How to Build Your Self-confidence When You’re Down On Yourself

There’s power in building a toolbox of strategies to implement on the days where confidence-boosting doesn’t feel so intuitive.

Granger Wootz/ Getty Images
Granger Wootz/ Getty Images

Feeling confident doesn’t always come naturally to many of us, but it’s something we can actively work on and improve. For example, research shows that regularly practicing certain rituals and habits — like surrounding ourselves with people who believe in us, or celebrating even our smallest of wins — can help us feel more self-assured over time. It can also be helpful to build a toolbox of strategies to implement on the days where confidence-boosting doesn’t feel so intuitive.

We asked our Thrive community to share the tips and tricks that help improve their self-confidence in an instant. Which of these will you try?

Think of one thing you’re grateful for

“When I start to lose confidence or feel frustrated, I take a deep breath and remember gratitude. I write down or think about one thing I’m grateful for. When I reflect on all the beautiful things happening in my life,  the thing I was frustrated about doesn’t seem so important. I am able to learn from it and move on.”

—Laurie Jonas, blogger and author, Red Wing, MN

Create a “feel-good folder”

“I boost my confidence by reviewing my ‘feel-good folder,’ which is filled with cards, letters, and posts from people whom I’ve helped, whether it’s my coaching clients, speaking clients, or people who have read my books. This folder also has photos and images of various vacation spots that bring me joy.  It always makes me feel better, and reminds me that I do make a difference.”  

—Snowden McFall, professional speaker, author and women’s coach, Jacksonville, FL

Write down an achievement you’re proud of

“When I’m low on self-confidence, I block out a minimum of 30 minutes with no distractions, and write down different achievements, qualifications and moments I am proud of. I recommend this exercise in my resilience training program, and it’s so effective. It’s a wonderful exercise to boost self-esteem, remind ourselves far we’ve come, and why we deserve to be where we are.”

—Louise Dockery, resilience coach and mentor, U.K.

Celebrate a small win you’ve had

“A lot of our self-doubts come from us comparing ourselves to others. The comparison is what drives our anxiety and makes us constantly doubt ourselves. What helps me in these moments is instead focusing on the progress I am making regarding my personal goals. Goals are broken down into micro-achievements. I try to celebrate each small win and recognize my achievements. It helps me stay on track and eliminates the temptation to compare myself to everyone else.”

—Armida Markarova, startup founder, Chicago, IL

Spend time with people who make you feel good

“I used to be very hard on myself if I didn’t succeed in something that I had set my mind on achieving. I would keep overthinking and replaying it in my head. Now, when my confidence is low, I find that in addition to meditation and exercising emotional intelligence, my family is my biggest morale-booster. Spending time with them is a great way to get small doses of positivity and joy when I’m down on myself.”

—Rujuta Pendharkar, founder and principal of PeoplePlusResults, Bangalore, India

Take a walk outside

“I find confidence by taking a walk and connecting with nature. There are so many benefits to getting outside when you’re feeling down. I try to set an intention such as, ‘Let me fill with joy and ease,’ and I start observing and absorbing my surroundings.”

—Loreta Pivoriunaite, coach and host at mastermind lab, Lithuania

Give yourself compassion

“When I’m feeling down on myself, I decide to take it easy. I don’t do anything too strenuous or challenging. I prepare myself a healthy lunch, listen to a motivational podcast, and just allow myself to feel what is trying to come forward. Sometimes if time allows, I will watch Dave Chappelle or Sebastian Maniscalco and just have a proper belly laugh. Sometimes I’ll sing and dance trying to move the energy around in my body. It’s truly important to just listen to your body and do what feels the most natural in that moment. You can’t force yourself to snap out of anything. When self-confidence is low, I find that it’s typically because there is a part of us that is disconnected from our higher selves.”

—Anastasia Konoian, La Habra, CA

Uplift someone else around you

“I find that encouraging others when they lack confidence and sharing experiences that uplift oftentimes will often help with my own confidence levels. As I share those words of encouragement and positive feedback, it also helps me realize those words could be applied to me when I lose my way. Giving back and lifting up others by being kind and helping them stay the course can make a huge difference.”

—Suzanne Schnaars, engineer, Waldwick, N.J.

Try a positive mirror affirmation

“I used to struggle with my self-esteem and was often down on myself. I began to change this pattern by using positive affirmation statements, but nothing seemed to stick at first, as my brain was rejecting them immediately. I realized I was going ‘too big, too soon’ and trying to rewrite my brain’s entire understanding of who I was. So, I then started small, saying things such as, ‘You’re OK’.  I ended up adding more positive statements over time, and now when I now struggle with myself, I look in the mirror and say the one thing that lifts me from my negative space. It restores the self-belief I have instilled over the last five or six years.”

—John Kenny, relationship coach, London, U.K.

Keep a “confidence file”

“I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic attacks over the past year, and I’ve found it helpful to keep a ‘confidence file’ on my computer. It’s simply a Google doc with lovely testimonials from clients, as well as things friends and family have said how I’ve helped them. It’s handy to have them all in one place. It really does remind me of just how incredible, accomplished and loved I am — especially during times when I’m feeling low and lacking confidence.”

—Clare Drake, life coach, Bristol, U.K.

Think of a time you overcame self-doubt

“To boost my self-confidence, I recall a time when I overcame my self-doubt and made it across the finish line. One of those biggest moments was crossing the literal finish line of the New York City marathon. This memory always reminds me that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for, and it always gives me a confidence boost.”

—Kristin Meekhof, book consultant and author, Royal Oak, MI

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