Part I of the Confidence Series covered the meaning and importance of self-confidence, and Part II of the Confidence Series covered the causes of low self-confidence. In this third and final article of the series, I’ll discuss how to become more self-confident.
As mentioned in the previous articles, the first step towards making a change is awareness. While many people are painfully aware of the fact that they lack confidence; others don’t realize that it is a lack of self-confidence that is at the root of their problems. So I’ll start by providing a list of clues that may indicate low self-confidence and then move on to suggestions for becoming more confident.
Behaviors that may Indicate Low Self-Confidence
Before someone can address how to become more self-confident, they must first be aware that they lack confidence. If any of the following behaviors apply to you or a loved one, they may be indicative of low self-confidence:
• Constant Complaining – People who lack confidence may try to divert attention away from themselves by continually finding fault with others and blaming their problems on everyone and everything except themselves.
• Showing Off – To cover up feelings of inadequacy, some people will brag about themselves or their possessions, name-drop, or attempt to draw attention to themselves by loud or inappropriate behavior in order to try to impress others.
• Addictions – Someone who feels inadequate may try to address their feelings of depression and frustration by drinking too much, eating too much, or taking drugs to escape from their pain.
• Need for Approval – An individual who needs to be constantly reassured that they are liked and respected or who has to be right all the time is looking for external validation that they are worthy.
• Self-Pity – People who frequently feel sorry for themselves and think no one else has it as hard as they do can sometimes get lost in “poor me” behavior.
The above list is not all-inclusive, but it does provide some clues to low self-confidence.
How to Become More Self-Confident
If you recognized yourself in the above list, or if you were already aware that you were not as confident as you’d like to be, the following recommendations may help you to become more self-confident:
• Change Your Thoughts – The number one thing you can do to become more self-confident is to change the way you think. Begin to replace negative thoughts with more positive thoughts. Watch how you talk to yourself. Whenever you catch yourself thinking thoughts of failure and suffering, replace them with thoughts of success and happiness.
• Assume Responsibility for Your Own Life – If you rely on others to make you happy or blame others for making you unhappy, you will be forfeiting responsibility for your life to others. It’s hard to be self-confident if you’re not self-reliant.
• Let Go of Your Need for Approval – Confident people trust in their ability to live their life to their full potential. If you seek approval from others, you are revealing a lack of faith in yourself. It’s fine to ask for input from others, but trust in your own ability to make good decisions and to do your best regardless of what other people think.
• Stop Comparing Yourself to Others – When you compare yourself to others, you will eventually come up short. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so just focus on being the best you can be. Begin to create the life you want to live, and don’t worry about how and what everyone else is doing.
• Drop Guilt – If you continue to beat yourself up over things you can’t change, you will never be able to acquire self-confidence. What’s done is done. Do better next time. To expect yourself to be perfect is not realistic. So you made mistakes; who hasn’t?
• Forgive – If your self-confidence was negatively impacted by the actions of your parents, teachers, peers, romantic partners, bosses, or anyone else, it’s time for you to forgive them. Understanding circumstances that contributed to low self-esteem is one thing; continuing to use those circumstances as an excuse for your low self-confidence is something else again – it’s a waste of time. Forgive and move on.
• Focus More on Other People – Surprisingly, sometimes the best way to increase your own self-confidence is to focus more on others. When we are preoccupied with ourselves, we interpret everything as being about us. If we instead focus on helping others, being grateful to the people in our lives, and listening and loving those around us, it makes us feel better about ourselves. That’s why volunteering often makes us feel good.
• Take Control of What You Can Control – We all feel more confident when we are able to achieve our goals. One way we can begin to rack up successes lies in how we set our goals. So if your self-confidence is low, instead of setting a goal like, “I will lose 20 pounds,” set a goal like, “I will work out for 30 minutes 3 times a week.” That’s a goal you can control, which will lead to greater self-confidence even if you don’t lose all 20 pounds.
You’ll notice that all of the above suggestions for increasing your self-confidence involve thoughts and actions that are within your control. You do not need to have anything happen outside yourself in order to become more confident. If you are willing to put the time and effort into changing your thoughts, you can achieve increased self-confidence. Why not start today?