How to Build Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is the level of belief in your ability or skills to perform a given role or function. Disappointments, abuse, neglect, or physical or mental illness can diminish self-esteem, which in turn can affect your confidence in certain situations. Social anxiety erodes your sense of capability as well.

Fortunately, you can make simple choices to build your self-confidence. Just as there are many ways to strengthen your body, there are ways you can increase your resolve by setting small goals, making healthier choices, nurturing your spirit, and finding support. Taking these steps will give you the power to:

  • Get to know and accept yourself.
  • Break free of self-sabotaging thoughts and behavior patterns.
  • Expand your knowledge, skills, and experiences.
  • Become physically, mentally, and spiritually healthier.
  • Deepen interpersonal relationships.
self-confidence black male folded arms

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Spend Time With Yourself

Self-reflection is essential to understanding who you are and why you think the way you do. Set aside time to assess your strengths, weaknesses, and core values, and write down your insights. Dissect the challenges that threaten your self-confidence so that you can face them one step at a time.

Adopt or Maintain a Spiritual Practice

There is a positive correlation between nurturing your spiritual self—your sense of “purpose, innerness, interconnection, and transcendence”—and life satisfaction and self-esteem. Rituals such as yoga, meditation, prayer, and chanting help you calm your mind, see yourself and your situation more clearly, and connect you to your higher self. Maintaining a daily spiritual exercise also gives you practice in consistency, which can increase your self-confidence.

Use Positive Self-Talk

Psychologists say that self-talk plays a key role in our actions, emotional reactions, and goal progression. Much of our self-talk—positive and negative—happens without our really thinking about it.

Use Affirming Statements

When automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) come to mind, counter them with affirming statements such as:

  • “I will learn” instead of “I’ll never understand”
  • “I will try” instead of “It’s too hard for me”
  • “I know how to do it better next time” instead of “I’m such a failure”

Cultivate a Healthy Lifestyle

A 2017 study suggests that physical activity and healthy eating help improve self-esteem and self-efficacy. Wholesome foods and exercise flood your body with nutrients and endorphins (chemicals that manage pain and relieve stress) that can elevate your mood. These lifestyle behaviors help make you more physically and mentally fit to tackle life’s tasks.

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy refers to a person's confidence in their ability to control their own beliefs, behavior, and social environment.

Cut Out Self-Comparison

Comparing yourself to others, particularly on social media, can diminish your self-esteem and self-confidence, fostering anxiety and depression. It’s okay to acknowledge that you aren’t perfect, but keep in mind that nobody else is either.

You are the only you that will ever exist.

Set Small Goals

Accomplishing goals increases your self-efficacy. Start by setting attainable but challenging goals, and give yourself an appropriate reward for reaching your goal. Examples include:

  • Goal: I will exercise for 15 minutes. Reward: Making a new workout playlist for the next time you exercise.
  • Goal: I will get up early tomorrow. Reward: Trying out a new coffee spot.
  • Goal: Making a new, healthy recipe. Reward: Enjoying what you made with a friend.

Seek Uplifting Relationships

The late motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of our five closest acquaintances. Connect with people who will encourage and inspire you to improve in the areas you feel weak. Set boundaries with those who bring you down.

Consider Professional Help

Sometimes, we have deep-seated mental blocks that are hard to overcome on our own. A licensed therapist or counselor can teach you strategies to help you enhance your self-efficacy. They may also be able to help you uncover underlying issues such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) that could be limiting your self-confidence.

Summary

Your self-confidence may seem naturally strong or weak in certain circumstances. However, you can grow in countless ways with easy, positive changes. Build your confidence muscles by developing a stronger mind, body, and spirit. Techniques that can help with this include spending time with yourself, adopting a spiritual practice, positive self-talk, not comparing yourself to others, setting small goals, and seeking uplifting relationships.

A Word From Verywell

Your level of self-confidence can vary in different situations and can ebb and flow over time. However, if you’re experiencing persistent self-confidence issues, reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional right away. Together, you can come up with a plan to face this challenge. Remember: You’ve got this.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is low self-confidence a symptom of depression?

    Extensive research indicates that low self-confidence can make people more vulnerable to depression. A 2014 study reported that teens with low self-esteem are more likely to develop depressive symptoms by their mid-30s. Low self-confidence also seems to lead to behaviors and coping mechanisms that can worsen depression.

  • What’s the difference between self-confidence and cockiness?

    Self-confidence is an inner, settled assurance of your abilities. Cockiness shows a false sense of superiority that's rooted in low self-esteem. Cockiness makes people feel threatened by the accomplishments of others, driving them to overcompensate for shortcomings. Confident people harness their power to help others, but cocky people try to dominate others.

  • How can I teach my child self-confidence?

    Raising or influencing children to believe in themselves is a worthwhile goal with lifetime benefits. Show them unconditional love every day. Give the child in your life responsibilities according to their abilities and offer tactful feedback. Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. Be sure to model self-confidence as well.

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14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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