Three Ways to Boost Your Confidence

Emily Rubens, LMFT

Emily Rubens, LMFT

Emily Rubens, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist who helps adolescents and emerging adults build confidence, work through anxiety and re-build relationships.

Confidence has a significant impact on various life outcomes. In fact, 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. 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. Subsequently, these perceptions of ourselves grow complicated as we become adolescents and adults.

So, if this has you wondering, “How can I build confidence if it’s something I developed a long time ago?”. Or if you’re thinking, “Nothing ever changes. I’m not good at being confident.”, take a look at the information below to start increasing your confidence today.

1. Identify Your Inner-Critic

We all have that voice that tells us we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t well-liked, or that we are unworthy. However, the negative language we use with ourselves can affect our confidence over time. By taking note of these negative thoughts, you  better understand how your inner-critic is affecting you.

If you’re having trouble labeling your inner critic, this next tip is for 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?  Try to replace these judgements with a more neutral statement. For example, instead of telling yourself “Why do I always ruin everything!”, you can say “I’m embarrassed after making that mistake”.

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 kindness instead.

2. Explore Your Values

Exploring values can help you maintain confidence if you are prone to comparing yourself to others. In a study conducted by Dr. Jennifer Crocker, college students whose confidence was based on their values were less likely to have mental health issues in the present and future. Further, her study showed that value identification helps with decision-making and regulating uncomfortable emotions. When we know our values, we can begin to better understand our choices and why these our circumstances are not always personal failures.

Here’s an example of how you can use this strategy. Let’s say you see that someone has a newer car than you when you’re scrolling on Instagram. You then feel jealous and unaccomplished when you compare yourself to this person. But after you’ve reflected on your values, you remember that family time is your most important value. You begin to imagine how much time away from your family it would require to purchase the car you’re jealous of. You then realize prioritizing that new car instead of using that time to be with loved ones isn’t in line with your core values. In this way, you are reframing your situation as different rather than inferior to someone else’s.

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. These 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.

However, notice if these thoughts are holding you back. Are these thoughts keeping you from living your life to the fullest, right now? If that is the case, acknowledge the thought for what it is — a thought — and work towards focusing on the here and now.

Doing activities mindfully can give you the freedom to experience joy and calmness in your everyday life. This can help you move past negative thoughts about yourself. Start by identifying activities that help you get in touch with your senses. Some examples include cooking, surfing, painting, listening to music, swimming, gardening, or even taking a shower.

Looking for more support?

If you are struggling to feel and stay confident, therapy can help. A trained therapist can support you with the concepts described above while helping you cultivating a stronger sense of self. If you’re interested in making an appointment with us,  Contact Us for more information.

Article References:

  1. 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.
  2. Crocker, J. (2002). The costs of seeking self–esteem. Journal of Social Issues, 58: 597-615. DOI: 10.1111/1540-4560.00279.
  3. 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//0022-3514.84.1.205.

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