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20 Simple Ways to Stoke Your Self-Confidence

Once upon a time there was a small child known as you.

This child was born into the world pure and perfect, aware only of its own needs. If those needs were met, if someone held you, fed you, kept you safe and warm, your world was perfect.

Even as you got a bit older, if your parents were loving and kind, you still had a strong sense of yourself as you explored the world and discovered the wonders of living.

But around the time of kindergarten, things started to change. You encountered other children whose words stung, who were faster, stronger, smarter, prettier. You had to perform in school, to win the teacher’s approval, to follow the rules. You saw where you didn’t measure up, where you weren’t quite good enough.

You learned quickly that approval and love can be tied to ability, performance, appearance, personality, and conformance. Even your parents, as much as they loved you, subtly reinforced these new rules with their hopes and expectations for you.

As you entered adolescence, all of your own insecurities were reflected in the cruel words and hurtful behaviors of your peers and the images portrayed in the media.

But hopefully, along the way, you had enough successes, enough love, enough encouragement for your self-confidence to have a foothold. However, if your home life was dysfunctional, critical, or abusive in some way, the self-confidence that was budding as a toddler was never able to fullybloom, especially not during the difficult teenage years.

Once you reached adulthood, left home, and began your own life, you had a choice, whether you were conscious of it or not. You had the choice to stay tethered to the dysfunction, pain, disappointments, and fears of your youth, or to take control of your life and create it anew.

  • Maybe you weren’t aware you had this choice.
  • Maybe you didn’t have the skills to know how to take control.
  • Maybe your pain was too deep to have the energy to find a way.
  • Maybe you were too committed to the “stories” about you being lazy, unmotivated, the pleaser, shy, unattractive, incapable, not good enough.
  • Maybe you became too dependent on others to tell you who you are and what you are supposed to be.

Well, now you are a full-fledged adult, and whether your are 25 or 55, I’d like to assure you that you do have a choice.

You can learn the skills.

You can overcome the pain.

You don’t have to accept the “stories.”

You can define your life on your own terms.

You can have self-confidence.

It all starts with the belief that with practice, change and growth are not only possible, they are inevitable.

It starts with a willingness to view yourself and the world differently.

Your identity is not locked to the past, to your parent’s expectations or demands, to your past failures, to your current view of yourself. Your identity is something that you can create every single day. Once you realize that, your self-confidence will begin to ignite.

I know that everyone has different levels of self-confidence problems. Some of you might have really debilitating wounds that need to heal. Some may have personality types that are more introverted or shy. Some may lack self-confidence in just one area of life where others have no self-confidence at all.

But regardless of where you are related to self-confidence, there are some actions you can take today, right now, that will put you in the driver’s seat of your life and begin to improve your self-confidence.

Here are 20 that you can try:

1. Challenge your thoughts. Identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself and challenge them. Find evidence to the contrary.

2. Retrain your brain. Negative thinking becomes a habit ingrained in your brain. Rewire your brain by intentionally thinking new and positive thoughts, even if it feels awkward at first. You will create new wiring and new habits.

3. Smile. Arranging your facial muscles in a smile actually makes you feel happier and more confident. It triggers those feelings in your brain.

4. Stand up straight. Pay attention to your posture. It makes you appear more self-confident and therefore you feel more self-confident.

5. Practice. If you lack self-confidence in a skill, practice it. With improvement comes confidence.

6. Make a list. Write down your skills, abilities, successes, and gifts. In moments of low self-confidence, you forget all of the great things about you. Write them down so you can remember.

7. Interact. Isolating yourself allows you to get lost in negative thinking. Spend time withe other people. Make yourself, even if you don’t feel like it.

8. Create boundaries. Low self-confidence often goes hand-in-hand with people-pleasing. How are you allowing someone to control your decisions or behavior? What is one thing you could do to create a boundary here and reclaim yourself?

9. Write a vision. Write down exactly how you would like your life to look if you were creating it from scratch. When you put it in writing, you have begun the process of creating it.

10. Look your best. Take care of your appearance. Dress nicely. Get your hair styled. Put on make-up. When you look your best, you feel more self-confident.

11. Challenge a fear. Where are you holding yourself back? Where are you afraid of failure? Take one teeny tiny action in that area. Then another.

12. Hug your failures. Take a good look at past failures. Write down what you learned from them and how they served you. See how failure has been kind to you.

13. Define your values. Write down your most important life values. How are you living contrary to those values? What is one action you could take to correct that?

14. Find a mentor. Who is someone inspiring and motivating to you? Learn more about them, how they conduct their lives, and how they got where they are.

15. Focus on now. Most self-confidence problems stem from worry about the future or regret about the past. Focus on the task at hand. Immerse yourself in it so your mind is happily engaged.

16. Do something for others. When you are kind and giving by choice, you will find immense satisfaction and confidence in sharing and serving others.

17. Plan a pity party. If you need to dwell on your problems or failures, just allow yourself a 10 minute pity party a day.

18. Try something new. Anything. A hobby, a sport, a recipe. Just do something that you haven’t done before.

19. Read something inspirational. Keep a motivational book with you to give yourself a booster shot of self-confidence. One of my favorites is Fearless: Creating the Courage to Change the Things You Can by success coach Steve Chandler.

20. Call in reinforcements. Take a class to help you improve your self-confidence. And if you have issues from the past that you can’t resolve, seek the support of a counselor so that you can move forward.

Editor’s Note:

My friend, fellow blogger, and life passion coach Barrie Davenport has created a thorough and beautiful 42-page guide that is absolutely free called The Passion Myths: 6 Lies Keeping You from Uncovering Your Passion. If you want to uncover your own life passion, you must first break through these myths and lies that might be standing in your way of doing this important work. I hope you will check it out and download it right now. It is completely free!

Here’s the link: http://www.barriedavenport.com/freeguide/

  • guest

    I believe my self-confidence is not as strong as it should be and though I blame a harsh childhood it is true that it really is up to ourselves to make the effort achieve everything we aspire to.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bbdavenport Barrie Burgess Davenport

      Yes, you do have to work through the childhood issues, but you can move past them toward sustainable self-confidence. Keep working on it!

  • http://twitter.com/unmaskd Unmaskd

    Good list. Here’s thing #21: Do something you’ve ALWAYS wanted to do, but never really tried. If you succeed it will give a huge boost to your self-confidence.
    http://unmaskd.com/2012/02/22/do-people-change/ 

    • http://www.facebook.com/bbdavenport Barrie Burgess Davenport

      Yes!!! Challenging yourself is a huge self-confidence boost.

  • Tania Ramonde

    I just wanted to let you know I read your blog daily. It’s so inspiring and useful! I also show what I’ve learn here to some of my friends and family who can’t read English.
    Thanks so much! 

    http://planificacionespontanea.blogspot.com

    • http://www.facebook.com/bbdavenport Barrie Burgess Davenport

      So glad you like the post and Pick the Brain Tania!

  • http://trafficmasters.com.au/ guest

    Getting with that chick would boost my self confidence. Just saying

    • http://www.facebook.com/bbdavenport Barrie Burgess Davenport

      Haaaa! 

  • http://www.lifeaftertampons.com/ Jennifer

    I LOVED this article and shared it with all my readers, too.  My favorite suggestion for today is to “Challenge Your Thoughts.”  It’s amazing how truthful your thinking can seem, but then, when you check it out with others, they shoot holes all over your self-hatred arguments.

    I’ve learned that my “magical magnifying mind” is not always my friend.  It’s the bane of every Highly Creative Person, and age and wisdom have taught me when to pay attention and when to just say “thank you for sharing” to the negative voice in my head and move on.

    What I loved about this piece, Barrie, is the collection of strategies you provided.  Some days, some work better than others.

    Thanks again, Jennifer

    • http://www.facebook.com/bbdavenport Barrie Burgess Davenport

      Hi Jennifer! So nice to see you here. I agree that creative people have a tendency to get stuck in their critical minds. And I love your sarcastic comment to your mind! :)

  • http://www.lifeaftertampons.com/ Jennifer Boykin

    I LOVED this list.  I am particularly using the first tool today — “Challenge Your Thoughts.”  Some days my “magical magnifying mind” is just not my friend.   I’ve learned that my highly creative artistic brain will sometimes create “art of destruction,” just for grins.  Nowadays, when this happens, I just say to my self “thanks for sharing” and move on.

  • http://PracticeThis.com/ Alik Levin

    Very good list. My favorites are #1, #8, #11. but #12 are a winner for me – I especially loved the wording – Hug Your Failurs. What an angle! Most people get frustrated when thinking about the failurs, some make an effort to review it and extract some lessons but still it keeps bad taste in the mouth. Your wording make it fun, and I am abig fan of “make it a game” approach. When having fun best results achieved. Time to make some fun with failures! Whoa!

    • http://www.facebook.com/bbdavenport Barrie Burgess Davenport

      Hi Alik, someone once taught me to make every problem a “project.” Projects are more fun and interesting than problems. Same with failure. Just change the wording to opportunity, blessing, awakening. All of life can be fun if we perceive it that way.

  • Anonymous

    Love the post, Barrie!

    • http://www.facebook.com/bbdavenport Barrie Burgess Davenport

      Thank you Erin!

  • Sanctus47

    I have gone from low self confidences to high self confidences. The second being better feeling for me.  Just everyone else thought I was a tool. Now I am going around tiring to figure out what a healthy level is. Been looking online but really is is starting to look like no one knows. And it changes day by day moment to moment. The key seems to be just not living in the past or future, but the now. Taking what is out there and “thinking” about your actions. To much writing.

    • Sanctus47

      This is looking better and better as I look into it. I will say thanks atm, just I have gone though a lot of other peoples programs and still not gotten the new me yet. Takes work, I am guessing every day.

  • Tathata

    #5 – Practice… this is the key to all of it. You can read this post as much as you want, but if you don’t practice, little will come of it.

    Practice takes time, and it takes being easy on yourself. It means doing it little by little, and not expecting progress all at once. It means tackling one item on this list at a time, not all of them at once…. it means being very patient and having a lot of perseverance.

    http://thatwhichreallyis.blogspot.com

  • http://www.clintcora.com Clint Cora

    Two outlets that I always suggest to many people for developing self confidence is participating in Toastmasters and martial arts.  Both activities help develop self confidence and I have seen many success stories over the years.

  • james

    Great Article! I love number 15 – Focus on now. I agree most people bring themselves down by focusing on past mistakes or worrying about the future. 

    http://LifeAndMind.net

  • Chetan

    Nice Article !  till now I was thinking that riding bike is  not my cup of tea ( since I never tried it ) but just to my surprise I learned it  in  like  1 hrs session from my friend. That makes me more confidant and I am happy that I have learned something new :)

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  • Niceshop3

    Fantastic goods from you, man. Ive study your stuff ahead of and youre just as well amazing. I enjoy what youve got right here, adore what youre stating and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you even now manage to help keep it wise. I cant wait to go through additional from you. That is really an incredible weblog.
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  • http://self-help-ideas.blogspot.com/ Self-Help Ideas

    Great ideas Barrie. It strikes me how many of these points have to do with thoughts and behaviors. I’ve found that, when we work on changing our thoughts and behaviors, we can move in any direction we want. As you mentioned, the key is realizing it’s possible and achievable.

  • http://self-help-ideas.blogspot.com/ Self-Help Ideas

    Great ideas Barrie. It strikes me how many of these points have to do with thoughts and behaviors. I’ve found that, when we work on changing our thoughts and behaviors, we can move in any direction we want. As you mentioned, the key is realizing it’s possible and achievable.

  • Grateful

    You really made a powerful difference in my day and in my life by writing this. Thank you so, so much for being who you are and doing what you do.

  • Jade

    Great post! Uplifting and encouraging as always!

  • http://www.themobilejobsearch.com/ Matt Schmidt

    Great ideas to help reach goals. Nothing like crossing the finish line after a challenge.

  • Huda

    This was an amazing read! I love the statement “change and growth are not only possible, but inevitable.” Very inspiring. Thank you! :)

    http://www.hudabblove.blogspot.com

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  • Saurabh Chawla

    A wonderful Article Barrie. Loved the tips. One who can overcome his or her fears and hug their failures can become self confident. It helps in achieving something which is someone’s dream.

  • Sandy

    Wonderful post. Loved it

  • Ayesha

    Great post Barrie.. Such simple things can go a long way in making self-confidence a part of our personalities. Totally loved this line- Change & growth are not only possible, they are inevitable!

  • In Vino Veritas

    There are at least two kinds of confidence: the one origination from your deep and the one originating from surface or your ego. One I believe is healthy the other fake and counterproductive. Advice No. 10: “Look your best” is a poor advice for exactly that reason. That good feeling you get from looking good or from having the right status symbol is not confidence, it’s a masked version of the exact opposite. And in the long run those kinds of strategies will actually undermine your true confidence. Confidence to me is the ability to feel God about yourself without using crutches like make-up, sports cars or any other form symbolization. It is feeling good about yourself not about some add-on that sparkles.

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  • http://www.simplecapacity.com/ Nikola Gjakovski

    Actually when I opened this post I thought there would be standard 20 things to stoke your self-confidence as all other websites. This one was different, more explanation while smaller explanation for the 20 things, and I think that was new and great. Nice one Barrie.