Seven strategies to help improve confidence

Confidence is essentially a belief in our ability to succeed. It extends to all areas of our lives and if you have it in abundance, it enables you to take risks and seize opportunities whether it be at work, in your social life, and beyond.

If you’re struggling with confidence, it can hold you back and prevent you fully enjoying life and achieving your goals. But help is at hand. As Bupa’s Clinical Director for Mental Health, I’ll go through seven strategies to build your confidence so you can reach your full potential.

Be well prepared

At some stage, we can all have a crisis of confidence. Whether it’s nerves before delivering a presentation at work, or going to an old school reunion, it can happen. Sometimes the simplest solution is to put some time in to prepare.

So if you’re delivering a key presentation, make sure you really know your subject and try to anticipate any questions you might be asked. And practise in front of some willing volunteers.

If you’re going to a school reunion, a quick trawl through social media can ensure you can put a name to those faces. The better prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel.

Ask questions

While confident people may give the impression that they know everything about anything this obviously isn’t true. And they might just be the first people to acknowledge it. It’s better to know when you need help, than struggle in silence. A key part of confidence is a confidence in your ability to learn. And part of that is being willing to admit that you need guidance or support.

Don't be afraid to take risks

To build confidence you need to challenge yourself regularly. If you overcome what originally seems impossible, think what an incredible confidence boost it will be. Whether it’s going for a promotion at work or even running a marathon, just go for it. Don’t consider it a failure if you don’t succeed, but more importantly if you didn’t try.

man on laptop with his foot on a bike

Set goals to get out of your comfort zone

So you’ve decided to challenge yourself – just how are you going to do it? Make a list of goals you want to achieve over the next year. Rather than being too grand, start small and build them as you go. After all, if your goal is unrealistic, it will be hard to stick to. Instead, make a SMART goal. Make sure it’s specific (say exactly what you will do), measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based.  

Don't be afraid to fail - but learn from your mistakes

Ultimately we’re all our own worst critic. But if things go wrong in life, rather than dwell on it and let it knock your confidence, learn from it. You’ll feel more empowered if you take steps to learn from mistakes and come back stronger.

Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment and may help you build your confidence. You can use a range of techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga to do this. Try a few out and see what works best for you. Mindfulness has been shown to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. So instead of being overwhelmed by them, it is easier to manage them.

Seek out support when you need it

There’s a range of support out there to help build your confidence. To feel more relaxed and confident in group situations, you might find it helps to join a local self-confidence or assertiveness course. This can teach you some simple social skills that we often take for granted and will give you the opportunity to practise with other people. You’ll get some valuable feedback on how you do. Or you might find cognitive behavioural therapy helpful to start you on your journey to increasing your confidence. This is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

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