Building Unshakable Confidence

Building Unshakable Confidence

            More often than not, we are our own worst enemies.  Any great ambition can be cut short by a lack of faith in its success.  Imagine how much you could accomplish if you believed wholeheartedly that everything you attempted would turn out for the best?  While there are some benefits to a certain level of realism with yourself and your capabilities, it’s hard to succeed at any endeavor without having the confidence to back it up.  Your goals don’t have to be just dreams; you can achieve anything as long as you believe in your project and yourself.


Think Consciously


            Our thoughts are divided into the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious. We breathe without thinking--this is unconscious thought.  We find, after ending a relationship, that it is a relief rather than a heartache--that is the subconscious telling us it was the right thing to do.  We watch TV and get hungry, and then we decide to order pizza--although it is our body telling us it needs food, we make the conscious decision on what we eat.


            A key part of building your self-confidence is taking some subconscious thoughts and making them conscious.  Confidence is a natural defense against negative thinking, which is great if you have it, but creates an even stronger negative effect if you don’t.  Unconfident people are more likely to subconsciously think of themselves belittlingly.[1]


            If you lack confidence, even if you don’t intend to do so, you’ll probably find yourself judging yourself as lacking regularly before you can stop the thoughts.  Do you look in the mirror and think you’re ugly?  Do you make a small mistake and think you’re stupid? Does a friend take some time to reply to a text, and make you think they don’t care?  These negative gut reactions are a form of self-sabotage, but they can be overcome.


            Try to train yourself to actively think when you react.  I know, easier said than done, but the results are worth the effort.  Accept that your subconscious thoughts exist--you’re never going to fully get rid of them--but then approach them as an engaged thinker.  If your first reaction when you see yourself is to think you’re ugly, follow that up with the question: “Why do I think I’m ugly?  Am I really unattractive, or do I just not like myself right now?”  It will take time for you to love the parts of yourself that you’ve only ever seen previously as flaws, but the first step into moving past those negative thoughts is to confront why you have them in the first place.




            It’s hard to work to improve when you don’t have any idea of what, exactly, you’re working towards.  Having a defined goal in mind gives direction to any project, but what do you do when the goal is just a better you?


            Visualization means creating an image of yourself in your head that you would like to become.  By imagining a version of you that you can be fully proud of, you create a tangible result that you would like to achieve.  Imagery is an important part of organizing your thoughts and desires and bringing them from the world of the theoretical to reality.[2]


            Do you want to make friends more easily?  Imagine yourself as someone outgoing.  Hope to nail a job interview?  Think of yourself in your best interview outfit, fully prepared to talk about your qualifications and experience.  It may seem silly, but you should never underestimate the power of your own mind.


Take Care of Your Hygiene


            Beauty may only be skin deep but taking care of yourself will lay the foundation for loving yourself more completely.  Most people don’t like to interact with someone who is dirty, smelly, or sickly, and I don’t know about you, but I personally hate feeling unclean.


            Hygiene can vary widely from person to person, and most hygienic habits are solidified in childhood, so your mileage may vary.  Some people use floss, others just brush their teeth.  Some people use shampoo and conditioners, others find that either one or the other works best for their hair.  Whatever makes you feel clean and fresh, do it.  MoisturizeTrim your nailsShave your beard.


            While we should never let the opinions of strangers dictate our actions, the reality is that a receiving positive feedback on our appearance and presentation from others while we’re in public is a vital aspect of developing a stronger self-confidence.[3]  You don’t have to be an Instagram MUA, but you should feel like you have gone through enough rituals of personal grooming to not feel gross.




            Ugh, I know.  This one is definitely the toughest for me.  Motivating yourself to be active can be a tricky thing, but you do receive the benefits from doing so almost immediately, so push yourself to get moving.


            Exercising can reduce the rate of cardiovascular disease, balance out of whack hormones, lower rates of depression, and improve results on tests of cognitive functioning.[4]  It also burns away excess energy, which means you have less power during your downtime to spend getting anxious.


            As for committing, there are ways out there to motivate yourself into action.  Getting a gym membership is a good start.  You already paid to use those machines, didn’t you?  You wouldn’t want that money to go to waste.


Take a Risk


            Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Those with low self-confidence are less likely to break out of their comfort zones and tend to hesitate around making important decisions.[5]  It’s true, you may not succeed at every new venture or challenge that crosses your path, but you’ll never know until you try.


            It’s important to remember that failure is normal.  It certainly doesn’t feel good, and if you don’t succeed when you take a risk, you may think that you are being punished for trying to go beyond your station.  This is patently false, and also a dangerous way to think.


            Failure happens to all of us, and no one is an expert at everything.  Deep anxiety should be avoided, of course, but pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is the only way you’ll ever really grow.  If you still find yourself hesitating, don’t be afraid to seek help from others.  Ask your boss if you can try taking on new responsibilities, or open up Pinterest or YouTube and try your hand at learning a new hobby from experts who have made their content available online for free.  The worst thing that happens is you find out you’re not the best at certain tasks, and who knows--you may end up being a natural!


Stick to Your Guns


            At the end of the day, you know yourself best.  It’s one thing to be non-confrontational and acquiescent, but another thing entirely to let others walk all over you.  You don’t have to pick a fight with everyone you meet, but it’s healthy to have personal boundaries, and to hold the people you know accountable for following them.


            If someone asks you to do something that you’re truly uncomfortable with, tell them “no.”  One word.  It really is that easy.  We all have a moral duty to help each other out as much as possible, but that help should not come at the detriment of our own health.


            Knowing your limits--and establishing them with your family, friends, and peers--will also give you a rock-solid foundation for understanding your capabilities.[6]  A fuller understanding of your strengths and weaknesses will make you more confident in your ability to handle different tasks.



Knowing Yourself


            Building confidence requires you to be your own best cheerleader.  You need to think positively, not only about your current self, but also about your future goals.  You can achieve what you put your mind to, as long as you have the will to follow through.  Confidence and happiness go hand in hand; find one, and you’ve got the key to the other.

[1] Kate Hays, Owen Thomas, Ian Maynard & Mark Bawden (2009) The role of confidence in world-class sport performance, Journal of Sports Sciences, 27:11, 1185-1199, DOI: 10.1080/02640410903089798

[2] Shone, Ronald. Creative Visualization: Using Imagery and Imagination for Self-Transformation. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, 1998.

[3] “Importance Of Good Personal Hygiene To Develop Positive Self-Esteem.” Clensta, 27 Nov. 2018,

[4] Acevedo, Edmund O. “Exercise Psychology: Understanding the Mental Health Benefits of Physical Activity and the Public Health Challenges of Inactivity.” Oxford Handbooks Online, 2012, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195394313.013.0001.

[5] Krueger, Norris, and Peter R. Dickson. “How Believing in Ourselves Increases Risk Taking: Perceived Self-Efficacy and Opportunity Recognition.” Decision Sciences, vol. 25, no. 3, 1994, pp. 385–400., doi:10.1111/j.1540-5915.1994.tb00810.x.

[6] Baym, Nancy K. “Relational Boundaries.” Playing to the Crowd, 2018, pp. 171–192., doi:10.18574/nyu/9781479896165.003.0007.

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