How to Build Incredible Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is an important tool for leading a successful and happy life. Learn what it is and how you can improve yours today!

I want you to take a second and think about the most successful person you know. It can be an athlete, businessperson, family member, or friend. The only thing I ask is that they are someone you look up to.

Okay, do you have them pictured? Now, do you know one trait that I can guarantee they have, without which their success would have been difficult to attain? Yep, that’s right, self-confidence!

What is Self-Confidence?

Self-confidence is one of those intangible assets we have that can be difficult to measure. But strangely enough, it’s quite easy to tell when someone has or doesn’t have high self-confidence.

The term self-confidence is best described as a general sense of trust and belief in our own abilities, powers, and judgments.

That is why when we see someone display high levels of self-confidence it is so apparent because that person comes off as so self-assured. No matter what the person does they have the belief it can be accomplished.

Now there is a difference between self-confidence and arrogance, two terms that are often confused. An arrogant person always thinks they are right and must inflate their ego to prove it. However, a self-confident individual believes in themselves and their abilities but does not have this need and sense of always being right.

I would go as far as to say someone that displays arrogance is actually quite un-confident. Since they have to put on this persona to make themselves feel superior.

But what about self-esteem versus self-confidence? These two terms are often used interchangeably, though there is a difference.

Self-Esteem VS Self-Confidence

To get a better understanding of the two terms, it’s best to take a closer look at the words following “self.”

In her article on, Dr. Claire Jack gives a great explanation of the two terms. She says that esteem refers to regarding something highly or favorably. So, if we have high self-esteem, it merely means we regard ourselves in a favorable light.

Confidence, she says, refers to how strongly it is felt something can be done or performed well. Self-confidence, Dr. Jack says, then means how confident we are in a particular area of our lives.

As you can see, the two terms refer to different areas of our lives. Self-esteem is a more general view of how we see ourselves, while self-confidence surrounds our feeling towards our capabilities to perform certain tasks and duties.

Why is Self-Confidence Important

No matter how we decide to define self-confidence, one thing never changes…the importance it has on our lives.

Displaying high levels of self-confidence can positively influence almost every area of our lives. It leads to more fulfillment and a better sense of overall well being.

When we lack self-confidence so many wonderful experiences, opportunities, and people can slip through our fingers. All due to the general lack of belief we have in ourselves. I have had my fair share of missed opportunities as a result of low self-confidence, which I will dive deeper into in the next section.

For now, I think it is best to examine some of the key benefits we can expect from having high self-confidence. Barbara Markway Ph.D. outlines five key benefits in her article on self-confidence, which you can check out here if you would like to read her full post.

I’ve taken a few of Dr. Markways benefits and added some to come up with a list of my own.

“When we lack self-confidence so many wonderful experiences, opportunities, and people can slip through our fingers. All due to the general lack of belief we have in ourselves.”

6 Benefits of Self-Confidence

  • Less Anxiety: As we become more self-confident, anxiety will begin to fade away. Often times anxiety is caused by the worry we will not be able to accomplish something or won’t be good enough. So, as our self-confidence grows, this type of anxiety decreases.
  • Improved Self-Talk: If you are unfamiliar with self-talk, it is merely the internal dialogue that goes on in our heads. It is immensely powerful in determining how we feel, and the success we will achieve in life. With greater self-confidence, self-talk becomes more and more positive.
  • Greater Motivation: With the belief that we can achieve the goals we set forth; motivation grows to want to achieve more. The higher our self-confidence, the more motivated we become to challenge ourselves and push to greater heights.
  • Greater Resilience/Grit: Dealing with failures and adversity are a guarantee when working towards any goal. What confidence does is provide us with the sense that failures are not permanent. We can get back on our feet, learn from the mistakes, and move forward.
  • Better Relationships: Having high confidence in ourselves quiets the little voice that constantly worries about what other people think. As a result, relationships will improve due to the relaxation and comfort felt during interactions. As we move out of our own heads, we can begin to communicate much more naturally with others.
  • Willingness to Try New Things: A lot of success stems out of the courage to try something new or take a risk. When self-confidence is lacking, this type of behavior can be very scary. However, when self-confidence is high, we will have the belief needed to take risks and do those things we haven’t before.

My Struggles with Self-Confidence

Now that the benefits of having high self-confidence have been outlined, I would like to give you a quick story about my struggles with self-confidence. Specifically, the opportunities I believe were missed due to a lack of confidence.

I would say that my low self-confidence really took hold in seventh grade and made itself known throughout high school and college. For me, it was really centered around baseball, which was the main focus of my life.

But I also dealt with it in other areas, such as public speaking and talking to girls. Both of which I truly felt incapable of doing. Though, it seems fitting to stick with baseball, since it took up the majority of my time.

In high school, I began going to showcase events in order to get recruited. Vividly I can remember feeling inferior and like I didn’t belong. Throughout these events, my mind would be filled with thoughts of doubt and negativity.

As I continued to feel this way, my self-confidence grew lower and lower. What frustrated me the most was the amount of training I was putting in should have garnered me more confidence.

Fast forward to picking out a college to attend. Luckily, I did not allow my low confidence to interfere too much with my playing, as I still had a successful high school career. But when it came time to pick a college I definitely settled.

Whether I could have gone and played at a larger school is unknown, but I do know I could have at least played at the division two-level, as I was offered a scholarship to one. However, I took the first division three offer that came my way.

This was in part due to my low confidence about playing, since I viewed the division three school as an easier opportunity to play. Also, because I felt I did not have the confidence to live on my own and there was family that lived near the division three school.

While in college my low self-confidence kept me from getting extra work in when I wanted and kept me from playing up to my potential. I had a successful college career, but I know it could have been much better early on had I confronted my self-confidence issues.

I can think of many other missed opportunities in my life that have been a result of low confidence, but I think this little bit can show you just how much it can impact your life.

The reason I wanted to share this with you is to show you just how dangerous low self-confidence can be. I now would say I have high self-confidence, but it has taken a lot of work.

It’s hard to tell what could have been different had I gained this skill earlier, but now I am very grateful to live my life confidently. Though I can always improve and there are still areas where I have greater confidence than others. My point now is, if I could manage to improve my confidence then anyone can.

That is why I would like to give you four ways you can do just that!

4 Ways to Improve Self-Confidence

#1: Use Confident Body Language

One of the quickest ways we can make ourselves feel more confident is to change our body language and posture.

When I first started working on my self-confidence, I listened to quite a few talks by Tony Robbins. One of the main points he discusses is using our bodies to make ourselves feel more powerful.

If you start to pay attention, it will become evident that when we are feeling self-conscious and lacking in confidence, our posture is often hunched over, our eyes are looking down, and we tend to be closed off.

The opposite of this is a confident posture, in which we stand up tall, look up when we walk around and make large gestures.

It feels very strange and abnormal in the beginning, but I found simply changing the way I walked helped with my confidence a lot. Instead of walking with my head and shoulders slouched forward, looking down, I began to walk with my chest and head up.

By making this simple change, I immediately felt more strong, powerful, and confident.

The idea of improving our self-confidence by our posture may seem strange, but research does show that projecting confidence through our bodies works to make the confidence feel real in our minds.

So, start today by walking around with your chin held high, as if you were the most confident person in the world, and you just might become that.

#2 Improve Your Self-Talk

There is a way we can improve our self-confidence merely by changing the way we speak to ourselves.

Our internal dialogue, also known as self-talk, has a huge impact on how we feel. It is the constant voice in our head, either speaking to us positively or negatively. If you are someone who lacks self-confidence then it is likely your self-talk mirrors that feeling.

What we can do is begin to consciously talk to ourselves in an empowering and confident manner. By saying phrases that lift us up, we can slowly begin to build our self-confidence.

I really feel that when my self-talk shifted, my self-confidence took a huge upward turn. I employed the use of daily affirmations to accomplish this. A list was created of phrases that helped to make me feel more confident.

With daily repetition of these affirmations, my self-talk has shifted from inherently negative to positive. The more I speak to myself this way, the better I feel and the higher my self-confidence grows.

I challenge you, if you suffer from low self-confidence, to create a list of affirmations for yourself and begin to repeat them on a daily basis. As you do, I guarantee you will see your internal dialogue begin to change.

“Our internal dialogue, also known as self-talk, has a huge impact on how we feel. It is the constant voice in our head, either speaking to us positively or negatively. If you are someone who lacks self-confidence then it is likely your self-talk mirrors that feeling.”

#3 Practice Self-Acceptance

Often times when we are wanting to better ourselves, we can get caught up in having an ideal picture of ourselves in mind. This is a great thing to do, and I am a strong advocate for seeing ourselves the way we want to be.

However, before this can be done, we must first accept ourselves for who we are in the current moment. Only then can we begin to make strides towards our desired goal.

When we begin to work towards a better version of ourselves without accepting who we are, we are working from a place of discontent. This leads to suppressing emotions and not allowing for an objective view to be taken.

By practicing self-acceptance, we can really see where our flaws are and what must be worked on the most to boost our self-confidence. Also, by simply accepting who we are currently, confidence will begin to rise.

Have a picture in your mind of your confident self, but be sure to accept yourself first, before making any moves towards growth.

#4 Set Small Goals

I am a very strong believer in the power of goal setting.

Daily I set goals for myself that are in line with the larger goals that I have created. For the purpose of building self-confidence, I would like to discuss the use of small goals.

Small goals refer to ones that are accomplished the next day, this week, or maybe even a month (though that is getting dangerously close to larger goal territory).

The purpose of these in building confidence is to prove to yourself that you can accomplish what you set out to do. You want the goals to be challenging and worth your time, but not so difficult that it is unlikely you do them.

For example, set a goal for yourself that tomorrow you will go talk to one stranger. This may seem a little weird, but if you do it, there will be an interesting sense of pride that comes over you.

If you begin to do this day after day, your self-confidence will rise with each time you achieve what you set forth to do.

To learn more about the importance of goal setting, check out an article I wrote on the subject here.

Final Thoughts

Self-confidence is one of the most important traits we can possess. Having it can benefit our lives in many ways, including lowered levels of anxiety, greater motivation, better relationships, and many others.

The lack of self-confidence results in many lost opportunities and a life that will never reach its full potential.

That is why it is so important for you to work on building your self-confidence. No matter where you currently stand on the subject, everyone can benefit from improvement.

I know that I have just scratched the surface of my own self-confidence. That is why I employ these tactics I have outlined to improve myself.

Have you struggled with self-confidence in the past? Are there any opportunities you can think of that were missed due to low confidence? I would love to hear about your experiences, so please leave a comment below.

I hope this article was helpful and you can apply something from it to your daily life. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns related to self-confidence or any performance psychology topic.

I wish you the best of success in all you do.

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Eli Straw

Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.

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