Life Skills: increasing your confidence

Are you lacking in self-confidence at work, college or just life in general? If so, there’s a good chance that it could be getting in the way of your success despite you being capable of achieving what you want to do. Everyone lacks confidence sometimes. The key to conquering a lack of confidence is recognising it for what it is – it’s not a lack of capability, knowledge or skills. Read the ways in which people commonly show a lack of confidence and use or tips below to overcome your own self-doubt.

Common signs you may be lacking confidence

1. You check your phone when left alone in a social situation in order to appear busy or connected
2. You find it difficult to make even simple decisions
3. You are unable to accept compliments
4. You compare yourself to others too often
5. You believe that anything that goes well is down to luck rather than your own doing, and are unable to celebrate success
6. You feel the need to explain all of your decisions, even if they are successful
7. You take constructive criticism to heart and feel the need to make excuses
8. You use defensive body language such as crossing your arms or legs
9. You seek approval and validation from others – this is a common problem in frequent social media users
10. You fear change even if your situation isn’t working for you, such as your job or your relationship
11. You feel the need to achieve perfection, despite knowing that it is impossible

Ways to improve your confidence

Don’t talk about yourself in ways you wouldn’t talk about others. Often those with low confidence criticise themselves and hold themselves to a far harsher standard than they do others. say “It can be helpful to ask yourself: “would I talk to, or think about a loved one in such a negative way?”” Get into the habit of saying or believing positive things about yourself.

Be aware of how you are consuming social media. Behavioural Scientist, Clarissa Silva, explains: “What is shared across our social networks only broadcasts the positive aspects of our lives.” This means we are constantly comparing ourselves against unrealistic standards in terms of looks, lifestyle, relationships and more. A recent study found that 60% of social media users feel it negatively impacts their self-esteem. It’s not only comparing yourself to others that can be harmful, however. “When you post on social media, you’re “creating the illusion of having more social engagement, social capital, and popularity, but masking one’s true persona.” Problems with confidence start when your real self doesn’t live up to the self you are presenting online.

Be more assertive. “When you don’t like yourself, it’s easy to assume others won’t like you either. You may find you go out of your way to help others as you feel it’s the only way they’ll like you. It can make you feel even worse if this help isn’t reciprocated,” say It’s time to learn to say no, set boundaries and take control of your own decisions.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

The first step to self-confidence is to accept yourself. Once you’ve determined your skill sets, you can focus on doing the things that you are good at instead of feeling bad about the things you can’t do. Nobody is good at everything, so the sooner you accept this and focus on your own unique strengths, the sooner your self-confidence will grow. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – this is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Set achievable goals

Set yourself a realistic, long-term goal. Perhaps it’s getting a new qualification, finding a new job, buying a house or saving for a holiday. Now break this bigger goal into smaller, daily goals, which you can easily tick off. If you goal is to get a new qualification, your smaller goal might be to set aside 30 minutes each day to study. If your goal is to save up for a house or holiday, your goal could be putting aside a small amount each day. Having these small wins will increase your confidence that you can achieve the bigger things, and your sense of achievement will be based on fact, not arrogance.