Rather than being judgmental or hostile toward other people’s success, confident people celebrate others and feel genuine happiness for them rather than envy or comparison. They are inspired to learn what they can about how others succeed. They don’t rationalize others’ successes or their own failures.
Confidence and Behavior
|Confident Behavior||Behavior Associated With Low Self-Confidence|
|Doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it.||Governing your behavior based on what other people think.|
|Being willing to take risks and to go the extra mile to achieve better things.||Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure, and avoiding risk.|
|Admitting your mistakes and learning from them.||Working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices.|
|Waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments.||Extolling your own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible.|
|Accepting compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that prospectus. I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.”||Dismissing compliments offhandedly. “Oh, that prospectus was nothing, really. Anyone could have done it.”|
Self-confidence is vital in almost every aspect of our lives, yet many people struggle to find it. Sadly, this can become a vicious cycle: people who lack self-confidence are less likely to achieve the success that could give them more confidence.
For example, you may not be inclined to back a project that’s pitched by someone who’s visibly nervous, fumbling, or constantly apologizing. On the other hand, you’re persuaded by someone who speaks clearly, holds their head high, and answers questions with assurance.
Confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their co-workers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways to succeed. In the following sections, we’ll see how you can do this.
What Is Confidence?
Confidence can refer to a general sense of belief and trust in your own ability to control your life or it might be more situation-specific. For example, you might have high self-confidence in an area of expertise but feel less confident in other areas.
Having a healthy level of self-confidence can help you become more successful in your personal and professional life. Research has found, for example, that people who are more confident tend to achieve more academically.
Confidence can also play a role in the motivation to pursue your goals, with studies linking higher levels of self-confidence in athletes with increased motivation to practice their sport of choice. Your level of confidence even affects how you present yourself to others.
Ways to build confidence:
Figure out where your lack of confidence stems from.
Understand what self-confidence feels like for you.
Take some time to figure out what confidence feels like in your body. A good question to ask is “How will you know that you’ve reached a satisfactory level of self-confidence?” Perhaps you will start speaking up more at work. You might finally wear that outfit you’ve always wanted to. You may even introduce yourself to your crush at your co-working space. This will be different from person to person, so it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. This is your personal measurement of confidence.
Align with yourself.
If you find yourself frequently using the word “should,” (for example, I should be married by 30, I should have a house by next year, or I should have my life together by now), take a step back and reflect. Where is this “should” coming from?
Shirin Eskandani, life coach and founder of Wholehearted Coaching, says one way to build self-confidence is to make small promises to yourself and then follow through. “And the key word is small. Do things that are a stretch but also realistic for you. So perhaps if you’re not a morning person, not committing to waking up at 6 a.m. every day to do a morning routine but instead trying out an evening routine.”
Adopt a growth mindset.
A growth mindset encourages you to explore beyond your current skills and knowledge, keeping the possibility of improvement open. Instead of using phrases like “I’m not confident,” just add “yet” to it, which transforms the old belief into “I’m not confident yet.” This adds the qualifier that you are in the process of gaining skills to become confident.
A 2019 study found that growth mindset interventions led to better math grades for high schoolers and improved even more when students were immersed in environments that encouraged growth mindset principles. So it’s worth exploring your new growth mindset with like-minded people.
Know you will fail, and that’s OK.
We live in a failure-averse culture where people mostly just talk about their accomplishments. Rarely do you ever get to hear about people’s accounts of failure. Understanding that failure happens and is a part of the process of living will help you to live more fully.
“For a lot of us, we were usually taught that self-confidence comes from achievements,” certified life coach and leadership coach Nicole Cruz tells mindbodygreen. “However, this means that when we achieve, we feel great about our abilities, but when we fail, our self-confidence takes a hit. I truly believe that self-confidence comes from our own thoughts about our abilities rather than external achievements. So that regardless of whether we succeed or fail, we have the power to retain our self-confidence.”
Stand up to your inner critic.
Sometimes you might hesitate to trust yourself because you’ve received critical feedback from authority figures earlier in life, like parents, teachers, or community leaders, and you have adopted their criticisms as your own beliefs. But there comes a point when this feedback no longer serves your current life. Standing up to those old criticisms can unlock a new level of confidence.
“Confidence can also be built by rewriting the narratives in our heads about our worthiness. This involves identifying self-limiting beliefs and reframing them,” Shanmugavelayutham explains. “Often the voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough is not our authentic voice but an aggregate of all the voices of those who have criticized us in the past. When we talk back to the inner critic enough, the confident inner-child that we lost touch with can reemerge.”
Understand that emotions and feelings are temporary.
Emotions go through a cycle of beginning, middle, and end. Although emotions can feel really intense in the moment, they are only temporary. At the very basic level, emotions are physiological responses to stimuli in your environment. If your Wi-Fi goes out right before your work presentation, you may experience an acute pang of stress. If you receive a surprise package from your sister, you may be overcome by heartfelt joy. If you get a text from your ex, you may feel a sharp streak of hot sadness. Whatever the stimuli and paired emotion, they’re all data points to inform your next action step.
In terms of confidence, any emotion like anxiety, stress, or fear that is holding you back from taking action is only temporary. Once it subsides, you can make your next move. As the saying goes, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Focus on what you can control.
“A lot of times, we base our self-confidence on things we actually have no control over—what other people think, the outcome of a project, others’ reactions, etc.,” Cruz explains. “To build self-confidence, we need to release our attachment to the things we can’t control and start basing our self-confidence on what we do have control over.”
Self-confidence and self-esteem: Are they the same?
We often use self-confidence and self-esteem interchangeably because they’re closely related. Self-confidence is most genuine and durable when it derives from healthy self-esteem. While they share similarities, there are distinct differences between the two.
Self-confidence is outward-facing. It’s what you put out to the world and what people around you see. Self-esteem is inward-facing and not always noticeable from the outside. Your confidence can come from knowledge and experience, whereas self-esteem is more about knowing yourself and valuing your self-worth. Low self-esteem or low self-confidence can cause self-doubt and negatively impact your mental health, well-being, and performance.
Often, people tend to rely on their self-confidence for happiness in life. Instead of working on their self-esteem, which is about knowing and loving yourself, strengths and weaknesses, and developing an internal sense of worth, people work on their projected image and how others perceive them. This focus on projected confidence in order to seem successful can backfire without also developing self-esteem. People may not realize you have low self-esteem, but eventually, those you connect with will see through your self-confidence.
It’s crucial to note that self-confidence won’t endure without healthy self-esteem. It will be shaken when you find yourself in unfamiliar terrain. But with both, you’ll thrive. When your self-esteem is steady and your well-being is good, your self-confidence shines brighter. If you love and value yourself, you’ll embrace your strengths and weaknesses in any situation, and your self-esteem will motivate you to be a more confident person.
What are some tips to be more confident?
Be proud of yourself
You should also celebrate your smallest victories however you’d like. If a big bowl of ice cream will do that for you, go for it. As you track your progress, make sure to think back to where you started. Think about how that version of you would be proud of where you are today.
Don’t be afraid to open up
It can be scary to be vulnerable with new people and within your surroundings. But as you’re learning new things and stepping outside of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to let yourself open up. Be present with where you are and what you’re doing. As you grow, you can acknowledge your fear and worries, but don’t let that prevent you from exposing yourself to new things.
You have to hone in on yourself to figure out what aspects you want to be more confident in. Where do you lack confidence? Where are you super confident? Identifying these aspects will help you be specific with your goals. Once you have a plan, you won’t feel overwhelmed. Discover what would give you confidence and start making purposeful actions towards obtaining it.