Confidence is not a fixed trait which is BRILLIANT NEWS! It is something we can develop and improve over time. Confidence is the belief in oneself, the conviction that one can meet life’s challenges and succeed. Being confident requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge (Psychology Today).

There is evidence to show a strong correlation between positive mental health and self-confidence (Atherton et al., 2016; Clark & Gakuru, 2014; Gloppen, David-Ferdon, & Bates, 2010; Skenderis, 2015; Stankov, 2013; Stankov & Lee, 2014). Having self-confidence can encourage you to take more risks and potentially reach new potentials. This can lead to greater opportunities and adventures; both in a personal and professional space.

What can influence our confidence?

External influences:

– Feedback received from others (positive or negative)

– Environment (whether that be an environment which is supportive or conducive to our needs and wants)

– Positive experiences and outcomes (previous success)

Internal influences:

– Self-talk (how we talk to ourselves – our ‘inner critic’, what language we use, how many moments we create for self-compassion or positive self-affirmation)

– Skills (our demonstrated capabilities and experiences, both personal and professional)

– Self-esteem (how much love or respect we have for ourselves; how worthy we believe we are)

– Expectations (our hopes, what opportunities we create and goals which we set).

Improving our confidence

As confidence is a learned trait; something which can develop and improve over time, there are numerous things we can do to increase our levels of confidence. A good place to start would be to bring more awareness to your thoughts/feelings/behaviors through mindfulness; start to embrace the present, be curious about experiences and your reactions. Become aware of how you hold yourself – your posture. If you want to feel more confidence sit up straight, smile or stand in a position which reflects courage or strength. Harvard Psychologist Amy Cuddy and others have gathered evidence to demonstrate the positive effect of confident body postures on human hormones. They’ve found that posture sends messages to the brain which can influence how you feel. Strive to keep an open, relaxed, calm and confidence posture!

Increasing our interactions with others and participating more in the community or within our various tribes can also help us to feel more confident. We can create greater opportunities to ‘speak up’ and be our true, genuine self. Surrounding ourselves with people who share similar values to us allows us to feel more at ease to speak our well-intended truth, enabling us to live more authentically and in line with our values.

It is important to keep in the ‘towards’ motion; always making steps (even tiny ones) towards a space you want to reach. Setting goals, acknowledging success and milestones, celebrating wins and adopting self-compassion and acceptance with any set back is key to boosting our levels of confidence. Nurture these moments through embracing mindfulness.

As uncomfortable as it can be for some, accepting compliments is an important step in building our self-confidence. Compliments are a reflection of our true self. They allow us to settle into ourselves. They can help to validate success or achievement, honour difficult moments and reinforce resiliencies. They can be timely reminders that we are enough, we are brilliant, we matter and that we are doing our very best.

Visualization can also be a helpful technique to adopt to boost levels of confidence. Imagine your confident self. Picture yourself in an environment, doing something which portrays confidence. Perhaps you’re speaking in a conference, hosting a function, doing a presentation at work, participating in a sporting event etc. Allow the feelings of a comfortable presence to flow through your body and mind.

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others.

Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval.

Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” Lao Tzu

Keen to look at ways to support boosting your confidence? Why not download one of these Apps to support you along your journey. These have been recommended by PositivePsychology and are geared towards helping you to accept and love yourself, increase moments of gratitude, stay present and positive throughout the day, boost your confidence in your own abilities and challenge unhelpful negative core beliefs.

1. Confidence Coach

2. Happier

3. Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help

Positive affirmations to support our confidence

Affirmations are a great strategy to adopt to set intentions, empower and energize us, focus our minds and channel positivity and hope. They can be a great resource to add to our self-care toolkit when looking at ways to boost or nurture our confidence. I would recommend you take the time to develop some ‘positive affirmations for confidence’, however you can use the below as a guide:

“I am intelligent and capable”

“I am changing and growing for all the right reasons”

“I have the power to improve myself”

“I am deserving”

“I believe in my abilities”

“Each day I become better, braver and bolder”

“I trust myself”

Wishing you every success as you continue through your journey of improved confidence.

Yours in Wellness,

Libby McLean

EAP Specialist, Coach and Trainer

Positive MIND Consulting