Confidence can be defined as a belief in yourself. It means that you believe you can meet the challenges that life brings your way, and are able to make decisions and act in a way that will help you meet your goals and succeed. Being confident means that you have a realistic sense of your capabilities, and you feel secure in that knowledge. If you feel confident in yourself, you feel more comfortable with your decisions, are able to successfully avoid situations that aren’t right for you, and are more likely to be assertive, positive, enthusiastic and persistent.

While having confidence does seem like it comes more naturally to some people than others, there are things that you can do to cultivate confidence and build strength and resilience in this area:

  1. Brainstorm specific actions that you can take that will help you achieve your goals. Continuing to set and meet your goals helps to enable a belief that you are competent and capable.
  2. Try new things, and take inventory of what comes more naturally to you vs what is difficult
  3. Realize that it is normal and okay to make mistakes – everyone makes mistakes!
  4. Make eye contact when you are speaking with people
  5. Act with boldness and pursue something that interests you
  6. Show an interest in the activity of others
  7. Value your effort, progress, hard work, persistence and learning
  8. View struggles and challenges as an opportunity to grow as a person and learn
  9. Don’t give up
  10. Be nice to yourself – think about your positive attributes and encourage yourself
  11. Try a variety of things to gain experience in new areas
  12. Don’t put other people down

Too much confidence, however, can come across as arrogance. It can mean that you are confident in your abilities in an area in which you actually know very little. Often this is a blind spot that others can clearly see. Having too much confidence can also lead to problems – failing to meet a deadline on a project, for example.

Under-confidence can be the result of anxiety, or because someone is shy or intimidated by new experiences. An under-confident person may have other factors that they are dealing with, such as past trauma, their natural temperament, or difficult early life experiences (such as an anxious parent, or a parent who shared all of their worries with you). While these situations are serious, a person can take steps to increase their confidence by acknowledging that their emotions matter, thinking through what their own goals and interests are, and working to pursue these. Becoming in alignment with who you naturally are as a person will ‘feel right’ and bring you greater positive feelings over time.

A Word on Self-Doubt

Experiencing self-doubt is very normal, and it is something that every person encounters. This is especially the case if you have a goal to do something challenging – whether it is to take on a new project, pursue a goal, or to accomplish an achievement. Self-doubt is a natural reaction, and is a feeling that keeps you from taking action because it protects you from feeling uncomfortable and potentially experiencing failure. If you experience self-doubt, realize that this is just a normal thought that you are having regarding doing something challenging. You can also choose to focus on positive thoughts that help to motivate and drive you towards taking action and pursuing goals – thoughts focused on how you are growing, that you are pursuing your dream and how this is a worthwhile use of your time, even if it may not end up how you expect. Self-doubt usually shows up when you are working to grow yourself and accomplish something meaningful to you. Remember, self-doubt is a normal feeling and it only becomes a problem when you stop taking action. You can have self-doubt and choose to focus on the positive reasons why you want to keep moving forward anyway.

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