Confidence is the secret ingredient that propels you to reach your potential and conquer challenges. That unwavering belief allows you to pursue your dreams, overcome obstacles, and achieve your goals.
But for many, confidence can feel elusive, slipping through their fingers when they need it the most. In fact, 85%1https://blog.gitnux.com/self-confidence-statistics/ of people report struggling with self-confidence at some point in their lives, and 95%1https://blog.gitnux.com/self-confidence-statistics/ of people believe it is critical for professional success! So how can one harness the power of confidence and unlock their true potential?
Let’s dive into what makes someone confident and tips and strategies to help you build your confidence!
What is Confidence?
Confidence is a positive and assured mindset that enables people to face challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals. It’s often characterized by a sense of self-belief, self-worth, inner strength, and a positive outlook. It also involves having faith in one’s capabilities, competence, and judgment.
However, confidence goes beyond self-assurance; it’s a state of mind that allows individuals to navigate various aspects of life, including relationships, professional endeavors, and social interactions, with a sense of poise and assertiveness.
Confident individuals exhibit several key traits and behaviors, including:
- Self-assurance: A sense of certainty in their abilities and choices
- Resilience: The ability to bounce back from setbacks, failures, or rejections
- Positive self-image: A healthy perception of self-worth and strengths
- Assertiveness: Effective expression of needs, boundaries, ideas, and opinions
- Willingness to take risks: Ability to embrace new opportunities
- Adaptability: An openness to change and the ability to view challenges as opportunities
- Effective communication: Skills in clear expression, active listening, and engaging conversation
What causes a lack of confidence?
A lack of confidence is caused by a combination of factors, including negative past experiences, comparison, lack of support, the pursuit of perfection, lack of skill or knowledge, fear of judgment, trauma, and societal pressures. Other factors include anxiety and depression.
Additionally, while it is debated among scientists, some studies2https://www.businessinsider.com/some-people-are-genetically-wired-to-be-confident-2014-4?r=US&IR=T show that part of your genetic makeup can contribute to your confidence level, suggesting that confidence is caused by both nature and nurture.
Can low confidence be treated?
Yes, low confidence can be treated and improved. While building confidence is a process that takes time and effort, several strategies can help boost self-confidence, including many of the ideas listed in this article!
Fortunately, confidence can be developed and nurtured3https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Q4g1RU96QaYC&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&dq=nurture+confidence&ots=Tp6ppi5yw-&sig=yAgNIeGJtNeVl1fL7y9Z5G6OLvk over time through self-reflection, personal growth, and practice. By challenging your self-limiting beliefs, setting and achieving goals, and embracing personal strengths, you can cultivate confidence and experience its benefits!
Let’s dive into some tips and strategies you can use to build more confidence!
15 Strategies to Build Your Confidence
Identify your strengths and clarify your purpose
A lack of confidence is often interlinked with unhappiness, and unhappiness is often the result of a lack of purpose or understanding of our values and strengths. To boost your confidence and happiness, consider getting down to the root of who you are, what brings you joy, and what kind of activities bring you to a state of flow.
To help you identify your strengths and purpose and ultimately find more happiness and confidence, try engaging in these activities:
- Start a Success File: Think of every success and win that you have had and make a file. This can be digital (copies of emails, screenshots of nice comments, etc.) or physical (grab awards or letters that have made you feel good). As good things happen, keep adding them to your success file and use them whenever you need a boost of confidence.
- Reflect: “What activities am I engaging in when the time feels like it’s flying by?”
- Seek feedback from others: “How do others describe my best qualities?”
- Take an assessment: Utilize tools like StrengthsFinder to explore your strengths.
- Keep a success journal: Record accomplishments, positive feedback, and success stories and note the common themes that emerge over time.
Explore new things: Try out new activities or roles that pique your inteSupposest, even if you can only engage in small ways on the side. This discovery process can help you find more enjoyment in things you may not have expected.
Take up a stress-reducing hobby
Stress and anxiety can hinder confidence due to impaired cognitive functioning. When you have difficulty thinking clearly, it leads to second-guessing, hesitation, and feeling uncertain, all of which undermine confidence. It’s important to take care of yourself, not only for your own well-being but also for your sense of confidence.
Among many practices to reduce stress and boost confidence is prioritizing self-care with activities that bring joy and relaxation. This includes engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, engaging in creative outlets, exercising, or simply taking time to relax.
Looking for a new hobby? Perhaps you could try one of these!
- Painting or drawing
- Yoga or meditation
- Playing a musical instrument
- Outdoor activities like biking, hiking, or boating
- Historical reenactments
Build your assertiveness with “I” statements
Assertiveness is a key trait linked to confidence because it empowers people to express themselves effectively, stand up for their needs, and establish healthy boundaries.
Those who feel unsure how to express themselves may unintentionally become passive or accusatory in their communication. To reduce passive language, own your emotions and ideas by using “I” language. Here are some examples:
|Passive/Accusatory Language||Assertive Language|
|“You never listen to me”||“I feel unheard when I don’t have a chance to express my thoughts.”|
|“You make me angry.”||“I feel angry when It feels like my boundaries are crossed.”|
|“You’re late.”||“I feel disrespected when our time is cut short.”|
|“You never help around here.”||“I feel overwhelmed and unsupported when I have to handle things on my own.”|
|“You’re being selfish.”||“I feel hurt when my needs are not taken into consideration.”|
Notice the difference? When you use assertive language, you become more clear about your needs and help others understand how they can better support you, which ultimately improves your relationships and well-being!
Pro Tip: Begin by asserting yourself in low-stakes situations and gradually work up to more challenging ones. Start with expressing preferences, making simple requests, or saying “no” when necessary.
Practice your vocal power
When you answer the phone or start a new conversation, your voice projects your inner confidence and mood. Your first impression is often in your first “hello.” If your vocal power is too weak, you could be projecting low-self esteem or disinterest. If your vocal power is too strong, you could come off as aggressive or rude. Is your voice helping or hurting how people perceive you? Let’s find out!
Here at Science of People, we did a fascinating experiment on vocal power. We asked participants to record themselves saying “hello” in six different ways:
- Normal Hello (This is the control.)
- Happy Hello (Thinking of something that made them happy and holding a Happiness Microexpression.)
- Sad Hello (Thinking of something that made them sad and holding a Sadness Microexpression.)
- Angry Hello (Thinking of something that made them angry and holding an Angry Microexpression.)
- Power Posing Hello (While adopting a Power Pose.)
- Normal Hello (One more control once they were warmed up.)
We added these recordings to our website and asked our readers to tell us how much they liked (or didn’t like) the person in the recording based on the “hello” they heard. Readers listened to each clip and selected one of the following answers:
- I like this person a lot.
- I like this person a little.
- I do not like this person.
Which version of the “hello” do you think was the most likable?
….the winner was the Happy Hello!
The data revealed that the happy recordings received significantly higher approval ratings than any others. This is a huge finding as it shows people can hear your mood.
Which variation do you think did the worst?
….the Angry Hello!
As it turns out, your mood and confidence affect your voice, whether you realize it or not. We like hearing happy moods, and we don’t like hearing irritable moods. So be mindful of your mood and inner thoughts before making those first impressions, whether on the phone, via Zoom, or in person. You may want to reserve these conversations after reflecting on positive affirmations or doing something that brings you joy.
Cultivate self-belief with positive affirmations
One of the common barriers to confidence is self-doubt, which is a state of uncertainty about who you are and what you’re capable of. It’s often caused by dwelling on past failures, comparing yourself to others, pursuing perfection, lacking support, fearing rejection, or limited experience.
In some cases, a healthy dose of self-doubt can help remind yourself that you have more to learn, but when it hinders your ability to face challenges, it can definitely impact your confidence.
To overcome self-doubt, and challenge your negative thought patterns, cultivate self-belief through positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are words you repeat to yourself to build or sustain confidence and motivate you to achieve your goals or focus your mind.
Positive affirmations are not necessarily about speaking platitudes about yourself as much as they are about helping you identify and focus your mind on your values. In fact, if you use affirmations you don’t believe or don’t align with your values, research suggests4https://www.uni-muenster.de/imperia/md/content/psyifp/aeechterhoff/wintersemester2011-12/seminarthemenfelderdersozialpsychologie/04_wood_etal_selfstatements_psychscience2009.pdf they could have the opposite desired effect!
Here are a few to get you started (but be sure to check out our article on positive affirmations for more!)
- I am enough.
- I am kind.
- What would [insert hero] do?
- One step at a time.
- I’m here to be helpful.
- I have everything I need.
- I’m still learning.
- I’m grateful for___.
Suppose you’re feeling discouraged by an embarrassing mistake, disappointed by the outcome of an important project, or saddened by a failed relationship. Positive affirmations are a great way to center yourself and keep you from ruminating on situations beyond your control.
Change social anxiety by reframing your mind
If you often imagine worst-case scenarios before going into a social situation, you’re likely experiencing social anxiety. Don’t worry; you’re not alone! So many of us have been there. Unfortunately, social anxiety can take its toll on your confidence and even negatively impact your relationships. Check out what Vanessa Van Edwards has to say about it!
The next time you find yourself going down a negative thought spiral, try reframing your mind with a new question the next time you find yourself going down that path. Instead of asking yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” try asking, “What’s the best that can happen?” By giving yourself a positive visualization5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5351796/ of what could be, you can train your brain toward positive outcomes and boost your self-esteem!
Develop a growth mindset
A growth mindset is a belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort and learning. By adopting a growth mindset, you can begin to see challenges as opportunities rather than a reason to beat yourself up.
To cultivate a growth mindset, start by reframing your mind when you’re confronted with a new challenge or opportunity.
|Fixed Mindset Perspective||Growth Mindset Perspective|
|Challenges: “It’s too hard.”||Opportunities: “One step at a time.”|
|Pessimism: “Impossible.”||Optimism: “What can be done?”|
|Outcomes: “I did it.”||Effort/Progress: “I’m growing.”|
|Setbacks: “I failed.”||Learnings: “What can I learn from this?”|
|Indifference: “It is what it is.”||Curiosity: “What if…”|
|Stagnant: “Things won’t change.”||Flexibility: “What can I adjust?”|
|Criticism: “They hate me.”||Areas for growth: “What can I do better?”|
Take criticism and rejection as an opportunity to learn
Dealing with criticism and rejection is crucial for maintaining confidence, but let’s be real; this one is tough. According to research6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273616/, rejection hurts us in a similar way that physical pain hurts us. Though we can’t see its effects, our brain experiences the pain similarly. And criticism can be both constructive and destructive, potentially causing the more sensitive among us to spend the day in bed after receiving some tough feedback. So what do we do?
Though it may be tough to practice, you do have an opportunity to learn from rejection and criticism. Here are some practical tips to help you learn from these experiences:
- Understand the context: Where is the criticism coming from? What is the person going through right now? What do they perceive about the situation?
- Recognize common themes: Have you received criticism or rejection like this before? What are the similarities? How is this time different?
- Ask for clarity: When you receive criticism, it may hurt more if misunderstood. Seek clarity and ask how you can improve.
- Seek support from trusted friends: Those who know you well can help you navigate what’s true and not true about criticism and what you can learn from it.
It’s important to know that not all criticism and rejection should be taken seriously. It can often be shared out of malice and ill intent, which shouldn’t be taken to heart. More often than not, harsh criticism tends to reflect the person giving the criticism rather than the person they are criticizing. While there is a lot you can learn from criticism, be careful to seek the truth.
Set SMART goals to stay motivated
Goal-setting plays a significant role in building confidence. Why? Because it provides clarity of direction, motivation and helps you stay on track toward the things you wish to accomplish.
One of the best ways to set and achieve goals is to make them SMART, an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Here’s a breakdown of each element and how it contributes to goal-setting:
- Specific: A goal should be clear, well-defined, and specific in its objective. It answers the question, What do you want to achieve? Being specific also helps to provide focus and direction. Instead of a vague goal like “get better at public speaking,” a specific goal would be “deliver a confident and engaging presentation on a specific topic to a target audience.”
- Measurable: A goal should be measurable to track progress and determine when it has been accomplished. Measurable goals provide a way to assess whether you are moving closer to your desired outcome. For example, “Increase sales by 15% in the next quarter” is a measurable goal that allows you to track your sales performance.
- Achievable: A goal should be realistic and attainable. It should challenge you but still be within your reach with effort and commitment. It is essential to set realistic goals, given your available resources, skills, and time frame. Setting unattainable goals can lead to frustration and demotivation.
- Relevant: A relevant goal aligns with your objectives, values, and priorities. It should have significance and relevance to your personal or professional life. Ensuring your goal aligns with your broader aspirations and supports your values helps maintain motivation and focus.
- Time-bound: Setting a deadline or time frame for achieving your goal is crucial. A time-bound goal helps create a sense of urgency and provides a target to work towards. It helps to prevent procrastination and keeps you accountable. Establishing milestones or checkpoints within the timeframe can also help monitor progress and make necessary adjustments.
By following the SMART framework, you transform your goals from vague aspirations into actionable and well-defined targets, which ultimately help boost your confidence as you realize what’s possible.
Master your conversation skills
Have you ever had a conversation where you fumbled your way around trying to come up with something to talk about or overshared something and made someone uncomfortable? We’ve all been there! These awkward interactions are all too common, but fortunately, you can build your conversation skills to have more confident interactions that don’t leave you awake at night wondering how it could have gone differently.
Here are just a few tips to get you off on the right foot during your next conversation:
- Exude friendly body language: Let people know you’re a friend, not a foe, by approaching people with visible hands (shows trust), a smile (shows you’re friendly), and eye contact (shows you’re interested(.
- Keep conversation starter questions on hand: “How are you?” doesn’t cut it anymore. Ask questions that engage people. Open-ended questions like, “What was the highlight of your day?” work well!
- Tell stories: Telling stories about your life and inviting others to tell theirs makes the conversation memorable and even more enjoyable. What are your personal favorites?
- Encourage reciprocity: Don’t mooch the conversation by being the only one talking. Encourage others with follow-up questions like, “How about you?”
Check out this resource for a lot more (super helpful) tips and tricks!
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Improve your awareness
Emotional intelligence involves understanding and managing your emotions and others’ emotions, which includes developing self-awareness and social awareness.
To develop self-awareness, try these practices:
- Self-reflect through journaling or talking with a therapist. It’s helpful to understand your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors while recognizing patterns you wish to change.
- Seek feedback from trusted friends who can provide insights into your blind spots.
- Explore your interests and passions by engaging in things that genuinely interest you and allow you to express your true self.
To develop better social awareness, try these practices:
- Practice active listening and being fully present with others. Pay attention not only to verbal cues but also non-verbal cues and microexpressions to understand their emotions, needs, or perspectives.
- Build your empathy by seeking to understand someone else’s perspective and showing compassion.
- Learn from diverse perspectives by exposing yourself to various cultures. Adopt a posture of curiosity and observation as you seek to understand different ways of life.
Go on a social media diet
We love social media, but while social media platforms have their benefits, it is important to recognize that they can negatively affect our confidence. Here are just a few of the harmful realities of social media use:
- Comparison: Seeing carefully curated posts and highlight reels of others can lead to feelings of inadequacy as people compare themselves to idealized versions presented on social media.
- Cyberbullying and negativity: Online harassment or receiving hurtful comments can significantly impact one’s self-esteem and confidence.
- Validation-seeking behavior: Social media can become a platform for seeking external validation and approval. The number of likes, comments, or followers can become a measure of self-worth for some individuals.
- Information overload and negative news: Social media can bombard individuals with a constant stream of news, opinions, and information, some of which may be negative or anxiety-inducing. Consuming a lot of negative news can heighten stress and anxiety levels, affecting overall confidence and well-being.
To mitigate the negative impact of social media on your confidence, it’s essential to practice mindful and healthy social media habits.
- Limit screen time—Note: You can set a limit in your phone settings!
- Curate your feed to follow accounts that promote positivity, authenticity, or learning.
- Engage in meaningful interactions.
- Focus on real-life connections and experiences.
Follow the 5-second rule to follow through
Have you felt the urge to share an idea when the confidence suddenly slipped from your grasp? This is what bestselling author Mel Robbins calls the five-second rule. She believes confidence is a skill that requires mindset and action to take effect. Otherwise, the confidence goes away altogether. If you let time and doubt infest your idea, the confidence can’t materialize into action.
- Have the urge to act on a goal? Act within five seconds!
- Feel hesitation? Do a countdown from five, then move.
How might this concept apply in real life? Imagine you’re in a team meeting at work and have an innovative idea that could greatly benefit the project. As the discussion progresses, you start feeling the urge to share your idea.
However, self-doubt creeps in, and your confidence begins to slip away. You start questioning whether your idea is good enough, if others will approve, or if you’ll be judged negatively for speaking up. In this situation, applying the concept of the five-second rule can be helpful.
By doing so, you bypass the time for doubt and overthinking to take hold. You create momentum and prevent your confidence from dissipating entirely. Taking swift action allows your idea to be heard, considered, and potentially embraced by your team.
Combat stage fright by visualizing success
Public speaking is a common source of anxiety for many people. In fact, it’s one of the most common fears! Unfortunately, this means a lot of great ideas go unheard. By developing your public speaking skills and adopting tips to combat stage fright, you can easily gain the confidence to share your ideas.
One of the best ways to combat stage fright is by visualizing success5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5351796/. Imagine yourself delivering a successful and engaging presentation. Visualize the audience responding positively, your confident body language, and your clear delivery. This technique helps build a positive mindset and reduces anxiety.
To practice positive visualization5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5351796/, take these steps:
- Close your eyes and create a mental image of yourself on stage. Imagine the setting. Imagine your composure, body language, and confidence.
- Visualize a clear delivery with eye contact, helpful gestures, and a confident tone.
- Focus on the positive outcomes and imagine the audience nodding, engaging, and interested in your words.
Master your craft with the 10,000-hour rule
Becoming a master of a craft or skill is a great way to boost your confidence in whatever subject, whether it’s writing, art, karate, public speaking, teaching, or anything that requires skill and practice. As masters will tell you, it takes discipline and continuous learning to become a master, and even then, there is always room for growth!
How do you become a master? According to Malcolm Gladwell7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4662388/#:~:text=Throughout%20his%20book%2C%20Gladwell%20repeatedly,at%20least%2010%20000%20hours., it takes 10,000 hours of effort and practice to become an expert in something. If you’re at, say, 500 hours, and feeling a lack of confidence about your skill, don’t worry. There is still time to grow and enjoy the journey!
To apply the 10,000-hour rule to your life, consider these steps:
- Break it down: Divide your journey into smaller, manageable milestones. Break down the skills, techniques, or aspects of the craft that you need to develop and prioritize them based on your current level of proficiency.
- Create a practice plan: Include deliberate practice sessions designed to target specific skills or areas of improvement. Set aside dedicated time for focused practice, and be consistent and disciplined in adhering to your practice schedule.
- Seek expert guidance: Connect with mentors, coaches, or experts in your field who can provide guidance, feedback, and support. Their expertise can help you structure your practice, identify areas for improvement, and accelerate your progress.
- Track your progress: Record your practice sessions and track your progress over time. Regularly review and evaluate your performance, identify patterns, and adjust your practice plan accordingly.
- Emphasize quality over quantity: It’s not just about accumulating hours; the quality of your practice matters. Stay engaged, focused, and mindful during practice sessions, and continually strive for improvement rather than merely repeating the same actions.
Remember, the 10,000-hour rule is a guideline rather than an absolute rule. The key is to engage in deliberate practice, seek continuous improvement, and embrace the mindset and dedication necessary for achieving mastery in your chosen field.
Boosting Confidence Takeaways
In summary, take note of these tips and strategies to help you boost your confidence and take on life’s tough challenges. You got this!
- Cultivate self-belief with positive affirmations. These phrases keep you centered on who you are and want to become.
- Combat social anxiety by reframing your mind. Ask, “What’s the best that could happen?”
- Identify your strengths and clarify your purpose. What brings you joy or flow?
- Develop a growth mindset. Reframe challenges as opportunities for growth.
- Take criticism and rejection as an opportunity to learn. Seek context, themes, and clarity.
- Set SMART goals to stay motivated. Ensure goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
- Master your conversation skills. Bring out the best in yourself and others.
- Take up a stress-reducing hobby. Stress negatively influences your confidence.
- Build your assertiveness with “I” statements. Refrain from passive language.
- Practice your vocal power. Your voice projects your inner mood.
- Improve your awareness—self-awareness and social-awareness boost emotional intelligence and your ability to feel confident in different settings.
- Limit social media consumption. Studies show too much exposure is detrimental to our mental health.
- Follow the 5-second rule. When you get a surge of confidence, act before you second-guess yourself!
- Combat stage fright by visualizing success. Picture your ideal experience and embody it as you step out in front of people.
- Master your craft with the 10,000-hour rule. Build your skills (and confidence) over time.
For more ideas to boost your confidence through your body language, check out our article How to Look and Feel More Confident: 5 Scientific Body Language Hacks.
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