Figuring out how to build confidence can seem like a daunting task, but there are effective ways. These ideas will get you on the path to greater self-esteem.
Building Confidence Long-Term
Every human being has moments of self-doubt. Those destructive thoughts overwhelm your mind and make you lose what little confidence you have left. If you have found that you are constantly doubting your abilities in life and struggling with a lack of self-confidence, then you’re in luck. There are ways to help yourself through these feelings and come out the other side. You just have to have a path to follow.
Every day is a new challenge. Some days are easy and some are more difficult. But when self-doubt creeps in, it can be invasive. It can start in one area and eek into those where you have always felt pretty confident. It is important for each of us to try to live life fully and remember that we are awesome individuals – despite what our minds might tell us sometimes. Here are some steps to get you going in the right direction.
Think Affirming Thoughts
One of the most positive things that you can do for yourself when you are dealing with a lack of confidence is to focus on positive self-talk. If you can change your frame of mind from one with frequent negative thoughts to working on a positive attitude, you will see a change in both your mental health as well as your low self-confidence.
Hearing criticism can lead to a vicious cycle of internal negative self-talk. We create a list of things in our minds that we once heard from family members, friends, a boss, or a team leader at work. We hear it once and it gets added to that long term conversation in our minds. The good news is that you have the power to change it.
Wake up each day and say something positive about yourself. If you can’t come up with something on the fly each morning, start making a written list during the day. There are so many positive aspects to each one of us, but sometimes we don’t see ourselves as everybody else does. If that is the case for you, try to include positive traits that you believe others see in you.
After the first few days of thinking affirming thoughts when you wake up in the morning, look into your bathroom mirror as you brush your teeth and try to repeat them. Look yourself in the eyes and compliment yourself. Tell yourself these good things and focus on a positive outlook. Try to become the biggest cheerleader for who you know you are.
Follow my series of Mindfulness Meditation exercises to help yourself get more comfortable with affirmations.
Let Go of the Past
One of the biggest reasons we doubt ourselves is because of our past mistakes. Whatever you did or didn’t do in the past doesn’t matter in the present moment. Learn to let go of the past by forgiving yourself for your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, that is part of the life learning process. The key to making the future brighter is by changing what you do from here forward.
In addition to the mistakes we may have made in the past, other people’s past actions will also impact even the most confident person. Whether you ruminate about things that happened in high school, hard times you had in a relationship, or difficult situations with your family members, it is important to remember that these old issues present new challenges for you – and only you – in your current life. People make mistakes and most of them aren’t thinking about the things that you remember, so it is time that you let go as well.
If letting go of the past isn’t as easy as just making a decision, start taking small steps. Call the person you feel you’ve wronged and apologize. It doesn’t matter if it’s twenty years later – for you, it is not. For you, it is as present today as it was the day it happened. It is time to take steps that will allow you to let it go. You can read more about how to start living in the moment to get all of the new things moving in the right direction.
If someone has hurt you, think of useful ways to get through to the other side. Whether that means working with a therapist, writing in a journal, or engaging with a role model that you’ve seen work through the same tough times as you’ve had, work on getting back to your true self. You are a good person who has lived through uncomfortable situations. You can build self-confidence by wholly seeing that person again.
Stop Worrying About Others
When we have low self-esteem, we start to worry more about what other people think of us. That said, it is none of our business what someone else thinks of us. Let them judge and be miserable on their own. Let go of the chains that lock you into living a life that others accept, judge, or envy. Be who you are, and don’t ask for permission.
Boundaries are something that we all need in order to live an independent, self-confident life. Having boundaries doesn’t mean that you shut everyone out or that you hide in your little hole without influence from others.
What they mean is that you are choosing to live a healthy existence – with those you love at a healthy closeness AND a healthy distance – so that you can make decisions that continue to make you a whole individual who can contribute to society and anyone else you choose.
When we lack boundaries, that is our comfort zone. As much as different situations repeat themselves and contribute to our low confidence, we allow the same thing to happen again next time. The first step to ending this cycle is to recognize a particular situation for what it is. See the cycle and begin to say no.
Additionally, the impact of social media is real. We can see the great way someone is living or the big goals someone is accomplishing. Just remember that what you are seeing are little things, not real things. You are seeing snapshots of a happy moment or an important thing that has happened to someone. You are not seeing their marital difficulties, lack of sleep, and medical problems. Focus on yourself and your own abilities rather than what you think someone else is accomplishing.
Start Setting Goals
People often lose confidence because they’ve stopped setting goals and working towards something larger than who they are and what they have always had. Sit down today and set some goals in motion. For real. Get a pad of paper and a pen or open a new doc on your computer and get to writing.
This outline of what goals you want to accomplish can be anything from basic ideas (“I want to be happy”) with space to create lists of how to specific plans (“I want to take a photography class”). Be sure these goals are reasonable and attainable with an end date in mind.
Wake up every day with these goals as your main priority. What we have always done in the past may be comfortable and cozy, but it is not making you happy or self-confident. Remember the definition of insanity…
Once you have your list and your motivation in check, figure out the first things you have to do to make them happen. If you are looking for a partner, practice your body language and eye contact to make sure that you are giving off what you mean to be. If you are looking for a new job, work on your resume and start searching through the online listings. Work on specific tasks in order to get you to your goal.
Pick up a New Hobby
Get out in the world and do something new today. When we test our ability to learn new skills or hobbies, it can be scary. This intimidating moment may fuel self-doubt at first, but what happens when you are successful with it? It builds confidence. Go and try some different things!
Let’s be realistic. There are tens of thousands of classes, activities, groups, and clubs that you can join. Start by getting an idea of what you have always been interested in or something that you’ve always wanted to try. This is the time, my friend. Self-confident people try things whether they ultimately succeed or fail. It’s about the journey, not the destination.
If you live in a small town where there aren’t a lot of immediate resources, look online. Almost everything you can think of (crafting, cooking, knitting, dancing, singing, fencing, beading, book clubs, and about eight hundred other options) is available to learn online. Granted, taking classes online won’t have you meeting new people, but it’s a fantastic start. It is the best way to see what you actually enjoy before investing too much time or money. Don’t have the money to pay for a class online? Start with YouTube. People live to make videos teaching you new hobbies, so take advantage of the free resources first.
Always remember that you can’t remove doubt from your life completely. Doubt is a mechanism that we need to protect us from failure and making mistakes that could be disastrous. On the other hand, self-doubt can sabotage us from growth. Keeping yourself moving forward is the key to boosting confidence and squashing those negative little voices in your head. Don’t let yourself become stagnant. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.