Advice, Software Engineer

Five Techniques to Build Your Self-Confidence

Confidence is a tricky thing — it’s the sweet spot between feeling doubtful and being cocky, and it’s definitely easier said than done. Everyone seems to want it, but only a few have mastered it.

I, for one, didn’t consider myself to be a confident person for a long time. I used to think that to be confident, one must be perfect, and I’m far from perfect. Therefore, I didn’t allow myself to feel confident. It sounds a bit silly but that was exactly what I thought. Fortunately, over time, I’ve learned to be confident and have received positive comments from others regarding my self-confidence. I believe being confident is a learned skill and there are a few techniques that I’ve used which have worked well for me. I’d like to share them so you may benefit from them too. There are only five techniques but, believe me, when you apply them regularly, I guarantee that you’ll find self-confidence in no time.

1. Do the Work to Become Capable

Confidence is often backed by having knowledge and skills — AKA capability — and I’ve found that the more capable I am, the easier it is for me to feel confident. For example, when I’m speaking in front of people or presenting about a topic if I’ve done homework and preparation, it gives me confidence because I understand the topic well. Similarly, if I’m cooking a special dinner for guests, if I’ve cooked similar dishes before then I’m confident that my dinner will turn out great because I have prior experience. We all have heard it many times before: practice makes perfect. The key to confidence in a particular area or skill is to do the hard work of becoming good at it. Then, confidence will follow easily.

2. Smile, Relax and Look the Part

It’s hard to feel or appear confident when we are stressed. It simply isn’t possible to be confident and stressed at the same time. It’s also impossible to be stressed and comfortable at the same time. Therefore, when I’m feeling nervous or stressed, I try to relax, breathe in and out, and smile. This helps me feel more comfortable and grounded, which in turn makes me appear more confident.

When a friend of mine was looking for a new job after being made redundant, she asked me for tips on looking confident at interviews. She’s a very capable person in her field and has many years of experience. But the thing is, she had been working at the same company for the past 7 years and she felt nervous about jumping into the job market again. She wanted to know how to look the part and show confidence in herself at interviews so that her potential employers would have a good first impression of her. When I told her to just smile, breathe, and relax, she looked unsure and told me that it sounded too simple to be effective. But she tried it anyway and guess what? She got the first job she applied for! The interviewer actually commented that he believed in her capabilities because she was so relaxed and confident.

3. Choose Your Words Carefully

Words are a big part of our daily lives. When we’re speaking, writing, or even thinking, we’re using words. We use words to convey messages to others and also to ourselves; which words we use influence our self-belief and others’ perceptions of us. Using words that indicate uncertainty — like “I think”, “maybe”, “perhaps”, “just”, or “I guess” — undermine our credibility by creating the impression that we’re unsure of ourselves. On the other hand, if we use words like “I believe”, “I recommend”, “I am sure”, “Certainly”, and so on, we’re telling ourselves and others that we’re decisive and can be relied upon to make decisions or provide input. Buddhist teaching says, “We are what we think.” If we think we’re not good enough and our words reinforce that, finding confidence in ourselves is going to be a hard task. A similar saying is attributed to Henry Ford: “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”

4. Develop a Growth Mindset

There are two different kinds of mindsets: fixed vs growth. People with fixed mindsets believe that our characters, intelligence, and creativity are fixed traits and thus they cannot be changed. People with fixed mindsets think one needs to be born perfect. With a growth mindset, we accept that we don’t need to be perfect as long as we’re learning and growing. With a growth mindset, we’re kinder to ourselves and less afraid of setbacks or failures. In fact, we can appreciate them and learn from them! As a result, our self-confidence grows and we become more comfortable in our own skins so that it doesn’t feel like we need to have it all figured out in order to make an impact.

5. Be Persistent

There’s simply no shortcut to success, no matter what kind of success we’re talking about — whether confidence, career, finances, or just life in general. However, there is one key thing to becoming successful, and it’s not luck, talent, or intelligence — it’s persistence! To find confidence in ourselves, we need to be persistent with our efforts and show up consistently. For example, I’ve been doing some public speaking and building my brand. Sometimes it feels too hard, too time-consuming, or too much work, and I just want to quit. Whenever I feel this way, I tell myself that I mustn’t lose sight of my goals and need to soldier on, so to speak.

The same thing applies to finding confidence. We must do the work, look the part, be mindful of what we communicate, and always be learning and growing, and we must do all those things consistently. In the end, the ones who win are not the ones who get in first or who have it easy, but the ones who keep on going until they reach their destination. As cliche as it may be, it’s the ultimate truth to being self-confident.

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