Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Confidence is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life's challenges and to succeed—and the willingness to act accordingly. Being confident requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge.

Projecting confidence helps people gain credibility, make a strong first impression, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. It’s also an attractive trait, as confidence helps put others at ease.

How to Build Confidence

Confidence is not an innate, fixed characteristic. It’s an ability that can be acquired and improved over time.

Social confidence can be developed by practicing in social settings. Individuals can observe the structure and flow of any conversation before jumping in, and they can prepare questions or topics to discuss ahead of time.

Anxiety can take hold when people are plagued by self-doubt, so putting themselves in and getting accustomed to the specific situation they fear can assure people that nothing truly bad will happen. And the activity gets easier with practice.

Outside of a social context, one can gain a sense of confidence from personal and professional accomplishments. Continuing to set and meet goals can enable the belief that one is competent and capable.

How can I improve my confidence on a daily basis?

Being confident means knowing that you can handle the emotional outcome of whatever you’ll face. Begin by acknowledging every emotion, including difficult emotions, rather than avoiding them. Speaking up for yourself, limiting self-criticism, and other strategies can help build emotional strength and confidence.

How do I build confidence in a specific domain?

Confidence is not all-encompassing: You can have high confidence in some areas and low confidence in others. In whatever new domain you choose, hone your skills and develop self-efficacy by watching others, practicing yourself, and taking advice from the experts.

article continues after advertisement
Overconfidence and Underconfidence
G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

A realistic appraisal of one's abilities enables people to strike a healthy balance between too little and too much confidence. Too little confidence can prevent people from taking risks and seizing opportunities—in school, at work, or in their social life.

Too much confidence can come off as cockiness, arrogance, or narcissism. Overestimating one’s abilities might also lead to problems such as failing to complete projects on time.

What’s the difference between confidence and narcissism?

Narcissism can be due to insecurities and defense mechanisms, while confidence comes from self-awareness and the ability to tolerate and reflect on one’s insecurities. Confidence instills a personal sense of being capable and competent, while narcissism encompasses a sense of superiority over others.

Why are we drawn to narcissists?

People like those who are higher in narcissism better than those who are lower in narcissism, according to one recent study, and that may be because people overestimate how much self-esteem narcissists have. Perceiving a strong sense of confidence, which puts others at ease, may be the key to narcissists’ appeal.

How to Raise Confident Kids
4 PM production/Shutterstock

Children—and especially adolescents—can struggle with insecurity and self-doubt as they navigate academics, friendships, and romantic relationships. But parents can play a part in providing their children with the tools they need to develop self-confidence.

How do you raise confident children?

Although parents may understandably be tempted to help children solve every challenge that comes their way, stepping back and letting kids solve problems on their own can hone executive function skills, teach motivation, and help instill a strong sense of self-agency and confidence.

How do you raise a confident teenager?

To instill self-confidence, parents can support adolescents’ goals, treat mistakes as learning experiences and failure as evidence of trying, encourage practice and persistence, and avoid unloading their worries onto their children. These and other responses can help teens believe in themselves.

Essential Reads