Self-confidence is a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment. Research suggests that confidence is important for health and psychological well-being. Learn how to be more self-confident and some of the benefits of increasing your confidence and belief in yourself.
What is confidence?
Confidence can refer to a general sense of belief and trust in your own ability to control your life or it can be more specific to a situation. For example, you may be very confident in one area of expertise, but feel less confident in other areas.
Having a healthy level of self-confidence can help you be 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 motivating you to pursue your goals, with studies linking higher levels of confidence in athletes to greater motivation to play their sport of choice. Your confidence level even affects how you present yourself to others.
How to increase your self-confidence
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to increase your self-confidence. Whether you lack confidence in a specific area or you struggle to feel confident about anything, these confidence boosters can help.
Stop comparing yourself to others
do you compare how you look to the people you follow on Instagram? Or maybe you compare your salary to what your friend makes? Social comparison theory explains that making comparisons is natural. But it’s not likely to help boost your self-confidence. It may even have the opposite effect.
A 2018 study published in Personality and Individual Differences reports a direct link between envy and how you feel about yourself. Specifically, researchers observed that when people compared themselves to others, they experienced envy. The more envious they were, the worse they felt about themselves.
how can you boost confidence when you notice comparisons being made? First, remind yourself that doing so is not helpful. Everyone runs their own race and life is not a competition.
If you feel envious of someone else’s life, it is also helpful to remind yourself of your own strengths and successes. Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of the areas of life in which you have been blessed. This can help you focus on your own life and not on the lives of others.
Surround yourself with positive people
Take a moment and think about how your friends make you feel. Do your friends lift you up or bring you down? Do they constantly judge you or accept you for who you are?
The people you spend time with can influence your thoughts and attitudes about yourself, perhaps more than you realize. So pay attention to how others make you feel. If you feel bad about yourself after dating a particular person, it may be time to say goodbye.
Instead, surround yourself with people who love you and want the best for you. Seek out others who are positive and can help you build your confidence. In fact, self-confidence and a positive attitude go hand in hand
Take care of your body
It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you mistreat your body. On the other hand, if you practice self-care, you know you’re doing something positive for your mind, body and spirit, and you’ll naturally feel more confident as a result.
Here are some of the self-care practices linked to higher levels of self-confidence:
- Diet: Healthy eating leads to many benefits, including higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. When you fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods, you feel healthier, stronger and more energetic, which can make you feel better about yourself.
- Exercise: Studies consistently show that physical exercise boosts confidence. For example, a 2016 study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment found that regular physical activity improved participants’ body image. And when their body image improved, they felt more self-confident.
- Meditation: More than just a relaxation practice, meditation can help boost self-confidence in several ways. For one, it helps you recognize and accept yourself. Meditation also teaches you to stop talking to yourself in a negative way and to disconnect from useless mental chatter that interferes with your confidence.
- Sleep: Too little sleep can affect your emotions. Conversely, good quality sleep has been linked to positive personality traits, such as optimism and self-esteem.
Taking care of yourself is an important part of feeling confident. Make sure you get what you need to feel good about yourself and your abilities.
Be kind to yourself
Self-compassion involves treating yourself kindly when you make a mistake, fail or experience a setback. It allows you to be more emotionally flexible and helps you better manage difficult emotions, improving your connection with yourself and others.
A 2015 study links self-compassion to self-confidence. So the next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, recognize that being imperfect or falling short is sometimes part of being human. Do your best to navigate these experiences with compassion for yourself.
Practice positive self-talk
Negative self-talk can limit your capabilities and diminish your confidence by convincing your subconscious that you “can’t handle” something or that it’s “too hard” and “you shouldn’t even try.” Optimistic self-talk, on the other hand, can help foster self-compassion, overcome self-doubt and take on new challenges.
The next time you start thinking that you don’t have the right to speak up in a meeting or that you’re not fit enough to exercise, remind yourself that your thoughts aren’t always correct. Then, find a way to turn those thoughts into more positive self-talk.
Here are some examples of ways to challenge pessimistic self-talk and reframe your thoughts into a more positive way of thinking:
- Instead of telling yourself “I can’t handle this” or “this is impossible,” try reminding yourself that “I can do it” or “all I have to do is try.”
- Instead of telling yourself “I can’t do anything right” when you make a mistake, remind yourself “I can do better next time” or “at least I’ve learned something.”
- Instead of saying you “hate” public speaking, use a softer word like “I don’t like it” and remind yourself that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
Face your fears
Stop putting things off until you feel more confident, like asking someone out on a date or applying for a promotion. One of the best ways to increase your confidence in these situations is to face your fears head-on.
Practice facing some of your fears that stem from a lack of self-confidence. If you’re afraid of embarrassing yourself or think you’re going to screw up, try it anyway. Also, a little self-doubt can help improve performance. Tell yourself it’s just an experiment and see what happens.
You may learn that being a little anxious or making a few mistakes isn’t as bad as you thought. And each time you make progress, you gain more confidence in yourself. In the end, this can help you avoid taking risks that have major negative consequences.
Characteristics of Confidence vs. Insecurity
When your goal is to become more confident, it can be helpful to understand the different characteristics between someone who is confident and someone who is more insecure with themselves. Here are some of the differences between the two.
- Celebrating the success of others
- Keep an open mind
- Think positively
- Are willing to take risks
- Are able to laugh at themselves
- Always learn and grow
- Admit mistakes
- Accept responsibility
- Judgmental and jealous of others
- Fear change
- Hide their faults
- Acts like a know-it-all
- Always make excuses
- Blame others
What are the benefits of self-confidence?
Having self-confidence is a good feeling. That said, having self-confidence can also bring many additional benefits at home, at work and in your relationships. Here are some of the positive effects of self-confidence:
Better performance: Instead of wasting time and energy worrying about not being good enough, you can devote your energy to your efforts. Ultimately, you will perform better when you feel confident.
- Healthier relationships: Having self-confidence not only impacts how you feel about yourself, it helps you understand and love others better. It also gives you the strength to walk away from a relationship if you don’t get what you want or deserve.
- Openness to try new things: When you believe in yourself, you are more willing to try new things. Whether you’re applying for a promotion or signing up for a cooking class, putting yourself out there is much easier when you have confidence in yourself and your abilities.
- Resilience: Believing in yourself can increase your resilience, or your ability to bounce back from any challenge or adversity that comes your way in life.