Confidence is a key ingredient for success in all aspects of life. It allows you to take risks, pursue your goals, and build strong relationships. However, many people struggle with confidence, and it can be hard to know how to improve it.
Research shows that people with high self-esteem generally have more success at school and work, better social relationships, improved mental and physical health, and less anti-social behavior. These benefits seem to persist from adolescence to adulthood and into old age. According to research by psychologists at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Bern, boosting self-esteem might benefit individuals and society as a whole.
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Why is Confidence Important?
Confidence plays a pivotal role in all aspects of your life. While external validation might bring temporary gratification, true confidence involves relying more on internal validation and making decisions confidently without constant approval-seeking.
The need for external approval has deep roots in evolutionary history, but in today’s world, it can impact decision-making based on personal beliefs. Overcoming people-pleasing involves recognizing signs like constant validation-seeking, unnecessary apologies, quick agreement for approval, authenticity struggles, and overcommitting.
For those navigating leadership roles, remaining true to yourself, acting with confidence, and not letting others undermine your qualifications is crucial. Confidence grows through acknowledging the fear of people-pleasing, aligning actions with beliefs, and realizing the world won’t collapse if others disapprove.
What Causes Lack of Confidence?
Low self-esteem can be caused by different circumstances such as:
Comparing ourselves to others
Fear of failure
One thing I want you to take away from this is these negative experiences, and opinions of yourself don’t define you and you can change them. Critical self-talk is one of your biggest enemies when it comes to building self-confidence. You might think that nobody hears it, but the person who’s affected the most by it is you. You listen to yourself 24/7. It’s truly important to find ways to curb your tendency for negative self-talk and change it to positive thinking that will boost your self-esteem.
Internal Validation vs. External Validation
Internal and external validation are two important concepts that can have a significant impact on your confidence levels.
Internal validation is the process of valuing and appreciating yourself for who you are. It is based on your own beliefs and judgments, and it is not dependent on the approval of others. When you have strong internal validation, you are more likely to feel confident in your abilities and worth.
External validation, on the other hand, is the process of seeking approval and validation from others. It can be based on your accomplishments, your appearance, or your social status. While external validation can be gratifying, it is not a reliable source of self-confidence. This is because external validation is always dependent on the opinions of others, and these opinions can change at any time.
People who rely too heavily on external validation are more likely to lack confidence because they are constantly seeking approval from others. They are also more likely to be people-pleasers, which can lead to them putting the needs of others above their own.
You need to step outside of your comfort zone and take risks in order to build confidence. When you try new things and challenge yourself, you learn that you are capable of more than you thought you were. This can help you develop a stronger sense of self-worth and confidence.
Don’t forget, that confidence is a journey, not a destination. There will be times when you feel more confident, but it is important to remember that everyone has moments of self-doubt. The key is to keep working on building your internal validation and not give up on yourself.
How to Build Your Self-Confidence
Building self-confidence takes time but it’s crucial. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “fake it ’till you make it”. You might feel self-conscious about your abilities, you might be self-critical, or suffer from impostor syndrome; this is what feeds low self-esteem. Constantly judging yourself for your mistakes won’t help you.
To start, I want you to shift your mindset and understand what building self-confidence means.
Building self-confidence means developing a positive belief in yourself and your abilities. It’s about building a sense of worth and competence that allows you to navigate life’s challenges and pursue your goals. Self-confidence isn’t about arrogance or self-absorption; it’s about having a realistic and stable sense of your value and capabilities.
10 Tips on How to Build Self-Confidence
1. Challenge your negative thoughts.
We all have negative thoughts from time to time. However, it’s important to challenge these thoughts and replace them with a more positive self-talk. When you catch yourself having a negative thought, ask yourself if it’s really true. If not, replace it with a more positive thought. As I was saying earlier, low self-confidence may stem from early childhood or negative experiences. In order to build self-confidence and diminish self-doubt you need to put a stop to your inner critic and start being your best friend. Remember, a best friend calls you out when necessary, but it’s not mean.
2. Focus on your strengths.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to focus on your strengths and build on them. When you focus on your strengths, you’ll start to feel more confident about yourself. With every win or personal challenge that you take on, you will gain confidence. These will be the blocks to being a more self-assured person.
3. Set realistic goals and celebrate your successes.
When you achieve small goals, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and boosts your confidence. Set realistic goals that you can achieve, and then celebrate your successes when you reach them. Getting all excited about larger-than-life goals might not be the best strategy when you want to build confidence. Yes, it might work when it comes to a small burst of motivation but it can make you feel overwhelmed and self-conscious about the fact that you might fail. You become more confident when you succeed, and taking small steps to get there is more reliable.
4. Step outside your comfort zone.
It can be scary to step outside your comfort zone, but it’s also a great way to build confidence. When you try new things and challenge yourself, you’ll start to believe in yourself more. Give yourself the space to learn and grow. Accept new challenges and make mistakes. Never making a mistake means not challenging yourself enough. Confident people tend to not linger on mistakes more than they have to. Learn from it, find ways to fix or prevent future mistakes, and move on. Beating yourself up won’t fix the issue and won’t help your confidence.
5. Surround yourself with positive people
The people you spend time with can have a big impact on your confidence. Surround yourself with positive people who will support and encourage you. It is like prepping your environment for success. If you’re surrounded by people that constantly undermine your self-confidence you might want to re-evaluate those relationships. Your mental health is important and you should create a support system for yourself that will help you become a more confident person, not undo the work you’re trying to do.
6. Take care of yourself.
When you feel good physically and mentally, you’ll also feel more confident. Make sure you’re eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Don’t feel bad when you do things just for you. After all, self-care is good not only for your mental health, but it makes a difference in how you feel and that’s on what confidence is built on.
7. Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s important to learn from your mistakes and move on. Don’t dwell on your mistakes or beat yourself up about them.
When you constantly criticize yourself, it diminishes your belief in your own value and capabilities. This negative self-talk can chip away at your self-esteem, making you feel inadequate and incapable. The more you beat yourself up, the more likely you are to make mistakes, which then feeds into more self-criticism.
When you notice yourself engaging in negative self-talk, challenge those thoughts by questioning their validity. Are they based on facts or just your own insecurities?
8. Fake it until you make it
Sometimes, the best way to feel more confident is to act confident. Even if you don’t feel confident on the inside, act like you do. This will help you to project confidence to others, and it will also help you to feel more confident yourself.
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who were asked to write down positive affirmations about themselves felt more confident and performed better on a task than those who did not write down affirmations. This suggests that the act of writing down positive thoughts about yourself can actually change your beliefs about yourself.
If you are interested in trying to write down affirmations for yourself and practice positive self talk here are a few tips:
Focus on positive affirmations. Write down affirmations that are positive and uplifting. Avoid writing down affirmations that are negative or self-critical.
Be specific. The more specific your affirmations are, the more powerful they will be. For example, instead of writing “I am smart,” write “I am smart and I can learn anything I put my mind to.”
Keep it simple. Don’t try to write too many affirmations at once. Start with just a few and add more as you feel comfortable.
Write them down regularly. The more you write down affirmations, the more effective they will be. Try to write them down every day or at least a few times a week.
Believe in them. The most important thing is to believe in the affirmations that you write. If you don’t believe them, they won’t work.
9. Believe in yourself.
This is the most important tip of all. You have to believe in yourself before anyone else will. Tell yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to.
Believing in yourself is essential for building confidence because it serves as the foundation for self-assurance. When you believe in your abilities and worth, you have the inner strength and resilience to overcome obstacles, pursue your dreams, and achieve your goals.
10. Seek professional help if needed
If you’re struggling with a lack of confidence that’s interfering with your life, a therapist can help you to develop coping mechanisms and build your self-esteem.
Persistent negative thoughts, social withdrawal, or symptoms of depression or anxiety could indicate underlying issues that require professional assessment and treatment. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and can empower you to live a more confident and fulfilling life.