The obvious benefit of confidence is that you feel good about yourself. We can make other inferences, too, like the fact that a person with solid self-confidence might be more assertive or able to approach others more easily.
Self-confidence supports memory, helps you learn, and can even reduce depression symptoms. Consequently, when we address how to improve self-confidence, we empower our mental and physical well-being.
Sometimes, we have the skills and traits we need to feel confident, but we still don't. So, how do you overcome a lack of confidence? Keep reading to learn how to improve self-esteem and confidence, as well as what to do if you get stuck.
What Is Self-Confidence?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines confidence as either "trust in one's abilities, capacities, and judgment" or as the "belief that one is capable of successfully meeting the demands of a task." The APA also notes that an increase in confidence is a common goal in therapy.
How do you know if you’re confident? Here are some examples of low self-confidence and high self-confidence:
With low self-confidence, you might feel unworthy, try to conceal perceived imperfections, or find it tough to admit when you are wrong because it would hit too hard.
With healthy or high self-confidence, you start to notice positive changes, which could include an increased ability to:
- Ask for what you need.
- Understand that mistakes don't make you a "bad person" and admit to faults.
- Stand up for yourself and others.
- Overcome rejection more easily.
- Talk with new people and make new friends.
- Act on what you think is right rather than relying on the moral compass of others.
You may also notice that you feel happier and more at ease. Self-confidence can support you in social situations, in relationships, in leadership, and other areas of life, like in sport or another hobby.
Self-Esteem vs. Self-Confidence
Sometimes, people assume that self-esteem and self-confidence are the same things, but the terms self-esteem vs. self-confidence are not quite interchangeable. Self-esteem differs from confidence in that it refers to the value you see in yourself; if you appreciate yourself and see yourself as worthy.
Someone with positive self-esteem (i.e., someone who is able to think, "I am inherently worthy, and I appreciate who I am") could still have low self-confidence. This may sound like, "I know I'm a good person with value, but I don't feel confident in my ability to make new friends/advance at work/try a new hobby/etc."
Though the terms have their differences, if you want to know how to improve self-esteem and confidence, the two can be supported through similar practices.
How to Improve Self-Confidence
Now that you have a clear definition of self-confidence, let's talk about how to improve self-confidence in yourself. As daunting as it may seem, it is doable, and the research is there to prove it. So, if you don't feel confident right now, it doesn't mean that must remain true forever.
Learn to act more confidently with others
Can you fake it until you make it? Sometimes, that's a part of learning how to gain self-confidence. To act more confident with others:
- Communicate self-confidence through body language. To exude self-confidence, stand tall, keep your hands visible, and maintain open posture.
- Express self-confidence through verbiage. In social situations, ask yourself how you'd react with greater self-confidence. Would you draw a boundary? Would you say "um" less? Give more compliments? Listen more? These are all ways to assert self-confidence verbally.
- Express self-confidence through actions. Not just physical actions, but through choices like staying true to yourself.
Strive for positive friendships. When it comes to how to improve self-confidence, it makes sense that who you have in your life has an influence. People who put you down, pressure you in ways that you don't like, or disrespect your boundaries may have a negative impact. People who lift you up and show you respect are more likely to have a positive influence.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Sometimes, confidence and the ways we see or talk about ourselves is influenced heavily by comparison to other people.
Envy can harm your self-confidence. We are all splendidly distinct, so it's best not to compare. When you catch yourself in a state of comparison, reinforce yourself through it. You can say something to yourself like, "I am not them, and they are not me."
Then, look at your own accomplishments and consider writing a list of traits or assets that you like about yourself and are grateful that you carry.
Engage in positive self-talk
Our inner dialogue, in many ways, carries us through life. That inner voice is there for the hard times, the successes, and everything in between. So, if you want to be confident, it's important that your inner dialogue supports that. You can make that happen through positive self-talk.
Examples of positive self-talk include:
- "I am a compassionate leader."
- "I am good at my job."
- "I'm proud that I tried something new."
If positive self-talk feels unnatural at first, that's okay. It can take some time for self-confidence to catch up, but the way you talk to yourself matters, and positive self-talk will become more intrinsic with practice.
Remember past achievements
When we work to build self-confidence in therapy, it's common to look for evidence to support it. What does that mean? When you look at your successes, whether that's as a leader, an artist, a friend, or as a person as a whole, you have evidence to support that you are indeed a person who can achieve what they want to and hold their head high.
Past achievements don't have to be academic or work-related to be valid. You can also think of a time you made someone happy, a good deed, a time that you kept going even though it was tough, or something else. For example, you might think, "I know that I am capable of getting out of bed because I have done it before," or "I know that I have it in me to learn new things because I've done it before."
Make realistic goals
When you set realistic goals, you build self-confidence not just through meeting those goals but through the process itself. What is something you want to do? Maybe, you want to go back to school, or perhaps, you want to socialize more because you know it is a healthy thing for you to do. Set goals that are within your control. For example, a realistic goal might be to get outside at least three times a week. Most often, that is in your authority.
Part of what makes a goal realistic is how you address it when you don't meet that goal right away. So, if you hit a roadblock or need to adjust the goal, you might use your aforementioned skills in positive self-talk to lift yourself up. When you do meet goals and focus on how to improve self-confidence skills through said goals, acknowledge your achievements.
Work on your fears
How do you work on your fears to build self-confidence? First, think of who you want to be. Not in terms of how you look or other pieces you can't quite change, but in terms of how you want to act.
How do you want to react to various situations? How do you want to introduce yourself to people and treat others? Is there an activity you’d try if you were confident enough?
Let's use the example of someone who has trouble admitting wrongs due to low self-esteem. You want to be someone who can do that so that you can learn, change your mind, and be fair to other individuals. Envision the most confident, kind, successful version of yourself and use them as a role model. What would they do after learning that they misspoke? Perhaps, they’d say something like, "you're right. Thank you for sharing that information with me."
Then, put it into action. If social interactions induce nerves, show up to that social interaction like you would if you were the most confident embodiment of yourself. Use the other tips in this article alongside, like positive self-talk, to boost yourself and execute life confidently. You'll realize in time that you can do it, and it will start to feel more effortless.
Self-help definitely has a place in confidence-building, but assistance from others is often another important piece of the puzzle.
What if ideas on how to improve self-confidence skills on your own don't seem to work? Or, what if expanding self-confidence on your own feels like too major a task? It may be time to confide in a therapist.
Whether you're at the beginning of your confidence journey or hit a fork in the road and need to overcome the slump, therapy can help. CBT interventions and other modalities can foster confidence. If you reach a sticking point – for example, trouble with realistic goal setting – when you attempt to apply the tips above, you can move past it with a therapist.
You can employ a therapist who works with confidence and related subjects locally, or you can try online counseling.
Some people are to have high self-confidence, but luckily, it’s not a trait but rather a skill that can be learned. While building it may take some time, working on your behaviors and beliefs will definitely help. However, changing yourself is not an easy task at all.
Seeking help will definitely make your progress faster. Whether you use online therapy or visit an in-person therapist, they will help you build self-confidence and increase self-worth with more ease. DoMental is a trustworthy online therapy platform with providers who have your best interest in mind. Online therapy plans through DoMental begin at the low price of $29/week, and you can cancel at any time.