If you’ve ever fallen into the trap of pinning your self-worth on external factors — like other people’s opinions of you or how many social media “likes” you get — know that you’re not alone by any stretch. Meag-gan O’Reilly, Ph.D., a staff psychologist at Stanford University’s Vaden Health Center, recently told TED Ideas about the very real impact feeling like you don’t measure up can have on your well-being.
“As a psychologist who’s heard and held hundreds of human stories, I have witnessed firsthand how this mentality of feeling like you are not enough has stolen dreams, ambitions, relationships, health, and happiness away from people,” she said. That’s why it’s so important to be able to deprioritize external validation and build our internal confidence.
So we asked members of the Thrive Global community to share their best tips for building their confidence and reaching new heights of success.
Visualize yourself succeeding
“Positive self-visualization is a powerful instrument to help build confidence and combat self-doubt. Research outlined in the Harvard Business Review suggests that creating a mental screenplay of your success is a proven way to improve your self-confidence. Set strategic goals, focus on opportunities and commit to inner work to move the needle towards your ideal self. It’s important to internalize definitions of success, purpose and achievement, and strive to make meaningful progress every day.”
—Vinutha Narayan, global manager, growth partnerships programs, San Francisco
Refer to a “Love File”
“When my confidence or self-belief dips, I have a couple of key resources that help remind me that I’m good enough. First, I have a list of ‘30 Reasons Why I’m Great at What I Do.’ I’ve set aside time to write this list and then pin it on my office wall. As my skills and expertise have changed over time, I’ve updated or re-written it. Second, I have a ‘Love File.’ This contains all sorts of things that also help to remind me of my expertise, skills and impact. It contains my qualifications, certificates, testimonials, thank you cards, and feedback. Keeping it in a file means I can easily access it, see it, and feel it, so that there’s tangible evidence to quiet any doubts and worries I might have.”
—Emma Langton, mindset and performance coach, York, UK
Log off of social media and make a happiness list
“It’s easy to fall down a social media rabbit hole. We constantly see snapshots of people’s seemingly perfect lives and, in turn, are quick to put ourselves down. So when I catch myself playing the self-deprecation game, I log off of social media and journal. I make a happiness list filled with the good things in my life. It always boosts my confidence.”
—Sammi Sontag,Thrive Global Campus Editor-at-Large from the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Talk to successful people about their own insecurities
“I talk to people more successful than me, or who I admire, about their insecurities. Knowing my rock star role model boss/mentor feels inadequate somehow boosts my confidence tremendously.”
—Julie Lutfi, corporate attorney, Boston, MA
Jump first, ask questions later
“I’ve always jumped first and asked questions later. Instead of waiting until I have all the answers, I decide on my first step and then just GO! I find that action breeds momentum and confidence. Then at least I can say, ‘that went well,’ or ‘that didn’t go so well.’ I always celebrate the action, not the outcome. I started my podcast with no microphone, blogged by just typing out thoughts, shot videos on my phone, and uploaded them to YouTube. I celebrated just doing that. Now I have a podcast, a blog, and a YouTube channel! A year later, I have a stronger production quality and presence with all the bells and whistles, but the initial stages never stopped me from knowing that I’m good enough. You have to move forward and believe that as you grow as a human, everything around you will, too.”
—Lisa Pezik, business strategist and content expert, Ontario, Canada
Fill a shelf with affirming items
“Put up a small shelf in your office or home, then fill it with reminders of your worth, talent, and goodness. Study the items for a moment or two at the beginning of the day, as well as at the end. Also look at it whenever you need a confidence boost.”
—Dr. Marlene Caroselli, author, Pittsford, NY
“Confidence is made of positive little events that point you in the direction of your goals. When I’m not feeling confident, I look for smaller, attainable goals. Any problem can be worked through, step-by-step, and divided into smaller parts. So just start small. You can even decide to do something that isn’t related to your goal. It could be running for a couple of miles — as long as it’s something that pushes you a bit but can be accomplished. ”
—Luciana Paulise, agile quality coach, Beaumont, TX
Transfer frustrated energy into productive energy
“After 21 years of successful teaching, my principal called me into her office. While another administrator was present, she claimed that my performance was ‘just proficient’ and that she expected more of me. Naturally, I was disappointed in her, but I also felt bad about myself. So I used positive self talk, journaled goals and daily inspirations, read inspirational books, and surrounded myself with positive cheerleaders. I realized that I didn’t need her validations and used her criticism as a wake-up call. I transferred my frustration and energy into building a successful real estate business. Becoming my own boss was the ultimate revenge.”
—April Choi, former public school educator, current real estate investor, Decatur, GA
Reach out to a trusted friend
“One of the methods that works best for me is reaching out to a friend. The honest feedback, belly laughs, and back-and-forth chatter do wonders for my sense of worth. Sometimes, I also read or listen to something meaningful, like Brené Brown’s TED Talk titled ‘The Power of Vulnerability.’
—Terri Parke, small business owner/therapist, Noblesville, IN
Focus on your growth
“I focus on basing my self-worth on my overall growth. In the short-term, it’s easy to base your self-worth on the outcomes of day-to-day situations, or your current season of life, which can be very volatile. However, more often than not, if you look at your entire life so far, there’s likely a positive, upward trend of growth. By playing the long game and focusing on the bigger picture, you can celebrate how far you’ve come and continue to look towards your continued growth.”
—Andrew Gobran, people operations, Minneapolis, MN
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