You’ve likely noticed the difference between people who are confident and those who aren’t.
The former seem comfortable in any situation, while the latter are timid and withdrawn.
If you don’t often feel confident, the 11 tips listed below may help.
1. Learn to project self-assurance, even when you don’t feel it.
Have you ever noticed how the energy in a room will shift depending on the people who enter it?
We can sense people’s “vibes” on a subconscious level, and the energy that people project will influence how others interact with them.
Take note of this the next time you’re in an enclosed public space, like a coffee shop or work environment. You’ll likely sense someone walking toward you before you see them, and you’ll respond subconsciously to the cheerfulness, aggression, or anxiety that they’re exuding.
If you want to be more confident, play the part. The more you invest yourself in what you’re projecting, the more real it’ll become over time, until it’s sincere.
A few tips for projecting this include:
- Having good posture, with your head held high and your back straight
- Walking at an easy but regular pace rather than scurrying or shuffling
- Repeating a personal mental mantra of positivity and strength—one you’ve created yourself rather than something you’ve simply found online
2. Wear clothes that match your preferences and tastes.
Few things knock a person’s self-confidence as much as trying to be something they’re not. If you’ve ever had to wear a uniform that was the opposite to your personality, chances are you balked at it on a microcellular level.
Students who all wear the same school uniform find ways to express their unique personalities, even if it’s with jewelry or footwear. There’s a soul-deep need to be authentic, and everyone feels more confident when their wardrobe, hair, and so on accurately reflect who they are inside.
Look at your clothes and determine how many of them you like. Then determine what it is about them that you love most. Most people only wear 20% of the clothes they own, and the rest languish in closets. Give away or sell whatever you don’t wear, and invest in clothes that make you feel good about yourself.
Never mind what’s trending, and don’t give yourself grief if your physique isn’t “perfect.” Work with a tailor or try a variety of styles until you find some that flatter your body structure, then get several pieces in that vein.
Your confidence will soar when you know that you look good. You don’t even have to look “hot”: simply comfortable in your own skin.
3. Never diminish yourself to suit other’s wants of you.
Many people suppress their personal wants (or dislikes) to ensure that others like them. They also refrain from advocating for themselves when they’re mistreated to keep the peace, and they end up livid with themselves later for not speaking up.
It’s vital to stand in your truth and hold to it for the sake of your happiness and self-respect.
This is especially important if you’re trying to build confidence in your relationship.
Take a look at how you feel versus how you behave on a regular basis. Ask yourself if you’re being authentic, or are you putting on an act to keep someone else happy (or around)?
Then ask yourself if you want to continue this performance for the next 40+ years. If the answer is no, that’s a huge indication that you’ll need to make some changes.
People who truly value you will love and appreciate you for who you are, not who you pretend to be. If those in your current social circle feel uncomfortable with you unless you look or behave the way they’d prefer, then you might want to change the company you keep.
4. Learn to be comfortable with discomfort.
Most people shy away from or try to change anything that causes them pain or discomfort. This can be physical discomfort, such as feeling cold or achy, or emotional discomfort, for example, being “triggered” by a word and demanding that others avoid using it around them.
If you want to build your confidence, learn to be comfortable in any circumstances. This builds resilience and reassures you that you can handle whatever situations may arise.
You can learn how to do this by gradual exposure, such as holding your breath for a period of time and then adding a second or two to challenge yourself and increase your lung capacity (though speak to your doctor first if you have any cardio issues).
Spend time outside in the heat or cold and experience what those sensations feel like instead of running to get a blanket or a fan.
Similarly, if you’re feeling discomfort in your own skin, listen to what your body is telling you that it needs rather than indulging the immediate urge to take a painkiller.
Furthermore, if a word causes you emotional distress, make a point of exposing yourself to it more so that it stops affecting you negatively.
When you know that you can handle anything you come across with strength and grace, you can’t help but be confident in any scenario. You’ll find that you aren’t intimidated by others, nor will you have much anxiety about unfamiliar situations.
As an aside, you may have felt the need to diminish yourself to make others feel more comfortable around you. For example, tall people often make themselves appear smaller so as not to overwhelm shorter folks, and those with powerful voices often speak quietly to seem less intimidating. Try to curb these inclinations and allow others to meet you where you are instead.
Don’t feel uncomfortable being stronger or more capable than those around you.
5. Trust your intuition.
How many times have you had a gut instinct about a person or situation but ignored it because some details you had pointed to the contrary?
In those situations, how did you feel about being proven right afterward? Did you kick yourself for not listening to your intuition?
Right. So about that…
Intuition exists for a reason. It’s an adaptive mechanism that we’ve evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to keep us safe from threats that are lurking behind rocks, waiting to eat our faces when we let our guard down.
It’s a subconscious form of information processing that involves pattern recognition, hypervigilance, and possibly epigenetic inheritance/ancestral memory.
Humans are the only animals on the planet that teach their young to ignore their intuition. By the time a young person is in high school, they’ve already been taught that their instincts are wrong and that they should obey what others tell them to do, say, and even think instead.
There’s an implication that the adults around them are always right and should be obeyed even if things feel wrong; hugged or kissed even when doing so makes them feel uncomfortable; believed even when they’re obviously lying.
Instead of automatically second-guessing yourself in different situations, start trusting your intuition instead. This could be as subtle as not eating something from the fridge that *should* still be okay but that you sense may be questionable, or as intense as avoiding spending time with a person who sets the hair on the back of your neck on edge.
6. Recognize that the only opinion about you that matters is yours.
Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s okay. As you go through life, you’ll come across plenty of people who will seek to impose their ideas and perspectives upon you, then give you grief if you don’t agree with them or do as they do.
Other people are going to have opinions on how you should dress, how you speak, the media that you enjoy, the types of food you eat, your political and spiritual leanings, and so on.
This is where it’s important to remember that what they say to you is a reflection of what’s going on inside them, and it has little to nothing to do with you.
Many people project their inner workings onto others, and when those others don’t harmonize with themselves, they short circuit. This results in discomfort, frustration, and even anger at those whose different ideas or habits make them question what they consider to be foundational.
This is why it’s so important to always trust in yourself and not let others’ opinions sink into your spirit.
Sure, you can listen to what they have to say on the off chance that they may have a helpful perspective, especially when it comes to your blind spots—you may even learn a thing or two, or alter your perception about something—but when it comes to living your life authentically, their opinions should carry no real weight.
“Trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”
—Rudyard Kipling, “If”
7. Never seek validation outside of yourself.
This has to do with feeling accomplished and fulfilled on your own terms, rather than because others give you a gold star.
It’s about your self-respect being based on how you feel about yourself, rather than how much respect you get from peers or colleagues.
While it’s nice to have one’s accomplishments or pursuits recognized by others, it really shouldn’t matter if they tell or don’t tell you how awesome you are for what you’ve done or how you behave.
For example, let’s say you want to pursue a degree in a field that you’re passionate about, but others in your life aren’t as enthusiastic. You might be inclined to feel deflated that they aren’t in your corner about this, especially since they might not even show up to your graduation.
But that’s okay. You know that this is important to you, and you’ll be proud of yourself for doing so. You don’t need their approval because your own is enough.
Similarly, you don’t need to constantly check in with others to reassure you that you’re saying, doing, or thinking the right things. If you post something on social media because you feel strongly about it, it won’t matter to you whether you get thousands of “likes” on it, or if few people seem to respond to what you’ve posted.
Be athletic for your own aesthetics, health, and fitness, rather than to have people tell you how strong or hot you look without a shirt on. Pursue interests that you like and that are important to you, not because they’re currently trending or because people you admire are into them.
8. Take time to analyze where any insecurities are coming from.
A lot of people lose self-confidence due to negative experiences they’ve had.
Other people’s harsh words or actions may have damaged their self-esteem or made them feel small, and they end up holding onto those wounds instead of being able to move on and let go.
As a result, one of the best ways to rebuild lost confidence is to reach back and heal the wound(s) you received.
First and foremost, try to remember the circumstances in which the event occurred. This goes beyond the “Who hurt you?” question and encourages you to truly consider everything that was going on at the time.
Where were you?
Who was involved?
Do you have any insight as to what was happening around you at the time?
Try to gaze impartially at what transpired and see things from all perspectives without either emotional involvement or judgment. When you do this, you can see the root causes of what knocked your confidence, which can go a long way toward healing it.
For example, let’s say a child was hurt deeply because their mother didn’t show up to watch them perform at their school play. As such, they felt unloved and abandoned at the time, and they have felt great trepidation about getting up on a stage ever since.
They might even have crippling stage fright and blame their mother for it because she “couldn’t be bothered” to show up.
This is the reality of what happened from the child’s perspective. To casual observers, the mother was a horrible person who didn’t care enough about her kid to show up. But what was going on with her at the time?
Would the casual observers—and the child—have more compassion and understanding if they knew that she’d had a miscarriage that night? That rather than simply not making her living child a priority, she was mourning the death of the one she was losing, while also dealing with excruciating physical pain?
When we know all the details behind an occurrence, we often stop being affected by it. The person who insulted you might have been going through immense mental or emotional turmoil and was lashing out at the one they felt safest with, and the teacher who implied that you weren’t going anywhere might have had early onset dementia.
Knowledge isn’t just power; it’s also a source of strength and immense healing. Furthermore, it can act as a time machine, allowing you to heal those old injuries and move past them permanently.
9. Focus on your strengths rather than your perceived shortcomings.
Most of us are quite aware of what we’re good at versus what we struggle with. We can’t all be good at everything, but each of us has at least one strength in which we can be confident.
If you place your focus on all the areas in which you feel weak, your confidence is going to suffer. In contrast, if you redirect that focus to what you know you’re good at, and hone those skills as best you can, your confidence can’t help but soar.
This doesn’t mean that you have to become a world-famous master of your craft, especially since you don’t need to get your validation from anyone else. Rather, you’ll get to a point where you know that you’re an expert at what you do, and you take immense pride in your abilities.
Naturally, this will look different for every individual depending on what it is that inspires their greatest confidence.
For example, one person may have immense confidence in their perfect spelling and grammar and put those skills to work as a proofreader, while another is a woodworker who knows the grain patterns and properties of hundreds of species.
Play to your strengths, and don’t waste time criticizing yourself for not being amazing at everything. Simply work with people whose strengths are in areas where you’re weaker so that you can lean on one another to everyone’s greatest advantage.
10. Cultivate secondary (and tertiary) skills that will serve you best.
Think about all the things you do on a regular basis and how comfortable you are doing them.
If you know that you’re a decent cook, you won’t feel any trepidation if a friend asks you to bring a dish to a potluck party or if they hand you the tongs for the barbecue so that they can have a break.
We discussed how important it is to focus on your strengths rather than shortcomings, and one great way to do that is to expand your skill portfolio.
Some people are great at being Jacks or Jills of All Trades, but for the most part, it’s better (and easier) to develop skills that are associated with strengths you already possess.
Think of this rather like learning French and Italian when you already know Spanish, rather than throwing Cantonese and Russian into the mix. All the previous languages are in the same Latin family, which means you’ll have an easier time with one of them if you already know another.
Similarly, someone who’s already a great cook will have an easier time with baking, and a violinist could likely pick up a cello without great difficulty.
When you think about the abilities you’re most confident in, consider which associated skills may also benefit you. Are you an exceptional driver? Then consider getting truck, motorcycle, or even plane or helicopter licenses so that you’re comfortable with a variety of different vehicles.
11. Remember that nobody out there is “better” than you.
And on that same note, you’re not “better” than anyone else.
This is something that my partner reiterates when helping people get over self-doubt and social anxiety. She worked in PR for years, dealing with celebrities, actors, high-ranking politicians, and other famous folks, and she never felt awkward or intimidated by any of them because she knows that no human being is greater or lesser than another, regardless of wealth or perceived status.
When you know this in the very core of your being, you can’t help but feel confident in just about any situation. You’ll avoid being arrogant when talking to those whose status isn’t as high as your own because you know that they’re just as perfectly human as you are, and you won’t care if others behave in an elitist manner with you.
After all, how others treat us is a projection of what’s going on inside them, rather than reflective of who we really are as people.
Seeing everyone else in the world as an equal also allows you to connect with them in wonderful ways. Famous folks often lament the fact that once they’re in the public eye, they don’t make authentic connections with anyone anymore: they just deal with other celebrities (who often cultivate a specific persona and hold to it) or sycophants who want to get to know them for their own gain.