Sydney Hills Counselling Blog

Building Confidence


Take a minute to imagine what life would be like for you if you had nothing holding you back; where you felt no criticism towards yourself or anxiety about what could possibly go wrong. This confident state of mind would provide you with a feeling of being unstoppable; of being worthy and having the power of confidence to achieve your goals and lead a successful and satisfying life. 

In today’s world, we can sometimes find ourselves in a position where we have to be prepared to either survive or thrive. Our brain is primal and is wired to trigger anxiety or fear if it senses a threat or danger. These days, our brains have evolved, and we no longer have to fear being a wild animal’s next meal, however, fear nowadays can be triggered by an upcoming job interview or first date with a potential partner. No matter how confident we may want to feel, there will always be times when life circumstances make our adrenaline pump and our hearts race furiously.

While it’s impossible to prevent this natural response from happening, it is possible to find ways and utilise strategies to make you feel confident. 

Here are some tips to help you to feel more confident

Stay in the present: Staying in the present moment helps us to avoid the insecurity of dwelling in the past and projecting into the future. We can worry about what could possibly go wrong in a situation and convince ourselves that our lack of success in the past is sure to repeat itself. Just say your last job interview went terribly, you may remember this interview and assume that the one coming up will go the same way. Staying in the here and now will keep you focused on the present. The way you can do this is to practice Mindfulness.

See things from a different perspective: It’s very easy for us to focus on what’s not going right for us and what we need to do to improve things, however, it can be more helpful to focus on the things we have already achieved. Our perspective is the way we have chosen to view the world. This includes the way we see ourselves and the way we view those around us. Our perspective determines our thoughts, and our thoughts create a chain reaction that can lead to actions that can make us feel good or bad about ourselves and our lives. 

To change our perspective, we need to start asking ourselves some serious questions about our opinions and choices. 

Questions such as: 

Why am I thinking and/or feeling this way? 

Who else do I know thinks or feels the way I do?

What would my life look like if I thought the complete opposite way to what I think/feel now?

How would people who think/feel differently to the way I’m thinking/feeling right now, think/feel? 

Stop comparing yourself to others: Comparing ourselves to those we perceive as beneath us may make us feel better temporarily, however comparing ourselves to those who we perceive as more successful, better looking, happier, etc., can make us feel less confident and make us feel a failure and batter our self-esteem. Compare yourself to yourself. Everyone progresses through life at a different pace. If you look back on your achievements, you may find that from ‘then to now’ you’ve actually achieved a fair deal of success, and if not, you can always take small steps towards achieving some. 

Surround yourself with supportive people: If your family and friends often criticise you or push you to do or be more, aim to surround yourself with some more positive friends, a mentor, or a counsellor. Positive people will boost your self-esteem and will encourage and support you to feel more confident. 

Step out of your comfort zone one step at a time: If you tend to give up every time you face a new challenge, it may be that you’re confusing a lack of confidence with your normal physiological response to trying something out of your comfort zone. When this happens, instead of becoming anxious and giving up, try to take a single step towards your goal despite feeling anxious and/or uncomfortable. You may feel that you suddenly feel a little more confident by having taken that single step.

Breathe: When we’re feeling a lack of confidence, this can make us feel anxious, which in turn can catapult us into a ‘fight / flight / freeze’ response. Stress can trigger our sympathetic nervous system, giving our body a burst of energy to prompt us into action. The way to counteract this response is to take measured long and full breaths from our diaphragm which can recruit our parasympathetic nervous system. This will slow down our heart rate and lower our blood pressure. 

Get clear about becoming confident: We can complain and whine all we want about not feeling confident however this won’t achieve anything at all. Things won’t change until you decide exactly how you want to be confident and determine what steps you will need to take to get there. Gaining confidence needs to be treated like any other goal. You need to be specific and set SMART goals. 

Change the story you keep telling yourself: To gain more confidence, you will need to let go of the limiting stories you’ve been telling yourself about who you are in the world. This narrative has up until now held you back and led you to feel less confident. Here’s a challenge: drop the lack of confidence narrative for an entire week. If you do find yourself delving into a story about your insecurities, just notice it at the time and do nothing; simply notice it. Becoming conscious of what we tell ourselves without giving ourselves a hard time about it can be the first step towards gaining a little more confidence. 

Do more of what makes you feel confident: We’re all good at something. Each of us has things we’re good at and which makes us feel confident. If you have something coming up which makes you feel a lack of confidence, try to cram as many activities as possible around the event that you know you’re good at to raise your endorphins and self-confidence. This can be as simple as baking if you’re an accomplished baker or playing a game of tennis if you’re a good tennis player.

If all else fails, seek support: If your confidence levels are so low that you find it difficult to socialise, are struggling in your career, and find relationships too difficult, it may be that your lack of confidence is connected to low self-esteem. Confidence is a conscious reaction to a particular event (or series of events), low self-esteem is based on unconscious negative beliefs that can take some working through to identify and change. 

One of the most helpful ways to get to the bottom of your issues with feeling worthy is through seeking the support of a registered, professional counsellor. Remember that confidence can change over time and with the support of a professional, registered counsellor. If you (or someone you know) needs support to increase your self-esteem, then contact us today at Sydney Hills Counselling on (02) 9159-6277 for a confidential chat to hear how we can help you. Alternatively, you can email us at [email protected]

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