Confidence has a significant impact on various life outcomes. Studies show a clear connection between confidence and occupational success, healthy relationships, a sense of well-being, positive perceptions by peers, academic achievement, and healthy coping skills (Trzesniewski, Donnellan, & Robins, 2003).
Confidence begins developing from a young age. (Bos et al., 2006). As we learn things like crawling, walking, and talking, we begin to create a vision of who we are and what we are capable of. As we become adolescents and adults, these perceptions of ourselves grow complicated.
So, this has you wondering, “How can I build confidence if it’s something developed a long time ago?” or thinking, “I’ve been trying to feel confident for a long time but nothing ever changes. I’m not good at being confident”. This post may serve as a place for you to start thinking about your confidence in a different way. Below are three different ways you can start increasing your confidence today.
1. Identify Your Inner-Critic
We all have an inner critic. We all have a voice that sometimes tells us that we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t well-liked, or that we are unworthy. Try to notice if this voice is sitting center stage or the back row of the auditorium of your mind. This can help you understand how your inner-critic may be affecting you.
Next time you have the opportunity to try something new, notice how you react when you mess up. Do you offer yourself compassion for the mistake? Or do you criticize yourself? The negative language we use with ourselves can affect our confidence over time.
Pro-Tip! Notice when you are criticizing yourself for criticizing yourself. Your inner critic can be tricky in this way! Use this as an opportunity to offer yourself some compassion instead.
2. Explore Your Values
In a study conducted by Dr. Jennifer Crocker, college students whose confidence was based on values receive higher grades. They were also less likely to have mental health issues in the present and future. Her study proves that value identification helps with decision-making and regulating uncomfortable emotions.
Exploring values can also help you if you are prone to comparing yourself to others. For example, you might see that someone has a newer car or a bigger house on Instagram. You then feel sad or unaccomplished when you reflect on your financial situation.
When we know our values we can begin understanding our choices. We are able to reflect and understand why they are not personal failures. For example, you may value family time more than financial success. Once you make that connection you can begin to see that you would not be happy if you prioritized affording that new car or larger home instead of time with loved ones.
3. Bring Curiosity to the Present Moment
Sometimes we get wrapped up in thoughts and feelings about our past. We may feel that we made poor choices, haven’t lived up to our potential, or don’t have the life that we hoped for. Those feelings are valid. It’s okay to feel disappointed about these topics. Reflection about our failures is one of the ways we learn and grow.
With this in mind, we also want to notice how these thoughts may be holding us back. Are we thinking about our past to problem solve or plan? Are we trying to develop insights or are these thoughts keeping us from living our life to the fullest? If that is the case, acknowledge the thought for what it is — a thought — and work towards focusing on the here and now.
Additionally, try to identify activities that help you get in touch with your senses. This can help you move past negative thoughts about yourself. Some examples include cooking, surfing, painting, listening to music, swimming, gardening, or taking a shower.
Doing activities mindfully also gives you the freedom to experience joy and calmness in your everyday life.
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Bos, AER; Muris, P; Mulkens, S; Schaalma, HP. (2006). Changing self-esteem in children and adolescents: a roadmap for future interventions. Netherlands Journal of Psychology, 62:26–33. DOI: 10.1007/BF03061048.
Crocker, J. (2002). The costs of seeking self–esteem. Journal of Social Issues, 58: 597-615. DOI: 10.1111/1540-4560.00279.
Trzesniewski, KH; Donnellan, MB; Robins, RW. (2003). Stability of self-esteem across the life span. Journal of Personality and Social Psycholopgy, 84(1):205–20. DOI: 10.1037//0022-35184.108.40.206.