confident in their decisions. In other words, when confident people surround you, you may feel more confident in yourself.
You can use this brain hack to your advantage by spending more time around women who exude poise, self-love, and uplifting positivity. It might just rub off on you!
Action Step: Take inventory of the primary friendships in your life. Which friends make you feel the best being in their presence? Have you outgrown any of your friendships? Do you have toxic people in your life that are holding you back?
Use the Marie Kondo approach to detoxifying your relationships. Watch this video to figure out which friends truly #sparkjoy in your life or which ones you may want to let go of:
Know your stuff (and admit when you don’t)
People naturally feel the most confident talking about things they know a lot about.
You can use this same tactic to prepare before socializing. Practice your introduction, your elevator pitch, or your favorite topic of discussion ahead of time.
If you put in the effort to prepare answers to common questions, you’ll feel more prepared to talk comfortably and naturally with new people.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re uneducated about a specific topic. Say, “Oh, I don’t know much about that. Tell me more,” then use the opportunity to learn and ask questions.
Avoid talking about topics you don’t know anything about or answering questions you don’t feel equipped to answer (trying to fake it can make you feel more insecure). And don’t forget to laugh it off when someone makes a joke that you don’t understand.
Hype yourself up with affirmations
Everyone has heard the cliche “what you think, you become,” but there’s also some robust science behind the power of how you talk to yourself. Positive affirmations increase brain activity, reduce stress, and improve relationship outcomes. They can even permanently alter your self-image.
In other words, you can brainwash yourself to get the confidence you want! Be your cheerleader by exciting yourself up daily.
Action Step: Write down 5 things you want to believe about yourself. Then, say them as if they are already confirmed. For example,
- “I am unique.”
- “I am confident.”
- “I am successful.”
- “I love who I am.”
- “I magnetize new friendships.”
- “I am powerful.”
- “I can handle anything life throws at me.”
Repeat these same 5 affirmations out loud every day for a month. Self-affirmation takes time, but the rewards can be significant.
You can also copy one of these 120 Positive Daily Affirmations for Happiness and learn how to use affirmations in this video:
Tell yourself all the things you’d wish they’d said
More often than not, insecurities stem from internalized perceptions of how other people treat you. Whether it was an ex-partner, an unsupportive parent, or a demeaning friend, negative comments or an absence of compliments can get imprinted on your subconscious.
Maybe you always wished they would tell you, “you are so smart,” “you are so gorgeous,” or “I love the way you find beauty in everything.”
Celebrity psychologist Marissa Peer suggests giving yourself all the praises you crave instead of relying on others to provide you with the validation. She advises her clients to go back in time and reflect on the unsung praises they never received from people they admired. Then, she suggests repeating those words of love and affirmation to yourself.
Be bold and take risks
Older generations of women play it small and keep it to themselves. Thankfully, modern women have more freedom and independence than ever before. Use it to your advantage and do something daring.
Risks can be small daily actions:
- Starting a conversation with a stranger
- Wearing a daring or unique outfit
- Going somewhere you’ve never gone before
- Trying a new hobby
- Taking on an unexpected project at work
Or, you can go big. Bigger risks can give you a huge confidence boost:
- Launching that online store you’ve always dreamed of
- Pursuing a creative endeavor you’ve put off for years
- Taking a solo travel trip
- Defying people’s expectations and trying something you’ve never done before
The world needs more courageous women who will take action without regard for what others say. Be a bit bolder in your decisions, and you’ll find yourself remarking, “that’s right, you did that!”
Tally up your wins
How much time do you spend in your head beating yourself up for your downfalls or mistakes? If you’re anything like most women, probably a lot. What if you channeled those efforts into keeping track of your wins?
Start rewarding yourself for accomplishing small things. Celebrate those wins and use them to catapult you forward into your most courageous, confident version of yourself.
Action Step: Grab a sticky note and write down 3 things you rocked in the past month, no matter how small. Did you walk an extra mile on the treadmill? Did you nail a presentation at school or work? Did you feel super confident when on a date?
Post your list on your mirror or car dashboard, where you can see it every day for a week. When you look at it, congratulate yourself for being the confident, powerful woman behind those accomplishments.
Key Takeaways: How to Be a Confident Woman
Confidence can be intoxicating when you have it or crippling when you don’t. Building self-esteem takes time, but these small habit shifts can catapult you forward into your most courageous, confident version of yourself:
- Prioritize your self-care: As women, people expect us to just give give give. But what about showing love to ourselves? Move your alone time and self-care rituals to the top of your to-do list. If you don’t fill your cup, how can you expect to pour from it?
- Set small goals and track your wins: Keep your eyes on the prize by following your accomplishments rather than your setbacks. Self-criticism can tear you down faster than anyone else’s opinions or negative feedback. When you catch yourself going down a dark rabbit hole, remind yourself of all the amazing things you have created and overcome.
- Be bold, take risks, and try new things: Putting yourself in new, uncomfortable situations has the surprising benefit of making you more confident in your power. Even if you fall on your face, at least you tried (and that’s more than most people do). Grow your confidence over time by putting yourself out there and celebrating yourself.
- Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love: Reclaim your sense of confidence by quieting your inner critic and replacing critical self-talk with positive affirmations. Don’t be afraid to hype yourself up, wink at yourself in the mirror, and romanticize the exquisite being that you are.
At the core of self-confidence is unshakeable self-love. How you talk to yourself and perceive your abilities will manifest in every aspect of your daily life.
Nobody is born with confidence; it is a gift you give yourself.
If you want a bigger confidence boost, try a 2-month long challenge with our guide on how to Build Rock Solid Self-Esteem in 8 Weeks (or less!)