Imagine: you have the confidence to go after your goals and dreams, you feel capable of accomplishing all the things you set out to do, and you have the ability to say no to people when you don’t have time to do something.
While that might be a slightly idealized scenario, there are lots of small ways you can start using today to build your confidence and take that first step towards more self-esteem.
The Importance of Self Confidence
A healthy dose of self-confidence makes navigating life just a little bit easier. It frees you from crippling self-doubt, negative self-talk, and helps you to stop listening to your inner critic. More confidence in yourself makes it easier to pitch your ideas to your boss, ask for that raise you deserve, move outside your comfort zone, apply for that new job, make new friends, and do the things you want to do.
Building up your self-confidence can support you and your goals in your personal and professional life. While building your confidence is a somewhat nebulous and esoteric topic, there are plenty of small concrete steps you can take to make it happen.
Monitor Your Progress Towards Goals
A great way to build your confidence is to monitor your progress as you work towards your smaller goals. And, for the larger goals, break them down into smaller, more achievable goals. And, as you reach those milestones on the way to achieving your big goal, be sure to take a moment to stop and celebrate. Reward yourself for accomplishing it.
By monitoring your goals and progress towards big goals, you’re noticing changes in yourself. This is a great way to build your self-confidence. Often when we’re working towards big goals, it can feel like we’re spinning our wheels and not getting anywhere. By tracking progress, you can see just how much you’re accomplishing along the way.
Take Time to Celebrate Little Wins
One of the best ways to build your confidence is to notice just how much you’ve accomplished and are capable enough. Our brains trend towards negative thoughts, which can have a detrimental effect on your confidence.
Counteract this by taking time to celebrate the wins. If you’re feeling low and have a lack of confidence, set aside a few minutes to write down all of your wins for the last week or so. Grab a piece of paper or journal and set a time for 10 minutes. Spend the entire 10 minutes writing down your achievements, qualifications, and things you’re proud of. Don’t fret if these wins are small, if they bring you a sense of accomplishment, that’s all that matters. Sometimes, that’s showing up to work, properly dressed, and prepared for a meeting. Or, answering a bunch of critical emails. Those are wins!
Many of us take hits to our confidence when we compare ourselves to others around us who may appear more successful. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your wins and accomplishments.
Take Care Of Yourself
Your emotional health and stress are all part of your confidence. When life gets overwhelming, it’s easy for your confidence to suffer and the negative self-talk to kick into high gear. Some gentle self care can be a great way to rebuild your confidence and manage your stress.
Some easy, kind self care activities might include:
- Meditation or breathing exercises
- Thought download journaling
- Writing a list of things you’re grateful for
- Taking a break to do something that brings you joy
- Listening to a funny podcast or watching a funny TV show
- Review a “feel-good folder” that you’ve built of things that make you happy
Get Your Heart Rate Up
Your confidence in yourself is so much more than just how you view yourself. It’s wrapped up in your mental health and stress levels. Managing your stress and taking care of yourself are great ways to build confidence.
Elevating your heart rate is a great way to lower your stress levels and to manage big emotions, all of which can improve your confidence. In their book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski talk about how getting your heart rate up is the only way to complete the stress cycle. And when we don’t complete the stress cycle, those emotions stay in our body and cause problems. Exercise plays a critical role in taking care of yourself and limiting the effects of stress on your body and mind.
Go for Gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful tool for reframing any situation you find yourself in. If you’re feeling unconfident in your abilities, take a moment to reflect upon what you’re grateful for within that realm of your life. While gratitude can’t fix the problems you’re facing, it can help you to reset your mindset and see the situation from a new perspective. All of this can help you access the ability and tools you already have to accomplish your goals, which will ultimately build your confidence.
Recognize Your Inner Critic, Shift to Neutral
Your inner critic is the little voice in your head that likes to pop up and share it’s opinions with you. Often, our inner critic is triggered by fears that are intended to keep us safe. But, staying safe and abiding the inner critic might also limit your growth.
When you’re inner critic pipes up and is trying to keep you safe, it’s important to recognize where that voice is coming from and what it’s trying to do. Then, instead of acting on that inner voice, try to shift what the voice is saying into more neutral territory.
For example, if your inner critic is telling your not capable of accomplishing something, tell it thank you for trying to keep you safe, but actually you are capable of trying. And if you fail, you’ll learn an important lesson. And, that’s ok.
Your fear and inner critic are there to protect you, to limit stop you from getting hurt. Recognizing why your inner critic holds you back is a big step towards ignoring it and focusing on building your confidence. Thank your fear for being there to protect you, then shift towards neutral to find a safe path forward towards your goals.
Surround Yourself With Positive, Loving People
While much of the work towards boosting your confidence needs to be internal work, it can also be helpful to have people around you to cheer you on. External validation can be an integral part of building your confidence, it’s just not the only piece of the puzzle.
If you’re looking to build your confidence, surround yourself with positive, loving people who will boost you up and support you in your journey of building confidence. Spending time with supportive family and friends can be a big mood and confidence booster.
Shift To Self-Compassion
As we all know, we are our own worst critics. We often can say the meanest things to ourselves that we would never let anyone else say to us. When you catch yourself spiraling and the inner critic reigning, shift towards self-compassion.
While compassion isn’t confidence, it’s a stepping stone in the journey. Self-compassion is a critical step in taking care of yourself and learning to love yourself, both of which build confidence. Going from negative to positive doesn’t happen overnight, so self-compassion is a great middle ground.
To be compassionate to yourself, you must take care of yourself. While self care has been co-opted into a movement to sell products, it can actually look really simple. Self care can be as simple as stopping and taking time to make yourself a healthy lunch instead of going out for takeout. It can be rolling the windows down in the car and belting out your favorite song. It can be watching your favorite comedian and having a good belly laugh.
On your journey to confidence, take care of yourself, show yourself compassion. You deserve it.
One of the best ways to respect yourself and show your confidence is by setting boundaries. For many of us, telling people no is incredibly difficult. But, setting boundaries benefits us and those around us. If we say yes to something that doesn’t fit our schedule or priorities it hurst the other person and it hurts us.
Boundaries are an important tool and are a great exercise in building your confidence. It’s a small way you can support yourself and exercise your newly built confidence.
Define What Success Looks Like for You
Confidence is a nebulous topic, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be for you. It’s important to get into the specifics for yourself.
- Why do you want to be more confident?
- What will confidence help you gain that you don’t already have?
- How will you know when you’re confident enough?
- What does success look like in your journey to being confident?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help to bring you clarity and to have a goal in your journey to gaining confidence. Saying you want to be more confident is easy. Actually doing it and knowing when you get there is difficult.
Be Generous to Someone Else
It might sound a little corny, but one of the easiest ways to make ourselves feel better is to be generous to others. Take some time to do something kind or thoughtful for someone else without expecting anything in return. After, take stock of how you’re feeling and notice the changes. Might you be feeling just a little bit more sure of yourself?
Confidence is a muscle that can be built and trained in a number of different ways. While it might seem like you should build your confidence through exposure therapy and doing something hard, it can actually be much simpler than that. Taking care of yourself, showing yourself compassion, and limiting your negative self talk can all go a long way towards building your confidence.