20 Simple Ways to Stoke Your Self-Confidence

Practice

Once upon a time there was a small child known as you.

This child was born into the world pure and perfect, aware only of its own needs. If those needs were met, if someone held you, fed you, kept you safe and warm, your world was perfect.

Even as you got a bit older, if your parents were loving and kind, you still had a strong sense of yourself as you explored the world and discovered the wonders of living.

But around the time of kindergarten, things started to change. You encountered other children whose words stung, who were faster, stronger, smarter, prettier. You had to perform in school, to win the teacher’s approval, to follow the rules. You saw where you didn’t measure up, where you weren’t quite good enough.

You learned quickly that approval and love can be tied to ability, performance, appearance, personality, and conformance. Even your parents, as much as they loved you, subtly reinforced these new rules with their hopes and expectations for you.

As you entered adolescence, all of your own insecurities were reflected in the cruel words and hurtful behaviors of your peers and the images portrayed in the media.

But hopefully, along the way, you had enough successes, enough love, enough encouragement for your self-confidence to have a foothold. However, if your home life was dysfunctional, critical, or abusive in some way, the self-confidence that was budding as a toddler was never able to fully bloom, especially not during the difficult teenage years.

Once you reached adulthood, left home, and began your own life, you had a choice, whether you were conscious of it or not. You had the choice to stay tethered to the dysfunction, pain, disappointments, and fears of your youth, or to take control of your life and create it anew.
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  • Maybe you weren’t aware you had this choice.
  • Maybe you didn’t have the skills to know how to take control.
  • Maybe your pain was too deep to have the energy to find a way.
  • Maybe you were too committed to the “stories” about you being lazy, unmotivated, the pleaser, shy, unattractive, incapable, not good enough.
  • Maybe you became too dependent on others to tell you who you are and what you are supposed to be.

Well, now you are a full-fledged adult, and whether your are 25 or 55, I’d like to assure you that you do have a choice.

You can learn the skills.

You can overcome the pain.

You don’t have to accept the “stories.”

You can define your life on your own terms.

You can have self-confidence.

It all starts with the belief that with practice, change and growth are not only possible, they are inevitable.

It starts with a willingness to view yourself and the world differently.

Your identity is not locked to the past, to your parent’s expectations or demands, to your past failures, to your current view of yourself. Your identity is something that you can create every single day. Once you realize that, your self-confidence will begin to ignite.

I know that everyone has different levels of self-confidence problems. Some of you might have really debilitating wounds that need to heal. Some may have personality types that are more introverted or shy. Some may lack self-confidence in just one area of life where others have no self-confidence at all.

But regardless of where you are related to self-confidence, there are some actions you can take today, right now, that will put you in the driver’s seat of your life and begin to improve your self-confidence.

Here are 20 that you can try:

1. Challenge your thoughts. Identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself and challenge them. Find evidence to the contrary.

2. Retrain your brain. Negative thinking becomes a habit ingrained in your brain. Rewire your brain by intentionally thinking new and positive thoughts, even if it feels awkward at first. You will create new wiring and new habits.

3. Smile. Arranging your facial muscles in a smile actually makes you feel happier and more confident. It triggers those feelings in your brain.

4. Stand up straight. Pay attention to your posture. It makes you appear more self-confident and therefore you feel more self-confident.

5. Practice. If you lack self-confidence in a skill, practice it. With improvement comes confidence.

6. Make a list. Write down your skills, abilities, successes, and gifts. In moments of low self-confidence, you forget all of the great things about you. Write them down so you can remember.

7. Interact. Isolating yourself allows you to get lost in negative thinking. Spend time withe other people. Make yourself, even if you don’t feel like it.

8. Create boundaries. Low self-confidence often goes hand-in-hand with people-pleasing. How are you allowing someone to control your decisions or behavior? What is one thing you could do to create a boundary here and reclaim yourself?

9. Write a vision. Write down exactly how you would like your life to look if you were creating it from scratch. When you put it in writing, you have begun the process of creating it.

10. Look your best. Take care of your appearance. Dress nicely. Get your hair styled. Put on make-up. When you look your best, you feel more self-confident.

11. Challenge a fear. Where are you holding yourself back? Where are you afraid of failure? Take one teeny tiny action in that area. Then another.

12. Hug your failures. Take a good look at past failures. Write down what you learned from them and how they served you. See how failure has been kind to you.

13. Define your values. Write down your most important life values. How are you living contrary to those values? What is one action you could take to correct that?

14. Find a mentor. Who is someone inspiring and motivating to you? Learn more about them, how they conduct their lives, and how they got where they are.

15. Focus on now. Most self-confidence problems stem from worry about the future or regret about the past. Focus on the task at hand. Immerse yourself in it so your mind is happily engaged.

16. Do something for others. When you are kind and giving by choice, you will find immense satisfaction and confidence in sharing and serving others.

17. Plan a pity party. If you need to dwell on your problems or failures, just allow yourself a 10 minute pity party a day.

18. Try something new. Anything. A hobby, a sport, a recipe. Just do something that you haven’t done before.

19. Read something inspirational. Keep a motivational book with you to give yourself a booster shot of self-confidence. One of my favorites is Fearless: Creating the Courage to Change the Things You Can by success coach Steve Chandler.

20. Call in reinforcements. Take a course to improve your self-confidence. And if you have issues from the past that you can’t resolve, seek the support of a counselor so that you can move forward.

Self-confidence can be learned with practice. Take small actions every day to improve your confidence and retrain your brain to learn positive new ways of thinking and believing. Challenge yourself to stretch beyond your comfort zone of confidence to prove to yourself what you are truly capable of achieving. With every incremental step forward, your confidence will grow exponentially.

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Comments

  1. And here it is some wisdom on Confidence by Dr. Seuss

    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

    p.s. awesome article!

  2. Great article Barrie. Although the first point says to challenge your thoughts, I’d like to expand that. Listen to your thoughts. It’s amazing and eye opening when you start to listen to what thoughts are going through your head.

    I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and carried its effects into adulthood. About two years ago I learned to hear the words I was saying to myself and I was horrified. No wonder my world was such a mess. Negativity, blame, anger, hatefulness. . . they were all there in the stories I told myself. I’d have an event take place in my head even before it actually took place and of course, the version in my head was much much worse. I attacked everything and everybody, in my thoughts. Natter natter natter. I was one very miserable, angry person in my head.

    So I started to listen and I would catch myself when I’d go off on tangents. I’d say “stop” and I would change the story or just think about something else, something enjoyable. Anything to stop the nattering. I didn’t always catch myself but over time I did more and more.

    Two years later, I still have to listen and I still do go off on tangents but now I catch it every time and I stop it. And my life has completely turned around. Life is pretty good now! No, life is fabulous now!

    Thank you to all the people on the net who wrote articles about listening to your thoughts. Without all those people trying to help others, I’d probably still be nattering.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      What an amazing story — thank you so much for sharing it. I love that word “nattering.” That is exactly what it is. Mindless negativity filling our thoughts and stealing energy and happiness. I am so glad you discovered the power of examining your thoughts. Awareness is always the first step toward change!

  3. Thanks for the words of wisdom, Barrie. I’m having a tricky day, but I’ll pick a few of your tips and keep on trucking!!
    Thank you. :-)

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      We all have those tricky days! Don’t let it get the best of you. When you know what’s going on, it loses its power over you. :)

  4. Hey there – awesome post! I can chime in with words of agreement. I was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 29 after years of having no friends and one horrible, dreadful relationship in which I never really knew what was going on. It was a very painful realisation that I will never be able to interact with people normally and naturally. Instead of getting depressed and accepting my fate, I’ve decided to work on myself. It’s hard, it’s very hard – and sometimes I don’t even believe in some of the things I am doing. I’ve been reading studies on self-control, motivation and self-confidence, and I can honestly say that whether you have a good self-esteem or not (and some people have excellent intellectual self-esteem, but zero appearance self-esteem like me :) ), you should still take the time out to find out who you are, what makes you tick and how you can be the best version of you that you can be. I’m grateful for being diagnosed because it has given me the change I need to improve my life myself, and in a big way.

    • i know very very little about asperger’s.
      i like the way you write – very articulate, thoughtful, candid, and insightful!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Sarai,
      Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to operate in a world of personalities you don’t quite understand. I sort of equate it with the way I felt about math when I was in school. I didn’t really get the concepts, so I just memorized the formulas and rules and tried to manage as best I could. I have to believe that with practice, the “rules” of engagement in a non-Asperger’s world will come more easily for you. I am amazed by your courage and willingness to keep learning and growing. Good for you!!

  5. Wonderful list Barrie. I’m so glad you included, “Stand up straight.” It’s not just about appearing confident, it actually makes you feel more confident too.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Linda,
      Just reading your comment, I found myself sitting up straighter! Ha. :) Thoughts can lead to action, but action can lead to new ways of thinking and feeling. If you behave confidently, pretty soon the feelings follow.

  6. Fran Sorin says:

    Dear Barry,

    As I read through your list, after each suggestions I thought to myself ‘Uh huh’, ‘Yep’,
    or ‘that’s for sure’.

    I would guess that there are very few of us that can’t relate to what you’re saying.

    My two favorites are: Stand Up Straight and Hug A Failure.

    I am spending a lot of time correcting my posture when I stand …and sit. Since I stopped yoga and started rowing, my slumped shoulders have become noticable. At least 6 times a day, I correct myself.

    Hug A failure….Excellent advice. So many of us run as fast as we can from failures. We’re ashamed of them . Once we recognize and own them..and even realize some of the positive elements of what we consider ‘failure’…what a difference our perceptions of ourselves can be.

    Thanks for a robust and informative post….Fran

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Fran,
      I’m so glad you could relate to the list. I like “stand up straight” too. I frequently find myself hunched over, mainly at the computer, but then it translates to the rest of my life. Just the act of straightening your spine makes you feel stronger, taller, and more confident. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  7. Hi Barrie,

    Doing things for others, #16, turned my life around. Once I removed my focus from self, I saw that there were countless people out there just waiting for the kind of help I could provide. The deeper I got into helping others, the more confident I grew with myself. It was as if helping others validated the positive and perceptive things within me.

    If the things I was saying and doing were really helping others, then I was actually of some use. That realisation took me to a whole new level of confidence. I was growing without focusing on me. Now, I’ve got an unstoppable attitude to life.

    My advice to anyone struggling with confidence is to help others improve their lives. You too will grow in the process.

    Thought provoking post!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Jason, I can so relate to what you are saying. I have found this to be true with the work I’m doing here on my blog. Just knowing that you’ve touched someone’s life, even for the few minutes they are reading your post, provides a tremendous feeling of fulfillment. It’s a feeling that provides legitimate, soul stirring self-confidence! I’m so glad you found this in your life. :)

  8. Barrie, these steps have been taught me in retreats! Also, I have read some of them and parts of them from your posts in the past few months. All of these sources, as well as daily blogging and posting, have been wonderfully healing for me in dealing with my crippling self-effacement of 20+ years. Now, I realize I had been burying this same problem since just before my second birthday, when I fell on my family’s lunch sack on our first day at our new farm! My arms and legs grew at a faster rate than the rest of me, for some reason. I was such a physical klutz until about midway through high school, when I suddenly became known as a really good dancer! Go figure. Anyway, I am SO indebted to people like you for providing such practical help with these old issues. Lead on, Chief Barrie!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Rose, I am honored to be one source of inspiration for you. But I bet you already have the answers inside of you. Sometimes it takes reading those answers elsewhere to realize the truth that you already own. We can all learn from each other!

  9. Doctor Cris says:

    Barrie, you are so helpful and amazing. I use to think that most people had a great upbringing and were filled with self-confidence. Boy, was I wrong. I found that many people are wounded from the past and carry these wounds with them in the present. I believe meditation and reflection have helped me to understand my beliefs and their origins—the bad beliefs are easily let go once they are understood.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Cris,
      You are so right — awareness is the key to change. Once the light of truth shines on the belief, you can’t help but release it. Or at least do the work to begin the release. So much of our thinking and feeling is just smoke and mirrors. I have found great inspiration from Byron Katie and her “Work”. When you deeply inquire into your thoughts, you discover the truth isn’t what you thought at all.

  10. Thanks for a wonderful list! #1 and 2 have been really helpful for me…I didn’t realize how badly I talked about myself until I started paying attention. When I’d catch myself, I’d ask myself if the negative talk was true or not, and then replace it with a positive thought. Great way to retrain the brain!

    I really need to work on #7 (Interact). When I’m feeling low (and even otherwise), I like to keep to myself. Sometimes it really helps to get outside of myself and enjoy time with others.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Kaylee,
      I’m delighted you have started to catch yourself in negative thinking. That is a huge step. The rest is just practice. I know how you feel about interacting when you feel bad about yourself, but it is truly the best medicine. You get out of your head and engage in life!

  11. Cathy | Treatment Talk says:

    Hi Barrie,

    Great tips on building self-confidence. I really like 16. Do something for others. and 18. Try something new. When we get away from our old negative habits, and think about someone else for awhile, our life can begin to change.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Absolutely Cathy! I’m sure this is something you teach at Treatment Talk. Focusing on others takes us out of obsessive or self-centered thinking.

  12. I find that to practice a skill to gain confidence in doing it, is very good. The initial fear of the unknown gets decreased by practice. There could be some deeper fear. We could be afraid of judgements. Maybe we risked to lose the approval of our parents or of our teachers if we weren’t good at that skill. We learned to associate fear with the simple attempt to learn a skill. Our parents and our teachers could have told us that they approved us anyway. If we were good at that skill or if not. If that didn’t happen, we can learn to do it by ourselves. We can learn to approve ourselves if we are good and if we aren’t. We can give ourselves unconditional approval. That’s the best of confidence.

    Emanuele Santanche -
    Freedom and courage

  13. Barrie,

    Retraining your brain is such an important one, as I found out the hard way. Thing is, I actually really enjoy it, even though it was very hard in the beginning.

    I’m definitely going to try a few of the others.

  14. I really like this list because it is something concrete to physically sit down (or stand up) and do.

    I especially like #6. Sometimes, the list is slow to start (minutes, hours even)… but soon, with practice it feeds on itself and soon I can hardly write fast enough to keep up with my mind!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I’m so glad you liked it Tathata! All it takes is a little momentum to get the ball rolling, right?!

  15. Thank you very these wonderful post, I believed that by the time I start practicing what I have read life get greater, I think I like it in helping other I m Gona do it, as for challenging my thought is a major challenge because those negative comes from things we listen to and watches

  16. Boovendran says:

    Its very useful to me… I can change my activities

  17. Good article.

    Stand be confident is that you have to apply in your daily life. If you are an entrepreneur, you are a confident person. If you are working as a salaried person you will have many challenges that required to stand very confident and couragious. You can expect many types of people with different behaviour and some will try to overpower you and rule over you using their risk power. If you loose that confidence one time you will remain as floormat always and may be force to live as a slave. But trust in Almight always and belive that he is supreme authority for humankind. He is the one giving power and taking the power. We are all his slave and with his authority.

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