How to Build Self Confidence: 6 Essential and Timeless Tips

How to Build Self Confidence: 6 Essential and Timeless Tips
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“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.”
Helen Keller

“Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Brian Tracy

“Confidence is courage at ease.”
Daniel Maher

I believe that one of the most common wishes is simply to feel more confident in various situations in life.

But how?

Confident friends may say: “Well, just be confident, man!”.

However, to a person that doesn't feel that confident this piece of advice may not be very helpful. At all.

There are however some time-tested and timeless advice. And in this article I'll explore some of those tips.

You can learn much more about becoming more sure of yourself and building your inner strength and assertiveness in my 12-week Self-Esteem Course.

Now, I hope you will find something useful in this article to help you improve and maintain your own levels of confidence.

1. Take action. Get it done.

“Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labor is immense.”
Thomas A. Bennett

“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”
Thomas Carlyle

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Dale Carnegie

The most important step in building self confidence is simply to take action. Working on something and getting it done.

Sitting at home and thinking about it will just make you feel worse (and lazy).

Simple. But not always easy to do.

To make it a bit easier, here are a three of my favorite ways to make it easier to take action:

  • Be present. This will help you to stop overthinking and just go and do whatever you want to get done. This is probably the best tip I have found so far for taking more action since it puts you in a state where you feel little emotional resistance to the work you'll do. And it puts you in state where the right actions often just seem to flow out of you in a focused but relaxed way and without much effort. One of the simplest ways to connect with the present moment is just to keep your focus on your breathing for a minute or two.
  • Lighten up. One way to dissuade yourself from taking action is to take whatever you are about to do too seriously. That makes it feel too big, too difficult and too scary. If you on the other hand relax a bit and lighten up you often realize that those problems and negative feelings are just something you are creating in your own mind. With a lighter state of mind your tasks seems lighter and become easier to get started with. Have a look at Lighten Up! for more on this.
  • Really, really want it. Then taking action isn't something you have to force. Taking action becomes a very natural thing. It's something you can't wait to do.

2. Face your fear.

“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear.”
William Jennings Bryan

“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.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Look, I could tell you to do affirmations or other exercises for months in front of your mirror.

It may have a positive effect. Just like preparing yourself it may help you to take action with more confidence.

But to be frank, if you don't listen to the quotes above and face your fears you won't experience any better self confidence on a deeper and more fundamental level.

Having experiences where you face your fear is what really builds self confidence.

There is no way around it.

However, there are ways to face your fears that do not include that much shaking of the knees.

There are ways to make it easier for yourself.

  • Be curious. When you are stuck in fear you are closed up. You tend to create division in your world and mind. You create barriers between you and other things/people. When you shift to being curious your perceptions go SWOOSH! and the world just opens up. Curiosity is filled with anticipation and enthusiasm. It opens you up. And when you are open and positive then you have more fun things to think about than focusing on your fear. How do you become more curious? One way is to remember how life has become more fun in the past thanks to your curiosity and to remember all the cool things it helped you to discover and experience.
  • Realize that fear is often based on unhelpful interpretation. As humans we like to look for patterns. The problem is just that we often find negative and not so helpful patterns in our lives based on just one or two experiences. Or by misjudging situations. Or through some silly miscommunication. When you get too identified with your thoughts you'll believe anything they tell you. A more helpful practice may be to not take your thoughts too seriously. A lot of the time they and your memory are pretty inaccurate.

3. Understand in what order things happen.

One of my favorite snippets of movie-dialogue is this one from the 1999 film “Three Kings”.

In this scene Major Archie Gates (George Clooney) wants the small team to save a fellow soldier and steal Saddam's gold just after the first Gulf War has ended.

The young soldier Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) has his doubts about the plan:

Archie Gates: You're scared, right?
Conrad Vig: Maybe.
Archie Gates: The way it works is, you do the thing you're scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it.
Conrad Vig: That's a dumbass way to work. It should be the other way around.
Archie Gates: I know. That's the way it works.

Great movie. Great little piece of dialogue. Even though it may not be what people want to hear.

The thing is, when you do things you don't just build confidence in your ability to handle different situations.

You also experience progressive desensitization.

What that means is that situations – like for example public speaking or maybe just showing your latest blog post to an audience out there – that made you feel all shaky become more and more normal in your life.

It is not longer something you psyche yourself up to do. It just becomes normal. Like tying your shoes, hanging out with your friends or taking a shower

It may seem scary now.

But after having done whatever you fear a few to a dozen times or so you may think: “Is that it?”.

You almost feel disappointed of how anticlimactic it has become. You may even get a bit angry with yourself and wonder why you avoided doing it for so long.

4. Prepare.

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self- confidence is preparation.”
Arthur Ashe

When you know nothing of what you are about to do it's very easy to get lost in vague, foggy fear and worries and start building big horror scenarios in your mind of what may happen if you give it a try.

Preparing yourself and educating yourself can be a big help here. By for example rehearsing and rewriting your speech over and over you can pretty much learn it by heart.

By doing research you can find breathing techniques that can quickly make your calmer and present.

Or simple visualization techniques that make you feel more confident and positive as you step out on the stage.

This is obviously more work than not doing anything about the speech at all before you start giving it. But it can make a huge difference in your confidence levels if you take the time to prepare yourself.

And of course, the speech and the delivery of it will most likely be a lot better too.

So prepare and you will feel more comfortable and confident.

Just don't make the mistake of getting stuck in the preparation phase and using it as a way to avoid taking action and the possible pain that it may result in.

5. Realize that failure or being wrong will not kill you.

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

“I quit being afraid when my first venture failed and the sky didn't fall down.”
Allen H. Neuharth

Again, you have to face your fear.

Because it is only then that you discover the thing that billions of people throughout history have discovered before you.

Failure won't kill you. Nor will being wrong.

The sky will not fall down. That's just what people that haven't faced their fear yet think.

The thing is to reframe failure from being something that makes your legs shake to something useful and important for the growth of your self confidence and self-esteem and your overall growth as a human being.

Here are four ways that failure can help you out:

  • You learn. Instead of seeing failure as something horrible you can start to view it more as a learning experience. When standing in the middle of a failure, you can ask yourself questions like: What's awesome about this situation? What can I learn from this situation?
  • You gain experiences you could not get any other way. Ideally, you probably want to learn from other people's mistakes and failures. That's not always easy to do though. Sometimes you just have to fail on your own to learn a lesson and to gain an experience no one can relate to you in mere words.
  • You become stronger. Every time you fail you become more accustomed to it. You realize more and more that it's not the end of the world. And, again, you get desensitized. You can handle things that would have been very hard to handle a few years back. Failing can also a have an exhilarating component because even though you failed you at least took a chance. You didn't just sit on you hands doing nothing. And that took quite a bit of courage and determination.
  • Your chances of succeeding increases. Every time you fail you can learn and increase your inner strength. So every failure can make you more and more likely to succeed.

And remember, the world doesn't revolve around you.

You may like to think so. But it doesn't.

People really don't care that much about what you do. They have their own life, problems and worries that the world revolves around them to focus on.

They don't think that much about you or are constantly monitoring what you do wrong or when you fail.

Maybe a disappointing thought. But a liberating and relieving one too because now you can let go of that worry that everyone is watching you.

6. Get to know who you are and what you want out of life.

“The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.”
Napoleon Hill

“Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do this or that. That's nonsense. Make up your mind, you'll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”
Douglas Bader

To build and find more confidence in yourself you have to get to know yourself better.

Go exploring. Face some of your fears.

Fail over and over and understand that it isn't really that big of a deal.

Grow stronger through such experiences and also become more internally relaxed. Figure out what really excites you by simply trying a whole bunch of stuff out.

When you know more about who you are and what you want out of life – not other people say you want – you will have more confidence in yourself and what you can do.

What other people say or think will have less of an impact than it used to because you know who you are better than they do.

And since you have had all these experiences, since you have taken time to really get to know yourself and stretch yourself you will trust your own opinion and ability more than anything outside of you.

You become stable and centered in yourself.

This will of course take time. It may be something that never really ends.

So you might as well get started now.

Want more quotes to help you to feel better about yourself and improve your self-esteem? Then check out 101 Inspiring Self-Esteem and Self-Love Quotes.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • rusty

    thanks for the help

  • Thanks for your post! Yeah, to face one’s fear (that is checking whether that fear is valid or not) and moving out of the box slash your comfort zone would definitely <a href=” improve self confidence .

  • Thanks for your post! Yeah, to face one’s fear (that is checking whether that fear is valid or not) and moving out of the box slash your comfort zone would definitely improve self-confidence.

  • they are accurate

  • Aj

    I totally needed this in my life. I am struggling a bit right now but I hope it will get better.

  • Asha

    Really good site …….Thanks a lot……….It helped me too ……….

  • Kartik

    I chanced upon this article and I really liked it.
    I’ve been drifting along lately. I don’t seem to have much control over stuff thats happening with me anymore. You article was very inspiring and thoughtful. Thanks a lot. I hope to learn from it and get out of my current situation.

  • Awesome article. Just laid so simply, yet so brilliantly. Your 2, 3 and 5 ring so true. You got to face your fear, and do the thing you fear first, before we can get rid of the fear.

    Another tip that works me before trying to face my fears is – imagining doing that in my mind first. Working it in my mind, repeatedly, makes it easier to project that confidence in real life, whenever that situation happens for real. I touch upon few more ideas at:

    Thanks for your inspiring article.

  • Dan

    This was instantly added to my Favourites. I’ve noticed an almost immediate shift in my behavoiur in terms of directly confronting my fears for the rewards i will get from that process, rather than avoiding them.

    Great Stuff Henrik!

  • Nicolas

    Really helpful, anybody thinking they have a large lack of self confidence should definitely read this article.
    I can hardly describe how much this has helped me.

  • fozeya seid

    dear friends

    how are you doing? i am very fine first of all i would like to thank you so much to given me this oppounity to leave my sugestion in this box my name is fozeya seid i am working one of the international NGO here it is in ethiopia i have self confidence and want to build others persons self confidence peoples specially for kids and young communityies i have hard working to change our new community to give a leature to the acdamy and school currently beause our community spcially in africa the main obstacle for our development is self confidence, good freindship,honest, loyal, respectful, don’t lisen our self this all thing makes as allways poor and luck of this all things we are back for other developed countries so this all problems must be solved by this generation and to build pure and good community for our socity that is my aim & my dream also to see the kids to change there own personlity to good quality and also i need to be established this postive thinkers community in the futre thank you for given to me this chance

    hope to hear from you favirable response soon
    yours truly
    fozeya seid ahmed
    addis ababa ethiopia 172 code1250
    tel +251911532239

  • miss reserved

    hi, i absolutely loved this article. thanx so much! one question: is being reserved equal to having no confidence? im a very reserved person by nature. it takes time for me to open up to people and let my hair down. does that mean i lack self confidence?

    again thanx so much, im saving this up :)

    • Fazil

      Dear Ms Reserved,

      Being reserved with people does not mean that you lack confidence.

      some people do not open because it is their nature.


      +92 334 3626246

  • Jawad

    How are you hope you will be fine with good health,
    And then I am thankful to you for your very positve blog Actually I have some question in my mind and I want to explore my self in front of you. And i really need a guideline from you to build up my confidence.
    Actually I am 27 year old graduate and doing job in hotel which is locate in Islamabad (Pakistan). I have a big problem that I cant face big problem and really don’t have decision making power, that why I am very far from other person who are same my age but there spending a successful life, I am a along single person with a limited lifestyle and friends.
    I just want to ask that can you give a guideline and tips that how can I create decision making power in my self and how can I build up my confidence in front of other people,
    I am really worried about my future because with these problems I am not looking my future more bright.
    So please Sarah, help me in this way and bring me out from these problem which I am facing every day.
    I am really feeling my self very loneness and sad and even a useless person in this world.
    I am writing you this with a great hope and I am sure that you must help me and give me useful tips about it.
    I will be thankful to you …

    Best wishes & Regards


    • john

      Hi Jawad,

      I just read your letter and understood that you have a problem in decision making. Just want to tell you that youre not alone . I admit that me also having problem same with you. and thats why i response to your letter even im not the one that you expecting to reply.

      Anyway , what im suggesting to you before you decide for any situations you have to look for different side . In order to get a right or correct decision.


  • Hashimi

    I do not agree that facing your fears will automatically make you have more self-confidence in all situations. For example, I have put countless hours into studying for my college biology, chemistry and physics tests until the point where I feel very confident however, every test I get back I make between a B and C-, never have I made an A despite all my efforts!

    Being in college for the past 3.5 years has greatly diminished my self-confidence because I am constantly being told I’m not good enough by my test scores. I used to be a happy girl who was always smiling and exuding self-confidence. Now I’m someone who stays in the shadows and constantly envies other students intellect and good grades. Despite the fact that my grades are constantly lowering my self-confidence, I have never given up and if you ask me that is “staring your fears directly in the face” but my self-confidence has only decreased.

    • AJ

      This happened to me as well. Try a different school or a different course. This helped me to start regaining confidence.

  • Niki

    Hi!It was an extremely helpful article.thank you so much.I enjoyed it from the very first line “to hold my head high and look the world straight in the face” to the very end!I just hope I remember all these wonderful facts while I don’t have them in front of me!
    Hope to hear more
    P.S. Is there anyplace for us to ask our questions?