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Confidence: how to gain self-confidence and boost self-esteem

Many of us would like to feel more confident in ourselves. The thing is, our reasons for lacking in self-confidence may be varied and complex, so advice that works for one person might not work for you. We may also feel confident in one area of our lives, for instance, confidence at work might not be a problem, whereas confidence in dating feels impossible and we are riddled with self-doubt. 

We may further diminish our self-confidence by comparing ourselves to others, who we see as confident, together and successful. Of course, we can't know what is going on for them in reality. Very many people struggle with their self-confidence at one time or another.

Confidence isn't something you are born with, it's something you can create for yourself. True confidence comes from within – to be confident means to feel reassured that you will be able to do what you set out to do, and that if things go wrong you'll be able to pick yourself up and learn from your experience. Confidence is really about having faith in yourself. And that's why confidence is such a powerful force; without self-belief it's hard to even start working on your goals, let alone find the motivation to keep going. 

This is also where a lack of confidence can become self-fulfilling – being under-confident makes it less likely you will put yourself out there for opportunities that could boost your confidence. 

If you are feeling stuck in a rut, don't worry, you can nurture your self-confidence; you may just need a little help along the way – you can find out more about confidence coaching below. 

Why are some people more confident than others?

The answer to this question is quite complex, but in many cases at least some of our sense of self and our confidence levels are thought to be crafted in our very early years. When we are very young, we rely on our primary caregivers for everything. We soak up what we see around us, so a lot of how we learn to be will be modelled on behaviour we witness from those around us. 

We may also have poor early experiences when it comes to being criticised. Or may have been told we were too loud, or outspoken. We may have been bullied for how we looked, or laughed at when we shared something we cared about. All of these experiences can contribute to a damaged self-confidence in adulthood. 

If you feel that your self-confidence and self-esteem is affected by your past experiences, it may be that working with a psychotherapist or counsellor is the best route for you. Sometimes feelings of low self-confidence can feel closer to self-hatred, and low self-esteem can be crippling. If this resonates with you, a counsellor or therapist will be trained to support you in unpicking your negative thought patterns and helping you to understand what lies at the root of your lack of confidence. This understanding can go a long way towards helping you feel better, at which stage you may feel more prepared to work with a coach on specific goals. Some therapists also offer coaching and so you can work with them in both ways. 

The good news is, confidence is not an innate characteristic – it's closer to being a skill, something you can practise and improve on over time. 

What's the difference between confidence and self-esteem?

Though often used interchangeably, self-esteem and confidence are different things. Self-esteem is what we think of ourselves: what we think we look like, how we think, whether we feel valued, whether we believe we are worthy. Having low self-esteem is often tied to poor mental health, like depression and anxiety, and certain behaviours, like being a perfectionist. 

Confidence instead relates to how we assess our ability to perform certain tasks and roles: do we think we can give something a go? Do we believe we can succeed if we try? Does it matter if we get it wrong? Confidence isn't about doing things without making any mistakes. To be confident means you feel reassured that even should challenges arise, that you will be able to tackle them with effective problem solving and decision making.

Confidence coaching: how does it work?

There are many areas of life a confidence coach may be able to help you with. Leadership coaches, for instance, may work with professionals who are in positions of responsibility on their confidence in the workplace. When managing a team, confidence can be a key part of getting your employees and colleagues on board. Even outside of leadership positions, confidence in the workplace can advance your career, whether you need to step up to do more presentations and diversify your skills and experience, or you want to go for a promotion. 

Career coaches often work with confidence too. Coaching can offer you a space to learn and practise interview tips and techniques. Often we know that people are confident before they say a word – it's about how people carry themselves as much as anything else. Confident people seem at ease, and put others at ease too. Working one-to-one with a professional coach will give you the space to assess how you present yourself, and work on gaining the confidence to give people an accurate, representative first impression. 

Confidence coaching has its place outside of the office, too. Relationship coaches can support you in gaining more self-confidence in dating. Your coach can help you manage your first date nerves, help you with conversational skills like body language, eye contact, and asking questions. Having self-confidence also increases your chances of having successful long-term relationships, as confidence will help you set healthy boundaries and express your needs without fear. 

A confidence coach will help you challenge and ultimately overcome limiting self-beliefs you have about yourself, whatever the area of your life you are looking to improve.

Find a coach to boost your confidence here

Further reading 

Do I need a coach?

What to expect in a first coaching session

What coaching can offer you

What's the difference between counselling and coaching?

How coaching can help you beat imposter syndrome

Where coaching and therapy overlap, and where they do not

How coaching can help you thrive in times of change

Last updated 2 November 2020

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