As a teenager, I was the loudest person at school. I was the first one to shout out my opinion, the one who was at every party and in the front row on all pictures. I was hoping to radiate confidence, but looking back, I understand that being loud was a defense mechanism to cover my insecurities.
I was afraid of being confronted with my weaknesses, so I choose to be louder than my classmates, hoping that would enable me to cover my flaws forever. I seemed confident to others, yet, deep inside, I was afraid of showing who I really was.
Over the past five years, I haven’t only defeated my own insecurities but also helped others to do so. After working with hundreds of students in my seminars and online courses, I’ve learned the difference between those with strong self-esteem and those who just fake it.
Quite often, the people who appear most confident are the ones who least believe in themselves. They sabotage themselves and try to get what they want by appearing stronger or more competent than they are.
Genuinely confident people believe in themselves. They’re aware of their strengths and weaknesses and use both wisely. They don’t seek external approval but instead chose to listen to their intuition.
Most people lack confidence because they don’t know much about themselves. They spend more time proving themselves to the outer world than going inward and being self-reflective. They fear being alone because that’s when they need to confront themselves with their dark sides.
Yet, life is so much more fun when you believe in yourself. Being more confident doesn’t only lead to a better quality of life, but to healthier relationships, a calm mind, and a sense of relaxation, even when things go wrong.
“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things. “
— Joe Namath
Confidence must be earned
Confidence is not a personality trait. It’s a skill. You can strengthen your confidence muscle by making the right decisions one day at a time.
Growing your self-esteem is the result of believing in yourself and setting the right priorities for long enough. There’s also a difference between saying that you’re confident (that was me as a teenager) and genuinely believing in yourself and your worth as a human being (that’s who I am today).
Repeating affirmations and calling yourself a confident person is cool, but your ability to stay strong and calm in challenging situations will prove whether you’re self-assured or not.
You need to believe in yourself, but you also need to prove that you can deal with challenging situations. Otherwise, you’ll lose your confidence as soon as difficulties arise.
Real confidence will help you perform better, but it won’t turn you into an overnight success. You’ll only experience the benefits of being a confident person if your skills match your beliefs for long enough.
Get out of your head
It’s hard to be confident if you’re constantly worrying about the past or the future. And most of our insecurities are rooted in our thoughts. Your fears, judgments, and doubts all exist in your head.
The more time you spend listening to your insecurities, the harder it is to pay attention to others, but also to yourself.
Being mindful and present, however, will help you to focus on the good and grow your self-esteem.
Even though a meditation or mindfulness routine might sound time-consuming, you can start by growing them through tiny steps.
A five-minute meditation is more powerful than none. Drinking your coffee more consciously by taking a few minutes off is better than rushing through your office.
Sometimes, it’s the small changes that can have the most significant impact on our wellbeing.
Being fully present will allow you to experience life in an entirely new way. Additionally, it will boost your confidence because you’ll waste less time worrying.
Your body language, clothes, and the shape of your body can all influence your confidence, but if your mind isn’t clear, it’ll be hard to believe in yourself, no matter how great you look.
Go with the flow
According to the Gallup Institute, less than a third of all employees can use their strengths at work. Yet, those who do use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and three times more likely to have an excellent quality of life.
Doing what you love and what you’re good at doesn’t only lead to a better life, but also to greater confidence.
The best things in life happen when you can just let it flow and be fully present. Quite often, your inner voice can lead you to the most incredible places. You just need to let it guide you.
Most people, however, choose to make detailed plans and get lost in everything that still needs to get done instead of enjoying the journey. And even though planning is useful and sometimes even necessary, trusting your intuition will often lead to the best results.
Meet your best version
Being more confident is so much easier when you know why you’re doing it.
Whenever I lack energy or confidence, I ask myself what my best version would do. That question instantly helps me to know what I need to do.
Visualizing your best self doesn’t mean that you’re fighting against your current version. On the contrary: Working on yourself is a sign of self-respect.
Once you know who you want to be in the future, it will be easier to act as that person in the present.
To meet the best version of you, think about the different areas of your life:
- Family and Friends
- Fun and Recreation
By creating a vision for each area, you’ll get an ideal image of who you want to be.
Take your time to reflect on each of these fields. Validate whether you’re already showing up as the best version of yourself and what you could improve:
- How does your physical environment look like? Where do you live?
- How do you take care of your health? How do you feel in your skin?
- How do you handle your finances? What’s the ideal career path?
- What about relationships? How do you deal with your loved ones?
Ask yourself who you want to be in each of these areas and remind yourself of that ideal version of you whenever you lack the courage to make a bold decision.
By showing up as that person, you’ll be able to create the reality of your dreams.
People inspire you, or they drain you
You’ll struggle to believe in yourself if you’re surrounded by people who don’t believe in you. And if you’re around those who love and support you, you’ll be more aware of your strengths and uniqueness as well.
That’s why rearranging your social circle can make or break your confidence.
Admittedly, this might be the least pain-free step to growing your confidence, but it’s a critical one. You can’t rise to the top if your friends and family are trying to pull you down. It just doesn’t work.
However, you don’t need to change your entire social circle at once. You can do it step by step. You can, for instance, start by reducing the time you spend with negative, unsupportive people and use that time for activities that make you feel more energized and alive.
Over time, you can join events and networks with like-minded people where you’ll meet fellows who’ll understand and appreciate you.
Your time and energy are your most precious resources and by being around someone, you dedicate both your time and energy to them. So make sure they’re worth your resources.
“You can’t control people but you can control who you surround yourself with. Choose to surround yourself with people who believe in you and great things will happen.”
— Robert Tew
“No” is a full sentence
If you can’t say no, you’ll end up living other people’s lives instead of your own.
Every time you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to another. And when we lack confidence, we often say yes to others and no to ourselves. By repeating that pattern frequently, we normalize putting others first and ourselves second.
But you don’t need to justify your decisions. Sometimes, saying “no” is enough and needs to be respected.
Confident people can set boundaries. They know that they need to take care of themselves to give back to the world. That’s why they’re able to say no without regrets.
According to Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse, one of the most common regrets of dying people is:
“I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
On your last day, you won’t be proud of satisfying others’ needs. Instead, you’ll regret not having lived your life to the fullest.
Even if it sometimes seems as if we have enough time to do certain things later in life, we probably don’t.
You don’t know whether you’ll wake up tomorrow. Each of your days is a gift. And it’s up to you to make the most out of your 24 hours.
“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”
— Josh Billings
Eat, sleep, move, repeat
It’s no coincidence that confident people are healthier and live longer: Studies prove that confidence sparks positive emotions that lead to health benefits.
Additionally, these positive emotions improve our brainpower, which results in better focus and higher productivity.
Taking care of your physical health will also lead to mental clarity, enabling you to make better, more substantial decisions and be more confident.
It’s a doom loop, but a positive one. Confidence and health go hand in hand. One fuels the other.
If you feel good in your skin, you’ll be more confident. And if you’re confident, you’ll take better care of your physical health.
Besides nutrition and physical activity, the quality of your sleep plays a significant role in increasing your confidence. Sometimes, an hour of additional rest can make all the difference between a successful and a lousy day.
Focus on the good things
Recalling our mistakes and worrying about the past is so much easier than being proud of our wins. Most people are great at beating themselves up by recalling negative memories and past failures. Yet criticizing yourself will always reduce your self-esteem.
Making mistakes doesn’t mean that you need to hold on to them. You can choose to let go and move on.
While insecure people remind themselves of failures, those who’re confident focus on wins.
If you’re not used to highlighting your wins, you can start a success journal and write down everything you accomplish throughout your days.
It’s so easy to forget the good and focus on the bad because that’s the way our brains are wired.
Your brain doesn’t want you to be happy; it wants you to be safe. That’s why you’re better at focusing on challenging, dangerous situations than recalling the good memories.
Our entire educational system is built on that fact: mistakes are highlighted, but wins aren’t appreciated. That’s why it feels so weird to celebrate our achievements and be proud of ourselves. Yet, feeling good about your wins is a great confidence-booster.
Writing down the positive moments will help you to take account of the good and remember more of the things that worked well in the past.
At the end of each day, write down what went well and what you’ve accomplished. Give yourself the credit you deserve.
“You’ve been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
― Louise Hay
Confidence isn’t something you begin with but something you end up with if you keep doing the right things long enough. It’s the byproduct of your performance, not the other way around.
And quite often, the journey to becoming more confident starts by jumping into something unknown, even if your knees are shaking and your hands are sweaty.
Believing in yourself and your abilities don’t mean that you’re flawless. It rather means that you accept all your weaknesses and still embrace yourself. Confidence is a state of mind, no matter if you win or lose.
And the good news is that it’s up to you to build your confidence. As David Schwartz once stated, you need to earn it:
“All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. Those people you know who radiate confidence, who have conquered worry, have acquired their confidence, every bit of it.”
Wanna grow? Grab your free Personal Growth Toolkit with 42 effective & actionable tactics, resources & tools to elevate your life.