Confidence is such an enigma. You see friends and colleagues out there who seem to have the innate ability to accomplish anything their heart desires without breaking a sweat. They just set their mind to a goal and voilà, they make it happen. The truth? They probably follow one of the golden rules of confidence: never let them see you sweat. In fact, they probably are sweating—a lot—but in private. That’s the thing about confidence; it’s not necessarily trait you’re born with. It’s actually a skill that you can learn and strengthen throughout your life in all areas of your life, from career to personal. Here are 33 expert-approved ways to find your way to total confidence—by the time you get to the end of this list, you’ll already be better off. And if motivation is another area where you could use some help, don’t miss these 40 Tips for Motivation That Actually Work!
Make a List
When you’re feeling a little down on yourself, it can help to see what you’ve already accomplished that you should be proud of. Make a list of hardships you’ve overcome or at least coped with really well. “This reminds you of your own resilience and capability,” explains Dr. Gail Saltz, bestselling author and host of “The Power of Different” podcast. “Think of triumphs—both big and small—that you’ve had socially and at work. Think of all the times you did well and how you did that. Acknowledge the role of hard work in your successes; it reminds you that you did it and you have it in you to do it again.” Part of hard work is having some potent willpower; get the 22 Truths About Willpower now!
Channel your inner superhero and get into the right mindset with a power pose the next time you’re about to lead a big meeting. Even if you’re shaking on the inside, it’ll make them think that you’re ready to take on the world. “Before you head into a task, stand with your hands on your hips like superwoman or outstretched,” recommends Dr. Saltz. “A pose that signifies strength and ability and power increases confidence going into an activity.”
Don’t Personalize Things
A surefire way for your confidence to get knocked down is by taking offense when someone else talks down to you or offers criticism. You can’t let that get to you. “A lot of the time, it makes you question yourself and you can almost feel whatever confidence you did have slip away. The key here is to understand that everyone has different opinions, a different way of doing things and a different set of values. It doesn’t mean they’re right and you’re wrong,” explains Sharon Stokes, life fulfillment coach and creator of the Life Map. “Realize that how they’re reacting toward you is a reflection of who they are, not who you are. Just keep standing up for what you believe in because when you own it, it makes you ooze with confidence.”
Ask Yourself These Six Little Words: What Do I Have to Lose?
Fear is the main culprit when it comes to feeling held back or out of sorts. But just remember this important acronym—fear is actually “False Evidence Appearing Real.”
“Whenever you’re in a situation in which you’re stepping outside your comfort zone or feeling unsure or nervous, give yourself a little pep talk. Ask yourself, ‘What do I have to lose?'” says Stokes. “You will be surprised how insignificant the answer usually is. We often like to think of the worst-case scenario in a situation, but when you think about it, it’s very rare the worst case actually happens.”
Know Your Strengths
If you’re feeling out of place or like you’re not good enough, take a moment to remember all your strengths. Everyone has them. “No one is an expert at everything, so shifting your perspective and remembering the things you are great at will give you a confidence boost in those moments of insecurity,” says Stokes. “It also shows confidence when you ask questions about topics you don’t know much about because you’re showing others you’re open to being vulnerable and aren’t afraid to admit you don’t know something. Bottom line? Knowledge is power and that equals confidence!
Show the world that you’re ready to take on anything that’s thrown your way by simply flashing a big smile. “When you smile, you instantly appear more confident. It shows you’re open to sharing a moment with someone and you’re not afraid of putting yourself out there—and it’s so simple!” says Stokes. “These small moments are part of the building blocks to growing your overall core confidence, so don’t underestimate the power of your pearly whites.” Psst! Protect your smile by avoiding these 15 Worst Foods That Stain Teeth.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
“There is truth to this old saying: When you act the part, you eventually get comfortable being the part,” says Stokes. “Over time you will gain the experience and knowledge that will lead to lasting confidence.” The best way to do this is by visualizing or writing out a description of what this confidence looks like. Once you can picture it, start applying it to yourself. Start small with one or two things and eventually work your way up to more.
Getting your breathing in check provides alertness and awareness so you can be your best self, stay present, and feel confident in the moment. “Try belly breathing, alternate nostril breathing and cleansing breath patterns to increase lung capacity,” explains Lisa Avellino, Fitness Director at NY Health and Wellness. “More often than not, when a person is yawning, it is not due to a bad night’s sleep. It may be diminished lung capacity or shallow breathing patterns. Increasing your VO Max will increase one’s stamina and yield more energy than you know what to do with. When people yawn on a regular basis, it can give off a personality of doom and gloom or just simply stated lethargy and low energy. So, inhale deeply, exhale completely and smile!”
If you need to boost your confidence to attain any major life goal, finding fitness can play a major factor. “The fitter you are, the healthier you are. And then it’s easier to attract what it is that you want,” says Avellino. “When you are running on empty, you often lack the passion to spark the necessary action to each step. So, get to the gym!” Can’t hit the gym today? Try some of these 30 Most Effect Workout Moves That Only Take 30 Seconds!
Own Your Greatness
Theresa Fowler Pittius is the co-founder/creative director of The Studio On 35, a pre-professional track training studio and she sees a lot of young aspiring performers who are intimidated by their peers and don’t think they have what it takes to get onto Broadway or the like. “I tell them this: ‘Some of the greatest voices I have ever heard have not been in the spotlight. They have been hidden under a cloud of doubt and insecurity. If you don’t put yourself out there and own your greatness, no one will ever know your name,'” she explains. “Push yourself to the limit and take as many dance, acting, and voice classes as you possibly can, and be confident when you walk through that audition door. Remember, everyone else is as nervous as you, but someone’s gotta get the role. Why not you? Own it, and stand tall.”
Picture the Win
If you know what you want and you have your goal in your mind’s eye, just go for it by constantly picturing it happening! “It really helps confidence to know what you would like to see on the other side. Try to know your goal and what the result looks like in the most ideal situation,” says Mendi Baron, LCSW, and owner of Mendi’s Place. “This is called the miracle question: If you woke up tomorrow and everything was perfect, what would it look like?” We’re willing to bet it would look pretty incredible. If part of that is slimming down—and staying fit—then employ these 10 Life-Changing Tips from Weight Loss Retreats!
You know how Forrest Gump just starting running, and in the process, changed his life and so many others? It wasn’t just an amazing movie plot; running is a real way to transform your self-esteem (and no, you don’t have to run across the country!). “Running is a simple and powerful way to supercharge your confidence in every area of your life. It’s a physical and mental self-development discipline that’s bigger than just a run—it’s a gateway to life-changing growth and achievement,” explains Martise Moore, the Run Faster Coach and founder of GreenRunner. “As you grow on your running journey, the natural inclination is to run faster. Running faster requires power, boldness, and heart. It’s a state of mind and a state of being that transforms self-imposed limits into confidence and clarity.” And to know how to eat for your best run ever, check out our Eat This, Not That! for Runners guide.
Picture it: You’re wearing an extra cute outfit, having a great hair day, or are just feeling super witty today—and people are noticing. “As you receive compliments, simply say ‘Thank you!’ and smile,” says life and relationship coach Sherica A. Matthews. “Hold on to that moment mentally and emotionally and remember how good you feel before you continue on with the task you were doing.”
Stand Up to Your Inner Critic
You know that little voice that tries to sabotage you and tell you that you’re not good enough when you decide to go after something big? “Use your inner critic for good, not evil!” says Elizabeth R. Lombardo psychologist, consultant and author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Steps to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. “When your inner critic tells you, ‘You are a horrible parent,’ what it really wants is for you to be a great parent. ‘Don’t freeze on stage, you loser,’ actually means ‘Do your best during your speech.’ Learn to focus on your inner critic’s underlying motivation—which is to help you be a better you.”
Find Your Power Ballad
Get out your playlist and find the perfect song that you can belt out with all your heart and soul. “Listening to powerful music activates the emotion centers of our brain. Music triggers our brain to release energizing and mood-improving neurotransmitters,” explains Amber Learn, Psy.D. “Music also has a direct energizing effect on our blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. Therefore, listening to powerful music will change our physical state and prepare us for action.” And speaking of improving your mood, nosh on these 13 Mood-Boosting Snacks to Make Your Day Better.
Watch an Empowering Moment
Watching TV can actually fire you up in a really good way. “Watch a YouTube clip of somebody else being confident or empowered—think of Jon Snow leading his army into battle on ‘Game of Thrones’ or Cookie Lyon standing her ground on ‘Empire,'” says Learn. “Watching someone else be confident will activate the mirror neurons in your brain. A mirror neuron is a cell in your brain that fires when you perform an act and when you see someone else perform an act. In short, watching someone else act confident will spark the same confident neurons in your head.”
Find Your Mantra
Figure out what you need reinforcement on—getting through a tough time, meeting a life-changing deadline—and turn into a mantra and repeat it. For example: “I can do hard things,” or “I’ve got this,” or “I can weather the storm,” and so on. “Our thoughts directly affect our feelings and both of those determine our behavior,” says Learn. “Thinking a positive statement can result in positive emotions which can lead to confident behaviors.” For more inspiration, see if any of these 12 Inspiring Yoga Mantras to Change Your Life fit your style.
Go for Little Victories
“Set yourself up with goals that are accomplishable. Too many people decide to do an entire life overhaul in one go, then feel defeated when they don’t succeed,” suggests Sarah Jacobs, co-Founder of The Wellness Project NYC. “This is a downward spiral that leaves confidence very low. Instead, choose small, incremental goals and stick to them. You’ll build confidence with every little victory.”
Tame Your Mind
Meditation strikes again! This tool is helpful in so many aspects of life from strengthening willpower to getting a better night’s sleep. “Tuning into your thoughts and noticing what’s really going on in your brain is a wonderful way to build confidence. Too often, we let negative thought patterns take over our internal dialogue and we start believing the stories we tell ourselves,” says Jacobs. “We all know the saying, ‘I’m my own worst enemy.’ To counteract this confidence killer, slowing the mind and really paying attention helps you notice when your thoughts aren’t beneficial. And the more you practice meditation, the less likely your mind is to wander to those negative places.”
Speak to the Things That Make You Weak
You have more power than you may even realize when it comes to defeating negative talk and self-defeating thoughts. “The best ways to build confidence is to speak directly to every situation that makes you fearful or weak,” says Shannon Battle, Clinical Director for Family Services of America. “You tend to act towards the way you think. Change the thinking, you change the habit.” So, if you think you are not going to get promoted at your job—you probably won’t—especially if your mind keeps telling you that you’re not talented enough. “That trains your brain to believe things that haven’t happened, which is why people struggle with fear and anxiety. So, it if works for something negative, then it quite possibly will work for something positive.”
Talk to the Mirror
It may take some getting used to, but look in the mirror every morning and say: “I love myself, I am confident, and I believe in myself.” If that doesn’t feel right, pick another phrase that makes you feel strong. “This might feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes,” says Julie Coraccio, life coach, and professional organizer. “Everything is energy and you can shift and become more confident.”
Drop the Emotional Weight
Yes, losing weight and getting into shape is a great way to boost your confidence—because when you feel good about yourself, confidence is just a natural side effect. But losing weight isn’t going to instantly change your mindset. “My training clients often mistakenly believe that they will have more confidence if they can just lose a few pounds, but it usually works the other way around. Greater confidence allows them to drop physical and/or emotional weight that has dogged them for years. When they feel more powerful and surefooted in their bodies, it translates to their lives on a much larger scale,” explains Sarah Hays Coomer, personal trainer and author of Lightness of Body and Mind: A Radical Approach to Weight and Wellness. “Instead of focusing on weight loss, we work on basic, brute strength and simple alignment, pushing just past their boundaries to show them that they’re actually much stronger than they think. Whether you’re 400 pounds or an elite athlete, going one step further than you thought you could go is always an amazing feeling. And once you feel that physical power, you can stand up taller, which allows you to breathe more deeply and think more clearly about what hurdles you want to tackle next.”
Don’t Grab the Stars
“They say to reach for the stars—take note of the word ‘reach’—it doesn’t say ‘grab’ the stars, it says reach because it requires work,” explains Amie Walker, author of Daily Citrus. “Making the ‘reach’ is exactly how you build confidence in your professional life. As you accomplish these goals and show yourself that you can do it, your confidence will skyrocket. One must always be open to questioning their methods, marketing, and—even more than that—allow personal insight into their professional surroundings, nutrition, and happiness.”
Practice Self Care
If you take the time to practice self-care, you’re taking time to nurture yourself and making your needs a priority. It naturally boosts your confidence because, if you’re not going to take the time to make yourself feel good, others will, too. Dr. Lauryn Lax of Thrive Wellness & Recovery has a few ideas to get you started, such as: taking a warm bubble bath; write a gratitude list of things you’ve got going for you in your life; treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, or blowout; take a walk outside on a pretty day; and so on!
Change Your Environment
“If you want to increase your confidence, a great way to do it is to curate a social media feed, television viewing list, and book/magazine library that is positive and uplifting,” says Lu Uhrich, certified eating psychology coach and body image mentor. “I often tell clients to trash, unfollow, or otherwise delete the people, publications, and businesses that make them feel worse about themselves in order to motivate or sell them something. Instead, I recommend following encouraging, body positive, and compassionate social media accounts, books, magazines, and influencers. Curating a positive social media feed and environment is crucial to developing more confidence.”
Live Your Life Right Now
Don’t think about doing things once you lose weight or get a promotion. That’s going to keep you stuck and living in the past. “Clients often wait to live a life they love until after they’ve ‘arrived’ at a certain indicator of ‘success,’ says Uhrich. “This waiting isn’t motivating—it’s actually quite depressing. Why put off dream-chasing, infectious laughter, and amazing experiences until we ‘better’ ourselves? Why not go live the life we’ve been hoping for today and who knows? Maybe we’ll transform in that process.” Discover the 30 Tips for How to Be Happy to keep it going!
It’s so easy to see a friend with a bigger office, bigger house, bigger jewelry and instantly feel down on yourself because they’re seemingly doing better than you are. That’s not true, and in turn, becomes a huge block to your self-confidence. “The biggest step to building confidence is to stop comparing yourself to others. When we constantly compare ourselves to others, we feel down because we are comparing our entire self with the bits and pieces of others that are carefully and purposefully put out there to showcase their best self,” explains author and LCSW, CPC Cara Maksimow. “We need to spend time each day identifying what is working for us and what we are proud of.”
Give Yourself Permission to Make Mistakes
Don’t let your mistakes set you back. If anything, they’re opportunities to grow and learn. “Understand that everyone makes mistakes and that we need to look at all of our mistakes as opportunities to grow, to learn, and to make amends as needed,” says Maksimow. “We forgive ourselves and understand that every obstacle we come across can be seen as an opportunity for growth and learning.” For example, if you fell off the weight loss wagon; that’s okay. Figure out what set you back and then try one of these 15 Easy Ways to Reset Your Diet.
No one can undo the past, but we can let it go. Plus, forgiveness lightens your load! “Forgiveness is not forgetting. We don’t forgive to let others off the hook or to absolve them of blame or responsibility for their actions. We forgive for us,” Rosalind Sedacca, CLC and author of 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50 & Yes, 60! “It cuts the emotional cord that ties us to old hurts and pain. It frees us from the endless cycle of distress tied to the past. Forgiveness is the key to opening the door to a happier, more fulfilling future—a future we all deserve for a life rich in promise and rewards. Let go of the past and you’re on your way to brighter days ahead!”
Laughter is the best medicine—can you think of anything it doesn’t make better? And if you need a good laugh, but have nothing funny to crack you up at that exact moment, just do it anyway. “Laughing for no reason takes a special kind of courage. Do it every day as a yoga practice and it changes your life. Start by yourself using Youtube videos or with Skype Laughter Clubs and give yourself permission to laugh at yourself. Find the joy in being who you are and you gain confidence being who you are all day,” says Andrew Carnegie, certified laughter yoga leader. “The exercises themselves are designed to make you relax about your mistakes and those of others, to take yourself and others lightly, to laugh away life’s stresses. If you choose to lead an exercise, you gain a different kind of confidence, that you can and do help other people. When you laugh, you’re free of ego-hangups. Laughter is a dynamic meditation anyone can do, at any time, and it’s alway free and available to share.”
Build Your Support System
“Having a support system is crucial in reminding ourselves and others how beautifully important we truly are. It not only promotes self-confidence, but it allows us to be reminded of the qualities that we hold deep within us,” says Alicia Noel Ramos, cognitive behavioral hypnotherapist. “Our support system lets us know when we are on or off track and gives us a source of validation we need to continue to build our self-confidence.” If you need a quick boost, go to a member of your support system and ask them what some of your amazing qualities are! A good support system is one of the 30 Habits Healthy People Live By!
Ready for this? Wear comfortable shoes. Yes, your shoes can make all the difference, as can a dress you feel beautiful in or a blazer that fits like a glove. But if you’re wildly uncomfortable trying to fit into a certain pair of shoes or itchy shirt, it will be a massive distraction. “It’s hard to stay confident when we feel uncomfortable. Tight clothes or wobbly shoes undermine our ease,” says Jacqueline Lewis, founder of the World Gratitude Map and an author on self-esteem and resilience. “[There’s a story] of a late news anchor who used to wear ankle weights in the days ahead of a big event like the national convention. On the big day, she would take off those weights and soar. Comfort equals confidence.”
Ask and You Shall Receive
Asking for what you want is truly the only way you’re going to get what you want out of life—and a guaranteed way to kick your confidence up a notch. “Tell people what you want to work on next. Don’t wait for them to figure it out. Being passive is a reflection of a lack of confidence. Asking for what you want shows you have confidence in yourself,” says Jill J. Johnson, MBA, President & Founder of Johnson Consulting Services. “Whether it’s a raise or your next job or getting an award, put your hat in the ring. You cannot move to your next level of opportunity without putting yourself out there for people to see you. If you don’t get it, ask what you can do to improve your chances. That insight will help you focus your next phase of personal growth. And you will likely get what you were hoping for the next time!”