By September 14, 2011 Read More →

Six Strategies for Building Your Self-Confidence

image

“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” — Michael Jordan

Confidence is a skill you can build.  Self-confidence is about how you feel about your abilities.  Confidence is one of those crucial keys to bringing out your best.  It’s also a key to having the courage to be who you uniquely are.

The confident mind is a powerful one.Whether it’s sharing your thoughts, acting on your ideas, or being bold enough to be yourself, confidence can serve you in multiple ways.  Even humor and style flow better with confidence.

Confidence is Like a Muscle

If you think of confidence as a muscle, then pay attention to all the chances you get to flex it throughout your day.  It even starts with how you get out of bed.  If you don’t think of yourself as confident, then act “as if” and gradually you’ll find your groove.  Keep in mind that while competence breeds competence, confidence comes first – you have to believe to achieve.  Above all, don’t anchor your confidence on external people or things.  Flow it from the inside out, starting with your own belief in you.

In the book, Managing Your Mind : The Mental Fitness Guide , Gillian Butler, Ph.D., and Tony Hope, M.D., write about six ways to improve your confidence.

Six Strategies for Building Self-Confidence

You can use these strategies to help build up, tune, and improve your self-confidence.  Butler and Hope write:

  1. “Practice”
  2. “Behave as if you are more confident than you are.”
  3. “Be flexible in your behavior.”
  4. “Learn from your mistakes.  The only way to avoid mistakes is to become stagnant.”
  5. “Silence the voice of self-blame, and speak encouragingly to yourself.”
  6. “Be kind to yourself.”

Bring Out Your Best

Don’t be your own worst critic.  Be your own best coach.  Learn from your mistakes, but encourage yourself to new heights.  Butler and Hope write:

"Apply the ‘water-under-the-bridge’ rule, and operate a statute of limitations.  Kicking yourself for past inadequacies, confusions, or failures gives fuel to your internal wavering voice — cut off its supply of oxygen and use an encouraging voice instead.  Imagine you had a champion whose job it was to bring the best in you.  What encouraging things would this person be whispering in your ear?  Amplify those messages, so you can hear them loud and clear."

Each time you fall down, be the first to pick yourself up.  Confidence is a habit you can grow.  The seeds are the thoughts and beliefs that empower you to take action.

My Related Posts

Photo by Shandi-Lee.

25 Comments on "Six Strategies for Building Your Self-Confidence"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. J. D.

    This is the perfect post for me right now. I need to reflect on some of the definitions. I less relate to the idea that confidence is about how you relate to your abilities, but I do see that part of it. I see confidence more as “having the courage to be uniquely you”. This is great food for thought and excellent tips.

    Thanks!

  2. JD says:

    @ Sandra — Great point on the definition and scope of confidence.

    I’m organizing a collection of quotes on confidence to help flesh out its multiple facets and see what the various sages over the ages have taught us on the topic. It’s eye-opening.

  3. Hi JD,

    For me, one of the most important points is #5. Many of us use a rather nasty, negative voice to talk to ourselves, one we’d never use when speaking to another person. Switching to an encouraging voice makes SUCH a huge difference in how we see ourselves. When we look at ourselves as being worthy of praise, of encouragement, of loving words, the whole world changes. :)

    Hugs!
    Melody

  4. I like the Michael Jordan quote you shared. When I wrote about confidence a few weeks ago sports were the first thing that came to my mind.

    A game can be made or broken based on confidence alone.

    Bryce

  5. Hi JD,

    Recently I conducted a sports psychology workshop for some student athletes. One of the topic was on building self confidence. As a sports psychologist, we are very focused on skills that can be used practical to improve the mental game. The six list you mentioned here will certainly feature well in my future workshops. Currently, I do not overwhelm my athletes with too much, preferring to give them 3-4 skills to practice and perfect yet. The three techniques I suggest here are:
    1) Recalling your past triumphs vividly.
    2) Positive Self Talk.
    3) Establishing a positive routine of activities.

    Hey, maybe I should do a post combining all the techniques you have discussed here? Then more people will benefit.

    Cheers

  6. Evelyn Lim says:

    Oh yes, we do not live with poor confidence. Practice can help. The more times we practice, the more confident we can become. But it is more important that we align our minds first. When that happens, doing becomes easy.

  7. It took me a long time to learn that confidence does not come from the praise of others. It comes from within and radiates out. And part of it is simply learning to fake it til you make it.

  8. John Sherry says:

    You know I truly love your ‘short burst’ posts full of short, direct, power packed insight and endorphin releasing JD. This one is no exception. It makes self-confidence something within reach and entirely in our own hands. Which is top notch advice and gives people self-belief just by reading. A few minutes here is a shot of the right stuff every time.

  9. Hi J.D. This is a great article and there were two points that really jumped out at me 1) If you think of confidence as a muscle, then pay attention to all the chances you get to flex it throughout your day, and 2) Don’t be your own worst critic. Be your own best coach. These are both keepers!

  10. Confidence is tricky. People can tell if you’re faking it and if it’s real. It can be shattered fast if someone cuts us down or shakes it. But real confidence must come from inside of us. It can’t be external. Not true confidence. We have to own it. To be proud of what we’ve accomplished, but more proud of who we honestly are. Not in a conceited way, but to own the moment.

  11. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. self-confidence is being sure of oneself, while being aware of others – respecting them for who they are, being aware of their situation, not assuming you know it all – looking at other options .. discussion things and learning and being prepared to learn. Not being too self-confident at the expense of others.

    Thanks – interesting aspects .. Hilary

  12. Hi JD,
    I have always loved the “act as if” idea, but now I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better idea to understand why you are not as confident as you would like.
    I love the final quote you included – every word of it! Maybe it can be summed up this way: be your own best friend! Who else can do the job so well?
    Great post JD!
    Lori

  13. Hi JD,
    I am not confident when I am learning something for the first time. But after doing something enough my confidence soars.

    Confidence is a state of mind that can be cultivated with practice.

  14. JD, this is such a new concept for me! I would never have thought of confidence as something that I need to continually work on and that I can build like a muscle with persistence and patience! =) That’s so encouraging! There are always moments that shoot down our confidence, but I’m imagining that it’ll be easier and easier to bounce back if we consistently work on building it! =)

    JD, I also wanted to let you know that I sent you the Versatile Blogger Award! =) Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  15. Pat Hatt says:

    Very true, all of those can just help build confidence and overall make whatever you are trying to do better, especially learn from your mistakes.

  16. JD says:

    @ Melody — Beautiful point on using an encouraging voice. I remember Tony Robbins once used an example where if you had a negative memory, change the voice to Mickey Mouse, and it will never be the same :)

    @ Bryce — That’s what I like about sports. They teach us confidence, while we grow our skills and get timely, relevant, feedback in action.

    @ Jimmy — That is a great set of techniques, and I use them often. In addition to my own past triumphs, I draw from great movie scenes too. When my own positive self talk isn’t working, I swith hats, and ask myself, “What would Richard Branson do?” (I plug in whoever might give me a fresh perspective.)

    @ Evelyn — So true. It’s like flipping a switch too, and confidence lights up any scene in life, especially, when fear is trying to hold us back. As you said, our mental model is key — if we see it, we can believe it, we can do it.

    @ Angie — I like the fine point you put on how it radiates out. People really do respond to how we act, and if we act confident, people feel it.

    @ John — Thank you. I’m a fan of wisdom distilled.

    As you say, confidence is in our own hands. Growing up I learned to shift from thinking I was just “born this way” or “luck into” things and focus on skill. A lot of my early confidence was just a focus on achievement and drive.

    Thinking back, I remember reading a W.C. Fields quote on a plaque “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” I focused on trying again, and became a continuous learner focused on growth, not perfection.

    @ Jonathan — Thank you.

    @ Bryan — Well put — “We have to won it.” Owning the moment is an empowering way to shape our experience, and be who we want to be.

    @ Hilary — That sounds like a nice collage of confidence, competent, curious, and compassionate, and that’s a recipe for success.

    @ Lori — Thank you. I hope we’re the best one for the job ;)

    Beautiful insight … “to understand why you are not as confident as you would like.” I would be that in many scenarios it would come down to three things:
    1. Depending on external validation
    2. Not appreciating the stage we’re in (the sapling vs. the tree)
    3. Acting from a place that’s not confident

    @ Justin — We can defintely cultivate it. I think one thing that helps when we learn something new is the belief that, “I can learn this,” or “I’m new and I can figure it out with practice.”

    @ Samantha — Thank you for the award! Versatility is definitely one of those spices for life.

    Yes indeed, there are many moments in life that can smack us down, and sometimes they are a good wake up call. The trick is to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, find the lesson, and believe in ourself and our ability to grow from experience. And yes, bouncing back does get easier especially when you have a firm foundation and you flex your confidence often.

    @ Pat — One of the keys I’ve found to be more effective is simply make more mistakes faster (at work we just say, “fail fast”.)

  17. Nick says:

    Practice and learning from my mistakes were the two most critical parts in becoming confident with who I am. Confidence comes from experience and if you’re not pushing your comfort zone, it’s going to be very difficult to get where you want to be.

    Always keep an open-mind and take a good look at where you want to improve. If you don’t know what you want to fix, you can’t fix it! Excellent post JD :)

  18. Sibyl says:

    J.D. Great post and really helpful information. I really appreciated what you said about confidence being something we can build and strengthen. I think that is easy to overlook, but the reality is that there is no reason to accept your lack of confidence. We can choose to do something about it.

  19. Since I love to workout at a gym, you’re statement, “If you think of confidence as a muscle, then pay attention to all the chances you get to flex it throughout your day,” resonated with me. Thanks.

  20. JD says:

    @ Nick — Perfect words of wisdom. Fixing things does get a lot easier once you know what you want to actually fix.

    Thank you.

    @ Sibyl — Thank you. I love how our capability expands by the choices we make.

    @ Sonia — Along those same lines, I think the saying, “use it or lose it” is also holds true, whether it’s working out, or building confidence.

  21. Lisa H. says:

    J.D.,
    This article is timely for me. Last week I had a bout of low confidence that prevented me from from going to a game that I otherwise would. This past year I encountered one of the most difficult people I have ever met. It was essentially a course in forgiveness and acceptance.

    Although I gleamed many lessons from the situation, it emotionally beat me up. I was able to stick it out and eventually she left the team. So when I knew when she was going to be at this particular game last week… I just didn’t feel like summoning the energy to be around her. The fact that I use the word summon lets me know that I still have work to do with regards to the fluctuations in my confidence.

    I like what you said about confidence being like a muscle and that if you don’t think of yourself as confident, then act “as if” you are and gradually you’ll find your groove. I completely agree. But sometimes you just don’t feel like flexing that muscle and I think that is ok too, as long as it doesn’t become a habit. :-)

  22. Hi J.D.,

    A post I can relate to for sure, esp. #1 and #4. What increased my self-confidence was participating in my own life. Hanging out on the sidelines made me fearful of jumping onto the field. I’d been taught that you needed INSTANT OBSERVABLE TALENT to do anything and that it would just be there at birth.

    So untrue.

    I took up singing in my early thirties and built my middle voice up. I had a very low and a very high voice but nothing else. It took a lot of hard work, but I did it. Now I can sing just about any song.

    So many folks walk around not even trying because the model of instant talent dissuades them. Ironically, few folks have instant talent, they just spent a lot of time cultivating their own strengths.

    Loved it! thanks, G.

  23. rob white says:

    Indeed, JD. A huge part of building that confidence is acting as though it is already so. When we persistently act as though the tendencies we want are already so…. All of a sudden… one day we wake up to find that they are so! We find ourself with a relaxed and alert mind, feeling industrious, flexible and resilient.

  24. JD says:

    @ Lisa — I know what it’s like to have people that bring you down, in one way or another. Aside from what we do on the inside, I’ve found the best recipe is to surround ourselves with people that lift us up and bring out our best. And you’re right, sometimes it’s OK, to give our confidence a break. When you’re ready, you’ll roar.

    @ Giulietta — How cool would that be if we popped out from birth playing violins, writing award-winning novels, and having the acrobatic skills of a world-class gymnast? Yeah, talent isn’t always instantly observable, and some takes a long time to bake.

    It’s great that you worked at your voice and developed your range. That’s a great achievement, and you persistence paid off.

    I know a lot of people with latent strengths that I know could flourish if they spent the time and have the passion. Sometimes fear gets in the way of passion.

  25. UcLe Steven Jam Rythm says:

    Hi Guys, Great content here. I have struggled with low self esteem for the past 33 years and it’s not easy, Honestly I know. Watching other people with normal lives finally got me to get off my a**e and do something. I was fairly lucky because I found a great Ebook early on and that really helped me. To those still battling, Keep going, It’s worth it