3 Powerful Things You Can Start Doing Today to Improve Your Self-Confidence

by Henrik Edberg

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”
Peter T. Mcintyre

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the most common questions I get via email is how to increase your confidence in yourself.

So this week I’d simply like to share three things you can do to increase your self-confidence starting today.

1. Take small steps outside of your comfort zone.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

But an important thing about stepping outside of your comfort zone is that you don’t have to go all in at once in many cases. You don’t have to take one huge leap or become paralyzed in procrastination because the leap seems too big.

Instead, think about how you can move in small steps and slowly towards what you want. Just dip your toes in at first if that feels more comfortable.

One tip – that have been helpful for me – if you want to try something like talking to someone new, trying yoga or tennis or doing something that doesn’t feel like the same old thing you always do is to tell yourself this:

Just for today I will try [insert something you want to try]!

You just have to do it today. Not ever again after today. You are not signing up for some huge commitment.

Tomorrow you may continue on that new path. Or you may not.

By not making this into a huge thing you have do but instead just a small step that you can take and get done as slowly as you like it becomes so much easier to do what is most important at first: to put yourself in motion.

Then, along the way, you can take bigger leaps if you like and speed things up. You will learn through successes and failures (and realize that you won’t die if things don’t go your way all the time).

You will quit some things and continue doing other things. And you will build your self-confidence muscle, step by small step.

2. Add smart habits to your life to reduce the stress and inner pressure.

If you let stress and inner pressure ramp up you become weaker, you tend to overreact more often and negative viewpoints tend to pop up more frequently in your head.

And so your confidence in yourself and your ability to do what you want to do decreases.

By adding a few smart habits that can release that inner pressure, stress and tensions on a daily and weekly basis it once again becomes easier to keep the physical and mental energy and inner strength up.

And to see things from an optimistic viewpoint and to keep it cool instead of making mountains out of molehills or feel like quitting after one mistake or setback.

Try adding one of these three unstressing habits at a time and see how they work for you:

  • Just breathe. When stressed, lost in a problem or the past or future in your mind breathe with your belly for two minutes and just focus on the air going in and out. This will calm your body down and bring your mind back into the present moment again.
  • Set clear boundaries for your day and week. By stopping my work at 7 o clock in the evenings at the latest and shutting off my computer then, by taking roughly 15 minutes of relaxing and recharging break time for each 45 minute period that I work and by staying away from work during the weekend and the internet for at least one of those weekend days I become more relaxed and productive.
  • Listen to yourself. When you become more irritable, start to feel drained, tired and creativity plummets listen to that. Do not plod on straight into the brick wall. Instead, schedule more time to take care of yourself. Don’t run off with your regular routine after school or work. Just stay in bed with a book for the evening. Or go out for quiet walk in nature. Do something you know relaxes and recharges you.

3. See it in your mind before you do it.

Before we are about to do something like having a meeting, a date, a regular day at work or a presentation it is quite natural to see it in our minds.

However, it is common to routinely imagine and see in your mind how things could go wrong in this upcoming situation. And that can suck the self-confidence right out of you.

So here are two things you can do instead:

Use the positive visualization.

One often recommended thing to do instead of visualizing negatively is to close your eyes and see in your mind how well things will go.

How things go great and as you planned during the presentation or meeting, how confident and enthusiastic you are during it all and then to see in your mind how the meeting is finished and done in the way you desire.

Use the no big deal vizualisation.

Another way of visualizing that I use pretty often is what could be called the “it’s no big deal” visualization. When I do this I basically see in my mind how this meeting or upcoming situation will not be a huge thing that could go wrong.

Instead I see in my mind myself acting in the situation as if it is a normal thing like so many daily or weekly things in life. I see myself as relaxed and calm, the situation may even feel a little anti-climactic and it really is not different than other meetings or situations that I have had in the past.

This may not sound as inspiring as the first visualization but I find that it is oftentimes more useful because it can be easier to believe in than a overly positive image of how things will go. And because it reduces nervousness, relaxes me and it allows me to stay present and be as myself in the best way.

And that is often all that is needed. Because most of the time increasing your confidence for some situation is not about adding something or boosting yourself up in some way.

It is about reducing stress and nervousness to the point where you can act and think in the same relaxed, centered and positive way that you do with close friends and family.

Image by Jon Rawlinson (license).



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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Pamela DeNeuve June 18, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Henrik,

What a user-friendly post. First of all it is not complex and difficult to either understand or implement. Today, I am in need of this going-back-to-basics formula.

Why not start small with an action per day or even per week outside of my comfort zone. This is a can-do activity that would be hard to miss.

Under step two, item two of setting clear boundaries for myself. I cannot set boundaries for myself if I work off and on all day long only taking breaks out of necessity. A clear definition of my days and times for specific tasks will make my life more relaxed, productive and energetic.

Number three the “no big deal visualization” should be a no-brainer for me but I truly appreciate the reminder. I visualize but I have not gotten to the “no big deal” part yet. But, I will!

Henrik, thank you again for a great post!

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Marcellin June 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Nice and helpful.

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Georgie June 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm

This was really helpful! Thanks for the tips and I’ll be sure to put them to much needed use in the future!

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Rizwan June 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Great!

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Tracy Farnsworth June 18, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Henrik,
Perfect timing. I have been reading your weekly emails for some time now and this is my first comment. This email truly came at the right time. I used the third suggestion of positive visualization for a ‘first time’ meeting for me and it really helped. I could actually relax and the meeting was very well received. I had been afraid of being out of my comfort zone in front of a group of people in my new position, but your words reminded me of things to do and I was able to pull off the meeting with confidence!
Thank you for all of your encouraging words…today and in the past.
Tracy

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Sarah June 18, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I love the ideas in this post. I think too often we make a BIG HUGE DEAL out of “making change,” and that actually sets us back because the idea of it is so stressful. At least, that’s the case for me. Two things leap out at me from this post: 1) the idea of doing something new just for today, which prevents us from slipping into the “What if I can’t keep this up??!” spiral, and 2) the no-big-deal visualization. I’ve never heard of this before and I think it’s ingenious! I’m totally going to try this.

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Anonymous June 18, 2014 at 8:59 pm

This blog is so helpful to me, thank you so so much

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Steve Roy June 18, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Henrik,
As usual, your post is filled with concrete ideas for bettering ourselves. I am a huge believer in getting uncomfortable in order to grow as a person. Too many of us stay wrapped in the confines of our comfort zone and play it safe.

Unfortunately that becomes a habit and we may spend our entire lives doing only what we know. In my opinion, this is no way to go through life and have the experiences we all want..

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Joan A. Di Masi June 19, 2014 at 12:16 am

I like your approach in taking everything in tiny steps. Trying one new thing for today is great. If it works, continue and if not, you don’t have to do it again. This keeps us trying things out of our comfort zone and knowing what we like and don’t like to do.

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Chris McAleer June 19, 2014 at 2:04 am

Dear Henrik,

Greetings from Bangkok, Thailand.

Just a brief note to say thank you for your blog.

Each time I read it I take away something practical and positive, something to reflect on and ultimately something that helps me in some way.

Please keep doing what you are doing!

With kind regards,

Chris.

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ammu June 19, 2014 at 3:27 am

I am waiting for more positive tips like this. They are really motivating.

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Joan June 19, 2014 at 3:53 am

I like the no big deal visualization. I use this one all the time when I’m trying to be a perfectionist and have to have everything done right. It really works.

I really appreciate your blog, thank you.

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Christy King June 19, 2014 at 5:30 am

For about a dozen years, I did one thing WAY outside of my comfort zone each year. The funny (but good) thing is that now I have a hard time thinking of things to try each year. I’ve gotten so used to pushing myself, it’s second nature.

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annie June 19, 2014 at 5:34 am

Being one who is slowly slipping deeper into depression and having my self esteem also slip down hill i found this article to make sense and something i can apply…i think i can do at least parts of it.
I hope so…i do not want to keep going in downward direction but instead turn it around. Normally i would but something this year has just made it too hard. Maybe deaths of my dogs who were my world?
They got me out walking which always made me feel better about myself like i did something not only for them but myself. I did something positive and worthwhile.
stepping out of my comfort zone now..without the dogs has been so hard..i can see how people do become housebound and have no friends.
at least out walking with dogs i met other dog walkers or birders even just people out for hike or walk. most are nice and interaction helps me feel as a likeable person. make sense?

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Anonymous June 19, 2014 at 10:21 am

woww this is so nyc i like it.
I am one of the stress ful people when I do thungs and I see it is not working out I become mire stressfull and I blame my self for many things but after I have read this I will tryng finding some thing that can help m,e reduce my stress.I rely love this

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jessie June 19, 2014 at 10:22 am

woww this is so nyc i like it.
I am one of the stress ful people when I do thungs and I see it is not working out I become mire stressfull and I blame my self for many things but after I have read this I will tryng finding some thing that can help m,e reduce my stress.I rely love this

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jessica June 19, 2014 at 10:51 am

good articles, and very good tip .. I wake up every morning at 6 am and Im rly tired of it .. but there are always some good sentences which should everybody ask themself to have a better and and make waking up much easier:)

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Alicia June 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Awesome article, great ideas!!!!! Will implement and share.
Thank you for your inspiration!
God Bless.

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Nabila Khan June 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Hi Henrik,
another really superior post. You know how to motivate and inspire people, three small things for a big change. But actually these are not small things at all, if you use these techniques everyday, they can lead to a happy life. I’m learning so much from you.
Recently, I wrote about the almost same topic, my focus is more on stopping negative thinking patterns to increase confidence, http://uberlove.org/developing-confidence/

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meyan apollos June 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm

that is encouraging

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Suelem June 19, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Amazing post!
I just discover this blog and I’m completely in love! I want to read every single post!
Thank you Henrik and please keep writing foreverrrr!! :)
Sue

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Lydia June 19, 2014 at 6:23 pm

This was just wonderful to read! Great new tips on how to push back the inner critic. Thank you!

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Brenda Enns June 19, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Hi Henrik,

The Facebook “like” button (at the bottom of this article) doesn’t seem to be working. I get a server error. I wanted to share on my wall with my friends on Facebook. I got around it by posting the Twitter link instead. The next article “3 things to get started on what you truly want to do” seemed to work fine.

I’m really enjoying your blog, and I think my friends will like it too!

B.

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Melanie June 20, 2014 at 9:16 am

Great tips! Thank you very much. I love your posts!!

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M.A.Rahman June 20, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Thanks Henrick,your posts are so much helpful and giving us great tips about how to live a stress free life.Your tips are also close to the real life and easily applicable in our daily life.

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abdullahi June 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Thanks for your constant help and effor for others

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Rozie June 20, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Hi Henrick,

These are amazing tips and quite encouraging in almost everyone’s’ daily life. You sincerely inspire me about life’s happenings. Thank you.

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Akinnuoye Tunde June 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Thank you so much. This has to do much about me. Anytime am under pressure I become incoherent in speech rendering. Thank you so much.

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Kannan June 22, 2014 at 3:43 am

Hi Henrick,

Your blogs always motivates me to perform better in life. Thanks for writing and expecting wonderful blogs like this in the future.

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Mayur June 22, 2014 at 6:15 am

Thank you very very much … Its really gonna work for me. I inspired form that and it helps me to come out from other things which is not good for me. Thanks man.

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Anonymous June 22, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Dude, you’re awesome!!
:)

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annoynimous June 22, 2014 at 5:40 pm

GREAT,to sum up in a nutshell-Live in the present,just live for today,do the right things today,complete just today’s work,stay away from bad habits today,and take every new day as today to do what you did today.Lastly you will see neither your past nor your future went wrong as the previous today is your past and the coming today is your future.thanks a lot

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hunduma June 24, 2014 at 10:35 am

i would like thank for your blessing did.

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Toni Simpson June 24, 2014 at 4:41 pm

These are great tips, I think everyone can learn something from this post. Confidence doesn’t come overnight you have to start somewhere and then gradually improve until you finally get to a point where you are secured with your confidence. Confidence is a set of mind which means anyone can have it if they just put their heart and mind into it

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Naomi@ Quotes to live by June 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Indeed a great read, thank you for motivating us especially people who continually struggle with low self-esteem. Self-confidence is a set of habits, which anyone can pick up, start doing and begin to boost their confidence. Starting the day with a fresh and positive start is a good way to build the inner confidence of a person. It’s also best to be around people who have similar habits to help you reinforce them.

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Chris June 25, 2014 at 12:08 am

Some great inspiration. One thing I try to tell myself if I have a day when I don’t have much to do, but a few little things, is it simply get on with those little things I do need to do quick and early on. It frees up your brain for some creativity that way!

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Tony June 25, 2014 at 2:38 am

All wonderful tips! Self confidence is such an important part of our lives!

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Henrik Edberg June 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful comments!

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Barry June 26, 2014 at 6:41 am

Helpful, lots to digest

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prescious June 27, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Henrik, this is beautiful, it is so plain and simple thereby inticing one to have the zeal to try it. May God bless you and continue touching lives…

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Stefan June 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm

I agree, It’s important to take small steps outside your comfort zone. When I first began trying to think positive and improve myself, it was difficult, because all my old habits just seemed so easy to go back to, but in the long run, it’s much better to try harder and just work through the challenges.

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Sheila July 7, 2014 at 8:32 am

Love the articles !! I’ve just started reading them. They are so simple and yet so helpful. Keep up the good work !!

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Angela Alcorn July 10, 2014 at 10:41 am

I love the “No Big Deal” visualisation. I try to keep this in mind when I sing something in front of a large crowd. It helps!

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Edmund July 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Hi Henrik,

Using positive affirmations like “I can do it!” when I am faced with a challenging task really helped to boost my self-confidence to complete the task. It feels really good when the task is completed.

Have a great day!
Edmund

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Mike Goncalves July 30, 2014 at 1:12 am

Great post Henrik, thanks! I couldn’t agree more that taking small steps outside of our comfort zones is a great way to increase our confidence. I know me personally, this has been the single most productive way for me to increase my confidence in any given situation. Whether it’s public speaking at a Toastmasters meeting, or traveling to a foreign country where I don’t know the language, or doing something completely out of my comfort zone like skydiving. It’t these experiences outside of my comfort zone that continue to contribute to my overall confidence. Good stuff here, thanks again. Cheers!

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