Building confidence is a necessary exercise for many of us. If self-confidence does not come naturally, building it up takes deliberate, conscious effort. While no step-by-step program is perfect, following are some steps that may help you build up your sense of confidence.
Write them down. Make a list of your goals, long and short term, and then below each goal write the steps it will take to get there. For example, if one of your goals is to launch a website to earn money, your list might look like this:
- Reserve domain
- Set up hosting
- Contact web designer and discuss layout
- Write a short ebook as a promotional giveaway
- Write content and newsletters for site to cover several months after launch
Whether it’s relationships, business ventures, or self-improvement, writing your goals and their necessary steps can make those goals much less formidable and much more doable. That alone helps you feel more confident in moving forward.
While it’s good to have aspirations toward self-improvement, constantly comparing yourself to the best of the best in your realm can get discouraging.
For example, if you’d like to have a talk radio show or Podcast, you might be inspired by high-profile radio hosts; being inspired by them is fine, but beating yourself up because you are not exactly like they are – complete with millions of listeners – will only discourage you.
Build a Positive Self-Image
It seems that when you are just certain you are going to fail before you try something, you are more likely to fail when you do try it. If you have a negative self-image and think you just can’t achieve anything, it’s likely that you won’t – thus underscoring this false impression about yourself.
Stop listening to the negative inner voice and instead tell yourself that you can achieve your goals and, even if you fail, it’s not because you are a bad person or because you didn’t try.
Get to Know Yourself
This means spending some quiet time thinking or writing in a journal – some quiet time by yourself in which you access your strengths, weaknesses, and personality.
What are your character traits? What quirks and talents do you have? Pretend like you are being interviewed and that the interviewer is trying to get to know you. What questions would they ask?
Turn off the Media
For a while, it might be good to turn off the TV and put down the magazines. The perfect-people images found in the media can be discouraging for those who are struggling with self-confidence.
Overcome Shyness and Social Awkwardness
Feeling shy or awkward in certain situations is understandable. Don’t we all have a little nervousness before we go talk to that guy or girl, or get sweaty palms before giving a speech?
For some, though, shyness and social awkwardness may not be circumstantial, but constant. This can be very frustrating and hard to overcome, but there are some things you can do to help overcome your shyness and approach people in social situations.
Here are some tips.
Learn to Laugh
There’s something about laughter that makes everyone feel more comfortable. This is why “ice breaker” activities at parties are often designed to get the participants laughing. So don’t be afraid to laugh at someone’s jokes, or learn a few funny lines yourself (not canned “pick-up” lines, but clever observations or comments).
Force Yourself to Stay
Sometimes, shy people feel so uncomfortable in a social situation that they just want it to end; they just want to get away. Consciously resist this impulse. Tell yourself to stand your ground, stay put, and interact. Remember, the other person is not going to breathe fire; he or she just wants to have a conversation and get to know you.
Learn to be Comfortable with Silence
Social situations can feel especially awkward if you are uncomfortable with mutual silence. This may trigger shy people to “babble” to fill the silence, which then makes them feel even more awkward because they feel like what they’re saying is silly or nonsensical.
So be cool – some silence between people is okay. In fact, it helps give the other person a chance to think before he or she speaks. The person you’re speaking with will appreciate this!
Just like physical stretching, socially and psychologically stretching can be somewhat uncomfortable, even painful.
But also like physical stretching, it’s necessary. If your first instinct is to say “No” when someone asks you to do something, stop and think first. Tell the person you will get back to him or her if you aren’t sure. This will give you some time to pluck up your courage and say “Yes.”
When to Seek a Professional
There is a point when simple shyness and social awkwardness may be an actual disorder. Social anxiety disorder and social phobia are real disorders that may need the help of a professional. The difference between shyness and these disorders is how much it affects your life.
For example, if you are so shy and embarrassed by just the thought of having to introduce yourself to others or attend a party that you go to great lengths to avoid the situation, it might be a social disorder. When it’s social anxiety or phobia, you have trouble living a normal and productive life due to your social fears.
Mindsets that Lead to Low Self-Confidence and How to Change Them
If you suffer from low self-confidence, you might be stuck in some negative mindsets that are affecting the way you think about yourself and, ultimately, your self-esteem.
Negative mindsets tend to have a lot of “always” or “never” talk, creating a sense of entrapment and hopelessness. Here are some examples of negative mindsets that can lead to low confidence.
“I will never get it right.”
Thinking this way can keep you from trying again, or even trying something for the first time. It makes it only too easy to give up.
“Nobody understands what this is like.”
When you lack self-confidence, a lot of times you assume that everyone else has it together and you’re the odd man or woman out. You may feel isolated, and feel as if others have their lives together while you are still floundering.
“I am totally useless.”
When you lack confidence, you may feel like you don’t have anything of value to contribute, whether it’s to your workplace, relationships, or something else.
“I am a complete failure.”
No one fails at every single thing; but to a person with low self-confidence, it can sure seem that way. You may feel like everything you’ve ever tried has failed, even if this is not true.
“I could never do that.”
Do you see someone with a successful lifestyle you wish you had? If you lack self-confidence, you may have the above reaction. Instead of being inspired and wanting to create that lifestyle for yourself, you look at that person and get depressed, thinking you could never have what they have.
How Can These Mindsets Be Overcome?
In order to overcome these destructive mindsets that lead to low confidence, it’s necessary to reprogram your thought processes. You will need to pay attention to your negative self-talk and immediately change it to something positive.
For example, instead of “I will never get it right,” you could stop that thought in its tracks and think instead, “I have trouble with this, but if I keep trying and seek out the right help, I know I can succeed.” Rather than, “I could never do that,” think, “I would love to do that! There’s no reason why I can’t have that lifestyle if I work at it.”
You may need therapy and/or counseling to overcome these mindsets. But like everything else in life, you can do it if you set realistic goals and have confidence in yourself!
Build Confidence in Interpersonal Relationships
For some people, self-confidence with regard to personal relationships is challenging. You may find that you have confidence in many other areas of your life – your business, talents, and so forth – but lack the confidence to have successful personal relationships.
For some, this is due to past experiences – once bitten, twice shy, so to speak. For others, it just seems to be how they’re wired; they just can’t be the social butterfly they wish they could be.
If any of this describes you, read on for some tips and suggestions that may help.
Recognize You’re Not Alone
Pretending like you don’t have trouble with confidence is not going to help. You’d be surprised at how many people who seem naturally born confident actually took time and effort to learn the art of self-confidence in their relationships.
If there weren’t a growing number of people in need of self-confidence, there wouldn’t be a growing field of confidence coaches and life coaches to help!
You might consider becoming a client of a confidence or life coach. These coaches specialize in helping people realize their potential, both professionally and personally. There’s no shame in seeking advice, whether from a friend or a professional.
If you feel insecure when you think of your interpersonal relationships (or when you think of starting one), it might help to remember that you have something of value to contribute to that relationship.
Lack of confidence may stem from a sense that relationships are only about you pleasing the other person, or getting him or her to like you. However, it’s important to realize that you have something to contribute to the relationship which will benefit the other person – you!
Remember that both you and the person with whom you are in a relationship have flaws. Everyone does. People who lack confidence in relationships tend to walk on eggshells, afraid they will say or do something to cause the other person to turn against them.
But truthfully, someone who really likes or loves you is not going to ditch you just because you said one off-color thing or made one mistake. And if they do, you didn’t need them to begin with!
Silence the Negative Inner Voice
First, you have to recognize it – listen for a few days to your inner voice. What’s it saying? Do you hear, “You’re not good enough,” “No one would ever put up with you,” or “I just can’t go over and talk to him/her?”
Once you begin to hear these thoughts, it’s time to take action and change them. Often, such negative self-talk is a habit and you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
You have to forge new habits of positive self-talk instead. Remember that you have something to contribute to a relationship and the right person will be glad to have you as an addition to his or her life!