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How to be more confident: 12 ways that work

Learn how to raise your self-esteem and eliminate self-doubt. If you follow these suggestions, you should have no problem becoming more confident.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

There are many ways to be a confident person.

An important part of personal development is building up your self-image and self-worth. Your self-image and self-worth come from your self-confidence. Your self-confidence comes from your accomplishments and various learning experiences, both good and bad.

Self-confidence is paramount to achieving any goal. If you think of yourself as a failure, you’re always going to fail.

In fact, I’d say that a lack of confidence–not lack of ability–is the reason that many people are not successful. Low self-confidence produces low quality outcomes.

However, you’re more successful when you have high self-esteem. But you only get high self-esteem from being successful. This is a classic “chicken and the egg” type of problem.

In this post, I will teach you how to raise your self-esteem, become more self-confident, and eliminate self-doubt. If you follow these suggestions, you should have no problem becoming more confident.

1. Stop the negative self-talk

There is no such thing as failure if you actually went for something but the outcome wasn’t what you desired. Yes, you didn’t get what you wanted but you did learn something. These learning experiences are how we become better and more confident in our abilities.

There are no real failures. The better word choice is a learning experience. No one makes progress without suffering setbacks and missteps. If you call a “learning experience” a “failure”, then you’ve chosen to describe an event that’s necessary to your personal growth in negative terms.

The reality is this: You’re only a failure if you don’t learn from your mistakes. And even then, sometimes it just takes a while. The one thing that will guarantee it takes longer is is negative self-talk when you go through these things.

As long as you’re improving and learning, you’re never truly failing. You may learn slowly but if the trend is accumulation rather than degradation, you’re doing just fine.

Small improvements, over time, result in big-time change. Focus on improving the process. The outcome will take care of itself.

2. Learn one new skill

Confidence comes from competence.

If you don’t feel confident, it’s probably because you can’t do anything worthwhile, interesting, or unique. Think about this: when is the last time you felt like an awkward, out-of-place, beginner?

If you can’t remember the last time you put yourself in a position to be embarrassed by trying something new, then it makes sense that you aren’t confident. The average person goes through life without ever forcing themselves to learn something new and this is why the average person lacks confidence. Once they graduate high school, their learning stops. Once their learning stops, their ability to be competent and capable in the world–the source of confidence–starts to decrease.

I’m not telling you that have to become an expert or a master at something to feel more confident. You don’t need to become a perfectionist when you set goals and plans either. You have to face your fears, overcome complacency, and develop a little proficiency. The skill you gain doesn’t even need to be flashy, but it does have to force you to become a little different and better than you are now.

Here are some of my favorite examples:

Public speaking: This forces you to confront many fears and change several behaviors that contribute to your lack of confidence. You don’t need to give a Ted Talk, but you should be able to at least stand in front of a room of people and speak calmly and fluently.

Learn a foreign language: You don’t need to become fluent, but you’re feel a lot better about yourself after you order you order Mexican food in Spanish.

Combat sports: Nothing builds confidence like getting yourself in shape and overcoming the pain challenges that come with learning how to fight.

Musical talent: Learning how to play the piano or sing can change your life with the way it builds confidence. This is not only because it forces you to get in front of people and perform, but it makes you smarter and can make you more expressive.

Developing proficiency in anything will automatically build your self-confidence and eradicate any limiting beliefs you have about your ability learn and be capable in the world.

3. Believe that nothing is impossible for your life

The universe says only two things are impossible: perpetual motion and violation of causality. In other words, everything runs out of energy and you can’t reverse the flow of time.

If it’s been done before, it can be done again. It may be difficult. It may require you to get out of your own mind and comfort zone. It may put you force you to endure tough times and demand more than you’re willing or able to give.

But whatever you want can be acquired and whatever you want to do can be done. The most powerful belief you can have is that given enough time, you can learn anything.

You’re missing out on the best things in life because you believe greatness is impossible for you. Nothing is impossible. Believe this, even when the circumstances say otherwise.

4. Remember that your life is insignificant

Scientists estimate that the universe is about 13.82 billion years old. I’ll write it again differently so that the point is made. The universe is 13,000,000,000,000 years old.

That’s 15 digits long. You’re only going to live 2 digits long. Maybe 3, if you’re really lucky. This means that your life is effectively worthless. The blink of an eye last 300 to 400 milliseconds. That’s roughly a 1/3 of a second. If the universe were an eye, you don’t even live for 1/10 of its blink.

This means that you don’t have time to worry if you’ll fail or succeed. You can make this time whatever you want it to be, and in 150 years, no one alive will have ever seen you in person. This gives you the freedom to be free and take on whatever challenges you want.

It may not seem like the thought of your impending doom should make you feel free, but the key is looking at this with the state of mind: your level of self-confidence is often tied to what people think of you. Since you and them will one day no longer exist, realizing that should set you free.

Even if look at a smaller time scale, people are worried about themselves way more than they’re worried about you. I’ve found that low confidence typically correlates with a high level of self-consciousness. However, the reality is that no one in your real life social situations or on social media is worried about you.

Don’t worry about what othersthink of you, because they aren’t going to be alive or matter much to you in the long run. And neither are you. So you better make the most of this eye blink of an existence.

5. Take risks and expand your comfort zone

When you accept that you are insignificant and other people have things to do, then you’re finally able to take the risks you need to improve your life and feel more confident.

See, it’s impossible to gain confidence if you only live life in your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is what you know and where your current level of confidence resides. When you expand your comfort zone, you simultaneously expand the range of things you’re confident about and increase the confidence you already have.

This is because the more things that you know how to do or have experienced, the more confident you can feel that you’ll be able to handle any given situation. You know that you can handle old situations because you’ve likely seen them and you feel like you can handle new ones because you’ve already done so much.

The key is to take intelligent, calculated risks that have a payoff that will improve your life but a downside that is not particularly destructive. For example, starting conversations with strangers is a great way to get you out of your comfort zone and build confidence, but it’s not likely to get you into trouble. It’s the same with something like going to a new place or taking up (most) new activities.

As long as you obey the law and, don’t try to do anything malicious, and you stand to gain something, taking risks is one of the best ways to build confidence.

6. Do what makes you feel happy

“Happiness” is what psychologists like to describe as “subjective well-being”. I’m not a fan of subjective life advice, so I’ll make this more concrete. According to Positive Psychology:

A person who has a high level of satisfaction with their life, and who experiences a greater positive affect and little or less negative affect, would be deemed to have a high level of SWB [or in simpler terms, be very happy]

Research shows that there is a significant relationship between self-esteem and happiness. There’s also research that shows that happiness is a significant predictor of self-esteem. What’s the lesson here?

Do what makes you happy to avoid low self-esteem. Do the thing which overlaps with your minimum income requirements for a stress-free life and brings you the greatest enjoyment.

Most people mess this one up. As a result, they lack confidence for one of two reasons: they spend their life doing something they hate or they’re broke as hell. It’s hard to be confident when you hate most of your life. It’s also hard to be confident if you’re broke with no prospects for making money.

7. Make more money to have more time

People who say that money can’t buy happiness have it wrong. People who say that it CAN also have it wrong. Money buys freedom. Financial freedom is nice, but if your mind is still enslaved then it doesn’t matter how much money you have.

Though their financial limitations are eradicated, lottery winners often fall back into debt. Their minds are still enslaved to poverty.

Prisons are full of people who chased financial freedom, but their minds were still enslaved to low-level thought.

The more money you have, the more freedom you have. The more freedom you have, the more confident you can be in your daily life. You have shackles on your mind which keep you from taking chances. Taking chances is the only way to be happy and confident.

A study by Northwestern Mutual show’s that 92% of Americans feel more confident when they have they have their finances in order. I don’t know what’s wrong with that other 8%, but it’s clear that having your money right makes your mind right.

Making money isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is accepting that you’ll have to take risks and change behavior that’s kept you comfortable for far too long. However, learning skills that will increase your value will make you more competitive, improve your mental health because you won’t worry, and increase your wellness because you take care of problems when they come up.

Here’s a shortlist of skills you can learn that will help you make more money in 6-12 months:

  • Copywriting
  • Writing
  • Paid Advertisement
  • Teaching
  • Transcription
  • Web Design
  • Personal Training

8. Use negative thoughts to your advantage

If you need to channel negative thoughts like vanity or arrogance to act, then so be it. The only difference between a hateful critic and an intense rival is often how they chose to respond to these feelings. When I feared talking to girls during the day, I made myself act by not caring what people thought.

When I realized that a lot of my friends were just as scared, I made myself act. I did this because I thought I was better than them. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. All that matters is that I took action. The action got me results.

It doesn’t matter who you are; The more action you take, the easier it is to fool yourself into being confident. This is because nothing makes you feel better than success.

Overthinking is the greatest barrier to success. This is the infamous analysis paralysis. The cure is simple: act first, worry later.

9. Use the “Fake it til you make it” mentality

I once read that “it’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting”. Confidence is a state of mind and nothing else.

At the end of the day, it’s a thought process that makes you act with the conviction that your desires will come to pass. If you take physical action that leads you closer to your desire–even if you don’t believe you can do it when you start–your confidence will gradually increase.

In a research study done on habit formation, it was discovered that it takes–on average–about 66 days to form a new habit. It could be more or less depending on the circumstance, but that’s the average. This means that if you “fake” the physical actions of someone successful you want to emulate, it will take about 2 months for you to have “made it”.

You’ll gain confidence in your new habit and way of being by simply doing it.

Doing it the opposite way doesn’t work. Psyching yourself up makes you nervous. This makes success less likely. Then we’re back at step 1.

Physical action is the easiest way to fake it until you make it. When you move towards your goal, you believe that it’s possible. This is “faking it till you make it”.

10. Lie to yourself

The only thing that matters is what you believe. This is a powerful trick you can use for building self-confidence.

Learn to lie to yourself.

A convincing lie that gets you to act is more useful than a thousand truths explaining why you’ll fail. When objective reality and your subjective perspective clash, you’ll feel resistance from the universe. The more outrageous your perspective, the harder reality will try to beat you into submission.

Believe anything you want about yourself that isn’t impossible. If it makes you feel confident that you’ll achieve your goal, it doesn’t really matter. Reality wants things to be one way, but your confidence gives you the power to make things another way.

11. Do not give up

Almost nothing works the right way the first time.

Or the second time. And most times not on the tenth try either. Who knows how long it’ll take but as long as you’re learning from each time, you’ll get there eventually.

All that matters is that you continue to take small steps towards achieving your goals. Successful people understand that taking small steps and achieving small goals is not only how they succeed, but how they raise their confidence levels.

It takes patience to build confidence and realize that not all change is instantaneous Most people are going to give up on their dreams. They won’t sweat, suffer, and endure the disappointment.

The world will destroy your confidence if you believe everything you do should have an instant effect. You will behave like a petulant child if you approach the world and your dreams in this manner.

12. Always give back to the world

No matter where you are in life, there is something that you can do to make another person’s life better. When you give back to the world, you grow more confidently living in it because you’re making an impact.

This impact is the accumulation of taking action, calculated risks, and acting in spite of fear.

There is some lesson that only you can impart.

Even a murderer on death row can serve as a reminder to people about the pitfalls of life to avoid. You can either be a great example or a horrible warning.

Watching people improve their lives or avoid tragedy from your advice will help you build confidence. Helping the world has a weird way of coming back to you.

A summary of ways to build confidence

  1. Stop the negative self-talk
  2. Learn a new skill
  3. Believe that nothing is impossible
  4. Remember that you’re insignificant
  5. Take risks and expand your comfort zone
  6. Do what makes you happy
  7. Make more money
  8. Use negative thoughts to your advantage
  9. Fake it til you make it
  10. Lie to yourself
  11. Do not give up
  12. Always give back to the world
Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

Follow me on Twitter.