How to Build Confidence
Individual Counseling | Columbia, Mo
Does this scenario sound familiar?
You're laying in bed, scrolling through your feed, and you think to yourself, "Man, I must be doing something wrong. Everybody looks like they live this awesome life and I'm a mess." You see a classmate or coworker rocking those jeans that you could never pull off. You see the silky-smooth face of another while constantly checking the mirror to make sure those zits are well concealed. You see Dr. What’sHisFace graduating from med school, while you're struggling to finish one semester in college. In short, you see the happiness of others all around you.
Are you comparing yourself to others while you scroll?
Do you see how it impacts you?
Do you think about the benefit and cost of doing so?!
Our current social environment (including media) is a breeding ground for low confidence.
Yes, obviously, people have varying levels of confidence. Some people are more confident than others, some people are less confident than others, and you're feeling down on yourself right now about your own levels of confidence (otherwise why would you be reading this).
And sure, compliments from others can help. However, no one will compliment you enough to make you feel better about your insecurities.
Let me repeat so those in the back can hear.
NO ONE CAN COMPLIMENT YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOUR INSECURITIES.
Confidence is a gift only you can give yourself. What we want for you to do is to engage in some self-assessments and realize that you have qualities and knowledge that others can appreciate. All of us (yes, all of us) can be secure in the situation that we are in. Nobody is stopping you from being confident in yourself. And we're going to help. Here are tried and true ways of building your confidence.
Build Healthy Relationships
It’s uncomfortable at first, but push yourself to form healthy relationships. I know, I know. This is a topic our individual counseling and couples counseling highly focuses on, but it is sooo important.
Having meaningful people around you that are honest and caring can help you to feel better about yourself. Not only will they build you up, but they'll push you to stand up for yourself (which will, in turn, build your confidence). Listen to your trusted friends when they tell you that your new haircut looks fly as hell (just kidding, but not really).
(And Then Change Body Language)
Then take that fresh new haircut out into the world and show it off!! There is nothing wrong with embracing things, such as a new haircut, that make you feel GOOD. Why? Because we are talking about healthy things and healthy relationships.
It might be extremely uncomfortable, but that strut you have going on is actually proven to increase your confidence! In other words, it's not just all in your head.
And then it becomes a fantastic feedback loop - building relationships will help generate some confidence, which you'll feed into by "acting as if," which will actually solidify for you, and then this will further that social circle you have because people are drawn to those that seem like they know what’s going on. Phew!
Act "As If" Until You Reach "Is"
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been drawn to a person simply because they were so confident in themselves.Maybe this is what you see in Dr.What'sHisFace and your friend rocking their jeans. You see them either "acting as if" or they have reached that level of confidence! I wanted to know what made them so confident. This resulted in meaningful conversations that let me know that this person is normal, yet interesting as hell. I then realized that I know some stuff. Not a lot, but some. I thought to myself that I could hold myself differently and walk as if I have it figured out. When asked if I know what’s going on, I answer confidently and honestly. Why would I be ashamed if I didn’t know the answer to their question?
Not knowing the answer is part of life!! No one knows everything and that is completely fine. Remain confident with the knowledge that you possess. With confidence, you gain resiliency to failures and can move forward with the knowledge that your failures provide. Every success and failure can be used as a learning experience and your confidence can help you avoid dwelling on the failures and propel you to use this newfound information.
Learning comes with a sense of accomplishment. Use that shit!! You’re learning, and you feel good about it!! Don’t sweep it under the rug and act like it’s no big deal. Allow yourself to celebrate this. You don’t necessarily have to throw a party but embrace the fact that you are learning things and have more to provide others.
Be Confident In Your Work
Confidence is especially helpful in the workplace. The supervisor/ supervisee relationship is one that you need to respect. However, honesty is a great policy. Honesty that is accompanied with confidence is even better. If you have a lot on your plate, you should communicate that with confidence, or a strong statement, in order to avoid getting overwhelmed and not completing the tasks the best you can. We are so used to being the society so proud of how hard we work. What good is that work if you aren't confident or putting in 100% effort? Using confidence to fuel your ability to set boundaries is one of the main reasons confidence is so important. People with low self-esteem tend to desire to please others. This can be alright; however, it should not be the only reason to gain confidence.
This low self-worth that many people deal with causes more than being taken advantage of. We begin to struggle to express ourselves effectively and remain quiet when we find a problem with the way we are being treated. Remaining quiet and hoping that nobody will take advantage of you is not the best way to handle this situation. Express yourself! State the way you feel and your thoughts on the situation. If you know how to handle a situation, then utilize that knowledge to express yourself effectively. You may not think you’re being confident but if you state something that you know is a fact, people will listen. Whether you viewed this statement as being confident or not, utilizing this form of communication can help you to gain traction in your search for confidence. The reaction of others can tell you everything. When someone hears you say something and listens, it feels good. Imagine being able to do this across the board.
Many people don’t feel heard and this is typically the case for people with low confidence and low self-worth. Trust in yourself and believe that what you are saying is important. The same is true for your feelings. Feelings are not a sign of weakness. Feel free to express them. This is one area that you will not be wrong in. Nobody can tell YOU how YOU feel.
Setting boundaries was mentioned previously, but this is one of the best ways to protect yourself and increase/utilize your confidence. Most people form relationships with others and find out that some of these relationships are not healthy. This is okay, and we don’t need to cut ties with everybody. However, we can certainly develop boundaries to protect ourselves from being dragged down.
These boundaries can help to increase your confidence by limiting the amount of negative feedback you are receiving. It can prevent insecure people from causing you to question yourself and encourage you to surround yourself with like-minded and confident people who will encourage you to become a better version of yourself. Nobody has the right push you around. Unfortunately, many of these people who decide what’s best for you are the people that should be encouraging you in your search for what’s best. They have this idea that they know what is best for you and this could be due to your lack of confidence in the past. While utilizing confidence, you can tell them that what they are doing is not helpful. This doesn’t have to be a hateful conversation. Remain confident and tell them how you really want things to be. You have given them a choice. They can respect your wishes and remain an important and trusted person in your life. If they decide that they still know you better than you know yourself, healthy boundaries may be required. This doesn’t mean cut out people in your life. This just means limiting the amount of an influence these people have on your actions and your feelings.
Allow yourself to learn from many different avenues. A lot of self-help strategies sound very corny. That doesn’t mean they don’t work! Reassure yourself that what you are happy doing is the right thing for you to do. Many people use confidence to put themselves in positions to succeed. While many people measure success by their monetary income, this is not the only route of happiness. Enjoy what you do, and you will constantly learn and increase your confidence in any given subject. Use that confidence to better yourself. Give yourself a pep talk every morning and know that you have every reason to be confident in yourself. This healthy state of mind will transfer to other areas of your life. Use this as fuel to take better care of your physical self. Use this as fuel to take better care of your mental self. Allow yourself to speak with a counselor and don’t be afraid to rent a self-help book from the library (Barnes and Noble has an entire section dedicated to it). Enjoy more time on your favorite trail to increase your physical health and blow off steam that could translate to better mental health. This will all help increase your confidence in yourself. Develop a routine and begin to grow accustomed this routine. As you develop your new “normal”, your confidence will grow. You will feel better about yourself and begin to see that you’re in control.
This realization of the amount of power you possess can transform the way you approach your life. The more you feel better about yourself, the more you will strive to attain more confidence. The change in other’s behavior around you will have you noticing that others are taking you seriously. This is a great feeling.
Have I struck a chord with anyone or am I just rambling? Hopefully someone has found reason in their life to be confident. We all have a reason, however, sometimes it can be difficult to find a place to start. That is perfectly fine!! Start slow and assess your interests. Find what you enjoy and find what you are good at. Remain open to new ideas and allow yourself to believe that you are better at some things than others. This is probably the truth. We all have qualities that make us better at some things than others.
With all of this confidence talk, I want to encourage everyone to remain humble. Confidence is not an excuse to blow off others or treat others with disrespect if they are wrong. Confidence is believing in yourself and trusting that you are doing what is necessary to better yourself. At times, confidence can be gained from helping others. Be confident, not cocky, and be willing to share your knowledge. Believe in yourself and treat others with respect. That is a very broad and simple idea, but the point is very simple. Be good to other people and utilize your confidence to better your situation. Others will begin to believe in you and your boundaries will help to provide you with the most ideal situation to grow your confidence. You deserve to feel better about yourself. Once again, be selfish periodically and know that the best person to care for you is you.
About the Author
Tim Fitzpatrick | The Counseling Hub in Columbia, Mo
Tim is a provisional counselor with The Counseling Hub, a counseling practice in Columbia, Mo that focuses on meaningful connection between self, partners, and others. Tim enjoys working with both adolescents and adults on issues regarding making major life changes or transitions, enhancing and building meaningful relationships, wanting to build confidence, wanting to grow self-esteem, anxiety, depression, experiencing an inability to enjoy life, and feeling as though they are being taken advantage of. Tim is an active member of the American Counseling Association, the national counseling association for the United States.
Tim earned his Master's of Science in Clinical Counseling from Central Methodist University. He is currently a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Missouri and has presented and written on topics including the influence of parental support on depressive symptoms, ethical practice, and the development of adults based on marital status.