Self-confidence is defined as a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment. Self-confidence is important to your health and psychological well-being. Having a healthy level of self-confidence can help you become successful in your personal and professional life.
Benefits of Self-Confidence
Having self-confidence can bring many benefits—at home, at work, and within your relationships. Here’s a look at a few of the positive effects self-confidence can have on your life.
- Openness to try new things. When you believe in yourself, you’ll be more willing to try new things. Whether you apply for a promotion or sign up for a cooking class, believing in yourself is key to putting yourself out there.
- Better performance. When you feel confident in yourself, you’re able to devote your resources to the task at hand. Rather than waste time and energy worrying that you aren’t good enough, you can devote your energy to your efforts.2 So ultimately, you’ll perform better when you feel confident.
- Better resilience. Confidence, or believing in yourself, can enhance your resilience, or ability to bounce back from any challenges or adversities you face in life.
- Improved relationships. Having a healthy dose of self-confidence can help keep your relationships happy and healthy.3 One reason is that people with self-confidence tend to set stronger boundaries, prioritizing their own needs and emotions. Having self-confidence not only impacts how you feel about yourself, but it helps you better understand and love others. It also gives you the strength to walk away if you’re not getting what you deserve.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to boost your self-confidence. Whether you lack confidence in one specific area or you struggle to feel confident about anything, these strategies can help.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Whether you compare how you look to your friends on Facebook or you compare your salary to your friend’s income, comparisons aren’t healthy. In fact, a 2018 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found a direct link between envy and the way you feel about yourself.4
Researchers found that people who compared themselves to others experienced envy. And the more envy they experienced, the worse they felt about themselves. It can be a vicious cycle.
Pay attention to times when you compare your wealth, possessions, skills, achievements, and attributes. Thinking that other people are better or have more will erode your confidence in yourself. When you notice you are drawing comparisons, remind yourself that doing so isn’t helpful. Everyone is running their own race and life isn’t a competition.
Here are a few tips to help free yourself from the trap of comparison:
- Be good to others. When you’re being your best self, you may be less prone to compare yourself to others or focus on the things that you lack. Helping others (altruism), especially those less fortunate than you, can provide a great perspective on how blessed you truly are in life.
- Count your blessings. If you’re feeling envious of someone else’s life, remind yourself of your own strengths and successes. Consider keeping an ongoing gratitude journal to help you focus on your own life and not the lives of others.
- Identify and avoid frenemies. Are there certain people in your life that constantly judge and compare, and just bring out your competitive streak (and not in a good way)? It’s okay to limit contact with these individuals or, if possible, avoid them completely.
- Seek positive support. As you weed out the negative people in your life, it’s also important to cultivate a social circle of people who support and motivate you to be your best self, and who remind you of the good in you.
Take Care of Your Body
It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’re abusing your body. On the other hand, if you practice self-care, you know you’re doing something positive for your mind, body, and spirit, and you’ll naturally feel more confident. Here are a few self-care practices linked to higher levels of self-confidence:
- Diet. Eating well comes with many benefits, including higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. When you fuel your body with the right foods, you feel healthier, stronger, and more energized, which can result in feeling better about yourself.
- Exercise. Studies consistently show physical activity boosts confidence. A 2016 study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment found that regular physical activity improved participants’ body image. And when their body image improved, they felt more confident.5
- Meditation. Experts say that meditation can help boost self-confidence in several ways. For one, it helps you to recognize and accept yourself. Meditation also teaches you to stop negative self-talk and disconnect from any mental chatter interfering with your self-confidence.
- Sleep. Skimping on sleep can take a toll on your self-esteem, whereas good, quality sleep has been linked with positive personality traits, including optimism and self-esteem.6
Self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness when you make a mistake, fail, or experience a setback. Speaking to yourself harshly, won’t motivate you to do better. In fact, studies show it tends to have the opposite effect.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Personality found that self-compassion contributes to more consistent confidence.7 Thinking, “Everyone messes up sometimes,” as opposed to, “I’m so stupid. I ruined everything,” is an example of having self-compassion and can help you feel good even if when you don’t perform as well as you hoped.
Rather than beat yourself up or call yourself names, try speaking to yourself like you’d talk to a trusted friend. Cut yourself some slack, laugh at yourself, and remind yourself that no one is perfect.
Use the Power of Positive Self-Talk
Using self-talk that is optimistic can help you foster self-compassion, embrace self-doubt, and take on new challenges. On the other hand, negative self-talk can limit your abilities and lessen your confidence by convincing your subconscious that you “can’t handle it” or that something is “too hard” or that you “shouldn’t even try.”
The next time, you begin to think that you have no business speaking up in a meeting or that you are too out of shape to work out, remind yourself that your thoughts aren’t always accurate.
Here are a few examples of how to challenge pessimistic self-talk and reframe your thoughts into a more positive way of thinking:
- Instead of telling yourself “I can’t handle this,” or “This is impossible,” try reminding yourself that “You can handle it,” or “All I have to do is try.”
- Instead of telling yourself “I can do nothing right,” when you make a mistake, remind yourself “I can do better next time,” or “at least I learned something.”
- Instead of saying you “hate” public speaking, use a milder work like “don’t like,” and remind yourself that “everyone has strengths and weaknesses.”
Sometimes, people put off doing things—like inviting someone on a date or applying for a promotion—until they feel more confident. But sometimes, the best way to gain confidence is by doing. Try doing things that your brain tells you that you can’t.8
Practice facing some of your fears that stem from a lack of self-confidence.9 If you’re afraid you’ll embarrass yourself or you think that you’re going to mess up, try it anyway. Tell yourself it’s just an experiment and see what happens.
You might learn that being a little anxious or making a few mistakes isn’t as bad as you thought. And each time you move forward you can gain more confidence in yourself, which in the end, will help prevent you from taking any risks that will result in any major negative consequences.10
Embracing a little self-doubt might actually help you perform better. A 2010 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that athletes who embraced their self-doubt outperformed athletes who were 100% confident in themselves.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare or practice, of course. If you have a big speech coming up, practice in front of your friends and family so you’ll gain some confidence. But don’t wait until you feel 100% confident before you proceed. You might never get there.