How to build self-confidence

Featured photo credit: The Stilled Man

By Azugbene Solomon

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.” — Maxwell Maltz

Nobody is born with limitless self-confidence. If someone seems to have incredible self-confidence, it’s because he or she has worked on building it for years. Self-confidence is something that you learn to build up because the challenging world of business, and life in general, can deflate it.

An online negative review, a request for a refund from a customer or a flat rejection from investors can cause our self-confidence to dwindle. Well-meaning but sometimes unkind comments from those closest to us can also hit us hard.

On top of this, we have to deal with our inner critic of self-doubt that constantly tells us that we are not good enough. When bombarded by so many elements that threaten our self-confidence, we need to take charge of building it up for ourselves.

As we teach at Skill Incubator, building a successful business requires a thick skin and unshakable confidence in your ability to overcome obstacles.

10 Things You Can Do to Boost Self-Confidence

Confidence can be a tough thing to build up. We’ve put together some handy tips to help you out.

Here are 10 things you can do to build up your self-confidence.

1. Visualize yourself as you want to be.

“What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

Visualization is the technique of seeing an image of yourself that you are proud of, in your own mind. When we struggle with low self-confidence, we have a poor perception of ourselves that is often inaccurate. Practice visualizing a fantastic version of yourself, achieving your goals.

2. Affirm yourself.

“Affirmations are a powerful tool to deliberately install desired beliefs about yourself.” — Nikki Carnevale

We tend to behave in accordance with our own self-image. The trick to making lasting change is to change how you view yourself.

Affirmations are positive and uplifting statements that we say to ourselves. These are normally more effective if said out loud so that you can hear yourself say it. We tend to believe whatever we tell ourselves constantly. For example, if you hate your own physical appearance, practice saying something that you appreciate or like about yourself when you next look in the mirror.

To get your brain to accept your positive statements more quickly, phrase your affirmations as questions such as, “Why am I so good at making deals?” instead of “I am so good at making deals.” Our brains are biologically wired to seek answers to questions, without analyzing whether the question is valid or not.

3. Do one thing that scares you every day.

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.” — T. Harv Eker

The best way to overcome fear is to face it head-on. By doing something that scares you every day and gaining confidence from every experience, you will see your self-confidence soar. So get out of your comfort zone and face your fears!

4. Question your inner critic.

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” — Louise L. Hay

Some of the harshest comments that we get come from ourselves, via the “voice of the inner critic.” If you struggle with low self-confidence, there is a possibility that your inner critic has become overactive and inaccurate.

Strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy help you to question your inner critic, and look for evidence to support or deny the things that your inner critic is saying to you. For example, if you think that you are a failure, ask yourself, “What evidence is there to support the thought that I am a failure?” and “What evidence is there that doesn’t support the thought that I am a failure?”

Find opportunities to congratulate, compliment and reward yourself, even for the smallest successes. As Mark Twain said, “[A] man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

5. Take the 100 days of rejection challenge.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Jia Jiang has become famous for recording his experience of “busting fear” by purposefully making crazy requests of people in order to be rejected over 100 days. His purpose was to desensitize himself to rejection, after he became more upset than he expected over rejection from a potential investor. Busting fear isn’t easy to do, but if you want to have fun while building up your self-confidence, this is a powerful way to do it.

6. Set yourself up to win.

“To establish true self-confidence, we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and the negatives in our lives.” — Denis Waitley

Too many people are discouraged about their abilities because they set themselves goals that are too difficult to achieve. Start by setting yourself small goals that you can win easily.

Once you have built a stream of successes that make you feel good about yourself, you can then move on to harder goals. Make sure that you also keep a list of all your achievements, both large and small, to remind yourself of the times that you have done well.

Instead of focusing only on “to-do” lists, I like to spend time reflecting on “did-it” lists. Reflecting on the major milestones, projects and goals you’ve achieved is a great way to reinforce confidence in your skills.

7. Help someone else.

Helping someone else often enables us to forget about ourselves and to feel grateful for what we have. It also feels good when you are able to make a difference for someone else.

Instead of focusing on your own weaknesses, volunteer to mentor, assist or teach another, and you’ll see your self-confidence grow automatically in the process.

8. Care for yourself.

“Self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” — Parker Palmer

Self-confidence depends on a combination of good physical health, emotional health and social health. It is hard to feel good about yourself if you hate your physique or constantly have low energy.

Make time to cultivate great exercise, eating and sleep habits. In addition, dress the way you want to feel. You have heard the saying that “clothes make the man.” Build your self-confidence by making the effort to look after your own needs.

9. Create personal boundaries.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”– Harvey Fierstein

Learn to say no. Teach others to respect your personal boundaries. If necessary, take classes on how to be more assertive and learn to ask for what you want. The more control and say that you have over your own life, the greater will be your self-confidence.

10. Shift to an equality mentality.

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” — Marilyn Monroe

People with low self-confidence see others as better or more deserving than themselves. Instead of carrying this perception, see yourself as being equal to everyone. They are no better or more deserving than you. Make a mental shift to an equality mentality and you will automatically see an improvement in your self-confidence.

Try to find something that you’re really passionate about. It could be photography, sport, knitting or anything else! When you’ve worked out your passion, commit yourself to giving it a go. Chances are, if you’re interested or passionate about a certain activity, you’re more likely to be motivated and you’ll build skills more quickly.

Sometimes the quick fixes don’t help in the long term. If you’re feeling bad and things just don’t seem to be improving, it’s worth talking to someone who knows how to help.

10 Things You Can Do to Boost Self-Confidence by Chris W. Dunn.

15 Tips to Build Self Esteem & Confidence in Teens

By Nicole Schwarz

As a parent, aunty/uncle, We want our teens to feel confident with who they are. We cross our fingers the encouragement and support we’ve given them up to this point has been enough to build a strong self-esteem.

The reality is the teenage years are full of change.

A teens brain experiences a “reorganization” that can leave both parents and teens feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused.

As teens search for their place in the world, many struggle through situations that challenge beliefs about themselves they’ve clung to for years.

Thankfully, this doesn’t signal the end of your influence! Follow the 15 practical and super effective tips below to help your teen grow into a strong, confident adult with a healthy self-worth.

1. Love Unconditionally.

Make sure your teen can rest assured your love does NOT depend on their grades, performance, friend group, college, or any other factor – including their choices or behavior.

When we tie love to performance, we miss the essence of unconditional love – that it is freely given because our teen is enough just as they are.

This doesn’t mean you and your teen can’t make mistakes, have bad days, or arguments. And, it certainly doesn’t mean you ignore abuse. It’s just a reminder the overall message your teen should receive is: “I love you no matter what. I’m committed to loving you through the ups and downs.”

2. Embrace a growth mindset in your home.

Many teens are stuck in a “fixed mindset” about who they are or what they can or cannot accomplish and often feel unsure how to move forward.

Bring what you’re learning about growth mindset into your family conversations. Talk about the brain, use words like neuroplasticity, make observations about areas in which you’ve seen your teen grow.

Even if your teen seems to reject it outright, sprinkle these messages into your interactions, reminding them their abilities are not fixed, inborn, and inflexible, but there is always room to grow and improve.

3. Make room for failure.

Mistakes and setbacks can crush a delicate self-esteem and wreak havoc a child’s confidence. Your voice is essential in these situations. When you criticize, panic or gloss over a failure, you emphasize a fixed mindset, basically sending the message this bump in the road is a sign there is no hope for improvement in the future.

Instead, take a deep breath and open up the conversation with your teen. Ask questions like:

a). Where did things get off track?
b). What things influenced this decision?
c). What did you learn from this situation?
d). How are you planning to move forward in a positive direction?

4. Praise the process and tie it to the outcome.

It’s easy to go overboard, gushing about your teen’s awards, accolades, and achievements. Unfortunately, these things can become tied to their self-esteem, causing them to feel they’re only worthwhile if they achieve.

On the flipside, they aren’t worthwhile if they fall short or fail. Instead, congratulate your teen’s accomplishments, milestones, and growth by emphasizing their hard work, effort, and perseverance.

Focusing on the characteristics that got them to this point will help them make the connection between their effort and the result.

Effective praise can build resilience, confidence, and self-direction. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Praising Kids for additional tips and positive phrases.

5. Help them gain new and lacking skills.

Adolescence is a time of huge brain growth, but it can also highlight areas where your teen struggles – physically, academically, socially, or emotionally – more than they did when they were younger.

These new struggles can lead to feelings of negative self-worth. When you identify an area of concern, or notice a challenge, encourage your teen to see this as an opportunity to grow, learn and expand their interests and abilities.

Look for ways to build on things your teen is already passionate about and explore options for them to use these situations to practice or sharpen new skills.

6. Be a family that doesn’t give up.

Many people believe they need to feel confident before they tackle something difficult.

Carol Dweck states, “A remarkable thing I’ve learned from my research is that in the growth mindset you don’t always need confidence.”

Your teen can still try something they’re not good at or start something new, even if they don’t feel super confident at the outset. If they stick to something wholeheartedly, they embrace growth mindset, and can build confidence along the way. (This is also true for parents learning to relate to their teenagers!)

7. Give reassurance.

As teens navigate through the ups and downs of new situations and often overwhelming emotions, it helps to know these challenges are normal.

Building self-esteem and confidence often means taking bold stands and making decisions that impact peer groups or social standing.

Remind your child they are not a “bad person” for moving on from a toxic friendship or choosing an activity over a boyfriend/girlfriend. Growth and maturity can be difficult, but it doesn’t mean your teen is doing something wrong.

8. Talk about assertiveness.

Confident, clear, and persuasive communication does not come easy to everyone. Many teens don’t have a grasp on the differences between assertive, passive, and aggressive communication.

Discuss how nuances such as tone of voice can make or break a conversation. Point out how body language and nonverbal cues can send a message of their own.

Encourage your teen to practice in front of a mirror so they can begin to identify the nuances of assertive communication. Standing up tall, rolling their shoulders back, and speaking clearly can improve how your teen feels, especially if they aren’t feeling very confident going into a difficult situation.

Hang up the Positive Affirmations poster, specially designed for teens! This beautifully designed poster contains encouraging affirmations that can help cultivate a growth mindset in any classroom or home.

9. Practice at home.

Create a safe space for your teen to process through difficult situations. Give them the freedom to talk freely about challenges, peer conflict, and gripes about “unfair” teachers and overwhelming homework assignments.

Then, explore ways they can manage these situations with confidence, addressing others in a way that is respectful and keeps their self-worth intact.

For teens who struggle to communicate clearly or are challenged in some social situations, use the safety of your home to explore their options. Role play potential conversations, using a variety of responses, tones of voice, volume, and nonverbal cues.

10. Encourage self-compassion.

Growth mindset requires kindness and patience with ourselves as we grow and learn. Contrary to popular messages in social media and influences from their peer group, your teen doesn’t need an outside opinion to prove personal worth.

If you notice your teen is stuck in a negative or fixed mindset about their worth, encourage them to embrace self-compassion.

Introduce mindfulness apps or activities, create positive mantras, or list affirmations where they will be seen on a regular basis. When your teen is struggling, encourage them to talk to themselves using the same words and tone of voice they would use if a close friend was struggling in the same way.

11. Encourage diversity in activities and interests.

Teens who are involved in a variety of activities, sports teams, volunteer opportunities, and educational activities tend to have a higher sense of self-esteem. They aren’t crushed by a setback in one area because they have other things feeding their self-worth.

When your teen engages in activities helping others, they gain a sense of purpose.

12. Give less advice.

It’s not easy to sit back and watch as your child struggles to learn or has to manage the consequences of an impulsive decision. It’s normal to want to share your wisdom or do what you can to smooth the path ahead for your teen.

However, learning to think through challenges, brainstorm options, and problem solve well can all build your teen’s confidence.

Rather than solving all of your teen’s problems for them, engage them in the process. Become a cheerleader, rather than director. Listen as they explore where things went off track and then support your teen’s plan to move forward in a positive direction.

13. Ask for advice.

Parents face challenges and failures in our everyday lives. We can use these moments to show our teens that we are human and that we need help too! Be sure to discuss your challenges in front of your kids. Let them see you make mistakes.

Discuss the situation with them. Perhaps ask them for advice or see how they would approach your problem. This not only creates connection, but shows your teen that you are NOT perfect and that you are learning and growing too.

14. Listen.

Keep the relationship with your teen strong and build their self-worth by resisting the urge to turn everything into a “teachable moment” or a long lecture.

Instead, focus on listening to what your teen is saying. Don’t make assumptions, judgments, or jump to the offense. Begin with empathy, putting yourself in your child’s shoes.

Relating to them on an emotional level, realizing that responding with logic or reasoning may push them away.

You don’t have to agree with your teen’s perspective to be empathetic. Focus on improving your listening skills rather than needing to be “right” or having the last word.

15. Model confidence.

Your teen is watching you. They are observing how you manage challenging situations and how you feel about yourself.

Watch the conversations you have when your teen is around – be careful you don’t put others down, criticize yourself, or make your own happiness dependent on other people or circumstances.

If you’ve struggled with these things in the past, admit to your teen you are still working on this, even as an adult.

Take an honest assessment of your own self-esteem and confidence. Then, embrace a growth mindset! Rather than beating yourself up, look for places or areas you want to improve, find things that will build your self-confidence…and then get started!

Your teen’s true confidence is reflected in their mindset, their readiness to grow and learn from the challenges they encounter. Unfortunately, this may take time.

You can’t force your child to embrace a growth mindset, practice positive affirmations, or try challenging activities, but you can create a home environment that nourishes and encourages these behaviors.

With your support, your teen can build self-worth and confidence which matches the images she’s sharing on social media.

This articles was first published on Big Life Journal

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