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Why & How to Build Confidence in Yourself

A woman wearing a yellow shirt looks at her reflection in a mirror, smiling

Confidence is defined as “full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing.” This applies to yourself as much as it does to anyone else. If you don’t trust yourself, it can cripple your ability to function.

A lack of self-confidence is something that nearly everyone deals with at one point or another. Some experience it chronically while others go through phases of doubt at certain times or in particular places. Regardless of the particular manifestation, though, it’s worth wondering what it is that causes people from all walks of life to struggle with the ability to rely on themselves.

What Causes a Lack of Confidence?

While a lack of confidence is relatively common, the specific causes for low self-esteem can vary dramatically and includes things like:

  • Your genetic makeup: The way you feel, look, and function can have a significant impact on your level of confidence.
  • Your life experiences: The scenarios that you go through, such as trauma or bullying, can add significant weight to how confident you are about yourself.
  • Mental health conditions: If you struggle with things like anxiety and depression, it can internally hamstring your ability to trust yourself.
  • Your age: Different stages of life can lead to various levels of confidence or a lack thereof.
  • Your exposure to the media: Whether you’re watching the news or reading something on Facebook, constant exposure to the 24-hour news cycle and its perpetual carousel of negative reporting can be detrimental to your confidence.

The Importance of Self-Confidence

While the reasons for a lack of confidence are legion, it doesn’t change the fact that maintaining a healthy level of confidence is vitally important. Low self-esteem can cripple your ability to think properly, can cloud your judgment, and can even leave you feeling physically unhealthy.

High self-esteem, on the other hand, can allow you to make decisions confidently, trust your abilities, and maintain a sharp, focused mental state. A confident person can build relationships without the worry of insecurities significantly affecting them.

Confidence-Boosting Tips

If you’re feeling low on confidence, don’t despair. There are many simple yet effective ways to boost it and improve your self-esteem.

Take Care of Yourself
Often the root of a lack of confidence can be found in the way that you take care of yourself. If you don’t take the time to listen to your physical and mental needs, it can eat away at your trust in your own abilities and how you feel about yourself, in general.

Tapping out in order to indulge in a little self-care from time to time can be an excellent way to keep your spirits up.

Think Positively
Research indicates that positive thinking can have a significant effect on your overall satisfaction with life. The simple act of spending time each day meditating on the positive things in your life can help to improve mindfulness, find greater purpose in life, and even decrease symptoms of physical illness.

Focusing on the positive on a regular basis can free you from mental discouragement and naturally build your confidence.

Question Your Inner Critic
Opposed to the positive, negativity actively works to tear down your emotions and lead you into a place of depression and despair. Often you are the worst critic of your own actions. Obsessing over your inner critic can lead to cycles of negative self-talk that can unhinge your focus and completely diffuse your self-esteem.

If you find yourself regularly questioning your worth and abilities, try to confront your inner accusations. What evidence is there that what you’re saying to yourself is genuinely true? How much of it is prophesying, catastrophizing, or drawing conclusions?

Associate yourself with the most common cognitive distortions, all of which can warp and undermine your ability to depend on yourself. Then, as you catch your inner critic red-handed, try to replace the dialogue with positive affirmations about your abilities and self-worth.

Present Yourself Well
The way that you present yourself can make a huge difference in your level of confidence. If you’re insecure about your appearance, it can affect how you feel about yourself.

Sometimes all you need is a new outfit or a haircut to bring on a fresh sense of confidence. In other cases, you may consider getting plastic surgery. A rhinoplasty or breast augmentation — for men and women alike — can be the change that some people need. Make changes that look as natural as possible to genuinely add to your self-esteem.

Determine What Makes You Feel Confident
Sometimes the best way to boost your confidence is to take some time for deep introspection. What is it that makes you feel uniquely good about yourself? Take some time to discover your own confidence-boosting techniques — and don’t be afraid of some trial and error as you go about the discovery process.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Finally, there’s wisdom in the old adage to “fake it ‘til you make it.” If you’ve tried different confidence-boosting methods and you just can’t seem to find an answer that leads to genuine growth, sometimes the solution is to simply fake your confidence until it becomes a reality.

If you go out on a limb and begin to steer into confidence that you know you don’t currently have, you just might find that you’re more capable and worthy than you or anyone else expected. As you discover your abilities and worth, your confidence can begin to grow as well.

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