How to Increase Confidence & Self-Esteem-A 5 Step Formula

Confidence is a state of mind that involves trusting yourself and your abilities. It means being certain that you can handle different situations and challenges. Confidence is based on realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Confidence can also be expressed in your actions and communication with others. People who are confident tend to be more positive, assertive, and optimistic.

Confidence is not a fixed trait that you are born with or without. It can change depending on the context and your mood. It is not something that you either have or don’t have. It is a spectrum that ranges from low to high.

Why do you want Confidence?

You need to ask yourself this question because confidence is not what you want to achieve, it’s what helps you achieve it.

It lets you do things; it’s similar to money. What is the reason you want money? You might think having a lot of money in your bank is good, but what do you really want to do with the money? At some point, we want to use it for food, bills, clothes, houses, cars, devices, children, education, self-improvement, tools, toys, business, ideas, hobbies, trips, family, friends etc. Confidence works the same way.

But it’s even better because when you use it you don’t lose it, you actually get more.

What would you do?

Would you talk more at work? Would you share your ideas and opinions in meetings with confidence? Would you take more chances, look for opportunities instead of waiting for them to find you? Would you lead your business, your company, and your field? Would you improve your sales skills? Would you sell more? Would you talk to anyone in any situation and not worry so much about what they think of you? Would you chat with powerful and influential people more easily? Or maybe something else.

Confidence is the base of all success. When you have enough of it, you can do amazing things. Spend a few minutes and really think about what you’d do with more confidence. Think about what you really want, because this will motivate you to take the action needed to reach the next level in any area of your life.

What you read below won’t help you because this article is not about learning more information, it’s about changing. Changing requires you to do things. You can’t just read something and somehow magically be different. Each of the steps in the formula below requires you to do something.

There’s just one more thing we need to fix first before we jump into the formula. And that’s the bad confidence building advice you’ve probably heard your whole life. So let’s break these myths right now:

The Top 3 Confidence Building Myths

Myth #1: Just Do It

You might have heard this before. You might have even tried it to motivate yourself. The idea is to just make yourself do what you’re afraid of.

If you’re afraid to talk at work, just do it. Talk at work. If you’re afraid to chat with a stranger, just do it. Go chat with them. Whatever it is, just go do it (don’t be a coward).

This advice is based on exposure therapy, which is a real way to beat fear and anxiety by behavioral psychologists in the 20th century. It’s proven by science. So why is this bad advice then? Because it’s too simple. It doesn’t work for most people who try it. Here are some of the big problems with it.

First, we can only “force through” a little bit of fear. With any fear, you can rate it from 0 to 100, with 100 being the worst. In psychology, this number is called your “Subjective Units of Distress” or SUD level. Most people can make themselves do something in the 20-30 range often. It’s not nice and they might hate it, but if they really want to, they can do it.

So if talking in a big meeting at work is a 90 for you, and you try to “just do it”, here’s what usually happens:

Not being able to “just do it” and then feeling bad about yourself actually makes you less confident, and you are even MORE afraid to talk in the future.

You somehow manage to say something in the meeting. If you’re very scared and tense, it might not be clear. Or you might not say what you really mean. Or you might stop when someone disagrees. Then, you feel bad again.

Myth #2: Fake It ‘Till You Make It

This one says if you don’t feel confident, act like you are until you do. It’s like Just Do It. It’s based on the idea that the more we do something the easier it gets, which is usually true. But acting confident is hard. Have you ever done it?

Have you ever done it when you’re scared and your heart is racing? And how does that go in a conversation? You don’t know what to say next and you’re afraid of saying something dumb. We need more help, we need more ways.

We can copy people who can do what we want to do; we can learn their actions and habits and start to do them. But the main problem with this advice is, it is only about actions on the outside. And the issue with that is confidence comes from the inside.

If we’re not good inside of ourselves, no acting will make us feel calm or confident.

Myth #3: What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

It’s supposed to help us face our fears and realize we can cope with them. It’s supposed to make us feel less afraid. But it usually doesn’t work that way.

Because if you have low self-esteem, social anxiety or self-doubt, you always think of the worst possible outcomes. And you make them very scary in your mind. Just go and talk to those co-workers over there. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, they could be bored by me and wish I would leave. Then I could get very nervous and turn red and say something stupid. Then they could laugh at me. Then I could run away in a weird way and they could spread rumors about how lame I am.

You are now doing something called “Catastrophizing”, that means “creating unrealistic worst case scenarios and believing they are likely to happen“. Many of us do this when we are anxious or lack confidence. So when we ask ourselves that question, what’s the worst that could happen, we end up making things worse.

Do you know what’s the worst thing about these common tips to boost your confidence?

They are so common that most people have tried them and when they don’t work, we think it’s our fault. I guess I’m just flawed. I’m stuck and can’t change. I’m different and inferior to others. I guess that’s just who I am. And when you believe that, you can give up and avoid things for months, years, or even decades.

You can change it all, you just need the right method. It’s great, you are reading this, because you are one of the few who searched for a better solution than bad common sense advice.

So let’s get started and see what really works to increase your confidence.

5 Step Formula For Increasing Confidence

Step 1 : Admit You’re Scared

It may not sound cool or exciting but this is the first step, because it all comes down to fear. All social anxiety, self-doubt and low confidence is just fear;

  • Fear of being judged.
  • Fear of making a mistake.
  • Fear of looking stupid.
  • Fear of failing.
  • Fear of being rejected.
  • Fear of getting hurt.
  • Fear of losing something.

That’s why we don’t speak up in meetings. That’s why we don’t have the friendships we want.

Here’s why admitting you’re scared is step 1. Because most of us learned, especially as men, that being scared is bad. It’s weak. It’s not manly. It makes us a wimp.

So, we avoid things that scare us. We lie to ourselves and make up stories and excuses.

  • I’m not going to talk to them right now, it’s not the right time.
  • I can’t do that. I never could.
  • I’ll take that risk later when I’m sure it will work out.
  • I’ll start my business later when I have more clarity.

…this list can go on and on. Notice how none of these admit fear. These stories and excuses let us save face so we can look good to ourselves and others. And what makes us do that?

It all comes down to fear. And the sooner you can admit that, the quicker you’ll be free. Admit you’re scared and this gives you a lot of power to change anything you want.

But at first we find it hard to use that power. Because as soon as we admit fear, we face another problem – self-attack!

Step 2: Love Yourself Even Though You’re Scared

We don’t like to admit we’re scared because we think fear is a sign of weakness. So we push it away and hate ourselves for feeling it. We also have a voice in our head that criticizes us when we’re scared. It says things like:

  • You’re scared?
  • You’re such a loser.
  • You can’t even talk to people.
  • You’ve been trying for so long and you’re still scared.
  • You’re pathetic.

This is just the beginning. It can go on for hours. It hurts and makes us unhappy, but we still do it to ourselves when we’re scared. It’s not helpful still we do it because that’s what we have learnt.

It’s not your fault. When you were young, you might have heard:

  • Why are you scared?
  • What’s wrong with you?
  • You’re scared of that?
  • There’s nothing to be afraid of.
  • Stop being a baby and, the worst one,
  • I’ll give you something to cry about.

When people still say these things, they mean: you shouldn’t be scared, you should get rid of it, you’re bad for feeling this way.

That’s what we believed, and that’s how we treat ourselves every day, especially when we’re scared. We think we have to be tough on ourselves and make ourselves stop being scared. It doesn’t work, it makes us feel worse, and it makes us think we’re not good enough.

So what works? Being nice to yourself, feeling for yourself, loving and accepting yourself.

Now the question is, how can we do that? First, you have to choose. You have to choose to stop being mean to yourself. You have to choose to stop hurting yourself to succeed. It doesn’t work, it’s terrible, and it makes you feel empty. Instead, you have to choose to be on your side no matter what. To do what you need to love yourself. You have to practice this consistently and continuously; then, you have to pay attention to how you treat yourself when you’re scared or unhappy.

What do you say to yourself when you’re scared? How do you act towards the scared part of you? If you’re harsh and mean, here’s what to do:

  • Slow down.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Breathe again, filling your lungs.
  •  Let it out with a sound.
  • Focus on your body.

Fear is always in your body somewhere. It could be in your chest, throat, stomach, belly, jaw, forehead, neck, shoulders and hands. Just focus on where it’s strongest and feel it.

Don’t think about it or talk to yourself about it. As you feel it, keep breathing, and start to accept it. Let yourself feel it and stop fighting it so much. This is not in your head, it’s in your body. Then, let yourself accept it more, you can say something like this, to the fear in your body. You’re scared right now. That’s ok. It’s ok to be scared.

You don’t have to get rid of the fear or make it disappear. You have to be kind and gentle to it and to yourself. This makes the fear smaller and easier to deal with. It also helps it go away by itself.

The more you do this, the stronger you get. When you stop fighting the fear, you can focus better on what you want to do.

Step 3: Take Your Thoughts Less Seriously

We are scared of things that haven’t happened yet. We think about what could go wrong, what might go wrong, what will go wrong. Then we think, those thoughts are real, true, right and sure. Then we panic. You are often struck by thoughts like:

  • Those people will hate me.
  • I will look stupid.
  • I will forget what to say.
  • They will not buy from me.
  • She will not date me.
  • They will be mad at me.
  • I will lose all my money and be homeless.
  • I will fail and everyone will look down on me.

Our mind makes guesses all the time and if we don’t pay attention, we will trust many of them as if they are totally real and true.

But here’s the thing, they’re just words and pictures in your brain, guesses about the future, which we don’t know. Don’t mix up the sureness in your mind with the truth of the guesses.

Instead, slow down and look at the guess carefully. What if we stopped putting so much effort in believing each of these thoughts as real?

Do you want to know a secret?

These guesses are not made to be true. Actually, we make these guesses to stop us from doing things! Just remember to take your thoughts less seriously and don’t stuff your mind with hypothetical thoughts.

Step 4: Test It Out- One Step at a Time

The process needs the first three steps, but the fourth step is when you feel free.

The scary stories in your mind are not true. Thinking positively or imagining things won’t help you; only doing things can do that.The only way to know that, and to feel free, happy and sure of yourself, is to try them.

So go and try, see what is really true for yourself. You may find it much better, much more fun and much more amazing than you thought.

Step 5: Repeat

We wish that doing something once will fix everything, but that’s not true.

Fear and confidence need practice. We need to accept our fear, love ourselves and our fear, let go of bad thoughts, and do things to see what really happens. And we need to do that over and over again. Every time we do that, we change our mind.

We have a lot of old things to change. The first time you talk to someone you think is better than you, you may be scared. The second time, too. The tenth time, too. But the 50th time will be easy, if you follow these steps. You may think, “Oh no! I can’t do the scary thing once, let alone 50 times! That’s too hard.” Maybe it will take you 100 times. But most of your pain is not from doing the scary thing.

It’s from how you think about fear. If you stop fighting it and start loving it and yourself, it’s not so bad. You can be happy even when you’re scared. You may be scared at first, but you can also feel excited, free, and happy. When you do new things, you feel more alive, hopeful, and positive. You also get stronger and more confident. Good things happen.

The scared and negative parts of us want us to stop because they don’t like pain, rejection, or discomfort. This works very well in every part of life – work, love, friends, anything. When you do this in your life, you can make big changes and success faster than you think, and faster than others. You can do it. It’s not magic, it’s a plan.

This moment is very important because you’ve read this article. You learned the best way to be more confident and change your life. If you do this, and use what you’ve learned, your life will change. Not right away, but slowly. With every new choice, every time you act differently, every time you try something. The fear and doubt in your mind will start to vanish and have less control over you.

Applying this plan of action will boost your confidence by 10 times in no time.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: The above article is a concise version of Dr. Aziz Gazipura’s Paper

Refer related Book Summaries:

  1. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
  2. The Six Pillars of Self Esteem
  3. 12 Rules for Life
  4. The Compound Effect
  5. Atomic Habits

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