How to Build Self-Confidence

By: Lauren Chee

One of the great joys in my work as a therapist is to support individuals and build their sense of self-confidence.

Confidence is the quality of trusting in one’s abilities to handle life’s challenges. A confident person has a realistic sense of their qualities and strengths, which helps them feel secure in themselves and persevere when facing difficult situations. Confidence is not a fixed characteristic, but a quality that can grow and improve over time.

Here are two questions worth exploring to help build self-confidence:

1. How well do you know your strengths?

People who feel insecure tend to focus on their weaknesses and overlook their strengths. However, researchers have discovered that identifying and expressing your personal character strengths is foundational to boosting confidence and acts as a buffer to mental illness. Character strengths are our traits that reflect who we are and what we do when we are at our best.

Studies have identified 24 character strengths that are evident across world cultures. Each of these 24 strengths are present within an individual to varying degrees, but each person will possess a unique combination of these strengths that makes them who they are. For example, perhaps your kindness enables you to build positive relationships with the people around you, or your love of learning has helped you systematically add to your knowledge about a topic of interest.

You can find out your top, middle or lesser strengths by taking VIA’s Character Strength Survey. This is a free 15-minute questionnaire that will help you spot your strengths. But once you’ve received your results, don’t stop there. It will be key to pay attention to how your strengths show up in your life.

Perhaps you could make a regular habit of strength spotting to build confidence. Set aside a weekly time to think about situations where you demonstrated a strength, and appreciate how that quality made a positive difference to the situation. Don’t underestimate the benefits of strength spotting – people who express their character strengths tend to be more confident, engaged, energized and happy in what they do.

2. What is your attitude to failure?

Do you see failure as a valuable lesson or evidence that you are not good enough? How do you tend to respond when you encounter setbacks?

Researcher Dr Carol Dweck and her colleagues were interested in students’ attitudes to failure. They studied the behaviour of thousands of children, trying to figure out why it was that some students bounced back while others were crushed by small mistakes. As a result of their research, Dweck coined the terms ‘fixed mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’ to describe different attitudes people have to learning and failure. Individuals with a growth mindset have the belief that their skills and intelligence are not fixed characteristics, but can grow with practice and persistence.

“To embrace a growth mindset, let’s see failure as a valuable lesson.”

As a result, they tend to see mistakes as an opportunity to learn, instead of a judgement about themselves. With this belief, they are more willing to persevere through challenging situations, leading to an increased sense of achievement and confidence in their skills and abilities. In contrast, individuals with a fixed mindset believe that skills and intelligence are natural, so while some people are naturally good at things, others are not. As a result, they tend to become more discouraged when they make mistakes, and interpret difficulty as evidence they are simply not good at things.

To embrace a growth mindset, let’s see failure as a valuable lesson. There is nothing shameful about it, as you cannot master anything complex without many attempts, errors and setbacks along the way. We can be willing to fail because as Theodore Roosevelt famously said…

“It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

How to find help

Therapy is a place where you can build your self-confidence by discovering your character strengths, examining your mindset about growth and failure, and receiving the encouragement you need to face challenging situations.

Why not consider reaching out to a counsellor or psychologist who can help you boost your sense of self confidence.

Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Living.

Feature image: Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash 

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