How Can We Build Confidence?

You need a certain amount of confidence to do anything that involves some risk, like speaking in public, starting a business, righting a wrong, or standing up for yourself or for others. Why will your book, or blog, or podcast, or request for a raise, succeed? You need to have confidence that what you are doing is worthwhile.

Often, perhaps too often, lacking confidence in our ideas or our talents prevents us from taking risks, and while that might keep us from failing it also keeps us from stretching and doing something worthwhile.

How can we get past this? How can we build confidence?

Related questions: How do you define success? When is it useful to fail? Why do we care what strangers think of us? Why do we put up with unhappiness?

5 thoughts on “How Can We Build Confidence?”

  1. In addition to believing that what I’m doing (or trying to do) is worthwhile, something that helps me is to remember that I can handle failure and discomfort.

    If I put myself out there and get rejected, for instance, it won’t feel good. But if I can picture that happening, and me getting through it, then it doesn’t seem so scary.

    Confidence comes from knowing that I will be okay, no matter what. And then going out and taking action.

  2. I have several roles I try to live out to the fullest (i.e. husband, home economist, director, friend / colleague) as well as several core capacities I work to improve upon (i.e. physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual). For each role and core capacity I have a mission and goals I work to achieve to help me fulfill that mission.

    Each week I figure out the one or two most important things I can do to bring me closer to achieving my goals and ultimately my mission. It’s a great way to build confidence and achieve progress on the aspects of life that are most important to you.

  3. I feel like the answer is in the question here. Take risks.
    I think it’s safe to say a lot of confidence happens when we try and try and try again. Often we don’t succeed, but if we can muster the confidence to try again then sometimes we do.

    If I had to reach outside of this I think there are a few other reasons I am more confident.
    Feedback from others – people have told me who I am (i.e. “you have good musical taste!”) and sometimes because of that I become more confident when I talk on that subject.
    My social system – A decade ago I wanted to impress anyone and didn’t know anything. I had pretty low confidence. As I get older my social circle narrows (and in some ways grows stronger) to align with my interests. Often times that means I’m more confident because I’m around more people who understand me.
    Reflection – a mixture of the above two in some ways but still important I think.

    This question really makes me think about why some people are born with more confidence and why other people never really develop any? How is it that we could give more people confidence in themselves and their ideas?

    1. Megan:

      Perhaps some people are born with low self-confidence. I think it’s more about how some people have the chance to gain confidence as kids get the opportunities stolen from them. Some kids are bullied, some feel doubts because of what’s happening in their home life. Others have someone they look up to who unfortunately speaks ill about their abilities. The list could go on. Before you know it, you have a child with low self-esteem.

      I consider myself as someone who has high self-esteem in a few areas of life, but low-self esteem in other aspects.

      The things you brought to light about how your social network helps you build confidence, I believe, are great ways for someone with low self esteem slowly become more confident.

      Thanks for your post.

    2. I initially didn’t have a response to this question, but I completely agree with Meagan’s comment on the importance of social network. When thinking back about moves I’ve done, between jobs or across country, I realize that my confidence declines with major life changes, but that slowly gets built back up as I become accustomed to the place, people, and create new habits. I think the importance of consistency and a social support system, is helpful for me in developing my confidence. But one might not always have the luxury of this, so I think one also needs to be able to muster some confidence internally to get by, fake it till you make it?

      I also wonder how nature/nuture affects this. And nature-wise is it a fight/flight type of response?

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