How to Build Self Confidence: 6 Essential and Timeless Tips

“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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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • fati

    thank you so much for this article.

  • Midhun Jose

    very nice article…. simple but very powerful… all these principles are known to everyone. But you have put it concrete……

  • john

    what a wonderful message that you brought out on this blog. I realized now i need to face my fears in order to build my confidence . So i will start now and wish me goodluck. Rest assured that ill put these all – from my heart and mind.


    WOW! Very well explain. Thanks a lot. I realized now what to do to improve myself. I am very impress. From now on a reborn “ME” will soar high and always head up above.
    More power and God bless…..

  • Amol

    I like this tipse

  • Maura

    I am so happy to have found your blog. Truly, of all the websites, blogs, etc. that I’ve read on this topic, yours is by far the most helpful and inspirational. Thank you!

  • to be good person

  • Anonymous

    This is a really great collection of advice on building confidence. Not only does it give me contructive ways to build confidence, but it also helps me to realize that I am not the only person stuggling with these issues. Thanks!

  • Amy

    This blog helped me to acknowlege that I am letting fear take over my life. It’s so right! I need to get to know myself and quit running from my fears because I don’t want to be embarressed or hurt. It also made it so clear to me that I can (and do) make a small situation into a huge / scary story.. I create a negative situation for myself out of little to no information. I am thankful that I came across this blog, it has really helped me.

  • Self-confidence helps a person to achieve a successful and victorious life. Self confidence is all about believing in yourself and having firm faith in what you do. Lack of self-confidence can prove to be destructive for a person. In order to achieve success, a person should build confidence in him/herself.

    Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable. ~Wendy Wasserstein

    Success comes in cans, not cant’s. ~Author Unknown

    Put your future in good hands – your own. ~Author Unknown

  • brijesh

    i really appriciate to ur contribution to make all of us motivate to get success….i thankful to u frm bottom of my heart…..

  • MLD

    I especially like the thought about your chances of succeeding improve with every failure. We DO learn from our failures… As we become more and more successful, our esteem builds to greater heights.

  • charm

    I must say that it is a very interesting and helpful site. Thanks alot and i must let you knwo thjat you have really done a great job. it gives you mtoivation, enthusiaism and eagerness to start bel;ieving in yourself and show the world that you can be confident , successful and able like others or even more. well done. and good luck to all of us to build cofnidence and have a great and better life.

  • your blog helped me with my speech and homework. thanks

  • Pavan Verma

    after going through this article i eventually realised that every one has some kinds of fear inside him. this drove me to come closer to my genuine personalityand it consistently spurs me to take some risks in my life ………………………………….. thanks a billion