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  • Writer's pictureSam

5 building blocks of self-confidence that anyone can master

Updated: Sep 8, 2019

Self confidence, the thing that seems to hold so may of us back.  I’m quite a self confident person and always have been, my seeing others not being so over the years though has been difficult. When I was younger I just didn’t understand what everyone’s problem was, as I got older and developed some empathy I wasn’t frustrated with others for having low self confidence any more, I just felt bad.  I felt a little guilty for all the self confidence that I had and wished I could gift people with some of mine, I wished there was more I could do for people as I could see how much it was holding many back (this is also one of the reasons I got into coaching and writing!).

There are as many ways to have self confidence as there are people in the world, that’s because self confidence is different for everyone, for some self confidence is loud and proud, for some self confidence is quiet and reserved; there are introverted and extroverted self confident people, self confident people with every kind of personality trait and skill that you can imagine.  But that doesn’t necessarily help us in knowing where to start if we feel that our self confidence is severely lacking, so I’ve done a lot of thinking over the years about why my self confidence is what it is and I came up with 5 major things that I do to help people get started:

Self Kindness, Knowing that that your feelings are valid, Knowing what’s important to you, Avoiding comparing yourself to others and Being OK with vulnerability.

Self Kindness:

Self care is an all encompassing well talked about thing these days, but I feel that it needs to be broken down a bit more, what is self care?  There’s lots of components to it, looking after your health is of course a big one, but a somewhat lesser talked about component of self care (and possibly the most important) is Self kindness, basically being kind to yourself.

Being kind to myself means that I know that I have my own back.  It’s harder to take risks and push yourself if you know that your nearest and dearest will be judgemental and give you a hard time if you fail or for just how you handled/are handling the situation.  The same is true of yourself, if you know you’ll give yourself a hard time, then you’ll avoid risk taking and going for the stuff you really want to go for.  I rarely give myself a hard time these days, even if I make a mistake, my inner talk is always something like “oh well, can’t change the past now!  I’ll give myself a break and figure out what to do better next time”, or “I couldn’t have predicted that, it’s OK.” or “I did the best with the knowledge that I had.”  If I have strong emotional reactions to things I’m kind and understanding of such things.

The big thing about self kindness is knowing that no matter what happens you. you have at least someone, the most important someone (that’s you!), that will have your back no matter what the outcome.

To begin practising more self kindness, start by analysing your own inner talk, what kind of things do you say to yourself on a daily basis?  Know that whatever your inner talk is you certainly can’t change it instantly, so when you automatically say something like “I’m such a failure” just try to notice it and saying something like “No, I shouldn’t think like that!” after each thought.  After that you can move onto challenging the thoughts, ask yourself if there is any evidence for how you are not a failure, start saying things like “am I a failure? Or is this just not the right path or action for me right now? What can I do about it?” try to logic out the negative thoughts.  

Photo by Jonas Vincent on Unsplash

Knowing that your feelings are valid.

This one is tied into the first one.  I want you to know now that you feelings are ALWAYS valid, you’re not stupid for feeling a certain way, your feelings are communicating important messages to you, your job is to interpret them.  When I say your feelings are valid that does not mean that your reactions are necessarily valid.  Your feelings allow you to analyse a situation, did that comment upset you?  Why?  Is it because of a deep-set insecurity you have?  Is it because it was just plain rude?  Is it both?  Either way you’re entitled to ask someone not to make the comment again, and they should honour that, if something hurts you and ask someone to stop they should stop end of, it doesn’t mean that you maybe shouldn’t do some work on yourself to know why something has hurt you and see if you can limit that hurt in future, but knowing that you’re entitled to your feelings is a good mindset to get into when talking about self confidence.

So, something you can do to start off with is just to, once again, notice what your inner talk is, when it’s negative start to challenge it, ask yourself “if this was my best friend/child saying this to themselves, what would I be saying?”.  Sometimes this is really hard, people almost take comfort in giving themselves a hard time because it’s what they know, but I’m telling you if you don’t do something about negative inner talk, it’s only going to get worse and you won’t be truly happy until you can silence it, and you can, it is a skill and it is learnable. If you find yourself getting very emotional over something someone has said, you’re feeling quite offended, excuse yourself and take a minute to have an internal talk, always start by telling yourself that your feelings are valid, but why has this upset to you, try and get to the bottom of it, if necessary talk to someone you can trust, just don’t act on your emotion straight away, your emotions are signals for you to read, not signals for you to take action immediately.

Knowing what’s important to you:

Knowing yourself is an interesting one, we’re constantly changing, but by and large the things that we truly value stay the same, which is why I say “knowing what’s important to me”.  Our values are generally instilled into us early on by our parents, the society and culture we grow up in and the experiences that we have, they govern our beliefs and feelings, the only thing that can change them really is a hugely significant event (think a car crash where someone turns their life around after their near death experience) or years worth of re-evaluating what’s really important to you and why; they are abstract concepts such as: Family, Honesty, Freedom, Spirituality or Health.

A good example of one of my values is Fun.  I know this because I always make time for fun and I will always make boring tasks that I have to do fun, I just do it naturally, I can’t not be around fun.  Obviously there are times in my life where I have to be serious and things are very much not fun, but if I have a day where I have been unable to find or make fun in anything I will be depressed, wilted even! Fun is like the sunlight to my house plant.

It’s not always easy to find out what your values are, I am in the process of producing a short (and cheap!) course on the matter, so watch this space, but really it takes some deep introspection.  Sometimes it can help to ask a family member, or someone who was around you a lot growing up, what it was that you loved doing as a kid, what ware the most important things to you?  Currently, what kind of things do you think about a lot?  Where do you thoughts end up going when your mind wanders? What do you spend you idle time doing?  What do you do when you’re procrastinating? Most people have about 5 to 10 value words that they feel sum them up, the trick is to think about what you really can’t live without, so what would you quit your job on the spot for, or conversely what would keep you in a job you hate because it’s still fulfilling that one value that’s so important to you?

Sometimes it’s easier to think about what you really hate and figure out why, then think about what you love in relation to what you hate rather than just outright starting with what you love.

Avoiding comparing yourself to others:

I say “avoiding” because this is something that I haven’t even mastered yet, we’re all programmed to do it from such a young age that this is really hard one of knock on the head.

We all know this one, and we’ve been talked to about it time and time again so I’m not going to go into too much detail here.  You know it, I know it, the lives of the ‘perfect’ people we see aren’t real, people often only show off the good bits of their lives, they often don’t show the crap or boring bits.  We only see the glamour lives of celebrities, we don’t see them sat on the couch in their sweat pants binge watching Game of Thrones, stuffing some unhealthy snacks into their mouths, all spotty and red faced like the rest of us.  I guarantee you that they do this, and that they look like shit half he time they’re not in front of a camera, because that’s what the rest of us look like and really we’re all the same.  At the same time, when you see hear Ed Sheeran for example and think “I’m not that good I could never sing like that.” you’re not seeing the years of practise that he put into perfecting his craft (in fact here’s a video of him singing terribly when he was younger and talking about how it’s all about practise, skip to 1:00 to hear it).

This is one that I still struggle with, I see really successful people and feel bad that I’m not as successful as them, but then I remind myself that I’m comparing like my level 5 to their level 50!  So that’s how you can tackle that one, if you see anyone more successful or more ‘talented’ than you, just remember all it is is that they have had more practise, and different experiences to you.  You absolutely can be just as successful and talented as anyone, you just have to work at it and approach it in your own way.

Being OK with being vulnerable:

Put simply, when you’re OK with being vulnerable, or being wrong, or saying sorry, you become unshakeable!  There is nothing that can stand in your way when you can own your mistakes in public, when you can apologise to others and mean it, when you can share your stories and be vulnerable.  Think about it, how much do you appreciate an honest apology?  How strong do people look when they’re able to own their mistakes, or rather how bad does someone look when they’re trying to deny doing what everyone knows they did?

This one really starts to come in when you’ve gotten more confident with what’s important to you and knowing that your feelings are valid, and just like any skill it takes practise.

Start small, actively find something you can apologise to someone for, just something little like maybe you were in a bad mood the other day and snapped at a co-worker.  Keep going like this and you will start to get more and more comfortable with apologies and that’s a great first step.

Those are my top tips for self confidence building, drop me a message at to let me know how you got on with them and also if there are other tips that you’d use or suggest to others!

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