Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, quiet or loud, even-keeled or excitable, one of the keys to success in every area of your life is learning how to be more confident.
But when you’re struggling with feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, I totally get that confidence can seem hard to grasp. I’ve been there—we’ve all been there.
Hear me on this, friend: Even if you’re feeling insecure right now, you can still learn how to be more confident. So, let’s unpack what confidence really is and how we can have more of it in our lives!
Confidence vs. Insecurity
We all know someone who seems naturally confident. We admire the way they can sway a room, carry a conversation, or trust their instincts. But the truth is that they weren’t born with some predetermined “self-confidence gene.” In fact, confidence isn’t a personality style at all—it’s a skill. And, lucky for all of us, it’s a skill that can be learned.
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Insecurity works the same way too. If you feel insecure, just know you don’t have to feel that way forever. Insecurity is not one of your personality traits, and you can learn how to be more confident over time.
Here’s a quick comparison of confidence and insecurity:
So, how do you become more confident?
7 Ways to Be More Confident
I think you’ll find that if you practice these seven simple things, you’ll start to truly be more self-confident!
1. Train your brain.
On May 6, 1954, a British athlete named Roger Bannister broke a world record for running a mile in under four minutes. Prior to that, sportscasters and experts agreed that running a mile in under four minutes was impossible. But, guess what? Once Bannister did it, it only took 46 days for someone else to beat his time and set a new record! Since then, many have broken the record and actually shaved 17 seconds off the fastest mile.
So, what happened in 1954 that changed what was possible?
No external factors changed. The way Bannister trained wasn’t even unique or revolutionary from what anyone else was doing. The only difference was that he set his mind to it. He said, “It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ.”
And once Bannister had proven it could be done, everyone felt confident they could also beat a four-minute mile. He redefined “impossible” by sheer willpower.
You too can learn how to be more confident in your mind. Instead of immediately assuming you can’t accomplish something, believe you have what it takes to figure it out. Like Marie Forleo always says, “Everything is figureoutable.”
2. Watch your words.
Whether you realize it or not, the words you speak shape your beliefs about yourself—and what others believe about you. If I’ve done it once, I’ve done it a thousand times: Someone gives me a compliment, and I downplay it. Someone says something nice, and I dismiss it. Someone encourages me, and I simply shrug it off.
I know I’m not the only one who does this. I watch my friends, family and coworkers do it all the time. Why is our response always in opposition to the nice thing that the other person said? For many of us, it comes down to insecurity and a lack of confidence.
But when we downplay a compliment, we aren’t just dismissing the truth in the statement—we’re dishonoring the person saying it. We’re ignoring their efforts to encourage and, at the same time, we’re doing real damage to our own sense of self.
This lack of confidence in the words we use spills over into every area of our lives. For example, we apologize when there’s nothing to apologize for. Have you ever apologized for:
- Speaking up in a meeting? (“I’m sorry, I just wanted to say . . .”)
- Charging what you’re worth in your small business? (“Sorry, I know it’s kind of pricey . . .”)
- Asking a server at a restaurant for a refill? (“Sorry to bother you, but when you get a chance . . .”)
When we say we’re sorry all the time, we plant a seed in someone else’s mind that we have something to be sorry for when, more often than not, we actually don’t. And whether or not we realize it, the words we speak form our beliefs—and what others believe about us.
That also goes for the words we speak about others. The act of gossiping and putting others down always comes from a place of insecurity, so if you catch yourself wanting to say something snarky, redirect those thoughts to something better. Eventually, you’ll want to start building others up with your words instead. That’s a surefire way to be more confident!
3. Change your body language.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says your body language “can significantly change the outcome” of your life.1
She gave an amazing TED Talk (seriously, y’all—go watch it) where she explained how animals express power and dominance by making themselves appear larger. They stretch out, get bigger, and literally make themselves take up more space. But when an animal feels powerless, they do the opposite. They scrunch up and make themselves appear smaller.
We do the same thing as humans. Amy says, “We close up . . . We don’t want to bump into the person next to us.”
In her research, she found that confident people (as well as animals) have higher levels of testosterone. She conducted experiments to see if people could cause their levels of testosterone to rise simply by exhibiting a “high power pose.” Basically, they make themselves appear bigger instead of smaller—shoulders back, arms and legs relaxed, and more confident in their space.
What were the results?
After just two minutes of posing this way, the participants’ testosterone levels went up by 20%!2
We’ve all heard the phrase “Fake it till you make it,” but I love how Amy took this a step further and said, “Fake it till you become it.”
You have the power to be more confident within yourself. You just have to work on changing your mind, your words and your body language. Dressing for success and choosing clothes you feel great in doesn’t hurt, either!
4. Be secure (in who you are).
Being secure in who you are means that, although you might make a mistake or fail, you know you’re not a failure. It means someone might disagree with you, but it doesn’t shake you up or rattle you.
In my book Take Back Your Time, I explain that it can also be helpful to focus on who you want to be instead of who you feel like you are, especially if you’re struggling with insecurity right now. Who do you want to become? What do you want to be known for? When you make up your mind about what kind of person you’re going to be, it brings your deepest values front and center in your life. And this is the starting place for deciding what matters most to you and what to do about it.
For example, your insecurity might be that you’re not a fun mom. But you can decide you’re a fun mom, do something fun with your kids, and boom—you really are a fun mom. Your actions reflect who you are, so instead of accepting that you have to be someone you don’t want to be, you have the power to choose different actions that are in line with the identity you do want.
And when you’re secure in your identity, you’re more willing to speak up, take risks, and try new things! People around you can’t help but notice that kind of confidence. They’ll like you more and respect you for it.
5. Stay positive.
In any situation where the rules aren’t clear and the path isn’t marked, you have two choices.
You can assume you can’t. You worry you’ll get in trouble or break some rule somewhere, or that you’re not allowed.
Or you can assume that you can. You don’t know if you don’t try. And what’s the worst that can happen? Someone corrects you and tells you no.
I’ve always been a person who assumes I can. I’m an optimist to a fault, and I see rules as suggestions to be followed most of the time. In fact, all the things I’ve achieved in my life happened because I had the nerve to ask for them and go after them.
Confidence doesn’t mean you’re positive it’s going to turn out perfectly—it just means you’re positive you’re going to try. And if you really want to know how to be more confident, believe the best and don’t be afraid of failure or rejection.
6. Ask for help.
Do you know when it’s super easy to not feel confident? When you just don’t know what you don’t know.
A few years ago, a woman asked me how to determine whether her business should be a nonprofit or for-profit company. And, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t know what to tell her.
But I had access to someone who would.
So, I went to my leader, Dave Ramsey, and asked for his advice. He unpacked the whole thing for me, broke down the pros and cons, and gave me a wealth of new information. Once I was equipped with that, I felt confident in my ability to answer that woman’s question.
And the next time someone asked me about that topic, I nailed the answer. Sometimes, if you want to gain confidence, all you need is help! If you need tips on finding a mentor who’ll help you be more confident, my friend Ken Coleman has some great advice.
7. Get experience.
Nothing builds self-confidence like experience.
Education is theory, but experience is real-life application. Education is classes, books, conferences and certifications—and those are great. But nothing will be as valuable to you as gaining experience in whatever area in which you lack confidence.
After you’ve done the thing once—you’ve led the company meeting, published your first blog, or coached your first client—your confidence in your ability to do it again will soar. Just do it scared, and watch your confidence take off.
The Benefits of Being More Confident
It probably comes as no surprise to you that people who are more confident see more positive results in their life. People who have high self-acceptance and self-esteem are naturally happier. And our level of self-confidence heavily influences the decisions we make about our careers and even our relationships.
If you only take one thing away from these tips on how to be more confident, I hope it’s this: Confidence is not something you’re either born with or you aren’t. It’s not even something you can only have if you had a perfect childhood, you were popular in high school, or you’ve been groomed for leadership your whole life.
Confidence is a skill you can develop over time. It’s like a muscle. If you never use it, it’s weak at first. But, with some practice and exercise, that muscle will become stronger. Using it will become easier. Remember: Fake it till you feel it! Before you know it, the feelings will be authentic. You’ll feel better, stronger and—most of all—more confident.
For more tips on building self-confidence and deciding what kind of person you want to become, check out my latest book, Take Back Your Time!