How to build self-confidence is a loaded question. I say loaded because confidence means different things to different people. The first step is to consider what confidence means to you. Once you have that defined, you can craft your own method on how to build confidence that's not only sustainable, but also authentic.
I get it; building confidence is hard. Still, in the words of Tony Robbins, the personal development guru, 'The only impossible journey is the one you never begin'.
The Definition of Confidence
To start, you can look at the Cambridge Dictionary definition of what is confidence
'the quality of being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future'.
I prefer the definition by Psychology Today Confidence is 'a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life's challenges and to succeed—and the willingness to act accordingly. Being confident requires a realistic sense of one's capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge'.
I don't believe in the pop psychology of 'fake it 'til you make it'. To me, it requires people to act out of character and to pretend to be something they're not. Building confidence if done authentically is much more sustainable.
Let me ask you this. Would you want to put on a pair of heels, that pinched and caused blisters just to look good to others, or would you prefer to put on the killer heels that allow you to walk tall, make you feel great and look fabulous? I know which I'd prefer.
Confidence should be like putting on a new pair of heels. You know that to get them really comfortable, you're going to have to wear them in a bit. Whether that's parading up and down your bedroom away from prying eyes, or whilst doing the housework. Believe me; you can undoubtedly discover if a pair of shoes are comfortable if you've hoovered in high heels!
So, let's dig in to find out how to build sustainable and authentic self-confidence.
How To Build Self-Confidence
Building Confidence can be like Imelda Marcos with her shoe collection. There are lots of different strategies. The first stage for me is to build self-awareness. I'm not going to go into that here, but for more information, please read my articles Why Self Awareness is Important For Your Well-Being (link - https://confidenceinheels.com/why-self-awareness-is-important-for-well-being/
Another fun exercise I urge you to do is to look at your values. For further information, please read my article What You Need To Know About Your Personal Values and then have a look at How To Find Your Unique Personal Values.
When you behave in line with your values, you're authentic. It's the real you stepping forward.
There are five ways to build your self-confidence.
Step 1: How To Build Self-Confidence - Focus On Yourself
I'm sure you've heard the analogy of putting your own face mask on first to save others. Well, confidence works like that. When you look after yourself properly, confidence has a sustainable foundation to build from.
So, what do I mean by focus on yourself?
Set Up A Pampering Routine
I'm talking about paying attention to yourself. Personal hygiene is a given. But I know that sometimes we can fall into bad habits. We get lazy. I have a confession to make. I don't always do a good face cleanse and tone. If I come in late, and I'm a little bit tiddly (ahem) I sometimes forget to take my makeup off – I know! I'm such a slob. Yet, I know that if I don't cleanse my face properly, I get spots. As if grey hair and wrinkles are not enough to contend with.
Confidence is a bit like that. You know you're doing something good for yourself, but following through consistently can be challenging at times.
Clothes & Stuff
Just as a great pair of shoes makes me feel confident, I know when I wear comfortable and well-fitting clothes, I feel fabulous. It gives me a little boost.
I love clothes so having something to wear which is both stylish (each to their own interpretation here) and comfortable is a win-win.
I discovered a great phrase on Distinctly Me 'Fashion wellness is a thing'. I know that many of us can't afford to have made to measure clothing – that's a dream of mine. But the key to confidence is to know what looks good on you.
On my 40th birthday I had my' colours done' by a lovely lady at House of Colour, and that revolutionised the way I shop to dress. It's cheaper than having clothes made for you and you also become more considered in what you buy. Wearing the right colours is a definite confidence booster.
Hit The ZZZZZs
In your journey of how to build self-confidence, rest is essential.
When you get enough sleep, you can conquer the world. I know that if I'm tired, I can be like a toddler having a tantrum.
Everything feels more manageable if you get a good night's rest. How many times have your emotions got the better of you, or you lost concentration at a critical moment because you were tired?
Your performance, as well as your confidence, relies on a good night's sleep.
Sleep is the body's way of re-energising itself. Experts say we need between 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.
Try to get into the habit of a good night-time routine. It will help. For more suggestions on how to create a routine and the optimal requirements for sleep, please have a look at my article Let's Get Into The Habit Of a Good Night's sleep.
Oh, and don't forget to kiss yourself goodnight. Whisper your daily achievements to yourself and remind yourself that you are special and unique.
For me, there's nothing better than taking the dogs out for their daily walk, whatever the weather – okay, not the rain. But any other weather is fine.
Exercise can also boost your confidence because when you feel better physically, your mental fitness improves as well.
Another sign that exercise is good for your mental well-being is the release of dopamine and endorphins, which help reduce stress. When you're less stressed, you will feel more confident.
Step 2: How To Build Self-Confidence - High Five For Achievements
Confidence is about being certain of your abilities. And the best way to be certain of your abilities is to reflect on your achievements. I recommend keeping a list of all the things you've achieved. Whether big or small, all achievements are significant and show your progress in overcoming obstacles.
When you're not feeling confident, it's easy to forget what you've accomplished. Sometimes we take our achievements for granted or excuse them by saying 'anyone can do that'. Seriously, not everyone can do the same things, so something you've been able to achieve may be a real challenge to someone else.
Tony Robbins said 'People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed'.
Nothing builds confidence, like knowing what you're good at. Go on, make that list and then think about ways you can build on them. The more you're good at something, the more confident you'll feel.
Step 3: How To Build Self-Confidence - Get Things Done
Finishing projects, completing tasks and making progress on your to-do list, is another way of how to build self-confidence. When you get things done, it increases your credibility and let's face it allows you to walk around with a big cheesy grin on your face all day.
There's nothing like being able to kick up your heels and celebrate the completion of a project and getting across the finishing line so I can move on to my next challenge.
I'm a great believer in having goals, but if you want to make your goals a reality rather than a wish list of outcomes, then you need to have a structure.
If you want to get things done, then create a system that allows you to:
- Set goals
- Plan you day
- Monitor progress
- Set deadlines
When you're looking at how to build self-confidence, I don't suggest you set big hairy audacious goals but focus instead on mini-goals that will stretch you. The only proviso is that you step beyond your comfort zone. Because outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens.
I no longer set annual goals. So much can change in a year that the goal you set in January is not what's relevant in June, let alone December. Instead, I've become a big fan of the 90 Day Year where you create goals for each quarter of the year.
Also, limit the number of goals you set. If you have a long list of goals, it's scary. Instead, focus on one or two things that will make the most significant impact to you and work towards those.
Achieving goals helps you build self-confidence and re-establishes trust in your abilities.
Plan Your Day
I love a good plan, but don't spend too long pulling it together. Walt Disney said, 'the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing'.
Set up your day the night before. Trust me, when you get up in the morning and know exactly what you need to do, it saves time and your sanity. No more faffing about, but quick focus and success. You'll be ticking things off your task list quicker than you write it. Okay, maybe not quicker than you write it, but you get what I mean.
Try to include routines and habits. You could set daily themes to perform specific tasks. Monday's are my 'writing' days. I'm fresh from the weekend and ready to face the week. Friday is my admin day, an excellent way to finish off the week, especially if you've been busy!
Habit trackers have been the best thing since sliced bread, or hidden zips in lace-up shoes. Keep your momentum going by creating habits around what you need to do. There's nothing like seeing a tracker with all boxes ticked to boost your self-confidence and make you feel good about your abilities. The Develop Good Habits team have a video which is really useful.
What you commit to, must be done if you are to maintain your credibility. Keep the promises you make to yourself and others. Ensure that you take action even if it's baby steps at first. Confidence is built on what you do, not what you say.
Step 4: How To Build Self-Confidence - Think Of Others But Ignore What Other's Say
So many people, myself included, allow the opinions of other people to knock my confidence. I know I get upset when I hear other people talking behind my back. But in the words of the author Zig Ziglar 'Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you'.
You can't control what others think or say. Regina Brett put it well when she said 'what other people think of you, is none of your business'. Don't give other people the power to affect your confidence.
One of the hardest parts of how to build self-confidence is how the focus is on you. But let's put the shoe on the other foot for a moment and consider how thinking of others can build your self-confidence.
Random Acts Of Kindness
Become a Raktivist – seriously; there is such a word. By being kind to others, it boosts your self-esteem and confidence. You will feel good about yourself, especially if you're rubbish about being kind to yourself. If you're not good about being kind to yourself – go back to the top of this article now and re-read Focus On Yourself!
If you're stuck for any ideas, visit the Random Acts Of Kindness website for inspiration.
When overwhelmed by what you want to achieve, or feel stressed about how to build your self-confidence, practice gratitude.
Take the time to be grateful for what you have in your life right now. We all take things for granted. But if we practice gratitude, you can reduce your stress hormones by 23%. Gratitude is another way of recognising what we have in our lives that help us to achieve success—a concrete way to build your self-confidence.
Step 5: How To Build Self-Confidence - Self-Talk
You become what you believe. So, it's time to ditch the inner voice of doubt and criticism.
Dealing with your inner critic is probably the biggest challenge you'll face. This cannot be done overnight but takes a lot of practice and determination. To know how to build self-confidence pay attention to your inner voice.
I've written several articles on this topic – and likely more to come, it's so vast.
I recommend you start by reading What's Your Inner Critic Called.
The inner critic is a liar. The criticisms you hear are not you. They're someone else's words which have become part of your belief system.
When dealing with the inner critic, please try to be kind to yourself.
This is easier said than done but try to separate yourself from the thoughts. Look at the thoughts with a curiosity, explore where they come from. Then respond to it as if you were talking to your best friend. I'm sure if you heard your best friend put themselves down, you would do all you can to reassure them, they are a good human being – do the same for yourself.
Find the positive in you. We're all flawed, none of us are perfect. Sometimes we must embrace the imperfections and accept that our flaws are what make us human.
To Sum It All Up
How to build your self-confidence is a challenge. But to build sustainable and authentic self-confidence, you must be true to yourself.
I can't stress enough how building self-awareness is a powerful way to build self-confidence. If you're self-aware, you start to recognise the things that you're good at, the triggers that impact you emotionally as well as discover the influence of your inner voice of doubt.
Confronting inner doubt takes time. So please give yourself a well-deserved, and possibly a much-needed boost to your self-confidence and adopt the five steps I've laid out in this article.
Remember, it all starts with you. So be kind to yourself. Treat yourself well, and above all, act. You don't need great strides; baby steps take you in the right direction and are more sustainable as an ongoing process.
So, why not start with the following:
- Set up your pampering routine
- Find the clothes (and the shoes!) that make you feel like a million dollars
- Get enough sleep by creating a good night-time routine
- Get moving – exercise is good for the body and the soul. Get into the habit of taking daily exercise. Take a 10-minute walk.
Once you have routines in place for the above, move on to exploring your achievements.
- Make a list of your achievements
- Create a 'love letter' file, a file full of thanks for what you've done
Get things done
- Set goals
- Plan your day
- Monitor your progress
- Set deadlines
- Follow through on commitments
Think of others
- Perform random acts of kindness
- Set up a gratitude journal by writing down three things each day you're grateful for
- Don't listen to other people's negative or nasty words
And finally – Self-Talk
- Explore your inner critic and discover where the voice is coming from
- Speak to yourself as you would your best friend
But above all, be kind and genuine to yourself. Not only will be you happier, but you'll be able to build your self-confidence in a sustainable and authentic way.