Self-esteem and confidence are important traits for anyone to have as they search for their place in the world. Without proper confidence, it can be hard to make your voice heard, come across as you want to, and advertise your skills and desirable qualities. However, while many of us develop confidence naturally as we age, this isn’t the case for everyone. If you feel like you can benefit from a few confidence-building exercises, read on!
Confidence Building Exercises
Even if you don’t feel confident, an essential part of cultivating confidence in yourself is the “fake it ‘till you make it” philosophy. If you practice good posture, respectful body language, and strong mannerisms, people will assume that you’re confident even when you aren’t.
In the same way, acting like you’re confident when you might not be sort of tricks your brain a little. Over time, if you can get into the habit of acting confident, it will eventually become natural for you. This is a surprisingly easy and effective method to build confidence without investing too much extra time and effort.
There are many important aspects of strong body language, but some of the most important ones to show are:
- Straight posture
- Eye contact
- Strong handshake
- Smiling readily, but not excessively
- Open posture – don’t cross your arms
When you use body language to make yourself look more confident, you also come off as more welcoming and approachable. This approachability will make you more friends in the workplace, in social situations, and anywhere else you can put it to use.
Quiet Your Inner Voice
Your inner voice can be your enemy or your ally. At times, it can also switch between the two. Part of your job when building your confidence will be to train your inner voice. Your inner voice should act to your advantage whenever possible. As such, if your inner voice tends to bring you down when you’re feeling nervous or anxious, you should work on either turning it into a positive voice or eliminating it altogether.
Not everyone has a distinct inner voice, but we all have one deep down. Even if your inner voice manifests as thoughts instead of a “voice,” it’s still there, and it influences the way you think and feels in various situations. Think about your boss assigning an important project for you, for example. Do you immediately think about how you’re going to fail to do a good job, or do you think about stepping up to the plate?
If you can, it’s always best to turn your inner voice into a positive influence. However, if that becomes impossible, quieting it down or ignoring it is the next best thing.
Positivity doesn’t just benefit your inner voice. Positivity is tied to confidence in many intricate ways. How many times do you remember talking to someone who was negative and confident at the same time? While it’s not impossible, positivity and confidence are natural bedfellows, and if you can cultivate one of them in yourself, the other will come much more naturally.
When we’re used to negativity, it can feel challenging to make the transition to positivity. This is especially true because those with low confidence often get there because of an abundance of negativity. No matter how confident we get, there are some times where being positive feels impossible.
However, people who are confident and who believe in themselves show a distinctly higher amount of positivity than those who are unconfident. It’s not necessarily that you need to put on a positive face while you’re at work; while this can be an excellent first step, it can only get you so far. Instead, you will need to change your entire mindset.
Like we said in the section above, changing your personality from negative to positive involves silencing or changing your inner voice. Aside from that, though, it also means changing the way you think about things. When you climb a mountain, are you motivated to reach the top, or do you dread the uphill climb? Both actions are the same, but how you think about it can be drastically different.
Affirmations are an excellent tool to have in your arsenal when you’re building your self-confidence. When you affirm yourself, you tell yourself you’re good at something. Affirmations are excellent to use when you’re feeling down, but they can be used just about any time, too.
If you can, try to turn any negative thoughts about yourself into affirmations. Try following these examples:
- Tell yourself, “I worked hard and did well today,” after a long day at work instead of wishing you’d gotten more done
- Tell yourself, “I’m an expert at what I do, and I’m worthy of respect,” after an argument with a client or your boss
- Tell yourself, “I am a unique, beautiful person, and no one can tell me differently,” instead of feeling self-conscious about your appearance or actions
As you can see from the above examples, turning a negative thought into an affirmation is possible without too much difficulty. However, it can feel a bit silly to start with. Just remember that these affirmations pay off, and they’re true! If you can make positive affirmations a habit, your brain will start to believe these affirmations, increasing your confidence over time.
Smiling more is perhaps the easiest tip to increasing your innate confidence. Studies show that even a fake smile causes chemical changes in your brain and body. When we smile, our heart rate and stress both go down. When you’re less stressed, you can control your mind and body’s reactions to various situations better. Whether this means keeping your inner monologue quiet or focusing on your posture, having that extra presence of mind will help boost your confidence.
Additionally, when you’re less stressed, you will naturally feel and act more positively. As we know, more positivity means more confidence, too, so this is always a nice bonus. All this from a simple smile!
All of us have at least one special song that pumps us up when we listen to it. We tend to listen to these songs when we’re exercising or working hard, but did you know that these songs actually boost your confidence, too? That feeling like you can take on the world is more valuable than you might think.
Next time you have an important presentation or another difficult task to accomplish, listen to a few of your favorite power songs before you do so. You could even queue up your favorite song before asking someone on a date if you want! With music so accessible in our day and age, this is a trick you can use in just about any situation that gives you a few minutes to listen.
We always feel our most confident when we’re sporting a trendy new style or haircut. Even if you don’t have time to go out and get a new ‘do before an important event, taking the time to shower, style your hair, and don an attractive outfit can do wonders for your confidence. Your favorite outfit might do the trick, or you can look for something new in preparation for something big!
You don’t even need to dress up to reap the benefits of this, really. Even casual clothes can help you feel more confident! Choose an outfit that is flattering to your body type, and choose a color that matches (or brings out) your hair, skin, and eyes. If you’re not sure how to choose attractive clothing, there are many resources online for this.
Additionally, some of us can fall into habits of neglecting our routine grooming when we’re feeling low. While we may not feel like it at the time, keeping yourself well-groomed and looking nice is a surprisingly important aspect of our self-image. If you feel grimy, underdressed, and unkempt, this will show itself through embarrassment or self-doubt.
Instead, set aside the time to groom yourself every day, especially when you’re going out to do things. You don’t necessarily have to groom yourself if you’re going to be staying in all day, but we encourage it anyway. This is because every time you see yourself in the mirror, even while at home, you’ll have the benefit of seeing how well put-together you look. It can improve your mood for the whole day when you know you look nice, and the opposite is true, too.
Even if you don’t have time for a full grooming session, try things like:
- Styling your hair differently than usual
- Putting on makeup even if you’re not planning to leave the house
- Wearing your best casual outfit out to the grocery store
- Purchasing some attractive and comfortable loungewear to wear at home
Something as simple as wearing a new set of loungewear instead of wearing an old T-shirt while at home is enough to give your confidence a nice little boost.
Live Your Principles
Your principles and morals are intricately tied with your identity. As such, if you feel like your morals or policies have been disrespected or made fun of, your character can feel disrespected, too. This can cause us to question our identity or worse.
As such, if your confidence is low, strengthening your morals is an unexpectedly helpful way to get your confidence back on track. This may require some research on your part to discover where your morals lie, especially on charged or political matters. However, the key to being able to defend your morals and principles confidently is to be informed, so this research can only help.
When you are firmly in control of your morals and principles, you’re better prepared to defend them if it ever becomes necessary. At some point in your life, your morals will be questioned or otherwise put to the test. If you do not have a firm grasp of them, you could end up embarrassed or chagrined. However, defending your morals successfully will usually boost your confidence instead!
Fortify Your Skills
What’s the easiest way to increase your confidence at something? Get better at it, of course! It’s hard to feel unconfident about something when you know you’ll do it well. Take the time to study, practice, and fortify your skills a bit at a time. Don’t try to take on the world all at once; instead, identify the places where your skills could use some work, then start there.
If you have a close friend or confidant that you feel comfortable asking for their opinion on your skills, this can be exceedingly valuable. However, asking someone where you’re lacking can feel daunting when your self-confidence is already low. If you can, we encourage you to try it anyway. After all, we do tend to make a bigger deal out of things than they really are sometimes.
Whether you identify your own weaknesses or ask a trusted friend to do it, make a note of them for later. In your free time, tackle these weaknesses a little at a time. For example, if you have trouble in social situations, you could fortify your skills by doing any of the following:
- Talking to strangers in a relaxed social setting, such as a bar or chatroom
- Take a class aimed towards improving the skill
- Join a support group for people in the same situation
- Look for professional help, such as a therapist, trainer, or coach
- Purchase or read literature on the subject
Try New Things
One of the downsides of having low self-confidence is that we feel nervous or unwilling to try new things. As such, the obvious solution to this problem is to try new things anyway. Even if the prospect is daunting, putting in the extra effort to try new things can pay off very quickly. After all, more often than not, our nervousness about trying new things is entirely unfounded.
We have a few special exercises that you can try that will help improve your confidence listed below. If you try a few of them, they can count as your “new things” as well.
This exercise isn’t the most fun, but it’s one of the more straightforward activities you can do to boost your confidence. The next time someone asks you to do something that you’re not particularly comfortable with, try to say yes. Only things within reason, of course – never say yes to anything that could put your mind or body at significant risk. However, if it’s something mostly harmless, like going to a party or working an extra hour after work, try to say yes.
By accepting something that makes you uncomfortable, it removes a bit of the inaccessibility that comes with these unpleasant activities. We, as people, tend to make a much bigger deal out of uncomfortable things than is really necessary. Once we teach ourselves this, we’re more willing to take on unpleasant tasks that might benefit us (and others) in the long run.
As a nice bonus, this exercise also helps us determine where exactly our boundaries are. While performing this exercise, you will encounter things that push you too far past your limits, and you will also encounter things that you think will push you past your limits, but that in actuality, will not. This exercise provides other benefits, too, like:
- Forcing you to work harder than you thought you could
- Encouraging you to be kind to others at your own expense
- Increasing your tolerance for discomfort
When we feel unconfident, we tend to pull into ourselves a bit and keep ourselves from doing things. This can mean trying new things as well as doing old things that we once enjoyed. By embracing discomfort and pushing our own boundaries a bit, we help to fix our confidence by undoing that cloistering that we once suffered from.
Each of us is a unique, beautiful person, and our differences should be celebrated! However, if you suffer from low confidence, you may have been the victim of hurtful comments from others in the past that hurt your perceptions of yourself. It’s not easy to come back from a place like that, but it is possible. If others have skewed your perceptions of yourself, it can be hard to become proud of your quirks again.
An excellent way to begin to know yourself again and relearn about your hopes and dreams is to create a “self-esteem collage.” This exercise involves going on the internet, through a magazine, or through a picture book and choosing pictures that speak to you. They don’t have to mean anything in particular, but they should speak to you in some way. If you can, choose pictures that represent your talents, dreams, or abilities.
As you pick out these pictures, pin them to a bulletin board or glue them to a large poster board. Once you have enough of these pictures, you’ll have a collage full of things that describe you. Whenever you feel like you’re losing touch with yourself, you can look at your collage and be reminded of who you are.
Many times, when we fall into periods of self-doubt and low confidence, it’s because someone else caused us to feel that way. As such, an excellent activity to counter this, especially if it’s ongoing, is to pursue your own independence. If you can, it’s best to cut the negative influence out of your life, but if that’s not possible, separate as much of yourself from that influence as you can.
An excellent way to start doing this is to find a hobby that has nothing to do with anyone or anything else in your life. Choose something that you’d like to do that comes purely from your own heart, then go do it! Get no one else’s opinion on the matter – no one else gets a say in this activity at all. If you can manage this, you’ll quickly have something all your own that you can take pride in and enjoy.
This first hobby can serve as a stepping stone to freeing other parts of your life, too. Once you have your hobby under control, use your newly-found confidence to liberate other aspects of yourself from their chains. Perhaps someone in the past made fun of one of your previous hobbies. Try taking up this hobby again for yourself and see what you think!
Even when you feel like all hope is lost, there are still other people out there who are willing to help you build your confidence. Sometimes, we might feel like we’re unable to fix it on our own. Occasionally, other things, like the following, can be responsible:
- We don’t feel confident enough to try to fix our confidence
- We don’t know where to begin
- We’ve tried several other things but failed
- We don’t realize that something is wrong in the first place
In situations like the above, the kindness of people around you really begins to shine. In the worst situations, there are helplines that you can call over the phone for an instant person to talk to. However, if you’re willing to put a bit more time and effort, you can find superior sources of encouragement like focus groups and therapists/psychiatrists.
Professional help is excellent for people who truly need it. However, you may need to pay for a professional’s services if your insurance will not, and professional service is not for everyone. That being said, having a therapist or psychiatrist that will listen to your worries and propose solutions is an extremely potent tool for building confidence. For most people, though, it might be overkill.
Instead, try finding (or forming) a focus group to address your confidence issues. When many minds come together, it’s much easier to find solutions to problems, and this is why focus groups are so efficient. People who have been in your place will be able to share their solutions, and you will be able to do the same for others later on. In addition, focus groups are commitment-free and usually don’t cost any money.
If you don’t like the idea of a group that’s specifically geared towards raising your confidence, then just join any group. Make it something that you feel competent in, of course, but studies show that joining groups can do wonders for your confidence. However, the catch is that the group needs to be connected to your identity. You can’t just join anything that you have no real interest in, as this won’t have the same beneficial effect.
Build an Alter-Ego
If you find that you can’t alter your own confidence, then it may be effective to pretend to be someone with confidence for a while. This is a bit different than just emulating confidence. For this exercise, take some time to think about who you would be under ideal circumstances. Would you be confident? Kind? Stern, or gentle? Would you be serious, or would you be boisterous?
Once you have the personality traits of your alter-ego fleshed out, try pretending to be this person in small spurts. Try being this person when you’re ordering take-out or fast food, or step into their shoes when answering the phone. If you practice this exercise enough, you may eventually be able to merge this alter-ego together with your current self.
Use this exercise with caution. Crafting a new identity can be extremely useful for some people, but for others, it can confuse their original identity. If you feel like this activity may cause more harm to you than good, do it sparingly or not at all.
A common feature among confident people is that they don’t feel ashamed of what others think of them. They’re very honest because they don’t fear the consequences of being that way. As such, forcing yourself to be brutally honest is an excellent way to desensitize yourself to the judgments that others can sometimes have.
We often think that other people are quick to judge you for things that you really may have no reason to be ashamed of. Maximizing our honesty is one of the best ways to force our brains to realize that this isn’t always true! When you’re honest about your interests, you may find that others don’t judge you as much as you think. Even if they do judge you, if you force yourself to be honest, each rejection or judgment will mean a little less.
Conclusion on Confidence Building Exercises
Often, the easiest way to address low confidence is to pinpoint the issues that got us there in the first place. If your confidence issues came from being inept at something, the best thing to do is work on improving those skills. If your self-confidence has suffered because other people made fun of you, understanding that they have no say in your interests is a priority.
While it’s possible to boost your confidence without a precise diagnosis of the issue, finding a solution is much quicker and more effective when you have one. As such, taking a little extra time to point out the root of the problem can help you find more success!