12 Confidence Lessons You Can Learn at Any Age

Boost your self-esteem with these expert-approved confidence lessons.

How to build confidence and self-esteem

  1. A fear of failure can increase your self-doubt. Louisa Jewell, the president of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, says the best way to ramp up your confidence levels is to do the thing at which you’re afraid of failing. That way, it becomes less daunting.
  2. Some people are wary of success—with achievement come unknowns. To counteract this, Jewell suggests focusing on the tangible and visualizing success and its upsides.
  3. Compassion is a necessary pillar of confidence and self-esteem, Jewell says. Make sure you cut yourself some slack in the event that you make mistakes, and remember that setbacks are part of being human.
  4. If you boost your confidence, you’ll accomplish more, says Stanford University professor Albert Bandura. Self-assured individuals, he explains, view difficult tasks “as challenges to be mastered, rather than as threats to be avoided.”
  5. To help achieve a confident mindset, Bandura recommends putting yourself in a good mood: stress and bad vibes result in what is called “negative self-efficacy.”
  6. Bruce Hunt, a Toronto public speaking expert who teaches confidence lessons, says a supportive social circle can provide the positive reinforcement integral to building self-esteem. In short, make—and keep—nice friends. (Here’s how to make new friends as a grown-up.)
  7. Consider finding role models who share your gender, age, race or professional background. Being able to see those mentors “do what we want to do makes us think maybe we can achieve it, too,” Jewell explains. 
  8. In certain situations, knowing what others expect can boost confidence, says Hunt. So don’t be afraid to ask your boss or your colleagues what you should be aiming for to achieve your goal.
  9. Take it one step at a time and create deadlines to reach personal confidence milestones. If, for instance, you are trying to become a poised public speaker, gradually address larger groups for longer periods over time.
  10. If you needed another excuse to haul yourself to the gym, a 2013 article in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health described how being active can increase confidence and lead to more ease in relating to peers. 
  11. It’s okay to be cocky. A collection of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found subjects who were overly confident in their abilities to complete tasks were more respected and more likely to be perceived as competent.
  12. But be careful not to tip over into self-satisfaction. The upside of a mild lack of confidence is that we keep pushing ourselves to improve, “to push the envelope,” says Jewell. 

Now that you’ve got these confidence lessons under your belt, check out these self-esteem boosting tips.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada