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How Can I Build More Confidence? 5 Steps from a Life Coach


how to build confidence confident woman wearing a t-shirt pointing to herself


“How can I build more confidence?”, it’s an age-old question. It’s no wonder – feeling like you’ll never doubt yourself or your abilities in any given situation is pretty appealing, right? The good news of us who feel we desperately lack confidence is that it isn’t an immutable trait. Confidence is an ability that we CAN build, with work. In this article, I will go over the 5 steps that I go through with clients to help them build more confidence. Broadly speaking, these involve identifying when and where you feel a lack of confidence, identifying limiting beliefs about yourself and your abilities, looking at your environment or support network, gently expanding your comfort zone and not waiting for fear to disappear entirely before you act! If you want to know how to build confidence, keep reading…



1. Identify where you feel the lack of confidence


Do you notice your lack of confidence in all situations or is it very specific to certain events? You may feel initially that you don’t feel confident anywhere – and for some people, this is true. But for others, it may be that their social interactions may be conducted with ease and no second thoughts, while events at work have you feeling like you have zero idea what you're doing and you're going to be found out any minute. OR that work has you feeling as cool as a cucumber but the social side of things are seriously giving you the ick. Have a look at what areas you find difficult, and if you can pin down specific events or situations.



2. Look at Limiting Beliefs.


When we're working on how to build confidence, this is where we start to challenge our thought patterns. A limiting belief is a belief that we have about ourselves that limits our capacity to succeed or progress. For example, if you lack confidence in speaking in public, you may have the belief, “I am no good at public speaking”, or even, “I will never be any good at public speaking”. This belief implies that the lack of success in the arena of public speaking is an innate characteristic that can’t be changed, rather than an ability that can be worked on. The likelihood is that even if it is true that you’re not good at public speaking at the moment, you won’t become better at it because of these beliefs.


The good news is, of course, we can change that. So, “I am no good at public speaking” can become, “I don’t feel confident speaking in public, but I can work on it”.


Now that you've identified the situations where you feel less confident, notice what thoughts and beliefs about yourself come up when you're in those situations. How can you change them?



3. Assess your environment


Your surroundings are a crucial part of your existence and daily life experience. In psychology, we often talk about things being bio-psycho-social. That means they’re a combination of biological, psychological and sociological influences. When you’re trying to work on building confidence, it’s worth looking at who and what you have around you. I don’t say that to mean you should start cutting people out of your life left, right and centre (I have seen some coaches suggest that), but if your main objective is to build confidence in the workplace, but you have an unsupportive work environment, then that may need addressing. And while I don’t advocate for the “deadwood” policy, you may find that some relationships aren’t giving you the support you need and do need addressing.


Your environment also includes the wider world, which is really important to remember. At the time of writing this article, we are 2 years into a pandemic, which came after nearly a decade of austerity measures in the UK, and Russia has invaded Ukraine. Oh, and the “cost of living crisis” is looming. The government is pushing to further limit our freedoms - we are burned out, tired and stressed.

Now, I know for a fact there are a lot of coaches and “wellness professionals” out there who will tell you that all you need to do is “think positively” about these things and they essentially won’t matter. But, not only will that not work, it’s ignoring our human nature. It's NORMAL for things like this to affect us – the more we try to pretend it doesn’t, the worse we’ll feel. What we need to do is acknowledge it, while still working on what is within our control.



4. Begin to expand your comfort zone.


As I've mentioned, confidence is a skill that can be developed - like a muscle. As with strength training, if you've never done it before, you don’t jump in with the highest weight you can find and try to start lifting it because you’re highly likely to incur an injury. You start with the small weights and then you gradually build up and up and up. It’s the same with confidence training. We don't go straight into trying to do the big, scary thing because your nervous system will freak out and what you’ve been finding difficult will feel even harder.


Instead, identify situations where you feel a mild to moderate lack of confidence. Revisit step 2 and look at your beliefs in those situations. How can adjust your thinking and then dip your toe into those situations? For example, if you don’t feel confident in meetings at work – identify what conversations or instances in those meetings bring out that lack of confidence. Then, identify what thoughts and beliefs about yourself that brings up and look at how you can adjust those. (If this all sounds like a lot, don’t worry – I’ve got you! You can get a free download from me from my website, which guides you through these steps. Click on "Download Free coaching Exercise" on the homepage.)


The key to expanding your comfort zone is to nudge into it gently over time. Imagine a box. This box is your comfort zone. By nudging into it gently, again and again, you’ll end up with a much-expanded zone of comfort. Before, you know it, you'll be tackling situations that felt previously felt intimidating without a second thought.




5. How to build confidence? Don’t wait until you’re “free of fear” to act


A common misconception when people look at how to build confidence is that confidence needs to come before we can do what it is we want to do. In reality, confidence comes FROM action and taking that action EVEN WHEN you don’t yet feel 100% confident in what you’re doing.


If that sounds scary, don’t worry. Remember, it’s not about jumping into intimidating situations without any work or preparation. It’s about combining all of the above steps and doing the groundwork so you can start taking action. The truth is as much as we work on confidence, there will always be situations that test us, so practicing going into things where we feel less than 100% confidence is good practice (and also incredibly rewarding)! Of course, doing all this is always easier with someone by your side - click here to find out more about working with me.



 


To sum up, you CAN build confidence. Start by identifying where it affects you, look at and change your thinking patterns in these situations, assess your environment so it’s as supportive as possible, keep nudging into your comfort zone to expand it and don’t wait for fear to completely disappear before you take action. Keep doing all of the above and you'll build that confidence muscle!


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