building confidence

Are You Messing Up the Simple X+Y=Z Formula for Building Confidence?

Sometimes, you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

  • You want to start writing, but don’t think you’re good enough
  • You want to talk to that girl or guy, but feel you won’t know what to say
  • You want more success, but believe achievement is only for others, not you

Part of the problem? You probably need more confidence.

  • If you were confident in your ability to write, you’d probably start
  • If you were confident in your social skills, you’d talk to him or her now
  • If you were confident in your ability to accomplish goals, you’d begin that new project

And really, building confidence in any area of life is simple.

Now notice…I said simple, NOT easy.

I think where many people mess up building confidence is they get that backwards. I know I did. I once believed building confidence was complicated and mysterious, but that once I learned the “secret” process to get it, self-assurance would come quickly and easily.

That’s not how it works. And there is no secret process for instant confidence, at least not in my experience. Not for the kind of confidence that lasts, anyway.

But I’ve found there is a simple formula for building confidence over time. It’s this:

Confidence = Courage + (Proper Knowledge + Proper Thinking)

Let’s look into each of these in more detail.

Confidence = Knowing You Can Do Something

That’s it; that’s all.

And “knowing” you can do something is NOT about visualizing it or willing it to be so. It’s simply about practicing something until you’ve proven to yourself you can do it.

  • Once you’ve written several blog posts or stories, received feedback, adjusted and improved, THEN you’ll trust your writing ability
  • Once you’ve talked to more strangers and experienced most people as receptive, THEN you’ll feel confident in your social skills
  • Once you’ve begun to reach for your goals and make progress, THEN you’ll believe in your ability to succeed

If you take one thing from these examples, I hope it’s this:

Building confidence takes time.

That’s why you can’t just chant in the moment, “I’m confident, I’m confident” hoping a warm feeling of strength, ability and charm will somehow possess your body like at a cocktail party in Beetlejuice.

You can’t conjure confidence; you have to earn it.

+ Courage to Take Action

To earn confidence you must take action, no matter your current level of ability in the area you lack confidence.

But taking action in an area where you lack confidence is a Catch 22. You fear doing the thing because you need confidence, yet you have to do it to gain confidence.

That’s where courage comes in.

  • Courage helps you write that first story and submit it, knowing it might be rejected
  • Courage helps you approach that cute girl, knowing she may be put off by your nervousness
  • Courage helps you tick off steps to your goal, knowing you’ll makes mistakes along the way

It takes guts to face your weaknesses in anything, because you’re likely to fail and make mistakes.

But by having bravery to slug through, you’ll gain real-life experience and feedback that will allow you to improve. And improvement leads to confidence.

Bonus Tip: Just remember, having courage is easier when you start small and take baby steps.

+ Proper Knowledge to Save Time

Taking action is essential to building confidence, but having an idea what you’re doing helps too.

Think about it:

  • If you have horrible grammar, it’ll take longer to get your writing accepted
  • If you don’t know basic conversation skills, you’ll fumble for words a lot more
  • If you’re clueless about setting goals, you’re more likely to set yourself up to fail

That’s why having a road-map and proven methods can help you avoid a lot of failure and crippling self-doubt. Both of which can quickly sap your confidence and make you want to give up.

So be sure to seek the advice of someone who’s been where you’re headed. It’ll save you valuable time by pointing you in a direction more likely to end in success.

+ Proper Thinking to Stay Positive

Sometimes, even when you begin to see success in the area you lack confidence, your mind plays tricks on you.

  • You write a popular blog post but think, “Ah, I just got lucky.”
  • You hit it off with someone new but say to yourself, “That was just a fluke.”
  • You complete a small task that’s part of a bigger goal but moan, “I’ll never get there.”

So you filter out the good and only see the negative. You discount your progress because a limiting belief inside you says, “you’ll always fail in the end.”

Or maybe you don’t see success as quickly as you’d like, and your inner critic starts chanting, “Everyone else can do it; why can’t I? Something must be wrong with me.”

As human beings, we ALL tend to filter and think in black or white terms like this and it’s almost always damaging to our confidence. It can cause you to give up before you’ve given yourself a chance to gain any momentum.

So try to be aware of the negative and irrational thoughts that tear you down from the inside out. By acknowledging your achievements, no matter how small, and by thinking more rationally, you keep yourself positive and motivated.

Building Confidence is Not Magic, It’s Simple Addition

So remember, it IS possible to feel more confident in any area of your life. But please don’t think of it as a magic or mysterious process.

Think of it as math.

You gain confidence in any area by:

  • ADDING informative experience through being courageous
  • ADDING  time-saving leverage by gaining more knowledge
  • ADDING positive perspective by thinking rationally


But one way to build an overall confidence in your life is to become more comfortable around people in general. In fact, Dean J is a once-shy guy who now teaches people simple tips on how to improve conversation skills and self-confidence. Click here to watch his free videos on how to be more confident and have more to say in conversations. You can also find Dean on .

35 Responses to Are You Messing Up the Simple X+Y=Z Formula for Building Confidence?

  1. I like the way you’ve broken this down and I agree – it is possible to gain confidence as long as you follow these steps. Most of it is just practice. The more practice you get (with a skill, an activity), the easier it will come.

  2. Dean J says:

    Practice is the solution to plenty of life’s hardships. Repetition may not be sexy, but it works!

  3. EgoPro says:

    Wow, after reading the first couple of lines, I decided to bookmark this great article (and I’m not exaggerating). People often think that mere positive thinking will improve their confidence or self-esteem, but they couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    I’ve personally tryied-out different tips and tricks for building self-confidence .. and the truth is, nothing works except pure action. Knowing that you can (and in some situations you almost certainly will) fail, and doing it anyway.

    Will Smith once said, that he’s motivated by fear. He says he hates being affraid to do something – he’s right. “You have to hate losing more than you love winning” (said by Jimmy Connors).

    Keep on tryin’!

  4. Dean J says:

    I like that quote! and same here… tried plenty suggestions to building confidence and the one thing that truly work was just keeping at something until you get better. till you KNOW you can do it.

    glad you liked the article

  5. Awesome post Dean! And true. We MUST earn our confidence. Otherwise, we’re just playing a game of pretend.

    Unfortunately, all those supposed confidence boosting positive affirmations only work to temporarily make us feel secure. Once we’re faced with a real life situation, however, that fake confidence just up and disappears.

    That shouldn’t come as a surprise.

    REAL confidence comes from experience. And like you say, that requires action. Nothing less will suffice.


  6. Dean J says:

    Hey Trevor thanks. Yeah, personally, I’m all for confidence you can rely on when you need it, not the kind that disappears at the first sign of “uh-oh!”

  7. Spot on! confidence is all about belief. It’s a mindset. Even if you have NEVER went sky diving before you must BELIEVE that you can and that you will have the time of your life. That is just one example. Any of the greats in your respective fields whether it is sports, writing, cooking, etc, each of them have a different mindset than the average joe…study it and apply it to your life! :)

  8. Guest says:


  9. Guest says:

    testtest fuck

  10. skipit says:

    yeah. I completely agree with u dean. U made my day . althoughi knew i can write down all the tangles and clear them , i put down sayin bad idea, cause the small confidence that i may be right was there. Now , i am glad to read ur post and i am just gonna go ahead and write down my end and work backwards. cheers !!

  11. Dean J says:

    I think that when ever someone interviews successful people this is one of the main differences they find. that successful people think differently about themselves. they believe on themselves enough to have the courage to try new things and take reasonable risks.

  12. Dean J says:

    that’s actually s great way to set goals…start with the end in mind and plan backwards to where you are now. good luck

  13. Sam Matla says:

    Often people think that simple means easy, I’m glad you noted the difference.

    I agree with what you’ve brought up in this blog post, but I think we should also
    harness the ability to be confident without knowledge, i.e. Fake it until you
    make it. Obviously it’s not applicable in all situations, but sometimes we find
    ourselves stuck in situations that we can’t get out of. This is where
    confidence is necessary in my honest opinion.

    Really good post! Strongly agree with what you’ve written and will use this for future
    reference :)

  14. Dean J says:

    thanks sam. yeah I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fake it till you make it as long as you are still learning and getting better the whole time.

    In fact I think having courage plays right into what you’re saying. it takes courage to act confidently when you’re truly@ quaking inside. cheers

  15. skipit says:

    my problems are all paradoxes Dean . Remember d Paradoxial staircase in Inception movie? thats how i would exactly describe mine. Cause the person is a manipulator . no what how hard i try i fall . Acceptance doent come easily without easy “Realization ” situations !!!

  16. Morgan Decker says:

    A few years ago I used to be very introverted and not very confident, but over the past year and a half I have grown and I have become very confident and independent. Confidence leads to success and being able to project that feeling of self-empowerment is better for you and your well being. Personally, becoming confident has made a world of difference in everything I do because I no longer just play out the motions, I strive to succeed and excel in everything I attempt because I’m confident that it will be the best work I can produce.

  17. Know that it has taken years for most of us to shape our negative perspective on ourselves and it will take diligence to to move forward gaining self confidence through mindset change. I just wrote a post about the importance of changing that mindset to build our self worth. Please check it out for more help =)

  18. Dean J says:

    Well if you’ve realized someone as a manipulator, then maybe you should set some boundaries. Tell them what you expect of their behavior toward you and why. Let them know the consequences if they don’t agree to those “terms” or if they break them…namely that you’ll stop hanging out with them. If they don’t uphold the deal, move on. Life is too short for that craziness…

  19. Dean J says:

    Morgan, I agree, confidence is a real game changer in almost every aspect of life. I believe we’re all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. And like you’re saying, when you start to get a little more confidence in life and start to believe in yourself, your mindset changes. You see more things you’re capable of and it becomes a chain reaction of sorts.

  20. skipit says:

    I ve more of held on to the beautiful pole . even when it grows thorns. I feel survived when volcanoes and tornadoes met . now , I am the contradictor , I need the comfort but space i’ve made,took ages

    I am the kind of easy going and relax type .

    I m the stuck up girl now . *-*

  21. Love your post! I think the distinction between “simple” and “easy” is right on.

    Whenever I am learning something new, I like to imagine where I’ll be one year from now…If I keep at it, then I’ll be that much better. This visualization helps me to keep going, especially after the initial enthusiasm for a new project or skill wanes.
    Thank you 😉

  22. Dean J says:

    Thanks for the feedback

  23. Dean J says:

    Krista, I have a vision board (Onenote) that helps me do just that. You’re right, it’s a great practice. I’ve found we only have so much will power once that initial enthusiasm always starts to diminish.

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  25. Máy Lọc Nước says:

    máy ozone post great

  26. yb says:

    Is that another dale caneigie?

  27. Jenn says:

    I’m about to make a calculated risk life-changing decision to quit my current corporate job and do something with loads of upside potential. I know there will be challenges but it is better than being mediocre-ly satisfied in my current life and I will not miss the chance for improvement for the sake of holding onto ‘stability’.

  28. MexinAlaska says:

    This approach is how all U.S. Army paratroopers are born. You can take this article and QC the U.S. Army’s parachutist school and it is a perfect match. Why else would anyone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

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