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3 Tips From a Therapist on Building Self-Confidence    

3 Tips From a Therapist on Building Self-Confidence

Art by FISK

By Kelly O’Sullivan, LCSW, MBA

What would your life be like if you had a little more confidence in yourself? Stop and think about this for a moment. How might a deeper level of trust and belief in your abilities impact your potential to lead a happier and healthier life?

The first thing so many of us tend to think of when we think about self-confidence is our appearance, and while feeling good about yourself in that way is so important, it’s only one piece of a much larger puzzle. More self-confidence can help you live your life the way you’ve always wanted to – a life where you try new things and do what you love with more conviction because you aren’t as focused on thinking that you can’t. And when you make a mistake, as well all do at times, a higher level of self-confidence will help you bounce back more quickly.

The truth about confidence is that even the most confident person you know has taken the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach at times. The reason why an approach like this can be helpful is that building self-confidence is an ongoing process that takes time. It is not always about how you build it but that you actively choose to. So, as you apply the following tips to your life, bring a sense of mindfulness to it. If you slip up or forget to follow some of these tips, remember that self-confidence is a never-ending journey and a daily practice.

Be kind to yourself.

A word may seem like just a word in the moment that you say it to yourself, as if it comes out and simply vanishes into thin air, but the reality is that everything you say sticks. The content and quality of your thoughts and words condition your mind over time and shape your perspective. In other words, what you choose to say now can become your default way of thinking. To get ahead of this, the next time you catch a critical thought about to slip from your mouth, pause to remember that your mind will hold onto it even if it feels fleeting. Try to replace it with something more positive instead and, eventually, that practice will become second nature.

Make self-care a priority.

There are so many ways you can take care of yourself beyond just getting a good night’s sleep or eating nutritiously every single day. While I recommend taking care of yourself in these ways as best as you can, you can also remain confident on days when you don’t check off all those boxes. Why? Because self-confidence is not about setting strict rules but making choices that serve you, and you have the power to choose what makes you feel good or happy at any particular moment.

Less obvious ways that you can prioritize self-care and boost your self-esteem while doing so are practicing self-forgiveness and putting your needs first. After all, self-care is at the root of self-love, and self-love is at the heart of confidence.

Practice acceptance.

Self-care is a process, and so is acceptance. Acceptance is an approach to life that trains you to accept the things you cannot control, and, believe it or not, it can help cultivate a lot of self-confidence. It is normal and okay to become upset when you fail, or something doesn’t go your way, but dwelling on it for too long or beating yourself up can chip away at your self-image. Acceptance says that what's done is done and out of your control but reminds you that you can control what you do next. You can choose to try again, for example, or choose to learn from your mistakes. A good message to give yourself in these moments is: “I wish that had gone another way, but it’s okay. I am still worthy and capable of happiness and success”.

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.