“Without confidence we get stuck, and when we get stuck, we can’t even get started.” – Brittany Packnett
Confidence is at the core of our soft skills. It’s the driving force of success and a key tool to work towards our ambitions. Confidence and self-esteem come hand-in-hand. Self-esteem is the confidence we have in our own abilities; our self-worth. Thankfully, confidence is not an innate characteristic, nor is self-esteem predetermined. Instead, we can acquire and work on it, much like any skill, with time and techniques. We can learn how to build confidence and self-esteem.
Our confidence affects us professionally, socially, and academically. Not only does it play a role in how we perceive our body image, physical appearance, and personality, it also influences our ability to make decisions and take care of ourselves. It determines whether or not we aim to achieve our goals and fulfill our potential. In other words, it’s a big deal. Anyone who has ever doubted their own abilities questioned their self-worth, or passed up an opportunity has most likely experienced a lack of confidence.
We all have moments in which we lack confidence and come face-to-face to discomfort. According to The Self-Esteem Book by Joe Rubino, 85% of the world’s population is affected by low self-esteem. It isn’t always a walk in the park. While low self-esteem can detrimentally impact our wellbeing and our day-to-day, confidence and self-worth set us up for success, inner peace, and a growth mindset.
How to Build Confidence and Self-Esteem
Although personality, life events, social relations, childhood, and the media among other factors all play a role in shaping our self-esteem, we are not bound to this. Though there is no magic pill that can supply us with confidence or healthy self-esteem, there are scientifically proven steps to develop such skills. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time to harness skills. Let’s explore how to build confidence and self-esteem.
Identify Negative and False Beliefs
In order to build confidence, identify any negative thoughts or false beliefs you have about yourself. Perhaps you think you’re not smart enough, or you underestimate your ability to do something. Negative thinking is where a repetitive thought pattern comes to play, also known as negative self-talk or your inner critic. For instance, if you regularly think you should be better at something, or that you can’t do a certain thing. “Can’t” is a limiting word as Henry Ford wisely said, “whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.”
Similarly, false beliefs are untrue, limiting beliefs we have about ourselves. False beliefs like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not loveable” are limiting and unhealthy. These beliefs remain in our subconscious and manifest in our behaviours and actions. According to psychology, the subconscious “represents around 90 percent of your total brain function.” In other words, the majority of our actions stem from our subconscious. So, if we change these negative and false beliefs, we can rewire them to develop confidence and self-esteem.
Exploration and Impact
Once you have determined the beliefs that impede your self-esteem, explore them. Ask yourself why you think this, where does it stem from? Perhaps events, criticism, relationships, or rejections have led you to this assumption. Ask yourself how it makes you feel, for example, disempowered, weak, or pessimistic. Next, think about how this thought pattern causes you to behave. How does it affect your day-to-day decisions, your relationships, your career, your social life? Think of some examples of how it affects your actions and decisions. By realising how these thoughts affect us and impact us, it can work as a catalyst for change.
Challenge False Beliefs
However, just because we feel a certain way about ourselves, it does not mean it’s a fact. According to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, we must set aside time to challenge these false beliefs. Redefine these limiting beliefs by adding relevant, positive examples of when these things haven’t been true. Even add in praise other people have said about you. If it’s a limiting belief such as not being good enough or worthy enough, question that definition. What does that actually mean? Question it, and rewire it in a positive light. Rewire limiting thought patterns to empowering ones by looking on the bright side.
Affirmations and Strengths
If there is a limiting belief you have struggled with for a long time or a part of you that you have long despised it can take time to rewire. This is where affirmations come in. Once we have recognised any limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns, we can do daily affirmations to rewire our subconscious mind. Instead, make it a daily ritual to write positive affirmations, especially with these false beliefs in mind. Additionally, at the end of each week write a list of things that you have achieved or that have gone well. Affirm your strengths to build on your confidence.
Self-Compassion and Kindness
Don’t add fuel to the fire by being hard on yourself when you already feel self-critical. Fight self-criticism with compassion and kindness. Imagine a loved one was in the same position, what would you say to them? Remember that perfection does not exist. Everyone makes mistakes, has areas where they can improve and become more competent.
Self-compassion enables us to be optimistic and implement goals to succeed, instead of being held back by limiting beliefs. Do not wallow in hopelessness, be kind to yourself through self-compassion. Healthy self-esteem is attained through a developed sense of self-worth that fosters resilience. There’s always going to be a time when your self-esteem takes a blow, it’s how you retaliate that defines your confidence.
Facing our fears helps us grow in confidence. With healthy self-esteem, we do not get held back by fear or nervousness. Challenges help us grow. Set yourself a realistic, executable goal that can help change your false belief. Write a list of some things that you avoid or shy away from. Start with the least nerve-wracking and start doing it repeatedly until you no longer feel fear towards it. Work your way up the list to develop your confidence.
Confidence is only hindered when we avoid the feeling of discomfort. Though it makes us feel calm temporarily, in the long run, it eats away at our self-esteem. Instead, adopt a slow and steady approach to face your fears. What is the worst-case scenario? Distinguish possibility, anything is possible, from probability, how likely is it to actually happen? Make a plan for that worst-case scenario if it brings you peace of mind. Take on a new experience with a ‘can do’ outlook and expect a positive outcome. Finally, accomplish more by pursuing your ambitions. Make short-term goals aligned with your long-term goals in mind. Believe yourself worthy and progressively work towards your ambitions.
In a Nutshell…
Confidence provides us with a realistic sense of our capabilities and worth, helping us feel secure. It equips us to deal with challenges, make good decisions, give good first impressions, reach our goals, and even puts others at ease. Implementing these steps on how to build confidence and self-esteem requires consistency and dedication. Firstly, identify and analyse any false beliefs or negative thought patterns you have. Secondly, challenge them with evidence and praise. Thirdly, be proactive. Write positive affirmations to counter these beliefs and take small, slow steps to have new experiences that enable you to face your fears or prove that these beliefs are, in fact, just false beliefs and not facts. Seeking professional support is advisable too, especially when self-esteem is very low or affects you on a daily basis.