03 Oct How to build more self-confidence
Self-confidence underpins everything we do, because without it we cannot display the courage and vision needed to live well. But how do we find or build more self-confidence? Few good things in life come easily, but there are paths that lead to greater confidence, says lifestyle blogger Alessio Bianchi.
First of all, let’s work out where we’re trying to get to. Self-confidence is more than hollow, puffed-up fakery. True self-confidence is a willingness and ability to act well.
There are lots of examples of acting well, from the dramatic courage of activist Malala Yousafzai standing up to oppression, to the quiet but important self-confidence needed to apply for a new job or advise a friend in a crisis.
This willingness to act well, says Bianchi, rests on several important principles, but by far the most important is knowing and understanding yourself.
The importance of self-awareness runs through our planet’s philosophy, art and culture like a pulse. It’s in Shakespeare, it’s found engraved on Greek temples, and it finds its ways into the writings of thinkers as influential and diverse as Ayn Rand, Mark Twain and Seneca.
Some practical steps to building self-confidence
So, self-confidence helps us to live well, and self-confidence relies on knowing ourselves. But how do we find this self-knowledge? Never mind the navel gazing or bland “inspirational” quotes; what works? What can you do to improve your self-knowledge and self-confidence?
Here are some practical things you can do to get to know and understand yourself better and build more self-confidence.
Learn to live more consciously to build more self-confidence
Bianchi says: “I’ll be honest, learning to live more consciously sounds wishy-washy at first, but consider this: many soldiers and football stars live by this idea. Top Olympic athletes use it to build self-confidence. These are women and men whose lives revolve around decisions under extreme conditions which can lead to death, to injury, or to sporting greatness. Wishy-washy is not going to cut it; it works for these people, and it can help you.
So, what is living consciously? Basically, it means thinking more actively about what you do. By doing so, you can start to really understand your own mind. This is like working out the wiring diagram of a machine. Once you have the diagram, you can make the machine work better.
A simple exercise suggested by author Michelle Gielan is to go for a walk and try to really see something. Breathe deeply, and focus. Ignore or quiet other thoughts that enter your head, and just look at one object, like a car or a tree. Pretend you know nothing about it, and effectively discover it anew. Be conscious of what you are looking at and what your mind is thinking about it.
Doing exercises like this on a regular basis gives you useful insight into your mental processes and helps with the next step. Practise it regularly and you will get better at it.
Define your fears
This seems counter-intuitive and a sure-fire way to lose self-confidence, by wallowing in what scares you. But, the reality is the opposite. In a quite brilliant TED Talk back in 2017, a guy called Tim Ferris spoke about why it’s important to define your fears. Tim has had the sort of business successes that make most of us green with envy: he invested early in Shopify and Uber and is listed by the New York Times and CNN as a leading angel investor.
In his talk he highlighted a great quote from Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger, who said: “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality”. This means what scares us is often less frightening than it needs to be. This leads to an exercise in which you identify the fears holding you back from action, then analyse them exhaustively to enable you to act.
It is a simple exercise. Once you hold your fears to the light, you can see them for what they are, and decide on ways to address them.
Instead of living fearfully, you can make decisions and act – taking a massive step toward greater self-confidence.
Restate positive ideas about yourself
Whatever your problems, you are a unique and special person. There is literally nobody on Earth like you; there has never been, nor will there ever be anyone quite like you. The astoundingly complex interaction of DNA and your environment means you are unique.
You deserve to feel good about yourself, so tell yourself this. You are, after all, a miracle of consciousness, one of only a few billion examples of true consciousness in the entire known universe.
Make a point of telling yourself how important, unique and interesting you are. This also helps you to identify and challenge negative thoughts about yourself, like “I’m a loser” or “I never do anything right”. For example, you already do things right: you’re here now, reading this because you want to boost your self-confidence.
These three ideas – thinking consciously, defining your fears and re-stating positive thoughts – are valuable steps on the way to increasing your self-confidence, and just part of the world of mindfulness. Don’t be afraid to explore it, to think about it and to apply it to your life. If you want to learn more about Stoicism, I highly recommend “How to be a Stoic” by Professor Massimo Pugliucci.
Alessio Bianchi is a lifestyle blogger who is passionate about living his best life and helping others to do the same. Read more at Alessio’s blog here.
Hi, I’m Alessio Bianchi, and I’m a lifestyle blogger who’s passionate about living my best life and helping others to do the same. Personal growth and development is a journey, and we’re all at different stages in our journey. Which is exactly why I created this blog. It’s a place where we can all share our experiences and tips and advice to help each other along the way. Here you’ll find blogs on a range of different topics designed to help you along your personal growth and development path.