How to Gain Confidence

Four Parts:Setting GoalsGaining ConfidenceRemaining Confident in Difficult SituationsTaking Care of Yourself

Do you wish you were more confident? Gaining confidence is possible. Most experts agree that self-confidence is a combination of self-esteem and self-efficacy.[1] Start believing in yourself, your abilities, and your goals. This will help you cope with problems and stressors, while boosting your confidence. Have a positive attitude, set measurable goals for yourself, and keep company with other confident and supportive people. You'll be well on your way to developing your own self-confidence.[2]

Part 1
Setting Goals

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    List your strengths. This is a simple task that will help you get into a self-positive mindset, which is essential to maintaining confidence. Yes, you have areas that need improving, everybody does, but often, a lack of confidence comes from a lack of self-esteem. Listing the positives in your life can help you get past the minor negatives.[3] Here are some things you could include:
    • Talents or skills: This doesn't have to be competitive. It only means that you see yourself as talented or skillful in some area, like athletics, art, business, or creativity.
    • Personality traits: Note anything about your personality that you take pride in. For example, you might see yourself as hard working, caring, or imaginative.
    • Accomplishments: These are things you've achieved that you're proud of. Maybe you performed in a concert, spoke in front of an audience, baked a birthday cake, or ran in a race.
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    Understand your lack of self-confidence. Frequently, this develops when you don't feel supported or listened to by people in your life. This often begins in early childhood and stems from family interactions.[4] Maybe your parents were overly critical, harsh or punishing. This can prevent the development of self-confidence and create worried, hesitant, and fearful adults who lack a sense of self.[5] On the other hand, parents who overprotect their children, also do them a disservice by not allowing them to try, fail, try again, and finally succeed.[6] The adult version is afraid to try anything new for fear of failure.
    • For example, if your parents always criticized your efforts in school, you may grow up believing you aren’t smart or that you can’t possibly succeed in life. You may believe that others think you aren’t smart or hardworking.
    • Or, if your parents never let you go anywhere by yourself as a child, for fear you would get lost or kidnapped, you may have a difficult time as an adult going to unfamiliar places. In truth, failure or getting lost is what helps us learn.
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    Write down what kind of confidence you want to gain. Do you want to build confidence in speaking to people? In public speaking? Write down the areas in which you want to build self-confidence. This can make your plan to gain confidence clearer.[7]
    • For example, you may note that you want to speak to the class during a group project. Or, write down that you'd like to be more confident when playing a group sport or doing an activity.[8]
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    Make a simple action plan. Once you know what area you'd like to gain confidence in, decide specifically how you'll increase your self-confidence. You may want to write down the steps of your action plan. Start small and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations or interactions.[9]
    • For example, write that you want to start a conversation with at least one person today. Or, ask one question in a class or group setting. Then practice by talking with more people or asking more questions. Practicing is a vital part of gaining confidence.[10]
    • You may plan on interviewing for three new jobs in the next year or applying to two new schools. Or, your action plan may be smaller. Maybe your goal is to go out with friends once a week or take a class that you're interested in.
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    Set small and measurable goals. Make sure your goals are broken down into detailed steps. This way, you'll be able to track your progress. You'll also feel more confident with these accomplishments. Make sure the goals are manageable and achievable.[11]
    • For example, a measurable goal with several steps might be something like this, "Steps: train 6 months, then run a half-marathon, train another 3 months. Goal: run a full-marathon."
    • Make sure to write down and schedule your goals. This will increase your chances of achieving them. If you're struggling, revise the goal or consider what you've learned before moving on.[12][13]

Part 2
Gaining Confidence

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    Get the information you need. Depending on the area you'd like to gain self-confidence, look for resources you may need. Check to see if you will need formal training or education to meet your goals. After all, it's difficult to have the self-confidence to fly an airplane if you haven’t taken a lesson or sat in the pilot’s seat. If you take a formal course, it can also provide lots of opportunities for practice, which is another great way to gain confidence.[14]
    • Consider finding a mentor, taking a class, or reading up on a subject you need to learn about. This will give you the tools you need to succeed.
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    Stay positive and optimistic. Gaining confidence requires staying focused and having a positive attitude. If you are constantly being criticized or if your efforts go unnoticed, it will be easy to become discouraged. Take any negative doubts you may have and turn them into positive statements or challenges. Create rituals for yourself to develop positive self-talk or affirmations.[15]
    • For example, every morning when you brush your teeth, look at yourself in the mirror, smile and say, “I am going to give it my best today, and I deserve to have self-confidence!”
    • Do things you truly enjoy. Listen to music, visit an art gallery, play basketball with some friends. Find what you love to do and make sure you're frequently doing it. This will prevent those negative doubts from returning.
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    Create a support network. A negative environment is a confidence killer. Surround yourself with people who support your efforts. This way, you'll be free to practice confident skills without being judged by those around you. Let your support network know that you're trying to gain confidence.
    • If you're struggling, don't hesitate to ask a friend or family for help or support.
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    Remind yourself of your strengths. Knowing that you have positive traits and qualities is a good thing, but without emphasizing and focusing on them every day, you will soon slip back into the habit of self-doubt and self-criticism. Keep your list of strengths in an easy to access location so you can look at it often.[16] Recite a mantra or affirmation that reminds you of your positive traits and skills.
    • For example, every time you use the restroom, look in the mirror and say something nice about yourself. This will keep your strengths firmly in your mind and increase your confidence. Before you know it, you will be comfortable with who you are and unafraid of the opinions of others, which is one of the chief qualities of a truly confident person.
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    Take informed risks. If you don't have much confidence, you probably aren't taking many risks. On the other hand, overly confident people can take reckless risks. Find a balance and take risks based on your abilities and the reality of the situation. Taking informed risks can give your confidence a well-earned boost.[17]
    • Taking risks means different things to everyone. Maybe you want to go to a social function you'd otherwise be afraid of, or you might take a risk in confronting a friend who's been nagging you. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy new social situations or get out of harmful ones.

Part 3
Remaining Confident in Difficult Situations

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    Handle rejection. Understand that rejection is a part of life. While it hurts, you can pick yourself up and get on with your life. Learn to handle it with grace. For instance, respond civilly and accept that you're being rejected. Respect the other person's decision and you'll appear confident and self-assured.
    • Don't give up. Just because you may have missed out on a relationship, job offer, or promotion, you shouldn't stop trying. Learn from the rejection and move on.[18]
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    Handle bullying. Stick up for yourself. Bullies will continue to pick on you if you let them. Instead, stand up to them and rely on your support system.[19] Handle bullying by being confident and brave. Clearly tell the bully to stop it.
    • Do not accept bullying as a part of your life. Bullying is wrong and you have a right to live free of it, even if it takes talking to the boss of the boss or the principal of your school to change your situation.
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    Handle a job interview. Confidence is critical when it comes to job interviews. Employers are constantly looking for someone who seems confident and capable. While, it's easy to become overwhelmed and nervous at such an important event, one of the best things you can do is to pretend to have confidence. As you become more comfortable, you'll find yourself relaxing into a truly confident attitude.[20]
    • Listen and assert yourself during the interview. Don't simply sit and respond to questions. Instead, try to engage with your interviewer and make your goals known. This will make you look focused and confident.[21]
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    Handle a public speech. There have been entire books written on the subject of preparing and delivering an effective speech, but as with most human interaction, one of the key elements of successful public speaking is confidence. Consider trying several of the following to gain confidence:
    • Be funny. Humor can relax you as well as your audience and relieve any tension. The audience may also be more engaged and trusting of you.[22]
    • Express confidence. Even if you don't feel confident, use confident gestures and tones. Be loud, clear, and use your arms to refer to major points. Avoid slouching, mumbling, or keeping your arms crossed.[23]
    • Make eye contact. This will engage your audience and make you appear confident. Try finding a few people that seem really engaged with your speech and focus on them, not those people that may look disinterested.[24]

Part 4
Taking Care of Yourself

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    Realize the importance of self-care. Often when a person lacks confidence, the attitude toward self-maintenance boils down to “Who really cares?” You should care. Letting yourself slide on things like hygiene, health, and time management is a sure way to make your lack of self-confidence even worse, as your ideal self becomes more and more removed from your reality.
    • By taking better care of yourself, you will be breaking the cycle and giving yourself a major confidence boost.
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    Practice good hygiene. Set aside a block of time each morning to keep up with daily hygiene. Take a shower, wash your face, change your clothes, whatever you need to get ready for your day. By the time you are ready to step out the front door, you should be feeling more confident than usual.
    • Keep up the routine every day to maintain that confidence.
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    Take care of your health. Very simply put, eat a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and lean proteins. Limit alcohol, fatty food, and overeating. Make sure you get regular exercise throughout the week.
    • Quit smoking, especially if you use it as a crutch in social situations. Gain confidence by quitting the habit.
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    Manage your sleep schedule. A regular sleep schedule can be difficult to maintain, especially during your high school and college years. But do the best you can to be in bed at the same time every night, and up at the same time every morning. Aim to be up at least an hour before you have to leave your home for work or school.
    • You build your waking life around the time you spend sleeping, so the first step to organizing your day is making sure you are able to get up at the same time each morning to follow your schedule.

Sources and Citations

  1. Mankelow, J. & Carlson, A. (nd). Building self-confidence: Preparing yourself for success
  2. Norton, B. (2014). Overcome social anxiety and shyness: how to become confident and more outgoing. Amazon digital services.

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Categories: Building and Maintaining Self Confidence