15 Self-Affirming Things to Boost Your Confidence

Learn what it means to have self-confidence and find tools for increasing your confidence for better well-being.

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by
Alicia Buchter
— Signos
Health writer
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Reviewed by

Alicia Buchter
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
February 29, 2024
February 7, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Who doesn’t want a little more trust in themselves? Though highly desired, confidence can seem abstract and sometimes frustratingly out of reach. Some people appear to have plenty, while others are left feeling shortchanged. Confidence is important for overall well-being, and though it seems elusive at times, it can be cultivated intentionally. Read on for actionable guidance on how to boost your self-confidence.

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What Is Self-Confidence?

The meaning of self-confidence is often confused with “self-esteem” and “self-efficacy”. In fact, these three terms have distinct definitions. 

  • Self-Efficacy: This term describes your perceived ability to complete a specific task. For example, someone who has confidence in their ability to cook a new dish successfully would have high self-efficacy. It makes sense that one’s history often influences self-efficacy. If you have a track record of killing houseplants, your hopes of keeping your new orchid alive are likely not high.
  • Self-Confidence: Self-confidence can be described as your general confidence in your ability to accomplish a goal. While self-efficacy refers to your perceived ability to complete specific tasks, self-confidence is a broader and more stable trait concerning confidence in your overall capability, especially based on past experiences. 
  • Self-Esteem: Most often confused with self-confidence, self-esteem refers to one’s view of their value or worth. This term vaguely describes whether someone thinks highly of themselves on a broad scale, and unlike self-efficacy and self-confidence, is not tied to past experiences or concrete abilities.

The Importance of Self-Confidence

A healthy level of self-confidence could improve your mental well-being and help you succeed personally and professionally. For example, research has found that more confident people tend to be more successful academically.1 A broad review study found that high self-esteem is associated with better physical and mental health, better social lives, and protection against mental disorders and social problems.2 Confidence not only affects your internal feelings but is also relayed to those around you, influencing others’ perceptions of your capability. 

Can there be too much of a good thing, though? The self-esteem movement swept through Western culture 50 years ago, changing education and workplace cultures. Emphasis was put on instilling a sense of specialness and potential in children and workers with the intention of improving people’s success. However, journalists have pointed out that while self-confidence has increased since then, so has narcissism and unrealistic expectations.3 

The best course of action may be to continue improving your self-confidence while retaining a realistic perspective of yourself. 

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="how-to-stop-stress-eating">13 Proven Tips to Stop Stress Eating and Gain Self-Control</a>.</p>

15 Things to Do to Boost Your Self-Confidence

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  1. Silence Negative thoughts: Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. Negative self-talk can be a powerful influence on our self-perception. The first step to more self-confidence might be intentionally shutting down negative thoughts about yourself. The next time you question your competency or worth unnecessarily, direct your thoughts towards a more productive and positive line of thinking. 
  2. Self-Affirm: Conversely, self-affirmations can replace negative thoughts. Self-affirmations are short, encouraging statements that you can use to create a more positive mindset. Intentionally saying or thinking phrases along the lines of “I appreciate who I am,” “I am capable of success,” or “I embrace the unknown” can increase your self-confidence. Research has shown that self-affirmation can be a tool for self-defense when you feel emotionally or psychologically threatened and enhances the effects of interventions across various domains, such as physical health.4, 5 For example, smokers who affirmed their personal values were shown to be more open to anti-smoking information.6 Identify your values and carefully craft affirmations that are true to you. 
  3. Think About Body Language: Research has shown that posture has an impact on internal thought patterns. For example, one study found that positive and negative views of oneself were held more confidently in people asked to sit up straight.7 Often, when people are nervous or uncomfortable, they tend to hold themselves in “smaller” postures with hunched shoulders and crossed legs, which can reinforce negative feelings. Notice when you adopt these postures and try sitting up straight, lifting your head, and pulling your shoulders back to feel more powerful, relaxed, and self-assured.
  4. Surround Yourself With Positivity: Those who are closest to us have a real impact on how we see ourselves and the world. Choose to spend time with people who you feel supported and respected by. Your attitude will likely adjust to reflect theirs.
  5. Take Care of Your Body: Physical health is often fundamental for a positive mentality. When your body is healthy, you have more energy, feel better, and have more stable mental health. For example, increasing evidence has linked gut health to mental health.8 Build a healthier body by focusing on your nutrition, physical activity, and stress. Exercise, in particular, has been shown to significantly impact self-confidence, which is no surprise considering exercise often improves mood, body image, and feelings of capability.9 Consider starting an exercise routine and incorporating more movement into your week.
  6. Develop a Multidimensional Life: When you are involved in multiple things that contribute to who you are, your self-worth becomes less vulnerable. On the other hand, when you identify yourself by only one thing, if you experience failure in that area, your self-confidence can take a real hit. Your family, work, hobbies, and friendships can add different dimensions to your life and can provide a buffer when things go wrong. Consider how you could amplify or diversify the facets that make up your identity.
  7. Be Honest About Yourself With Others: Do you find yourself hiding some aspects of yourself when interacting with others? It is best to tailor yourself to the social context to an extent. However, if you regularly avoid telling others about some parts of yourself, it can reinforce your subconscious embarrassment about those aspects. Choosing to discuss your insecurities with people you trust can be empowering.
  8. Find Your Style: How we feel about our outward appearance can greatly impact our self-confidence. When you feel good about what you’re wearing, you feel better about yourself. Finding a style that fits you can also allow you to display your unique personality and preferences, leading you to gain confidence in your individuality.
  9. Set Goals and Work Towards Them: Confidence is built when things get done. By accomplishing what you set your mind to, you can increase your trust in your own abilities. Set your eye on something meaningful to you, whether it’s finishing a project on time, learning a new skill, or achieving your ideal weight. Then, make a plan and complete concrete steps toward your goal. Celebrate both the big and small accomplishments along the way. You’ll start to recognize your capability to commit to and complete things you set your mind to.
  10. Learn Something New: Doing hard things builds confidence. Stepping outside your comfort zone widens your comfort zone and gives you a chance to prove to yourself that you can tackle unfamiliar challenges regardless of prior experience. When you see progress in your ability to do new things, you start to recognize your growth potential. 
  11. Help Others: Service can work on several levels to increase self-confidence. Doing work for others can help you recognize your value and make you more grateful for what you have. Sometimes, all we need to quell the self-scrutiny is to get out of our own heads and think about others.
  12. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness has been shown to have significant benefits for overall well-being.10 Focusing on what is present can take your mind off past regrets or future challenges. Practice mindfulness to gain mental clarity and confidence.
  13. Allow Yourself to Be “In Progress”: With the rise of modern media, it can sometimes seem like everyone else already has it all figured out because people often display only the perfected sides of their lives to others. When we don’t see others’ failures, it can make our own even more challenging. Give yourself permission to take risks and fail, and try viewing these failures as learning opportunities that are part of the process.
  14. Don’t Compare: Maybe you’re wondering why your social circle isn’t like your coworkers, or you’re wishing you looked like that social media influencer. Maybe you’re comparing your salary or your car to your friend’s. Research has shown that self-esteem and envy are negatively correlated.11  When you find yourself comparing your life to others, reflect on whether it’s helpful and try replacing those thoughts with gratitude. 
  15. Practice Gratitude: When practicing gratitude, it is difficult to think negatively about any person or situation. Try incorporating a regular gratitude routine into your lifestyle, like through journaling or mindfulness practices.

Wellness-Focused Living With Signos

Self-confidence, overall mental well-being, and physical health are tightly intertwined. Learn how your diet, physical activity, sleep, and stress affect your body and mind, and develop ways to optimize your health with Signos’ expert advice. Learn more about health and wellness on the Signos blog, and find out how Signos works to help you stay on track to meet your health goals. Curious whether Signos is right for you? Take a quick quiz to find out.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="christmas-gifts-guide">30 Health and Wellness Gifts to Give Your Loved Ones This Holiday Season</a>.</p>

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References

  1. Stankov, L.; Morony, S.; Lee, Y. P. Confidence: The Best Non-Cognitive Predictor of Academic Achievement? Educational Psychology 2014, 34 (1), 9–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/01443410.2013.814194.
  2. Mann, M.; Hosman, C. M. H.; Schaalma, H. P.; de Vries, N. K. Self-Esteem in a Broad-Spectrum Approach for Mental Health Promotion. Health Educ Res2004, 19 (4), 357–372. https://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyg041.
  3. Does Confidence Really Breed Success? BBC News. December 17, 2012. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-20756247 (accessed 2024-02-05).
  4. Cohen, G. L.; Sherman, D. K. The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention. Annu Rev Psychol2014, 65, 333–371. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115137.
  5. Epton, T.; Harris, P. R.; Kane, R.; van Koningsbruggen, G. M.; Sheeran, P. The Impact of Self-Affirmation on Health-Behavior Change: A Meta-Analysis. Health Psychol2015, 34 (3), 187–196. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000116.
  6. Crocker, J.; Niiya, Y.; Mischkowski, D. Why Does Writing about Important Values Reduce Defensiveness? Self-Affirmation and the Role of Positive Other-Directed Feelings. Psychol Sci2008, 19 (7), 740–747. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02150.x.
  7. Briñol, P.; Petty, R. E.; Wagner, B. Body Posture Effects on Self-Evaluation: A Self-Validation Approach. European Journal of Social Psychology2009, 39 (6), 1053–1064. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.607.
  8. The gut-brain connection. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection (accessed 2024-02-05).
  9. Mental Health Benefits of Exercise: For Depression and More. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/exercise (accessed 2024-02-05).
  10. Brown, K. W.; Ryan, R. M. The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-Being. J Pers Soc Psychol2003, 84 (4), 822–848. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822.
  11. Vrabel, J. K.; Zeigler-Hill, V.; Southard, A. C. Self-Esteem and Envy: Is State Self-Esteem Instability Associated with the Benign and Malicious Forms of Envy? Personality and Individual Differences2018, 123, 100–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.11.001.

About the author

Alicia Buchter is a content writer for Signos and earned her degree in Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.

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