Who hasn't experienced this? Something happens that makes us feel totally insecure. Negative thoughts quickly spread and we suddenly feel anxious, shy or inferior. Our self-confidence is gone. Yet that is precisely what is so important for a happy and carefree life! So what can we do to feel more confident and self-assured?

What self-confidence means at all

In order to know how to strengthen our self-confidence, we first need to understand what self-confidence is in the first place. Fortunately, it's not that complicated. It means exactly what it says: awareness of the self! This means not only that you are aware of your pure existence, but also of everything else that belongs to you. Of your abilities and strengths, your competences and characteristics.
In other words, the awareness of the meaning and value of your own person.
Our self-awareness is made up of many different levels of our self: Self-love, self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-control and so on. And also the different experiences we have in contact with other people in our lives play a big role in our self-confidence. From these two aspects, on the one hand our self-image and on the other hand the image of others that is presented to us, our self-confidence is finally formed.

Why am I not confident?

Just as our self-confidence is composed of our self-image and the image our fellow human beings have of us and can be strengthened by this, it can also be weakened by these two sides.
Ideally, our environment meets us with appreciation, respect and recognition. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. All too often we have to learn to deal with criticism, far too high expectations or even condemnation and hostility. If, on top of that, we doubt ourselves from within, because we perhaps focus more on our weaknesses than on our strengths, or have internalised self-esteem-damaging beliefs such as "I am a failure and can't do anything", then it becomes all the more difficult to deal with the feedback from our environment and our self-worth increasingly degrades.
We can only do something about the way our fellow human beings treat us to a limited extent. What we can definitely change, however, is our own behaviour and our attitude towards ourselves! Low self-esteem is not something that cannot be changed!

When does self-confidence become harmful?

Before we get to how you can increase your self-confidence, it is important to understand that great self-confidence cannot always be positive. Especially not if it is not honest.

If you know how important you are, you don't need to make yourself important anymore.

A large proportion of people have self-doubt or even feelings of inferiority in certain areas of life. That is totally normal. It's just that how you deal with these doubts can be very different. Ideally, when you have self-doubt, you deal with yourself, look at where these doubts might come from and try to work on yourself and your self-image. This is the more sustainable and healthier alternative, but also the more difficult one.
The other, somewhat easier option is to simply pretend that these doubts don't exist and try to cover up your insecurities with exaggerated and artificially inflated self-confidence. Often these are people who appear very loud and flashy, as if they are bursting with self-confidence. In extreme cases, they also display narcissistic traits that lead to belittling others around them in order to be able to see themselves as the best. This can be intimidating and even have the short-term consequence that such people are very popular in their environment and receive recognition. This in turn makes it easier to ignore one's own self-doubt.
However, as long as we do not work on our own attitude towards ourselves and the accompanying insecurity, this way of dealing with things is only a superficial solution that cannot solve the actual problem of lacking self-confidence and only pushes it in front of us.

How confident am I really? The test

But back to you and your self-confidence! Do you know how self-confident you really are? With the following questions you can test exactly that:

  1. You are invited to a party where you know only one person. Are you worried about whether you should maybe not go?

  2. Do you often think about what others might think about you?

  3. You go to the hairdresser and you don't like the new haircut. Is it more likely that you will accept the haircut as it is than that you will ask your hairdresser to change it again?

  4. Do you find it difficult to ask for help?

  5. An acquaintance asks you if you have time for dinner together. But you don't really feel like spending time with her. Do you still go out with her or do you make an excuse instead of just being honest?

  6. Do you find it difficult or nervous to speak in front of large groups or with authority figures?

  7. Are you easily embarrassed when someone pays you a compliment?

  8. Do you tend to apologise and feel ashamed for many things?

  9. You are in a restaurant and your food arrives cold at your table. Do you keep quiet and eat it anyway without complaining about the order?

  10. Do you usually try to please everyone as much as possible?

If you answered YES to 1-3 of the above questions, the following part of this article may be helpful for you. Your self-confidence seems to need a little boost. A bit of insecurity now and then is perfectly normal and okay, but it doesn't have to be that way!

If you answered YES to more than 4 questions, you might not be feeling so good about yourself right now. That is also okay and can happen. Maybe some of the tips and suggestions will help you to find more self-confidence and to feel more secure and comfortable in social situations again!

Increase my self-confidence - 6 tips

Regardless of the results of the test or how you feel about yourself and your self-esteem, most people benefit from a little boost to their self-confidence! Of course, your self-confidence may vary in different areas of your life. I would therefore like to give you a few tips and food for thought that can be applied across the board and can help you achieve more self-confidence where you need it.
Maybe not every exercise suits you. Just try out what feels good to you and helps you personally.

Be a superhero

First of all, I would like to introduce you to my favourite exercise for more self-confidence. The exercise is simple, can be done by absolutely anyone and has a quick effect! The superhero exercise!
Stand shoulder-width apart in a strong stance, stretch your chest forward, lift your eyes and put both hands on your hips. Or - like a real superheroine - you can also hold up one fist. Try to stay in this position for a few minutes and your mood will quickly change.

Our posture has an extreme influence on how we feel. For example, people who are in a negative or depressed mood have been shown to walk more hunched over than those who are in a positive mood. And this effect also works the other way round. I do this exercise before exams, for example, when I'm particularly nervous, to strengthen myself and get the feeling "I can do anything". Why don't you try it out right away?

What do you think?

An even more effective, but not so easy to change, point is your own thoughts and expectations that arise when you find yourself in challenging situations.

Often negative thoughts and beliefs such as "I can't do it" or "I can't do it", "I'm a failure" or "I'm useless" come up. If you know such thoughts about yourself, the first important step is to become aware of them. Try to pay attention to your own thoughts in difficult situations and write them down. If you know what you are dealing with, it is easier to attack!

The next step is to break through these negative beliefs. Take a good look at your beliefs and try to change them into positive ones. For example, "I can't do it" becomes "I've never tried it before, so what could go wrong? You may find this difficult at first, but with each successive sentence you will come up with more positive alternatives.

By rephrasing into something positive, we crank up the so-called self-fulfilling prophecy in our favour. According to this theory, what we think and are really convinced of will come true. So if you can absorb more and more positive thoughts, more and more positive things will happen to you and your self-confidence can grow!

The right environment

As I said above, our environment also has a big influence on how confident we feel and how well developed our self-confidence is. Sometimes, part of the reason for low self-confidence is that we surround ourselves with negative and toxic people who talk badly and make us feel uncomfortable. Maybe it's the girlfriend who is always nagging or seems to be jealous all the time and doesn't give you anything. Maybe it's the boss or colleague who can't leave a good mark on you and always criticises you instead of giving you praise. Do you know people like that from your environment?

Think about who you surround yourself with every day and how good these people really are for you. And as difficult as it may be, sometimes the best step is a step back! Try, as much as you can, to surround yourself more and more with positive people who support you and treat you with appreciation. Especially among friends, this can be insanely difficult. But don't forget, you are the most important person here! And what is not good for you should have no place in your life.


Be proud of yourself

And while we are on the subject: If we take criticism from others too much to heart, it often means that we focus mainly on our weaknesses and mistakes. Put an end to it! A simple and effective exercise for this is to grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down 10 things you like about yourself! Or 10 strengths that you discover about yourself. Or 10 things you have already achieved in your life. I know, 10 things might sound like a lot right now. But it's not that at all. You are great just the way you are! And really everyone has had successes in their life, big or small. You might have to remind yourself of this from time to time. Writing these things down and keeping them in mind can be a good support to be proud of yourself.
And if you can't think of anything, get out of your comfort zone and face your fears. Most of the situations we worry about are not as bad as we first expect. You will find that the more you dare to try things out, the more positive experiences and successes you will have!

Oops - something went wrong after all?

Mistakes are human. And above all, they are important. Only through mistakes can we learn to grow with tasks and challenges. Mistakes make changes possible! And with changes, we can constantly work on ourselves and become the person we want to be. So when the next mistake happens - and let's be honest, it will come - just take a deep breath, count to 10 and focus on the new opportunity that has just arisen. Don't be afraid of mistakes, but try to see them as something positive. As a new door that opens for you!

 Your path to more self-confidence

Our self-confidence is influenced by many things. Both by the people around us and how they treat us, as well as by our own thoughts, feelings and behaviour. And that is exactly the crux of the matter, it is your thoughts, your feelings and your behaviour that are largely decisive here. And that is why only you can change something. Make an effort and do something good for yourself. A more self-confident life is often also a happier life! And to get there, you already have everything you need - yourself!
The only thing I have to say is: You can do it and you are worth it!

June 28, 2021