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6 Proven Ways to Build Confidence

1. Stop comparing yourself to others.

Key points

  • Boosting self-confidence makes us more successful, improves our health, and increases our happiness.
  • It is impossible to be confident when you feel you have no control over how others treat you.
  • When you talk down to yourself, you hold yourself back and decrease your confidence.

It takes confidence to introduce yourself to new people at an event, apply for a promotion, or go to the gym for the first time. But you don't have to wait until you feel completely confident to do those things. Instead, you can take steps to build confidence, and doing so can improve your life.

Confidence is a key component in growing mentally stronger. Boosting self-confidence makes us more successful, improves our health, and increases our happiness. Fortunately, several strategies can help you start feeling more confident.

Strategies to Feel More Confident

1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Whether checking out the "perfect" bodies on Instagram or comparing salaries with friends, we all compare ourselves to others at one time or another.

But measuring yourself against other people erodes self-confidence fast. Research shows that the more envy people experience when they make comparisons, the worse they feel about themselves.

Pay attention to when you start thinking other people are either above you or below you in some way.

Instead of viewing them as your competitors, consider them opinion-holders. Someone who looks like they are doing well might have information, skills, or resources you could learn from. Make it your goal to become better than you were yesterday, not better than someone else.

2. Create boundaries. It’s impossible to be confident when you feel like you have no control over how others treat you. When you establish healthy boundaries, however, you’ll see that you’re in charge of determining what behaviors you’ll tolerate and which you won’t.

Creating boundaries for ourselves can aid in feeling more in control and thus improve psychological safety. It's really part of feeling confident, knowing that you're in charge of your life.

Say no to things you don’t want to do. Speak up when someone crosses the line. And make your expectations clear.

3. Take care of your body. Feeling good about yourself is hard when you're not treating your body properly. When you prioritize self-care, you do something great for your body, mind, and spirit.

Eating healthy, exercising, meditating, and getting plenty of sleep are all keys to helping you feel your best. Just adding in a few extra walks every week and making some healthier food choices could bolster your confidence.

4. Spend time with positive people. The people around you greatly impact how you feel about yourself. If judgmental or critical people surround you, it’ll take a toll on your mental strength. If, however, you’re interacting with people who can cheer others on and support one another, you’ll feel much better.

Unfortunately, researchers have found that people with low self-esteem tend to befriend people who put them down. If you feel bad about yourself, you might spend time with others who put you down because you’re used to hearing bad things about yourself.

If you feel awful about yourself, hearing others say nice things about you can be uncomfortable. So you might go with what feels familiar–put-downs and negativity.

So pay close attention to the people you choose to surround yourself with, and don’t be afraid to reduce or eliminate your contact with some people. Focus on creating healthier relationships with the positive people in your life. Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, it gets easier over time, and hearing good things about yourself might shift how you talk to yourself too.

5. Reframe your negative self-talk. When you talk down to yourself, you hold yourself back and decrease your confidence. Your subconscious buys into the idea that certain things are “too hard” or “you can’t handle it.” Flip the script with a little kind self-talk to overcome self-doubt and take on new challenges. For instance:

  • Instead of “I can’t handle this,” try “I can do this.”
  • Rather than “I can’t do anything right,” go for “I can do better next time.”
  • Replace “I hate public speaking” with something like “I don’t love public speaking, but everyone has strengths and weaknesses.”

6. Act as if you feel confident. No one gains confidence by sitting around the house doing nothing. Sometimes, the best way to change your feelings is to change your behavior first.

Ask yourself what you’d be doing if you felt confident. Would you enroll in classes? Move to a new city? Talk to more people? Do those things now.

When you walk into a room, act like you feel confident doing it. Even small changes, like a slight shift in your posture, can make a huge difference.

Keep Practicing

You may need to experiment with various strategies to figure out what works best for you as you grow mentally stronger and more confident.

If you’re really struggling with confidence, consider getting professional help. Talking to a therapist might help you discover strategies and skills that help you become the best version of yourself.

To find a therapist, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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Perry P. Concept analysis: Confidence/self-confidence. Nurs Forum. 2011;46(4):218-30. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6198.2011.00230.x

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