How do you gain self-confidence?

I’ve recently realized many of my problems are due to my lack of self-confidence.
So my question is simple. Were any of you shy and lacking confidence before but now have developed your self-confidence? If so, how?

A combination of determination (“Just do it,” to quote the Greek God Nike :)) and the realization that “You wouldn’t worry so much about what most people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.”

Worked for me, anyway.

Good advice from rjung; what also worked for me was doing things that I hadn’t done before (like taking an evening course in something that interests you, or reading a classic novel that you have always meant to read). I get a real sense of accomplishment from doing things like this; every little thing that you do can build your confidence in yourself. Also, as a corollary to what rjung said, it helps me to realize that if I’m feeling uncomfortable or wish that someone would talk to me, that other people around me are probably feeling the same way, too.

Well, for me, reading, deeply and widely helped.

Starting increasing my socialization in small increments helped.

Finally deciding to “just get out there” when I felt I was ready helped.

And not taking any of the multitude of small setbacks throw me back into my shell helped immensely.

-Doug

To echo the previous posters, the doing it, does it.

What I mean to say is, that whenever one begins something, he or she is not too competent. As he continues, he gets better and better, and as he gets better, the confidence grows.

It also doesn’t hurt that as the competence comes, so usually does some recognition and from that too can come some confidence.

It is sort of like getting a job–you need experience, but you can’t get experience without a job…

I have been talking to my niece about this lately. Much of her trouble comes from assuming that everyone else knows more than she does. She is just 21 and has been improving by being more assertive in general and taking notice of what she has accomplished rather than what she has yet to do.

She is getting better about not “leadings with her chin.” Don’t volunteer information which puts you in a bad light.
Be cool. Mellow. Don’t lie, just don’t volunteer information which makes you look bad. Salesmanship!!

Also, she is developing “a plan.” Actually writing down goals and steps to achieve them. She has dates attached, but realizes that “deadlines” can be self-defeating. By checking off the steps she takes successfully, she can measure her progress. Tangible rewards.

She is trying to be her own “best friend” and give herself the benefit of the doubt. She is also looking more critically at “successful” people and seeing how they might have a skill or talent which makes them successful, but that they are just people otherwise. I suggested she watch those shows that show the homes of the “stars” to see how much like real folks those people are.

Re-programming the mind takes thought, practice and perseverance. There is that old saw that a diamond is a lump of coal which withstood a great deal of pressure…but it still takes some polish to be a gem.

And the best part is that it is never too late to get farther along than you are now.

Myself

Ditto on the above.

Reading. Doing. Trying.

One thing that has really helped me is *" Do you best and don’t get too attached to the outcome." *

Meaning, don’t expect your boss/friend/parent to just go ga-ga over what ever it is that you just spend X hours/blood/sweat/tears/hopes/aspiriations on. No one will ever have the emotional attachment to , say building houses out of toothpicks, as you.

Awe, screw the above, send me $29.95 and I’ll send you some pills that you can take that will not only boost your self esteem, you will have a perpetual hard on. If you are a female, you will grow a penis and be able to play with your boobs!

Act now, operators are standing by [sub]and they sure would like to sit down [/sub]

Do yourself proud.

I’m a strong believer in good deeds. Visit elderly relatives. Give blood. Join Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Help fold newsletters at your house of worship.

Lots of good advice here so far.

To reiterate: Do things.

It is in the doing that you become accustomed to yourself and your limitations. A better sense of what you are capable of will allow you to act with more confidence.

That said, if you really want to boost your ability to interact with people please consider attending Toastmasters International. It is a non-profit public speaking group that has a friendly and highly effective program for training people to speak in public.

Public speaking is one of the almost universal maximum fears that people have. If you are able to be relaxed as you address a room full of strangers, many other situations will no longer pose such a challenge to you. I strongly urge you to investigate this. I actually won all three of their group speaking ribbons without even joining.

If you are a musician, writer or poet, go to an open mic and perform in public. This is a surefire way to get over the willies. I can still remember the first open mic I performed at. I played my guitar pieces at twice their normal speed, didn’t introduce the titles of the songs and was lucky my voice didn’t crack while I was on stage. I now have years of performing experience behind me and don’t even flinch at chatting up the crowd.

Give Toastmasters a try. I promise that you will never regret it.

I’ve been suffering from this myself. Being a highschool student (though not for long!), this isn’t actually very atypical for people like me. I think realizing that you have a lack of self-confidence, and more importantly that that is the root of all your other problems, is a BIG step in the right direction. For instance, I’m not as unconfident as I was, say, a year ago. Maybe I’m growing out of it, or maybe it’s simply the realization of what’s wrong. After all, you can’t really solve a problem until youve understood what it is, right?

-H.P.E.

Things I’ve learned from the martial arts:

  • Get out there and do what you have to do. Nobody else can do it for you, whether it’s meeting people, public speaking, learning a new craft, being more assertive, etc. You have to swallow your fears and make the first step. And then,

  • Stick with it. Step two, three, and on get easier and easier if you can keep the commitment to them. Don’t expect to be able to do everything perfectly from the begining, it’s not realistic to think that you can be Steven Segal in a week (and debatable if you’d really want to be anyway, but don’t get me started on that…). Since you can’t be perfect,

  • Don’t worry about mistakes, enjoy them. You really will learn more from your mistakes than from your successes (pain can be good! Love the pain!). If you screw up, figure out what went wrong, and why. Figure out what you can do to keep the same mistake from happening again. Getting beaten down is not the end if you can find the inner strength to stand back up again. Be observant and learn from others mistakes (and successes, too), which means

  • Be Greedy. If you know someone who has the skills you’re looking for, find out what they know. Take everything you can from them, and find out how you can apply that to yourself (nothing is 100% static, and some changes will have to be made to fit your particular situation). As a collolary,

  • Be Open. Be ready and willing (and able)to teach somebody else what you know. Sharing what you have learned will remind you all over again of what you know, it will revise and refine your own abilities, making them even stronger and better.
    Hope this helps some…

I strongly recommend community theater or acting lessons. Although I was always afraid to do things in front of an audience “as myself” I found I had no problems getting up and doing the same things “in character”.

And, when I’m going into a situation like a job interview or an important business setting, I can now create a character who has the guts to do whatever needs to be done. This isn’t really insincere. It’s really the same old Kaiju personality you’d recognize if you were a close friend, but that’s a lot different from the slump shouldered, embarrassed Kai that I want to show to strangers.

Sure, some wine usually does the trick.

I heartily agree with most of the above, and will add this:

Ever see that movie “Defending Your Life”, with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep? They die and then have to prove that their lives were worthwhile in order to advance to the next stage of existence?

Well the trick was to OVERCOME YOUR FEARS. The lawyer character in the film explained that most of our lives are spent learning to deal with fear.

I agree, and have made it my business to not be afraid. Consequently, I’ve made a few decisions that were a bit daring. Some even called them foolish at the time. But I can honestly say I don’t regret any of them. I’ve taken the long way around on a few things, but was greatly enriched by the journey.

So face your fears. My biggie was falling from heights. So I went to a water park and jumped off the biggest cliff I could find. Twice. Scared the piss out of me, but I’m glad to have done it.

There was a thread recently on things that are on your “to do” list. I can honestly say that I’ve already done just about everything I’ve ever had the urge to do. And it’s a wonderful feeling to have the rest of my life ahead of me to find more things to do and enjoy.

If you take any of the advice recommended above (including handy’s) you will quickly discover that much more time, energy and mental anguish is spent in avoiding doing something you must do than in actually doing it. Confidence naturally follows the expeditious. No kidding, it’s really the truth, although I’m only just learning it myself.

Another way to look at it comes from those scions of the human condition, the Buttole Surfers:

“Daddy?”

“Yes, son?”

“What does regret mean?”

“Well, son, a funny thing about regret is that it’s better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven’t done. And by the way, when you see your mother this weekend, will you be sure to tell her SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!

I remember that this worked for me. I took a variant of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ™ Personality Test (supposedly the world’s most popular psychology test). There are all kinds of versions of this test available on the web for free, and when you’re done taking the test (which can take about a half hour or so), you’ll find that they’ve grouped you into one of sixteen possible personality types - along with (and this is the cool part) a fairly detailed analysis of what the traits, strengths, and weaknesses of your particular type are.

The test is good about stressing that no person is completely all one or another, and that everyone has a little bit of everything in them, but the part that really worked for me was that I felt like I belonged to something. You know, like the whole ugly duckling thing. Suddenly I realized that I was as normal as everyone else, and that there were a lot of people out there that were just like me. I felt validated, and a part of the whole - instead of feeling like an outsider. It was a HUGE confidence booster.

After taking the test, I saw that certain personalities were better suited for certain activities and jobs than others. It seems natural that trying to fit my square personality into a round job description (for example) could cause me more stress and doubt than someone else whose personality “fits” more closely to the task. If I wasn’t able to understand this, I might feel less confident about myself and my abilities.

Maybe this will work for you. Try this link, it’s anonymous. http://www.haleonline.com/psych/

Maera

(Note, I’m not a licensed psychologist by any stretch, and I’m only passing along my own experience and opinions)

Great advice so far!

I have also found that working to improve yourself specifically in areas that you might be self-conscious about makes a big psychological difference. For example, I’ve found that many people who are self-conscious about their appearance also feel shy about going to a gym. (I did.) However, if you make yourself go, you realize that the people there see you making an effort, and how can they criticize that? Plus, then you’re improving yourself in an area that is important to you. To me, it’s about taking control and being what you want to be.

Make yourself do things that you’re nervous about – being brave makes you feel good, even when things don’t go as you’d hoped. (Plus, then you’ll have good stories later.)