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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you rediscover the confidence you have lost. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
Do you remember a time when you were brimming with self-confidence?
A time when you looked into the mirror and loved what you saw or could breeze into a room full of people and speak with grace?
Try to think back to the last time you had full faith in yourself, your appearance, and/or your abilities. It might have been a few months ago or several decades past, but once upon a time, you radiated self-assurance.
Maybe you feel quite differently now. It’s possible that the person you see in the mirror looks completely different from the person who strutted around like they owned the world. Perhaps you even avoid mirrors entirely because you can’t bear to look yourself in the eye.
So, let’s try to get back to being a person who’s happy with who they are. You might not be exactly the same now as you were then, but that’s okay. In the same way that we can rekindle childlike wonder and joy at the world around us, so can we rebuild lost confidence by adjusting our priorities and perceptions.
1. Determine when your confidence began to falter.
Before we can dive into the ways in which you can rebuild lost confidence, we must first ascertain how yours faltered to begin with. This is rather like determining the cause of physical pain or illness symptoms in order to determine a course of medical treatment.
Take some time to sit and meditate on this topic, or grab your journal and write down the last time that you felt truly confident in yourself and your abilities. From there, you can write (or just think about) different experiences you had and how they affected your self-confidence.
Was it a situation or event that you feel like you “failed” at?
Or perhaps someone in your circle wore down your self-esteem via their words or actions?
Did you experience a life-altering event that changed you physically or mentally?
Or did something happen in your work or school life that made you feel like you aren’t “enough?”
Try to pinpoint whether it was one significant event that damaged your confidence or if it was eroded away bit by bit over time. Then write down every memory you have of being belittled, criticized, and so on. By getting all of that out, you can exorcise it and move past it.
2. Change your circumstances, if applicable.
One of the most common situations in which a person loses their self-confidence is when they’ve been in a toxic or otherwise abusive relationship. This might be a romantic partnership—especially with a narcissist—but it can also apply to horrible family dynamics.
Some parents get the idea into their heads that constantly criticizing and berating their offspring will magically transform them into the children they always wanted.
Furthermore, they might feel as though by abusing their kids, they’re actually doing them a favor: that they’re pushing them to reach their full potential and “be the best they can…” even though that “best” is their own perception and projection, rather than being what their child wants.
In romantic partnerships, people can damage one another’s confidence both unintentionally and intentionally. For example, a person who’s either insecure or controlling might try to damage their partner’s self-confidence so they won’t leave. This might include subtle digs about their physical appearance, mockery about how inept they are, or the constant narrative that they wouldn’t be able to survive on their own.
Of course, there’s also loss of confidence at school or in the workplace. Bad teachers or work supervisors can make people feel worthless and stupid if they make mistakes. Basically, people mess up a lot and don’t realize the long-term impact their words and actions can have on others.
If you’re in a damaging environment, get out of it ASAP. This might mean ending a relationship, moving to a new house, changing schools, or getting a different job. If where you are and what you’re doing daily is hurting you, try to leave.
3. Have a renewal/rebirth ceremony.
One of the main reasons why people suffer from lost confidence is that they’re clinging to the idea of being a former version of themselves. They might feel depressed and unvalued because they don’t look the same as they did when they were 16, or they don’t have the abilities/energy that they had at 25.
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but none of us are the same people we were a few days ago, let alone a decade or two ago. That doesn’t just encompass the fact that we’ve had countless life experiences that have changed us on a soul-deep level; it also includes the fact that nearly all of our cells have been replaced as well.
You are quite literally a completely different person on a cellular level than you were seven years ago. That’s kind of amazing when you think about it, isn’t it?
If you find that you’re suffering from low self-esteem or self-confidence because you’re clinging to a former version of yourself, then let go of that person. Embrace the phenomenal being who you are now, while both celebrating and stepping free from the one you used to be.
In some cultures, there’s a tradition in which people earn different names over the course of their lives. There’s the name given to them at birth, one given around puberty as their personality begins to shine through, one during some stage of adulthood, and one when they attain an elder position.
Some people with changeable names choose to do this as well: for example, I know a woman named Elizabeth who went by “Beth” as a child and “Liz” as a teen/twentysomething, but now that she’s in her 40s, she chooses the full form of her name.
It may be helpful for you to create a full ceremony in which you pack away or burn various items from your past, and then frame or feature important items about the life you’re stepping into now.
Should you feel up for a full change, then go for it. Change your name, hair style/color, even change where you live, if you’re so inclined. You might be amazed to discover how much better you feel about who you are when you stop trying to force yourself to be the person you were.
Speaking of letting go…
4. Drop the dead weight.
This isn’t a reference to dieting or disordered eating, but rather letting go of people (or even projects) that may be dragging you down for one reason or another.
Are there people in your life who are making you feel less confident about yourself? Maybe you have older family members who keep berating you for not having attained X thing by your age. Or perhaps your partner or so-called friends keep “trying to help” by making unwanted suggestions or comments about how they think you should look, what they feel you should be doing, and so on.
They might have the best of intentions, but if they’re shattering what’s left of your self-confidence, they’ll need to be sorted out for the sake of your own wellbeing.
In situations like this, it’s a good idea to analyze their behavior to determine whether it’s intentional or unintentional, and then decide how you want to go about dealing with them.
For example, are there people in your social circle who have always been competitive with you and are now relishing the feeling of being “better” than you? Do they put you down to try to make themselves look good? In contrast, are there friends who seem to sincerely want you to feel better, but are awkward (possibly neurodivergent) and can’t seem to say anything without being insulting or offensive?
Some people would be mortified if you told them that their words or actions are making you feel awful about yourself, and they would do all they could to apologize and make amends. Meanwhile, others would likely just dismiss your reactions as being “oversensitive,” gaslight you about them, and continue maintaining the status quo.
Let go of whatever and whoever no longer plays an important role in your life.
This doesn’t just apply to people, either. Do you feel like crap because you’re burnt out and don’t have the energy or emotional wherewithal to finish the PhD you stopped caring about a year ago? Then stop. The same goes for a job, a relationship, a creative project, or an upcoming trip.
You have full rights and permission to change your mind when you need to or want to. If your self-confidence is terrible right now and you absolutely do not want to Keep Doing the Thing, then stop. Chances are you’ll instantly feel more confident when you’re not constantly berating yourself for perceived shortcomings or failures.
5. Surround yourself with people who love you.
In contrast to those who cut you down and undermine your self-esteem, there are undoubtedly those who make you feel amazing about yourself.
Who are the people who always lift your spirits when you’re feeling down? Take note of those whose energy uplifts and energizes you rather than depleting or depressing you. Then make an effort to spend more time communicating with these wonderful folks.
If you feel comfortable doing so, let those you love and trust know that you’re struggling with low self-confidence, and ask for their help in rebuilding it. These are the people who have your back. You can be vulnerable with them and not worry that they’ll take advantage of it and mistreat you. In fact, they’ll likely go above and beyond to help you get to where you need/want to be.
For instance, if you’ve lost confidence because of a toxic partner, they can help you get out of that relationship and into a safer place. Or, if you feel bad about your appearance, they can help you by being your workout buddy, or they can go for a spa day with you to get a full makeover.
When you give people who love you the opportunity to be awesome and helpful, they rarely disappoint.
It is a good idea to seek professional help from one of the therapists at BetterHelp.com as professional therapy can be highly effective in helping you to rebuild your confidence after losing it.
6. Spend time in your own company.
Sometimes, the best way for you to repair damaged self-confidence is to spend a whole lot of time alone.
Very few people feel like crap about themselves when they’re enjoying their own company. This is because alone time is the only time when a person can be completely themselves. They don’t have to wear any masks to fit in with a particular crowd, nor do they need to present themselves in a particular way.
They can be completely and utterly authentic without any possibility of judgement or negativity being thrown their way.
When was the last time you got to spend time by yourself? We’re not talking about an hour’s respite here and there when your partner takes the kids to their grandparents’ place. Or even when you go sit in the park briefly to escape family responsibilities. No, we mean at least a week or so completely alone, except for animal companions.
What do you do when you’re alone in comparison to how you are when there are other people around?
Do you make different food choices? How do you choose to spend your time? Do you take part in creative endeavors that you usually don’t have time for (or feel ashamed about enjoying)?
Only by spending time by yourself can you truly understand who you are. This is how and when you’ll learn what’s really important to you, as well as what you like best. You don’t have to cater to anyone else’s wants or make compromises in order to keep others happy. Instead, you can bliss out eating mayonnaise and pickle sandwiches while putting together jigsaw puzzles and binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or whatever your idea of authentic bliss is.
Regardless of your preferences, what’s important here is sincerely getting to know yourself. By doing so, you might realize just how often you set aside your own preferences and leanings for the sake of others. When you’re constantly throwing yourself under the bus to keep others happy, depression is bound to set in. Furthermore, the inability to express yourself authentically can be a massive contributor to lost confidence.
7. Focus on what you know you’re good at.
What do you turn to when you’re feeling low about yourself? As in, what are your comfort activities?
Do you like to cook or bake as a means of working through difficult feelings? Or perhaps you prefer to make things with your hands, like knitting, woodworking, painting, and so on?
If you do these things to comfort yourself when you’re feeling down, chances are you’re pretty good at them. There’s no shame in acknowledging that either! You might feel the inclination to brush off your incredible multi-stranded Fair Isle knits or intricate wood carving as “just something you do for fun,” but these things take a lot of time and skill.
When you know that you’re good at something, it’s absolutely okay to feel confident about your skills in doing so. In fact, one of the best ways to rebuild lost confidence is to take something you know you’re good at and place more emphasis on it.
For example, there are undoubtedly people out there who would love to learn the skills that you have. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of teaching people in person, consider putting together tutorials via Skillshare or similar. Alternatively, you could start a TikTok account or YouTube channel in which you share tutorials. You won’t believe how grateful people are to learn things like this!
Teaching others is a great way to restore and improve confidence as well. Think about it: you have oodles of people who are looking up to you and appreciating a great gift that you’re giving them. And you’re having a ton of fun while doing so! You know that you’re good at this, but getting recognition and appreciation from others can make a world of difference as you’re rebuilding your self-esteem.
You may like to read this article if you’re struggling to think of anything: 10 Effective Ways To Find Out What You’re Good At
8. Learn (or try) something new, especially if it scares you.
Do you remember the huge waves of pride you felt as a child or teenager when you learned a new skill? Maybe you beamed like a star when you learned how to tie different knots for the first time. Or you were filled with joy and pride when you baked your first batch of muffins and your family devoured them happily.
There are few things in life that can reignite lost confidence like doing well at a new endeavor. This is doubly true if that endeavor is something that you find challenging or even intimidating, as it requires you to overcome self-doubt and fear in order to achieve it.
What is it that has always interested you, but you’ve never had the chance (or the guts) to try it out? Have you always wanted to learn how to sew, but the process intimidates you? Or maybe you’d love to try making home-baked bread, but you’re worried it won’t turn out?
The only way you can fail at these endeavors is if you never try at all. If and when you think about these things and immediately assume that you can’t do them, try anyway. That loaf that you’re certain will turn out a misshapen mess will fill your home with an incredible scent and will taste great even if it looks weird. And that stuffed animal you sewed or knit will be absolutely adored by the child you give it to because you made it.
Do the thing, and see how amazing you feel for having gotten past your fear. The sense of accomplishment will have the same effect as a gust of wind on an ember, rekindling your confidence to a warm glow. It might not be a raging bonfire yet, but it’ll be a huge step in that direction.
9. Alter course.
If you lost your sense of self-confidence because you did poorly at something, then a great way to get over the hurt is to change your direction and focus. We can’t all be good at everything, and there are some areas in which we’ll shine and others in which we’ll fall flat.
You might be feeling defeated because you tried your hand at something and failed miserably. Consider this a great learning experience rather than a failure: you tried, and it didn’t work, but this experience has shown you a new direction to try instead.
Here’s a personal example for you: I started art college as a sculpture major, determined to devote my life to creating classical pieces in bronze, marble, you name it. One of our assignments was to create a gingerbread house of all things, and mine was a complete and utter travesty. I’m not overexaggerating here. It was a lopsided monstrosity with icing sliding off in all directions and a roof that would have looked better in a Tim Burton movie.
I sat on the floor and cried for about an hour before throwing it outside for the squirrels to devour. Then, after a weekend-long pity party, I went to the registrar’s office and changed my major to Interdisciplinary Studies so I could broaden my repertoire through several different art media.
And you know what? That change resulted in me having a two-decade-long career as a graphic designer/art director. I’ve shifted direction to focus mostly on writing and herbalism now, in my mid-40s, but I still co-run a design studio and have had the opportunity to work on hundreds of incredible projects over the years.
If I hadn’t messed up that gingerbread house so atrociously, I might never have discovered a life path that has been immensely fulfilling. Instead, I might have kept plodding along as a wannabe sculptor, feeling miserable about my perceived shortcomings and having zero confidence in my own work.
Take some time to yourself and journal about the things in your life that you don’t feel confident about and what you’d rather be doing instead. Write them down even if they seem silly at the moment. They’ll give you a clear idea as to where your soul wants to go, so you can start taking the steps to rebuild confidence on a path that’s a better fit for you.
The following article might help you with this tip: 24 Things You Can Do To Change Your Life For The Better
10. Build new confidence, doing what you can, with what you have.
One of the most common stumbling blocks that people come across when rebuilding lost confidence is that they try to recreate what once was, even if those building blocks have eroded or broken.
What happens when a person whose confidence was drawn from their beauty ends up with terrible burns over their entire body? Or simply has to deal with the realities of the natural aging process? How about an athlete who ends up paralyzed in an accident, or an artist who loses their vision?
When an aspect of oneself that has always been intrinsic to one’s self-confidence suddenly disappears, it can have a devastating effect. There’s no coming back from it in the same way, as attempting to rebuild lost confidence based on previous parameters would be rather like trying to rebuild a house that’s been demolished by wrecking balls.
In a case like this, it’s better to clear the rubble away from the foundation and either build something completely new and different, or if you loved the previous design, adapt it so it’s more in line with your current needs and capabilities.
If your physical attractiveness has always been the cornerstone of your confidence, now is a great opportunity to get to know other, amazing aspects of yourself. Are you kind? Compassionate? A great friend? Do you have a brilliant mind? Focus on the countless strengths and positive aspects you have that don’t center around your temporary flesh vehicle. What you look like is only one small aspect of who you are, and there’s so much more to you to enjoy.
The same goes for people whose confidence came from their abilities or accomplishments. Athletes who get injured can still train and compete in other organizations, such as the Paralympics. A painter who loses their vision can switch to art forms that are tactile or auditory, expressing creativity through sculpture or spoken word instead of brush and canvas.
Some of the greatest accomplishments in history were done by those whose lives were hampered by one calamity or another. When one’s options narrow, so does focus, allowing incredible things to exist in a constricted space. These people were able to perform great acts or create masterpieces because that was where all their life energy was directed.
Do some research to discover achievements by people whose abilities went far beyond their physical limitations. Ivar the Boneless, Harriet Tubman, Frida Kahlo, Stephen Hawking, Kyle Maynard, and Temple Grandin are just a few people who have accomplished great things despite perceived limitations.
11. Start small.
One of the best ways to start rebuilding lost confidence is to start small. You don’t need to throw yourself into massive projects or grandiose gestures to magically get your confidence back overnight.
Rather, make a small list of achievable goals, and set your mind to attaining them. Let’s say we aim for three goals to be done in a week. Make two of them super easy and one of them mildly challenging. For example, let’s say that you’re dealing with a lot of social anxiety as a result of having your confidence damaged, and you’d like to try rebuilding it. In a case like this, your weekly to-do list could consist of:
- Make eye contact and smile at a stranger when you’re out grocery shopping
- Respond to a friend’s social media post with words rather than an emoticon
- Write an email (or make a brief phone call) to someone you care about
At the end of the week, check those off your list with a big bright marker, and smile at the fact that you accomplished all of these. Then, since you’ll have a confidence boost about it, make another list for the following week. Keep going with this, adding greater challenges for yourself as you move forward.
12. Remember that temporary failure doesn’t mean utter defeat.
Every defeat can also be a victory, if we choose to learn from it. Thomas Edison is famous for having said: “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” And he’s right.
Do you know how many great inventions in history were side effects? They were complete failures for what they were intended for, but instead turned out to be magnificent in their own right.
For example, in 1956, Dr. Wilson Greatbatch failed horribly when he tried to create a small machine that would record human heart rhythms. He was devastated that the little device he designed created electronic pulses instead of measuring them!
But guess what? That mistake meant that he created the first cardiac pacemaker. Because he failed so utterly, millions of people now have implants that are keeping them alive and healthy.
When you look back at the things that damaged your self-confidence, try to recognize that they have also offered you immense opportunities for personal growth and development.
The abuse you may have experienced has allowed you to empathize with and help others in similar circumstances. Similarly, the partner who left you allowed you the space to grow as a person and meet someone who’s much better for you.
You can rebuild lost confidence by altering your perspective and shifting direction. So let’s start rebuilding it right now, okay? Write your small, achievable to-do list, take part in something you know you’re good at, and look for something new to learn. This moment is full of potential, and you’re about to embark on a much healthier, happier life journey. Dive in and have fun!
Still not sure how to build up your self-confidence again after losing it? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
Speak to a therapist about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to explore when and why you lost your confidence before giving you tailored advice to get it back.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
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- Why You Feel Worthless + How To Stop Feeling And Thinking This Way
- “I’m Not Good At Anything” – 10 Ways To Overcome This Feeling
- 10 Sad Signs You’re Underestimating Yourself (+ How To Stop)
- 10 Things To Do When You Feel Like You Just Can’t Do Anything Right
- 10 Confidence Hacks For The Socially Awkward Person