Without any further ado, here’s how to boost your self-confidence:
1.Define what self-confidence means to YOU:
We’re all different. And our differences must be considered when we talk about building self-confidence.
Think about it as a set of rules. Rules that you have to follow in order for you to feel confident.
For someone, self-confidence could mean giving presentations and public speeches.
For another person, self-confidence could mean talking to strangers and basically talking to anyone freely.
And for another person, it could mean being able to communicate well with the other sex.
For someone else, it could mean following his dreams with courage and grit.
And, of course, for someone else it could mean a combination of all the above.
You have to know what self-confidence means to you specifically. Forget about the definition of self-confidence and the stereotypes you hear from everybody. What matters is what you believe. Your own rules are what govern the game.
Once you define that, start working on it. Trust me, you’re going to feel a lot confident when you accomplish things, no matter how small they are, that your own brain considers them as “self-confidence”.
2.Nobody is confident all the time:
Nobody, period! I don’t care who he/she is.
Including you and I.
Nobody can be confident all the time. We all have our ups and downs. We all have times when we feel disappointed and sad. We all go through tough situations.
I’m telling you this so that you don’t judge yourself harshly when you start building your confidence. There will be “off days”.
Also, people have varying degrees of self-confidence in various areas. Someone can be confident talking to a stranger but uncomfortable giving a presentation.
Self-confidence is not constant; it can change from time to time and from a situation to another.
Yes, aim to be better by closing the gaps that you find in your self-confidence. But remember, you can’t be perfect.
3.Keep a journal of the things that you’re proud of:
When you get knocked down, it’s really hard to see the good side. And it’s pretty easy to focus on all the negative stuff.
Your negative thoughts will breed more negative thoughts.
For instance, when you feel insecure you’ll forget about all the times that you’ve felt confident in. And you may label yourself as an insecure person who did some great things, instead of a confident person who feels insecure sometimes as a result of being a human.
I’ve experienced this many times. I feel bad about myself and I immediately dismiss all the good things that I’ve done in the past.
It’s hard to remember the good things when you are down. But when they are written, it’s much easier and more convincing.
So, whenever you do something that you’re proud of, write it down. Open a new note on your phone and write what you’ve done and how you feel about yourself as a result.
When your negative self-talk and inner critic take over, you’ll be supported by those notes.
When you feel insecure, remember the times that you’ve felt really confident and you were able to conquer harder situations. Not to stop feeling insecure at the time, but to not let this temporary insecurity ruin your self-confidence. Your hard-earned self-confidence.
4.People are not superhumans:
Many people when they communicate with others they think that they’re interacting with Superman or Spiderman or something.
They put other people on a pedestal while putting themselves down. That’s totally unfair.
They think that those they’re interacting with don’t feel bad, don’t feel insecure, always confident, don’t have their down times, don’t have problems, immune to pain, can fly and probably have a sword somewhere in their closet!
Look, those people you see around you every day, even the most confident ones, are ordinary people. All of them. No exceptions.
They feel bad sometimes. They feel insecure just like you sometimes. They have their own share of pain. They have their own problems, fears, aspirations, hopes, disappointments, regrets, glory moments, and tears.
They make mistakes too. They don’t like rejection and even fear it. And some of them are afraid of you just as much as you’re afraid of them.
So, that confident guy you feel small around him is just a human like you, with ups and downs, rights and wrongs, confidence and insecurities.
5.Don’t assume anything:
Your thoughts and beliefs about yourself govern your perception and how you interpret the things around you.
And if those thoughts and beliefs are already negative, your perception and the way you interpret the world will suck.
That’s why you need to stop assuming anything while working on building self-confidence. And even after you build it sometimes, so that you can keep it.
I’ll give you an example.
Assuming that the guy who is always quiet around you, and just gives you weird looks, hate you. Assuming that those guys who were sitting there talking and looking at you were talking about how ugly and unconfident you look like.
Stop those assumptions. The guy who you think that he hates you could be shy. He could be anxious. He could be just quiet and doesn’t like to talk a lot. Or he might have no opinion of you at all.
Those guys who were whispering to each other could’ve been talking about how you look like somebody they know. They could’ve been talking about something that isn’t related to you at all.
Heck, maybe they didn’t even see or notice you!
Why pick up the worst scenario?
In short, next time someone ignores you or treats you kind of badly, stop your wild thoughts right there and don’t assume anything at all. Many reasons that are unrelated to you will be filtered in the process, and that will destroy your self-confidence even further.
This is called cognitive distortions. I’ve written about it in details here:
6.Here’s how to deal with criticism:
Many people have a tough time dealing with criticism. They don’t like it. They consider it as a personal attack that reveals their weakness.
Here are some tips to handle criticism more effectively, and maybe even embrace it:
- Make sure you get rid of perfectionism: it’s a fruitless pursuit.
- Constructive criticism is nothing to be ashamed of: those who criticize you because they love you and care about you, or at least because they want you to improve and wish the best for you, are good people with good intentions. You should listen to them. That’s it, discuss it with them and learn something or two. Especially if they know what they’re talking about.
- The rest of the criticism is pointless and should be totally ignored: there are those who criticize you because they love you. But there are those who criticize you because they hate you. Because they’re jealous of you. Because they hate themselves. Because they hate the entire world. Because they don’t like seeing somebody succeeding or trying to. So, they criticize you to put you down and feel good about themselves.
- 90% of the time it’s not about you: as we said, some people hate themselves. Some people project their insecurities, fears, and lack of self-confidence on others to feel good about themselves. The second type of criticism is not about you at all, it’s about the person who is criticizing you.
Also see: I Get Defensive When People Judge Me
7.Run away from toxic and insecure people:
Run like a maniac. Run like your life depends on it, because it does.
Some people out there are very good at making you feel small. And even if you are self-confident, you’ll lose your self-confidence after being with them for a while.
Some people are insecure, and they project their insecurities onto you. They’re cowards, so they make you believe that you’re a coward just to feel less fear. They lack something, so they make you think that you lack it too. They are assholes!
Other people are just negative. They see the bad side in everything, including themselves and everyone they interact with. It’s just the way they see the world, it has nothing to do with you. They zoom on the negativity.
Get away from them as well.
Generally, those who, no matter how great of a day you’re having, manage to make you feel worthless and small, get away from them. Get away from anybody who makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you, even if those people are close friends or close family members.
That’s called self-respect.
8.Learn How to Screw Up
One of the things that can make you not only lose your self-confidence but also ruin your entire life is perfectionism.
Perfectionism is when you expect that everything that you do must be flawless, that you should never make any mistake and you should always win.
And in fact, perfectionism, at its core, is about gaining other people’s approval and pleasing them.
If you met 10 people and 8 of them actually enjoyed your company, you were confident and funny, but only 2 people didn’t like you then it’s not a bad thing. However, a typical perfectionist will think of it this way “only 8 people enjoyed my company, I’m such a boring person”.
Screw up. Fail. Say stupid and imperfect things. Make mistakes. Upset some people. Get rejected by some people.
Learn to screw up and overcome perfectionism. It’s not easy, especially if you’ve been a perfectionist for a long time. but it’s worth it.
Actually, here’s what happened when I gave myself the permission to screw up.
9.I’m ugly: Learn about BDD:
Some people lack self-confidence because they think that they’re ugly.
More than 90% of girls -15 to 17- want to change at least one aspect of their appearance, obese boys and girls have significantly lower self- esteem than their peers, and more than half teenage girls are, or think they should be, on diets.
And even though statistics suggest that it’s a bigger problem for girls, still many guys are also losing their self-esteem because they hate their physical appearance.
So, if you think that you’re ugly or unattractive, and lack confidence because of that, you first need to know that you’re not alone at all.
Second, you need to know that there’s a big possibility that your looks are just fine. You won’t believe me, I know. But you might believe scientist and psychology.
There’s a disorder that’s called BDD and it makes people actually look in the mirror and see an ugly person regardless of how they look like, even if they are gorgeous. Even some celebrities and models suffer from this disorder.
Now, I’m not here to diagnose anyone. I’m only suggesting that if you hate your looks, sometimes think you look fine and other times not, having people tell you that you look fine but you don’t believe them …etc, then reading about this BDD thing can be very helpful.
Don’t let your mind deceive you.
10.Standing up for one’s self:
Assertiveness is standing up for your own rights and needs.
It’s about having self-respect and expressing that to people in a non-aggressive way.
Lack of assertiveness will result in making you respect yourself less because you let people walk all over you.
Assertiveness, on the other hand, will make your brain think highly of you. Think of your brain as an outside observer, now he’s proud of you because you’re protecting its rights and needs.
Put your needs first, it’s not selfishness to refuse to do something when you feel like someone is asking for too much. Stand for yourself each time you feel like you’re not treated with respect or when you feel like someone is crossing the line.
Every time you say yes to someone, you’re saying no to yourself.
Create strong boundaries and protect them.
This needs a specific level of self-awareness. You set rules based on who you are as a person and what you are willing to accept. Those are the boundaries. Then, you protect those boundaries assertively.
You will respect yourself more when you stand up for yourself. And other people will respect you as well.
Why would you yourself, or anyone else, respect someone who doesn’t stand up for their needs?
11.Work on your skills (competence):
Self-confidence isn’t complete without competence and real skills.
It’s the egg and the chicken argument. But anyway, competence is required in the end.
You’re confident about your ability to walk because you know you can. But what about your ability to approach a stranger, to go on a date, to give a presentation, or to start a business.
The more you work on developing the skills that you need (based on how you define self-confidence as discussed above), the more confident you’ll become in the long run.
Yes, a leap of faith is required in the beginning. But the more you do it, the more competence you’ll be. And your self-confidence would be based on solid facts, which will reinforce it even further.
12.Do This After Making a Mistake
Many people lose, or never manage to build, their self-confidence as a result of making mistakes.
We talked above about overcoming perfectionism. However, we also need to learn how to deal with mistakes probably.
Someone may not be trying to be perfect at all, but as a result of making lots of mistakes, he loses his self-confidence. That’s a very common scenario, especially when you start to build your self-confidence and make some mistakes at the beginning.
The real problem is not with mistakes, the real problem is the way we handle those mistakes.
Feel guilty but never feel ashamed.
Guilt says, “I did something bad.” Shame says, “I’m bad!”
With guilt, you can correct your mistakes and improve. With shame, you’ll only give up on yourself and destroy yourself.
Guilt, along with self compassion, will lead to improvement. Shame will lead to self-pity, and that’s not a good thing. (Note: self-compassion and feelings of shame don’t go together).
Know the difference and never stigmatize yourself after making a mistake. Just get the fuck up and work on fixing what you’ve fucked up!
That, my friend, is called self-compassion. I’ve written about this in details right here:
- Self-image And Self-Compassion: The Deadly Pursuit of Perfection
- How Do You Feel About Your Flaws (And Why It Matters)
- This Happens When You Give Yourself the Permission to Screw Up
- Why You Should Never Give Up On Yourself
13.Here’s how to deal with self-consciousness:
Self-consciousness is one of the things that make people suffer in social situations and feel less confident.
Below I’ll share two strategies that will help you reduce self-consciousness:
- Consciously focus outward: focus on the things around you. Notice the color of the clothes that the person you’re talking to is wearing. The weather today. Find something special on the person you’re talking to (their eye’s color, the tone of their voice …etc) and focus on it (but be careful not to judge it, just focus on it). Or just focus on your breath or the other person’s breath. This will help you get out of your head and be more present.
- Prove to yourself that it’s just in your mind: when you’re in public next time feeling self-conscious, look around you to see if the whole world is looking at you. Slowly look at the people around you, without drawing their attention to you, and see where they’re looking at. 99% of the people around you most probably aren’t looking at you and most of them don’t even care about you that much. Do that few times to shake off the belief that everybody is looking at you.
- Bonus tip: read this study that found that most people don’t care that much, even if you were wearing a silly and embarrassing t-shirt.
14.Get out of your comfort zone at least once a week:
“Self-esteem comes from putting yourself on the line and doing something that’s extremely difficult on a regular basis.” -Tony Robbins.
Getting out of your comfort zone can help you not only build self-confidence but also build your character and improve your life in general.
By stepping out of the comfort zone, you can overcome shyness, destroy social anxiety, and do things that make you really proud of yourself for the rest of your life.
You comfort zone is different than the person’s next to you comfort zone. So, you need to get that figured out first.
Talking to strangers, giving a presentation, giving a public speech to a huge audience, or doing something embarrassing/weird in the street on purpose to give a shit less about what people think of you.
And it doesn’t have to be only related to social aspects. Taking risks and putting yourself on the line, forcing yourself to go to the gym when you don’t feel like it, committing to read 20 pages each day, or just sitting down with emotional discomfort.
15.Solve your biggest life’s problem/problems:
When you feel like you can’t solve a big life problem that you’re facing, your self-confidence will suffer.
Helplessness is one of the worst enemies to your self-confidence.
Also, usually, your biggest life’s problems are related to things that are very important to you. As a result, when you become able to solve them, not only your confidence levels will go up but also your happiness levels as well.
Examples of those big problems: your body shape, your financial situations, your social skills, an addiction you’re suffering from …etc.
Start working on solving your biggest life’s problems and you’ll experience increased self-confidence, relief, satisfaction, happiness, and an improved quality of life as well.
But remember that to do that effectively you need to be able to handle emotional pain…
16.Learn how to manage your negative and uncomfortable emotions:
I’m talking about emotions like depression, sadness, fear, general discomfort, frustration, disappointment …etc.
While many self-development sites want to tell you how to get rid of those emotions, I believe that we just can’t do that. We can’t get rid of them. Rather, we need to learn how to manage them.
Anyway, we’re not here to discuss that. We’re here to talk about how managing those emotions will help you boost your self-confidence.
Managing those emotions will result in making you a stronger person. That, in turn, will affect your self-confidence in a positive way. Being able to handle fearful, stressful, and tough situations will build your self-confidence and your character.
17.Have a role model:
This is one of the best ways to build self-confidence.
Having someone to look up to, almost like an ideal that you do your best to reach his/her level, without putting him/her on a pedestal.
Think of a celebrity that you like and think how he or she acts. Let’s take Will Smith, for example. He’s my favorite. You’ll see how he acts, how he talks, walks, carries himself, and everything in-between.
Then you’ll act the same way.
Not necessary overriding who you are, but rather keeping your own personality and style while taking the good things from your role model and adopting them.
This will help a lot.
From my own personal experience, thinking of a role model as a celebrity is effective. But there’s a more effective way to have a role model.
And that by picking someone from your environment who is totally confident. If you can’t find one then go to an environment where you’ll find one.
That could be a confident guy from your college that you don’t even know, it just shows up through the way he walks and talks. That could be a confident friend of yours. Or that could be a teacher, a worker, or just a total stranger.
Someone that you can actually see and interact with in the real world. Not only will you be able to act like them and learn from them, but also you’ll inspire yourself to change and become that kind of person.
Go and be friends with that person if you can. Else, just see how they act and follow their steps, without losing your own personality in the process.
This is, somehow, a sort of “fake it till you make it”, but in an improved way.
18.Neediness and approval seeking’s behaviors:
Being depended on other people’s attention, approval, and company is a turn-off and a sign of low self-esteem. And it’s one of the fastest ways to ruin your self-confidence even further.
And people don’t actually get impressed by those who try so hard to impress them. Not at all. People don’t like needy people.
What’s worse is that even if you managed to impress people, it doesn’t come free of charge. The price is your self-esteem.
You’re a human and you have your own worth. You don’t need people to cheer for you in order to know that you’re worthy.
I’ve said this many times and I’ll keep saying it, your mind is an outside observer. He’s the only one that you need to get his approval and impress, period.
The funny thing is when you do that and impress your own mind, people will be impressed as well, at least most of them. But, ironically, it won’t matter anymore to you.
19.Knowledge can boost self-esteem:
Think about it this way: more knowledge equals more resources (provided that you put that knowledge into action). More resources equal more skills. More skills equal more competence and as a result more confidence.
Knowledge is power. When you read books and learn new things, you’ll have more respect for yourself.
So go ahead and learn as much as you can. Read books, articles or whatever. Watch videos, attend seminars and courses. Ask mentors. And always aim at becoming better each day.
This kind of attitude will result in a higher self-esteem as time goes on.
And, of course, reading more specifically about self-confidence is going to be helpful. For example, this article with all the things related to self-esteem.