Confidence is something I never had growing up; I was extremely insecure. I admired other girls who could keep the conversation going, smiling and laughing all the while without a care in the world. Making friends just came so easy to them. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there hiding my face having trouble even thinking about a topic people wouldn’t find boring. Of course, in my mind, they were all boring so I chose to just sit quietly, observing everyone else.
Back then, I figured building self confidence was impossible. Like the only way to be confident was to be born with the ability. Through the years, however, I’ve learned that confidence is a skill. Just like any other skill, it can be learned. Yes! There’s light at the end of the tunnel, baby! Good news for us socially anxious introverts.
Confidence is definitely a good skill to develop and it’s not about being cocky or superficial either. I personally think we should each embrace and accept our differences to become the best version of ourselves – I know, I know… that’s super cheesy and a bit cliché, but it’s the truth. You have value to bring to the world, but if you don’t have the confidence to let your inner self shine through, no one will ever see that value. To me, that’s just a shame. So the question is…
How to build that self confidence? I’ve compiled a list of 40 ways you can use to build your self-esteem. These are all things I personally have done to build up the skill of presenting myself confidently to the world. You can click on some of them for the how-to on that tip.
- Smile – This one is so simple that it’s often overlooked. Smiling can serve as an instant boost to your confidence. When I smile at people, I just feel better about myself and I even get smiles in return. It just makes the day so much brighter when you smile.
- Check your posture – I often slouch, but I notice a difference when I’m around others and adjust how I’m sitting or standing. It’s just like smiling in that it provides me with an instant feeling of confidence.
- Make eye contact – This can be harder for some people; I know it was especially difficult for me to learn. To be honest, I’m still working on this one. What I’ve noticed about making eye contact is that I feel more in control of my body and my mind as I do it. This feeling of control helps me immediately feel good about myself and get out of my head and into the conversation.
- Actively listen – This goes right along with making eye contact. If you aren’t listening to the person in the conversation during their turn to speak, but instead you’re in your own thoughts, then when it comes time for you to speak you won’t know what to say. This can get you caught up in negative self-talk and over analysis of your part in the conversation. Make sure to really engage with that person and listen to what they have to say so you can actively participate in the exchange.
- Be present – Pay attention to your surroundings. Like I just mentioned, it’s important to get out of your thoughts and be present in the world going on around you. As a highly sensitive person, and an INFJ, this is something I have to consciously make an effort to do. I’m constantly in my own little world, but I make sure to come out of that long enough to be present and enjoy my life in the moment. Don’t ask me how, but this has helped me gain more confidence as well.
- Don’t give up on yourself – Life gets hard sometimes and often we find ourselves in the midst of failure, whether it’s in our relationship, our career, our health, etc. This can seem like the perfect time to throw in the towel and raise the white flag of surrender. When this feeling comes about, I challenge you not to give up. Instead, keep on keeping on. There’s something to be said about a persistent woman who goes after her goals. That alone will bring you confidence. If you have to adjust your strategy, so be it, but just don’t give up.
- Be prepared – In life, it’s crucial to be prepared. Obstacles can and do emerge, so it’s good practice to make sure you’re ready for them. Sometimes, life hits us with a curve ball we aren’t able to prepare for, but for the most part we can easily save tons of stress and overwhelm by simply thinking a few steps ahead and mapping out our possible course or backup plan. For me, having a plan always makes me feel more confident, since my anxiety typically comes from not knowing what the outcome of a situation will be.
- Change your outlook – #7 leads me directly into #8. When you change your perspective, you change your life. How you look at obstacles or challenges will yield powerful results. If you choose to live in fear or frustration with the obstacle, you will likely have negative results. If you look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow, not only will you build self confidence, but you’ll have a happier, more satisfied outlook on life overall.
- Challenge yourself – Have you ever wanted to do something out of your comfort zone… maybe something exciting even? Go for it! Challenging yourself to do something you normally wouldn’t do, no matter how small, can drastically improve your self-esteem. Just keep it safe, mmkay, pumpkin?
- Complete a task – Maybe you’ve been putting off cleaning out your garage, decorating your house, or even starting that blog or book you’ve been thinking about… Whatever it is, take some time and get it done. You’ll feel so much better having the task knocked off your to-do list.
- Find a hobby – Take up something you’re interested in like a new sport, crafting, collecting, or dancing. You get the idea… find something that piques your interest and learn it. Becoming skilled in a hobby is a sure-fire way to boost confidence.
- Exercise – Exercise is amazing for building self confidence! There are loads of benefits involved in working out and you don’t even have to be a fitness junkie to enjoy them. Even 10-15 minutes a day can have you feeling good about yourself and your health. What could be better than that?
- Eat well – Your physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. That’s why exercising and eating well is key in improving your mental health. Food is a mighty medicine that too many of us take advantage of in all the wrong ways. The right foods can improve your mood and keep your mind sharp, your body strong, and your confidence levels high.
- Clear your mind – Whether you choose to clear your mind through meditation or with techniques like grounding or journaling, a clear mind creates clear focus, eliminates anxiety, and helps you gain a better outlook on yourself.
- Be decisive – This was something that took me far too long to learn. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that, but it’s a fact. I was the person letting everyone else take the lead and make simple or big decisions for me, even when I knew I didn’t want what they wanted. Being decisive and learning to make decisions for myself, based on what I truly wanted is one of the biggest strategies I’ve used to be successful in life and stop wandering aimlessly according to the standards of others.
- Become a critical thinker – With the rise of social media, I’ve seen far too many people lose their ability to think for themselves. We have a lot of gullible people out there… I’m sure you’ve seen those posts on Facebook where people tell you to copy and paste the status to your wall or else you’ll get charged for your account. Instead of people looking into that or thinking critically and asking the right questions, they panic and post it “just in case” for good measure. No worries if you’ve ever been one of the people to share a similar post, there’s no judgement here. 😉 Critical thinking is my number one skill I use daily to solve problems and make confident decisions in my life. I’m no longer gullible like I once was.
- Learn something new – Kind of like finding a new hobby, except slightly different. Learn a new language or develop a new skill, maybe take a cooking or sewing class. As you learn, you grow, as you grow, so does your confidence.
- Be knowledgeable – To do this, you can read books, news articles, stay up to date on current events. This will give you a solid foundation for having more meaningful conversation and also (along with critical thinking) being confident in speaking about certain topics.
- Dress the part – One of the fastest ways to build confidence is to dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself. Just by adding some new pieces to my wardrobe and wearing them out and about has added to my confidence immensely.
- Embrace your flaws – Accepting who you are plays a major role in self confidence. This doesn’t mean just liking the qualities about yourself that you deem likeable, this means embracing all of who you are. Your insecurities and flaws are part of what makes you YOU, so take advantage of them and be happy in your own skin.
- Wear your favorite scent – Much like dressing the part, wearing your favorite perfume, body spray, scented lotion, etc. can be an immediate confidence booster. Spritz a scent that makes you feel good about yourself and you can’t go wrong.
- Groom yourself – Take some time to put yourself together, especially before you go out somewhere. Believe me, I know it’s all too easy to run to the store real quick without taming your hair or while still in your pjs, but go the extra mile and fix yourself up to make yourself feel better as you walk out of the house. Do it for yourself, though…. Not for the satisfaction of others.
- Learn from your mistakes – Being bold enough to admit when we’re wrong takes big cojones, it takes courage and *surprise, surprise* CONFIDENCE. It’s not easy to admit to our mistakes, and it can be even harder to learn from those mistakes in order to avoid them in the future, but if you can learn to do this, you’ll see significant improvement in your life.
- Surround yourself with positivity – Being around negative people in negative situations can be so draining. It can suck the life right out of you. Make an effort to avoid the negative and replace it with good, positive people and positive vibes.
- Adjust your surroundings – Speaking of surroundings, have you ever tried feng shui? I’m not all that familiar with the ideology behind it, but I know I feel tons better when I move my furniture around in my house or switch up my office. It lightens my mood and gives me that positive perspective I need. This is a simple self-esteem tweak.
- Avoid complacency – Too many people go through life being complacent. They act as if life is just meant to be how it is and there’s nothing they can do about it. Don’t be that person, learn to take some risks and raise the bar for your life. Complacency does not equal confidence.
- Accept compliments – Being insecure can mean not believing others when they compliment you. I remember questioning every compliment that came my way, wondering if the person was even being sincere. I didn’t believe good things about myself so it was hard to trust that others could believe them about me. I eventually just starting genuinely thanking these people and allowing myself to believe the compliment, even if only for a moment. This helped me a lot in my struggle with insecurity.
- List your achievements – Take out a pen and paper (or pencil if you’d prefer =]) and write out some of the things you’ve accomplished in life. They don’t have to be huge like earning a degree from Harvard, discovering a cure for a disease, or solving world hunger… Just list things you are proud of yourself for having done.
- List your strengths & favorite qualities – Keep that pen and pad out to list out your strengths and the characteristics you love most about yourself. Keep these lists out in the open and refer back to them when you’re feeling down.
- Set goals – I’m a huge fan of setting goals in your life. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get there? To set goals is to be intentional, which is a major part of leading the life you desire most. Accomplishing small goals at first will quickly boost your confidence and then you can work your way up from there, creating larger goals as you go.
- Envision the woman you want to be – Who is the best version of yourself? What is she like and what does she do? Imagine who this person is and work diligently to become that woman.
- Be mindful – Be aware of your thoughts and their impact on you. Negative self-talk can quickly sabotage your self-esteem, so be mindful of your thoughts and every time you catch a negative one, switch it up to work positively in your favor.
- Play the part – Fake it til you make it, pumpkin! Remember the woman you imagined yourself being? Be that. Even if you don’t feel it at first and it seems weird or awkward, keep doing it until it becomes second nature. Practice it as often as possible.
- Be giving – There’s no fear in service. Helping others is one of the best ways to feel confident in yourself and your abilities.
- Be kind to yourself – Don’t forget to show compassion to yourself. We can be our own biggest critic, but we need to remember to treat ourselves like we would a friend. We wouldn’t bash our friends, would we? I certainly hope not. Don’t be overly critical of yourself.
- Stand by your values – If you know what you stand for, don’t be afraid to stand for it. The Debbie-Downers & Negative-Nancy’s in your life will see themselves out when you continuously stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
- Replace a bad habit – Pick a small habit and replace it with a good one. A bad habit I have is sleeping in. My husband works late, so our sleeping schedule is not the best. We’ve made a small change in our alarm habits. Instead of pressing snooze 17 times each morning (no joke!) we put our phones across the room or sometimes in the other room in order to get up to our first alarm.
- Be a solution-based thinker – Instead of looking at the storm and focusing on how bad things are or who to blame for it all, focus on a solution to the problem. Being able to solve your problems with this simple mindset shift keeps you confident in your choices, even when things aren’t going your way.
- Be grateful – Appreciate what you have in life and the people you have as well. Too often, we get caught up wishing for more that we forget to enjoy what we currently have. Take the time to show you appreciate your life now.
- Take care of yourself – Do things to nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Practice good self-care habits to re-energize yourself and stay on your toes. You can’t be confident when you are physically, emotionally, or mentally drained.
Which strategies from this list could you start using today to build your own self confidence? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, and if you found this list useful don’t forget to share it with someone you love!