How to Become Confident

Six years ago, my confidence was at an all-time low.

I had just left an abusive relationship, where I learned to question my every move, and I had just graduated college and plunged into the bewildering world of full-time employment. I lived in paralyzing fear of making mistakes and people thinking poorly of me.

Since then, I’ve learned something very important. Confidence is not simply a function of personality, and you don’t have to “fake it ’til you make it.” It’s something that can be deliberately fostered and grown, and it carries over into every area of your life.

These days… well, I‘m writing a public blog post right now called “How to Become Confident,” and there’s a noticeable lack of crippling self-doubt. I’ve come a long way.

There’s a lot of Leslie Knope gifs ahead. You have been warned.

1. No one is allowed to insult you. Not even you.

I used to have a terrible negative self-talk habit. I’d make a minor mistake and immediately the little voice in my head would start up: “You idiot. I can’t believe you messed up something so simple. You better hope no one finds out…” etc, etc.

You might justify it as “honesty,” like I did — but would you talk to your best friend like that? Would you let someone else talk to him or her that way?

Next time, treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend. Speak up. When that little voice in your head starts up, talk back to it: “People make mistakes all the time, and it’s easily fixed. If anyone asks, I’ll apologize. I wonder if there’s some way to make me less likely to forget in the future? Maybe I can set a reminder…”

This strategy will be very familiar to anyone who’s done any CBT (cognitive behavior therapy). There’s a reason that stuff is as effective as anti-depressants!

2. Don’t forget the good times.

Self-talk is extremely helpful, but you also need to take note of the positive things you do outside of your head.

I keep a very simple journal: every day I write down at least one objectively good and useful thing I did that day. Sometimes it’s small stuff:

  • did the dishes
  • cleaned up that pile of mail

And sometimes it’s bigger things:

  • started that big project at work
  • helped a friend talk through a problem

So when that little nasty voice in my head starts up again, I have proof, in my very own handwriting, that I am not a useless garbage person and in fact have done many good and useful things. It’s corny, but it works.

3. Exercise.

I know, I know, what a cliche, exercise cures everything. But it’s hard to feel confident while not at ease within your own body. Plus: endorphins. Sweet, sweet endorphins.

The important thing to know is that you don’t have to go all out on exercise for it to make a difference. We’re mostly looking for the mental health benefits here, not becoming Arnold Schwartzenegger in six weeks or whatever. Just get a little sweaty for half an hour a few times a week.

Dance parties are totally a legit form of exercise

4. A little help from your friends.

The last piece of the puzzle is the most difficult, for a lot of people. We humans are social creatures, and we often don’t really fully 100% believe something until we hear it from someone else — not even when that thing is our own worth as a person.

THE ACTUAL COOLEST

In short, you need people to tell you you’re awesome at regular intervals. What’s the best way to make that happen? Telling other people they’re awesome at regular intervals. It’s the kind of thing that tends to come back around again, especially when you mean it.


So, TLDR; be kind to yourself. Even in your own head. Tell your friends they rock, and listen when they tell you the same thing. Soon you will be the confidence you wish to see in the world.

And get ready — this year more than ever, we need to be prepared to stand up for ourselves and others.

Happy 2017, everybody. Knope out.