How to Build Confidence

Self-perception, the ability to act, the way you carry yourself, and the things you're willing to accept are all tied to confidence. It determines your ambitions, mentality, and image. It can also be hard to come by.

How to Build Confidence
Photo by Ian Stauffer / Unsplash

Self-perception, the ability to act, the way you carry yourself, and the things you're willing to accept are all tied to confidence. It determines your ambitions, mentality, and image. It can also be hard to come by. Sometimes it feels like the world is set on taking away your confidence. Failures, setbacks, and a false perception of what it means to be "successful" are common hurdles to a confident state of mind. Let's talk about how to jump over them.

Before we dive in, let me first explain exactly what I mean by "confidence". To me, confidence is the self-perception of being able to take on a task. It's a feeling that combines the senses of self-reliance, worth, and capability. It can be something that pushes you forward, and its absence can mercilessly hold you back. Although I consider it an internal feeling, confidence (or lack thereof) is easily perceived by others.

I was thinking about people, whose support me on this journey.
Photo by Martin P├ęchy / Unsplash

There are a lot of reasons that people recommend making your bed every morning. One of them is to set a precedent for the day, a precedent of achievement. Completing a task, even one so simple, is a great way to build confidence. As time goes on and your confidence builds, the tasks that you consider "simple" will become objectively more and more complex like the ability to write a well-thought-out paper, email a superior, ask for a raise, delegate a task, or counsel a patient. It's a process, so be patient. Confidence comes with experience, and experience takes time to get.

In fact, experience results in exposure to two of the aforementioned hurdles of a confident state of mind: failures and setbacks. Both are exceedingly important. In order for a complex or difficult task to become "simple", you must accumulate exposure to that task. Definitionally, complex and difficult tasks come with an inherent risk of failure. Therefore, exposure will inevitably result in an accumulation of setbacks and failures, blessings disguised as feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and even depression. Still, they are blessings all the same.

With a little determination, these blessings are defeated and triumphed over, and the more you triumph, the more confident you will become. There's simply no better way to become confident than to take on challenges and prevail over them, despite whatever setbacks you experience. Confidence built without this component is weak, false in nature, and results in collapse when put up against tasks that are actually difficult. This is why you should always be cognizant of your confidence, ensuring that it's warranted. Otherwise you'll risk becoming arrogant which, like confidence, is easily perceived by others.

Lastly, let's talk about false perceptions. Though it's very common for these to be internally facing, materializing in the form of imposter syndrome and even self-harm, they just as commonly apply outwardly. Comparing yourself to others is a dangerous game and one that is inherently unfair. Genetics, culture, family, and countless other confounders prevent any such analysis from being objective. You could never adjust for them all, and even if you tried, you'd end up with a confidence interval so wide it's practically worthless.

One potential remedy is to consider yourself the only competition. It's you versus you. Are you progressing? Are you on the path to reaching your goals? I hope so. If not, I invite you to consider today, or last week, or the last 10 years (whichever applies) as a setback that you're in the process of overcoming. Remember that confidence is a journey, and regardless of whether you've taken 2 steps forward or 100 steps back, you can always jump forward again.