Three Dependable Ways To Building Self-Confidence (Part 1/3)
(Hey, if this is the first article of mine you’re reading, please check the links in the conclusion first to better understand Amber and her journey.)
A quick Google search, and you’ll find that the number of people searching for “how to build self-confidence” is rising. Don’t believe me? Look at the graph below.
Living with low self-confidence
Even as a social media manager, Amber struggled with constant overthinking, imposter syndrome, and her need to please everyone. These struggles made her resent herself for becoming a pushover.
She was tired of living her life based on others’ opinions. Amber knew she had to improve her self-confidence.
I mean, imagine living every day of your life wondering:
- I wish I didn’t care about people’s opinions.
- I wish I didn’t need to look to others for validation.
- I wish I weren’t so insecure about myself.
- I wish I were happy and content with myself.
- I wish I felt safer and more confident in my skin.
Well, there wasn’t a single day when Amber wasn’t thinking about these questions. She longed to stop caring about what others thought of her.
All Amber yearned for was to stop her people-pleasing nature. She dreamed of a time when she would feel confident enough to command a room.
I know you’re waiting for how to build your self-confidence. But, unless you understand how we got here, it would be similar to slapping on a bandaid on a wound that requires stitches.
Where low self-confidence begins
Amber wondered how she got to this point where she felt like she was nothing without the approval of others. “How did I become so insecure that the tiniest instances can deeply hurt me,” she thought.
She needed to investigate this and finally realized how she got here. It was years’ worth of unhelpful teachings by established systems she blindly trusted:
- The way her parents raised her to always obey the rules blindly. Even the unsaid ones!
- The way her friends told her that there were groups that each person belonged to, and how Amber had to stay in her groups for survival.
- The way her boyfriends conveyed to her subliminally that if she weren’t the perfect girlfriend, it was her fault that they’d lose interest in her.
- The way her religion taught her to abide by commandments and precepts with blind faith. I mean, who could ever question God?
- The way her professors taught her never to question the authorities. No matter what.
- The way her coworkers told her how it’s okay for managers to treat their subordinates however they pleased.
Amber realized that if these systems were good for her, she wouldn’t feel so out-of-place. She wouldn’t be so insecure about herself. She knew she tried hard to follow these said and unsaid rules.
But where did this bring her? She’s afraid to take up space and ruffle feathers. Instead, she chooses to suppress her needs and thoughts and please everyone. Amber got used to choosing her discomfort over anyone else’s.
But, as is the case, something powerful happens when you decide to stop making everything about others and start taking charge of your life and choices.
Learning how to build confidence
After enough people subliminally telling her she wasn’t enough; she decided it was high time she took ownership of her story.
Amber thought of what her future would look like if she continued down this same path. She’d be living the life of an average Jane, never feeling content with herself, constantly questioning her decisions, her worth, and herself.
That scared her.
Imagine if she feels inadequate about her choices today; how bad would her feelings be way into the future?
She knew she could no longer be a product of her circumstances. She was determined to chart her path and write her destiny.
Amber actively sought a life coach to help her understand the unhelpful patterns keeping her stuck in a life void of joy. She needed someone to help her break these patterns and live a more fulfilling life.
Here’s the first piece of advice her coach gave her to build self-confidence. Check out the conclusion for the other methods:
Become Self Aware
Mindfulness is a skill we need to develop to build self-confidence and self-esteem. And like every skill, you can start from scratch and work your way up.
As Amber recalls, she was highly unaware of herself. She didn’t realize her anxiety was her body trying to communicate with her that whatever she was doing at that moment wasn’t feeling safe for her body.
Amber had to learn self-awareness almost from scratch. After all, she couldn’t solve problems she didn’t know.
So, here are a few tools she used to build on her self awareness:
While meditation is an excellent tool for most people, it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. Meditation can have adverse effects on people who have experienced trauma, and here’s the study that proves it.
On the other hand, over 60% of Americans in a nationally representative study reported that meditation improved their overall health significantly.
Sometimes, it takes a minute to realize you’re feeling overwhelmed in a world that’s constantly bombarding you with so much information.
Did you know this feeling of “overwhelm” can show up in the body in many ways: irritability, frustration, gloominess, and a sense of meaninglessness in life?
Mindfulness through meditation can allow you to get back in touch with your feelings and emotions.
This tool helps you understand how each emotion or feeling shows up in your body. In addition, it also teaches you not to fear your difficult emotions: anger, pain, grief, etc.
Amber learned that mindfulness helped her name her feelings as well. When Amber knew what she was feeling, it allowed her to deal with why she was feeling these emotions and further helped her understand what she could do about them.
A study conducted in 2006 showed that the participants who journaled their thoughts daily saw a noteworthy reduction in negative emotions.
- A significant reduction in stress
- A remarkable decrease in the intensity of depression
- A sharp improvement in memory
- A notable increase in immunity
- A consequential improvement in overall mood
Amber wondered if journaling was such a fantastic tool, why isn’t it more popular?
We humans don’t like having to sit with difficult emotions. We dislike being in discomfort. We try everything in our power to push the pain away from us.
So when her life coach told her to build on journaling, Amber knew she had to resist the temptation to evade pain. Instead, she’d have to get comfortable with being in discomfort, reassuring herself that the end would result in better confidence.
Amber set aside an hour every night before bedtime to jot down her painful emotions. She’d take a random incident from the day and just allow the pen to write down all her thoughts. Her life coach suggested she never judge her thoughts. Whatever’s coming up just has to go down on her journal. Amber’s coach told her to think of this method almost like venting on paper.
She wrote and wrote without judgment. What Amber realized was she was feeling lighter. She also benefitted from journaling by:
- Feeling like she wasn’t alone.
- Feeling more content and confident in her life.
- Understanding which emotions to prioritize.
- Understanding that her thoughts were the reason she felt lonely.
- Feeling a general sense of wellbeing.
Slowly but surely, this tool helped Amber deal with her low confidence. Amber started noticing a significant improvement in her self-confidence and self-esteem through journaling.
What is a mind-body practice, you ask?
Any exercise that combines a physical movement with controlled breathing and mental focus, with the sole aim of body-mind relaxation, can be considered a mind-body practice.
Some famous examples of mind-body practices include:
- Tai chi
- Martial arts
- Brazilian jiu-jitsu
So you can see here that mind-body practice doesn’t have to be slow. Instead, these disciplines help you become one with your body and experience all the sensations arising during the exercise.
How mind-body practices relate to improving confidence is that they make you sensitive to the sensations your body tries to communicate during the day. Understanding these sensations can help you navigate certain situations and raise your confidence.
Amber’s example can help you better understand this.
One day, Amber talked to her friend about how she had to end her second date with a guy because their values didn’t match. Her friend immediately said, “you’re too sensitive. You need to let go of your high standards, they’re getting you nowhere.” This phrase made Amber angry.
Thanks to her yoga practice, Amber realized the heat she suddenly felt in her chest, the closing of her throat, the warmth on her face, all point to anger.
At face value, “you’re too sensitive” might not come across as something that should make people angry.
However, understanding that when Amber was vulnerably sharing her experience, her friend immediately invalidated her feelings helps us understand what caused the anger.
If it were the old Amber, she’d have accepted this. Her body would’ve continued to feel angry, while her mind would continue to express the emotion she was forcefully repressing: anger.
This confusion would only have left Amber feeling helpless, misunderstood, and insecure because she’d naturally seek out external validation for feeling this way.
A mind-body practice can help her find safety within herself, thereby building more confidence.
Online Psychometric Tests
The first thing Amber’s coach told her about personality tests was not to take them seriously. But just use them as a tool to better understand yourself. Psychometric tests can also help build connections with like-minded people.
While Amber was having fun taking these personality tests, she also understood more about herself. Parts of her that she never understood, her quirks, suddenly appeared differently. Thanks to these tests, she was more gentle and kind with herself now.
Of course, most of these tests aren’t scientifically proven to deliver the exact results they claim. So, when taking these tests, remind yourself that the results aren’t a definition of you. Instead, they’re an insight into yourself, inviting you to explore further.
A few psychometric tests that can help you build more self-awareness include:
- Check out the Big Five personality test if you’re looking for a scientifically validated personality test to understand your strengths and weaknesses better.
- Tony Robbins popularised Walter Vernon Clarke’s DISC profile test, which helps you understand your personality type to better communicate with people. You can check it out here.
- The Institue for Health and Human Potential has a great test to check your emotional IQ for free.
- If you want to understand how well your interpersonal skills are, you can check out this free IPR skills Test by SkillsYouNeed.
- And if you’re in the mood to explore the genre and can’t decide which test to choose, here’s a long list of psychometric tests from Psychology Today to help you.
These tests were fun and they helped Amber get out of the “there’s something wrong with me” mindset and become aware of herself.
This awareness helped her become more kind and gentle with herself as she accepted herself more. This acceptance further boosted her confidence, and we’ll talk about how in the following part.
In the End
The best is yet to come. This article is part of a series on Amber’s journey to gaining confidence. Check out the sequence here:
- Amber’s Story
- Amber’s shift in mindset to confidence
- Amber’s tested tools to building confidence Part 1
- Amber’s tested tools to building confidence Part 2
- Amber’s tested tools to building confidence Part 3
Stay Tuned to the next one.