If you struggle with self-confidence, you’re not alone. In fact, up to 85% of the population is affected by low self-esteem at some point in their lives.
I struggled with confidence from the time I was a teenager until my mid-twenties. I tried subscribing to the “fake it til you make it” philosophy but I felt like I wasn’t fooling anyone or even myself.
It was a long time before I realized that confidence doesn’t come from pretending. It was life-changing when I finally learned how to truly believe in myself.
The good news is that growing your self-confidence is possible no matter how much of it you have (or don’t have) to start with. It just takes the right approach!
Where Does Confidence Really Come From?
Before you can build your confidence, it’s important to understand what confidence is and where it comes from. Simply put, self-confidence is having faith in your ability to succeed.
But that faith doesn’t stem from just one source; its comprised of several factors:
Yes, science has revealed that your genetics play a role in your confidence levels. Although experts have varying opinions on how much; genes could account for anywhere between 25-50% of your self-confidence level.
That may be a startlingly significant portion, but still no more than half of what makes up your baseline of confidence.
Although low self-confidence can plague both genders, women are far more likely to have low confidence in self-image and the workplace. Social conditioning plays a large role in this, but there may be some biological factors as well.
For example, one study found that the cingulate gyrus (a.k.a. the brain’s “worry wart”) is larger in women’s brains than it is in men’s.
Genetics is your nature, but your experiences and upbringing also play a huge role. Not only that, how you nurture yourself becomes a part of your confidence.
Confidence levels can also increase with cognitive exercises and practice. One study found that Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) significantly improved the study participants’ overwell sense of well-being and self-esteem.
In summary, some factors you have some control over, while others you don’t. But the ones you can influence can make all the difference in becoming a more confident and happy person.
With that in mind, here are the best strategies for developing and nurturing your self-confidence:
1. Take Care of Yourself
Confidence and self-care are more closely linked than you may realize. After all, how can you expect to feel confident if you aren’t giving the same time and attention to yourself that you’re giving to others?
Self-care can take many forms, like looking after your personal hygiene, taking an hour a day to read a book you love, or eating healthier foods.
Exercise, in particular, is a fantastic act of self-care that directly impacts your confidence levels. My own self-confidence increased by leaps and bounds once I adopted a sustainable exercise routine.
That’s because achieving new feats of fitness is not only rewarding, you gain newfound confidence in your own abilities that spill over into every other area of your life!
2. Do Things Before You Feel Ready
If confidence is the belief in your ability to achieve something, then you need to foster that belief by getting a few achievements under your belt. But it’s common to hold yourself back from doing something until you feel “ready”.
But the truth is, most challenging things in life you will never feel ready for. You need to take action and prove to yourself you can do it.
Pushing the envelope on your personal development is often scary. But you have to leave your comfort zone if you will ever take that first step towards your goals, whatever they are.
That doesn’t mean you can’t start small! Even baby steps outside your comfort zone can help you get to your destination. Once you achieve that small baby step, it gives you more confidence to take the next one, and then the next; it has a snowball effect!
3. Shift Your Perspective on Failure
At this point, you might be thinking that taking action is all good and well, but what if you try and fail?
And it’s not really a what-if question. Because you will fail, sometimes.
Fear of failure is a huge confidence-killer. But failure itself isn’t what separates you from confidence and success.
It’s the path to confidence and success.
In the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Any truly confident person will tell you that they have failed at many things in life. In fact, they’ve probably failed more often than they’ve succeeded.
If you shift your perspective to embrace failure, you take the power away from fear.
So go ahead and fail! Because the only true failure in life is not trying.
4. Lend a Helping Hand
Helping someone else out can do wonders for your self-confidence.
That’s because we are hardwired to help each other out. And when we do something for others, it’s hard not to feel good about ourselves!
For example, one study that followed a group of teenagers found that those who routinely helped strangers exhibited higher levels of confidence by the following year.
How you help others is up to you. But choose something that resonates with you, whether that’s volunteering at a charity or performing random acts of kindness to strangers.
5. Rewrite the Narrative
It’s easy to have self-defeating thoughts without even realizing it. Pay attention to your self-talk and make it more positive.
If you struggle to be aware of your thoughts, try developing a meditation practice. Meditation gives you the skill to observe your thoughts rather than just live them. You’ll be able to gain a more neutral perspective on the matters that make you feel insecure.
Practicing mindfulness also helps you realize when your thoughts are suddenly wandering into self-defeating territory.
Another way to change your inner narrative is to say affirmations for confidence. Studies have found that repeating affirmations in a state of mindfulness can help change your inner monologue.
However, it’s important to use affirmations that resonate with you, not just some positive-sounding baloney that you don’t really believe in.
6. Stay True to Yourself
Confidence is a lot of things, but it’s not an act. “Fake it til you make it” might rhyme but that doesn’t make it great advice. At best, it’s a turn of phrase that’s easily misconstrued to mean you need to pretend to be something you’re not in order to feel confident.
But true self-confidence is achieved without compromising your authenticity, and how yours manifests is unique to you. Some people exhibit quiet confidence while other’s are more outspoken.
You don’t need to act a certain way to be confident.
And confidence isn’t something you have to prove to anyone else. It’s is simply the realization that you have potential and are capable of great things.
Rebuild Your Self-Confidence
Realizing that you can take control of your self-confidence can be an empowering realization. Keep in mind that learning to believe in yourself is a journey and doesn’t necessarily happen overnight.
Just keep taking action, learning from your mistakes, and never give up on yourself. You will be amazed at how your confidence begins to flourish and change your life for the better!