Do you know those people who seem incredibly at ease with themselves in all situations? Or those who have an aura of confidence about themselves, that draw people towards them? If you look at people like that and wish you could share their confidence, this article is for you. If you’re trying to learn how to build self-confidence or remove self-doubt, here are some tips.
What is self-confidence?
Self-confidence is your opinion of yourself – it includes the way you value yourself and your abilities. Self-confidence can range from being unrealistically high to depressingly low but for most of us, it lies somewhere in the middle.
A person high on self-confidence displays the following symptoms:
- High levels of optimism
- Willingness to take compliments at face value
- Ability and willingness to undertake risks
- The internal sense of security to accept mistakes and learn from them
- Belief in self to do what is right and not what is popular
Some of us are born with naturally higher levels of self-confidence or an inbuilt feeling of self-esteem but that is not the case for the majority. For those with lower self-esteem, it can be hard to learn how to build self-confidence for a variety of reasons – early childhood experiences, personal life circumstances, or mental health conditions. You cannot learn how to build confidence if you have a low opinion of yourself or view yourself in a negative light.
It is normal to have doubts about yourself or feel low about your achievements occasionally. But if the tone of your internal voice is consistently demotivated and insecure, you may be suffering from low self-confidence.
Symptoms of low self-confidence
Here are some signs that your self-confidence is low:
- Being overly critical of yourself
- Engaging in negative self-talk obsessively
- Frequently feeling negative emotions such as shame, anger, anxiety and sadness
- Constantly comparing yourself with others and believing they are better in every way
- Focusing on your negative characteristics while dismissing your positives
- Being unable to accept compliments at face value
- Requiring constant validation from your partner, boss, family, and friends
For some people with anxiety meaning disorders or mental health conditions, low self-confidence may be observed.
How low self-confidence could be harming you
Low levels of self-esteem can wreak havoc on not only your physical and mental health but also affect those who are close to you. If you struggle to view yourself in a positive light and do not make an effort to learn how to build self-confidence, you could see some of the following issues:
- Difficulty in maintaining and forming social relationships
- Poor body image which could lead you to inflict self-harm
- Constant fights and disputes at work or school
- Inability or unwillingness to defend yourself from mental or physical abuse
- Withdrawal from day-to-day activities and all forms of social obligations
- Excessive consumption of alcohol or intake of recreational drugs which harm long-term health
- Lashing out at justified criticism or disapproval
- Mentally or physically abusing your loved ones or others as a form of psychological compensation
How to build self-confidence through external help and support
While learning how to build self-confidence is an internal battle, you do not have to fight it alone. If you struggle with understanding how to build confidence do not hesitate to seek external support by:
- Discussing self-esteem issues with your medical practitioner and asking for a referral to talk to a counsellor
- Reaching out to your loved ones and seeking advice about self-esteem concerns
- Getting in touch with experts to help with depression and anxiety
- Reading books on motivation and personal development
- Undertaking therapy and counselling with a qualified and trained professional
- Joining communities and courses, whether online or offline, on self-development
- Approaching a nearby community health centre
If you are trying to understand how to increase confidence for your child and wish to seek help, you could reach out to experts in child psychology.
Practical lifestyle changes to build self-confidence
- Practice positive self-talk every day. Treat yourself like you treat your best friends or partners – with kindness, compassion and understanding.
- Avoid overly critical or negative self-talk. While it’s important to work on our flaws and try to improve our habits and our lives, we must also be able to see the positives with equal honesty.
- Stop excessive worrying and redirect your thoughts to the present. If you are anxious about your future, spend time to decide on constructive steps you can take today.
- Allow yourself some time off every week and plan events and activities that you enjoy. You can do this alone but do make time to spend time with loved ones.
- Stop comparing yourself with others and understand that all of us are different. We are all on different paths and define meaning in our ways. Accepting yourself, your life circumstances and all that you do will show you how to build self-confidence in a stable way.
- Exercise regularly and make sure you prioritize your health. If you’re a beginner, start slowly and build up as you make it a habit. Exercise is known to boost mental health conditions and develop higher levels of self-esteem
- Accept compliments, gifts, and help from others. It may be hard for you to accept compliments at the outset, but avoid being dismissive. When learning how to increase confidence you must accept all that is good about you.
- Practice being assertive. You should be able to ask for your needs to be met or convey your feelings and voice your opinions clearly and directly. Being able to shape your own life will give you a big boost of confidence.
- Make a note (mental or otherwise) of all the good qualities you possess. Go back to this list whenever you feel down and reiterate these points to yourself.
Implementing these changes will not be easy. For someone with low self-esteem, it takes more effort than usual to do something for themselves. But with effort, persistence and attention, you can alter self-defeating behaviour and replace it with positive habits.
How to increase confidence with professional help
While lifestyle changes go a long way in helping you learn how to build self-confidence they may not always result in a boost of self-esteem for all individuals. Low self-esteem builds over the years and is reinforced by many factors, so do tell yourself that it will take time to undo these mental habits.
If you continue to have negative thoughts about yourself and your life, you might consider seeking professional help. You could consult a counsellor online or find a psychologist to help deal with the deep-rooted issues that lead to lower self-confidence. It may take time but with the right guidance, you can learn how to increase confidence and improve all aspects of your life.
If you are uncomfortable or unwilling to seek medical help, you might like to join a local support group to learn how to build self-confidence with other people. Sharing and supporting each other can show you how to increase confidence and overcome your self-esteem issues.
Mental practices to help increase self-confidence
Confidence is a skill that you can work on. Because so much of your self-esteem is tied to your view of yourself, you should consider these mental hacks that show how to increase confidence in yourself:
Develop compassion and love for yourself
Self-love and self-confidence are linked to each other. If you love yourself, you will see good and believe in yourself. Work on the compassion you extend to others and turn it inwards to be compassionate towards yourself. For a person with low self-confidence, being accepting or kind to oneself may seem like selfishness but taking care of your mental health is critical to your wellbeing. By developing self-compassion and love you will learn how to build self-confidence and feel happier.
Change your thinking
When it comes to knowing how to increase confidence, your biggest obstacle is you. The way you think about yourself is how you believe others see you. This can hold you back from believing in yourself and feeling comfortable to express your opinion. Pay attention to this inner voice and see how it affects you. You will need to constantly reframe your language to be more positive and more accepting of yourself, but eventually, you will build greater mental resilience against negativity.
If you are low on self-confidence, it’s hard to accept compliments even after you seek them. You may feel unworthy of praise and doubt the truth of the good things people say to you. Saying a simple “Thank you” can help you accept a compliment and curb the urge to deny it.
Create ways to feel successful
For someone going through a period of low self-confidence, even getting through daily activities can be intimidating. If you feel this is the case for you, set yourself smaller goals that can be easily accomplished so that you are motivated by the small wins. Over time this becomes a routine which is great for learning how to increase confidence. Take pride in your achievements and celebrate how far you’ve come before you work up the confidence to tackle bigger tasks.
Be kind to yourself
Take some time to think about your life and past. If you have low self-confidence, it may be because you have beliefs about yourself that are difficult to manage. Accepting yourself is one way to handle this and it is not easy. Another option is to identify areas of your life that make you feel negative or low and work to improve those weaknesses. This gives you something constructive to do and helps you achieve goals.
None of us can be positive and upbeat all the time. If you are working on increasing your confidence, you should create practices that remind you of your worth. When you are running low on self-confidence, it might seem hard to believe in positive emotions or see yourself in a good light.
Try making a list of all the positives in your life. Write down what you think is good, what you have achieved, how you have worked hard for something, and what you like about yourself. Then make a list of positive things people have said to you and about you. Once you put these qualities down on a paper, you can come back to it when you’re not feeling very confident about yourself.
A few final pointers to bear in mind as you learn how to build self-confidence are:
- Self-confidence is all in the mind and therefore it is within your control. You decide your opinion of yourself.
- No one is confident all the time. Knowing and accepting that there will be some days of negativity makes it easier to accept them.
- You may have low self-confidence and still achieve all the things you wish. You don’t have to wait till you are more confident to start chasing your goals.
Do note that self-confidence is not necessarily the ability to speak loudest or to be most aggressive. These can often be signs of overcompensation for insecurities. A quiet person may be self-confident because self-esteem comes from deep within and does not have to be demonstrated in these ways. If you are naturally reserved or consider yourself an introvert, it doesn’t mean that you have low self-confidence. Accepting these truths will help you create your definition of self-confidence.