I learned this…that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau
Few of us are born with exceptional self-confidence. But without learning it, something as simple as a disagreement, a rejection from a job interview, and even our own inner critic can be enough to leave us flattened. Without growing thick skin and a strong sense of self, it can feel impossible to succeed. But with so many different factors, learning confidence can be tricky.
Here are 10 painless ways to start building your confidence right now:
Engage in Self-Care
At its core, high self-esteem and high levels of self-care go hand in hand. By taking simple steps to care for yourself – mind, body, and spirit – you’re providing a great foundation for feeling confident. After all, it’s hard to feel confident when you haven’t slept, hate looking in the mirror, and feel disconnected from a sense of community.
Start finding small ways you can include self-care in your day. Carve out 20 minutes a day for exercise, and find ways to eat more vegetables to care for your body. Consider journaling or meditating to soothe your soul, especially in the face of stress and sadness. And don’t forget to keep your mind sharp by reading often or taking up an interesting, brain-boosting hobby like music or language.
Related: Self-Care to Confidence Masterclass
Find Three Hobbies
Every person should have three hobbies: one to keep you fit, one to make you money, and one to express your creativity.
When you pursue interesting and fulfilling hobbies, it’s easy to get a boost of confidence. Instead of sitting at home watching The Voice (don’t worry, we all do it), you’re doing things that have meaning – and give you something to show off!
Try to pick a fitness-based hobby that you’ll actually like and find exciting. From pole fitness to rock climbing to power lifting and more, there are endless fun and rewarding ways to get fit and make yourself proud.
Likewise, your money-making hobby can be a small passion-turned-business. Maybe your love of tarot can turn you into a for-pay card reader, or your passion for make-up can translate well to a beauty blog. Whether your goal is to make beer money or completely replace your job, both your wallet and your confidence levels will get a boost with a money-making hobby.
And in today’s fast-paced, hustle-based world, it’s important to allow yourself time to be creative, too. Not only is it good for your mind, but your spirit too – two very important elements of self-care. Maybe you will take a liking to painting or music creation, or perhaps web design or writing. There are endless ways to get creative!
I know, I know. I promised that this would be painless! But much of our lack of confidence comes from fear of rejection. We fear looking corny, so we don’t ask someone out. We fear looking reckless, so we never take a chance on that dream business of ours. Or sometimes it can be as trivial as not wearing that cute outfit because we fear looking silly!
If you never take those chances, it’s true that you’ll never fail… but you also won’t succeed. The fear of rejection is what keeps you small, and what prevents you from seeing the kind of success you need to feel confident and proud of yourself. But once you force yourself to break past that fear the hard way, you will realize that the rewards far outweigh the risk every time.
Take Jia Jiang, who famously endured his journey of 100 days of rejection to desensitize himself from the fear. And while I’m not asking you to ask for a “Burger Refill” at your nearest fast food joint, I am asking you to be open to risk and the opportunity it offers – whether you win or fail – to become a strong, confident person.
Help Someone Else
One of the reasons you might lack self-confidence is the fear that others will not accept you, or that you’re not worthy.
When you help others, whether that be your neighbor, your friend, or a special cause, it reminds you that we all have something of value to share with other people. It may be your skills, your knowledge, or your time, but helping others is an easy way to show that you are a person of value. That’s something to be confident about!
Likewise, helping others draws our attention away from our insecurities and towards helping those who need it instead. Your confidence will soar as you remember all the wonderful things you have to be grateful for, and you’ll build a sense of community in the process.
Another reason you may find your confidence lower than you’d like is a lack of things to be proud of. You no doubt have wonderful dreams for your life, but fear or procrastination often get in the way.
It’s a terrible downward spiral, where your procrastination makes you lose confidence in yourself, then you have no confidence in your ability to rise to the occasion, leading to procrastinating on your goal. The key is to take small actions to put yourself back on track and rebuild your confidence in your ability to get things done. Even if it is just for 25 minutes a day, take the time to work on that thing you know you’ve been procrastinating on.
The important things in life are often important but not urgent, but don’t let the more urgent and less important things prevent you from getting them done!
Unfortunately, a lot of mental health is still stigmatized, including attempts at diagnosing and healing issues that may be impacting your confidence.
Serious mental health concerns, like depression and anxiety, may be impacting your outlook and self-image. This isn’t anything to be ashamed of, though. Things like therapy can help you make the positive changes to your life needed to start feeling proud and confident about yourself. And though therapy can be costly, there are many places that offer low-cost or income-based payment plans that keep it accessible for people of all income brackets. An investment in your mental health is always worth it!
Read Useful Books
When it comes to low self-confidence, it’s hard to solve the problem with the same thing that caused them – your thoughts. Often the best way to correct that is with a few mentors, though you don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for their knowledge. There are a wealth of exceptional books to help boost your confidence levels by changing your thoughts and beliefs about yourself. Here are a few that I recommend:
Likewise, if you prefer video to text, there are a wealth of free videos on how to improve your self-esteem on YouTube. You can even get many audiobooks for a low price for those times you’re commuting or at the gym.
When it comes to learning confidence, sometimes you have to learn from the masters!
Being confident means trusting that you’ll make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones. Often that means doing what’s right, not what’s easy. Saying no when you want to say yes, hitting the gym when you want to sleep in, and following through on that goal you said you set for yourself long after the initial rush of inspiration has faded. Not just so that others think you’re dependable, but so that you think you’re dependable. When you can trust yourself to rise to the occasion instead of shrinking away from it, it’s easy to feel confident.
Stop Caring What Others Think of You
There is a reason why “get rejected” was so high on the list – there will always be people who will think you can’t do it, you shouldn’t do it, or you’re a fool for even thinking of it. Many people, though, aren’t thinking about you when they say theses things – they’re thinking about themselves.
Many people project their own fears or bitterness in their judgments, fearing that you’d make them look bad if you succeed where they failed. Others resent those who chase their dreams, regretting that they didn’t chase theirs. And, sadly, some of our loudest critics are our own friends and family. But don’t let that stop you! The first step is trusting that you are just as smart, capable, and cautious as they are, and not weighing their judgment above yours. As Hemingway said,
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
Prioritize Your Happiness
Our time is short, and it’s hard to feel confident about your life if you’ve been living it for everyone but yourself. Whether that’s explicit care-taking, or merely living strictly by social norms, make sure to make space for yourself in your life.
What are your dreams for your life? When do you plan on giving yourself permission to pursue them? Because at the end of the day, your happiness is nobody else’s responsibility but your own. Not your partner’s, not your job’s, and certainly not your friends’!
Take the time to learn and enjoy what makes you happy, whether that’s vegging out in front of reality TV on the weekends or jet-setting around the globe. It’s what makes you, you!
Tabitha Barken helps millennial women grow their confidence and their bank account at SixFigureFemme.com. You can follow her on Instagram @SixFigureFemme.