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How to start building self-Confidence

I was reflecting a lot about confidence and the role it plays in our everyday lives for the past several weeks. I have always been quite a shy person, but recently I started to notice how the lack of it was preventing me from taking consistent action in my business, and how it shaped my behaviour around other people. The topic of confidence is complex and multidimensional. What works for other people might not work for you. Although, there are still some universal techniques that can help you on your journey of building your self-confidence.

We don’t want confidence just for the sake of it, we want it for achieving our goals, building a better life, to perform better in all areas of our lives like a business, relationships, sports, public speaking and so on. So if you had more confidence how your life could be different? How would you perform in your everyday life? What kind of person would you be and what would you do?

Confidence is usually defined as the ability to trust yourself and your abilities. Often, confidence doesn’t come naturally, nobody is born with it. The biggest misconception about self-confidence is that I have to feel confident before I take action. Although, before you take action and practice the skill you would like to master over and over again you cannot start feeling confident. The more you practice the more confident you feel. The willingness to take the first step and to practice is already an act of courage and confidence.

I will speak more about why we tend to lack self-confidence, and exercises you can do to help you to start gaining confidence. With time and practice, you can start feeling more confident in some areas of your life. But to be honest it’s a never-ending story. Because as soon as a new challenging situation will arise you can start feeling lost again. That’s why you need to have some reminders and techniques that will help you to cope, process complex thoughts and emotions, and get back on track.

That’s why it’s vital to understand how your brain evolved and how it works, what stories it tells you, and how these thoughts and emotions prevent you from doing what is important to you.

Why do we lack self-confidence?

I probably have never met a person who was confident in EVERYTHING she was doing. Many things that we do today easily and naturally were a struggle at some stage of our lives. But now we feel confident about them, so we take them for granted and think that it was always the case, although, it wasn’t. When you were a child you couldn’t write and read, but you have been doing it for such a long time, that sometimes you start to take these skills for granted as if you have always been able to do that.

There are five main reasons why people lack confidence:

  1. Excessive expectations. Have you ever started anything new and expected to be perfect in doing it, and wanted immediate results? And when you met understood that it’s hard, that practice brings you discomfort, and most likely, in the beginning, you will suck, you quit? It’s important don’t be a perfectionist at this stage of your journey.
  2. Harsh self-judgment. Does your mind judge you? Says that you’re not good enough, that you don’t have what it takes, that everything you do sucks, that somebody can do it better than you? Maybe quite often you feel like an imposter. It’s totally normal, the human mind has evolved to think negatively, to judge, criticize and predict the worst.
  3. Preoccupation with fear. We all have our own fear, it can be fear of rejection, fear of judgment, fear of failure, or fear of embarrassment.  But fear itself doesn’t affect our confidence. It’s when we start to drown in it, to worry about it – it becomes dangerous. The more we’re preoccupied with our fear, the more it will affect our self-confidence in a negative way.
  4. Lack of experience. We can’t have an experience, until we start doing something, start making mistakes, and start learning. Until we have experience we can’t expect to feel confident in any field, be it speaking on camera, becoming a web designer, or an artist.
  5. Lack of skills. It’s natural to feel a lack of confidence until we start developing skills in any field. For example, you would like to speak a foreign language, but for doing that you need to practice, you need to try, and until you do, you cannot expect to become fluent. The more you practice the more confident you will feel. It’s a natural order of things.

How the human mind works

The human brain evolved to think negatively. It evolved to help us survive and to keep us safe. Our world looks completely different from the one hundreds of thousands ago, although, the human brain stayed the same. I used to think that something was wrong with me when I criticized myself, compared, judged and predicted the worst-case scenario, but the truth is that it’s just a part of being a human and having a human brain.

It can sound dark and negative, but for me, it was kind of liberating. For such a long time I was watching people who kept saying just be positive, just set goals and achieve them, just take action and show up confidently for your business. So I was thinking that something was wrong with me when I struggled with fear, and anxiety, and was paralyzed by my thoughts.

I fused with my thoughts, believed the stories my mind was telling me and perceived it as some universal truth about myself: “I can’t do it, I’m not good enough, I don’t know how I’m lazy, I lack motivation, I’m an imposter until everything is perfect I can’t take action.” No wonder I had anxiety all the time, couldn’t relax, and couldn’t take action to finally start building my business and live the life I have always dreamt of.

Your mind has always an opinion. It’s like a loud radio that speaks day and night, night and day. You can’t stop thoughts from popping up in your head. It’s like a waterfall or never-ending waves on the sea surface.

The more challenging thing you’re about to do, the louder the radio will become. Creating a fulfilling life demands making hard choices, leaving your comfort zone, face challenges. Can your mind prevent you from doing it? Sure! Can you learn to defuse from your thoughts and emotions and do what matters to you? Sure you can, but it demands a little bit of practice.

Defusion from your thoughts and feeling

Defusion doesn’t mean avoiding how you feel or what you think, neither it means responding to it on autopilot. But as I mentioned above the more challenge you face, the more reasons your mind will give you why you shouldn’t do it.

Although, when you notice these unhelpful,  get some distance, learn to separate from your thoughts, when you’re aware of them, and name them, when you don’t resist or try to suppress them, you can be more present and engage fully in what you’re doing now, rather than being lost in your head all day long.

There are several exercises and techniques you can do daily to help you to deal with negative, invasive thoughts and feelings.

  • Try to observe, look at your thoughts from some distance, separate yourself from them, and be aware that you actually have them
  • As soon as you see it from the side, try to name it.
  • Notice how you feel, and where sensations in your body are concentrated.
  • Accept your thoughts and feelings. Try not to resist, avoid, or suppress these thoughts, but let them just be. Are you able to do that and continue to engage fully in whatever you’re doing?
When you let your unhelpful thoughts just be, can you imagine how much more energy you have to do what matters, to take effective action?
There are some other practices you can do daily to help you.
  • You can practice mindfulness during your everyday activities. It’s when you engage fully in what you do when you’re 100% present in this very moment without your mind wondering and worrying about the future or the past.
  • You can also practice conscious breathing for several minutes every single day. It helps to get in touch with your body.
  • I personally practise meditation daily. It helps me to be still, and present, observe my thoughts, and defuse them.

As I mentioned before negative thoughts are not a problem, but your fusion with these thoughts is.


I have never realized the importance of values in my life. I had some vague ideas of what I valued and what I wanted, but I have never taken the time to clarify and think about my values on a more deep level. Although, it’s exactly your values that determine how you want to behave throughout your life and the way you live your life. Values guides you, they help you to stay on track, and they help you keep going when things get tough.

So if you have never thought about your values before I strongly recommend you do. It’s absolutely vital.

You may not achieve all your goals, or it might take a lot of time, but if during this time you lived accordingly to your values it gives you fulfilment and satisfaction on your journey.

I won’t give you a list of values here, because my blog posts will be 20 pages long, but I encourage you to find value lists on the internet, think about them, do the work, and clarify your values. It’s the work that I do with my clients as well.

Journey begins when you take action

As I mentioned before action comes first, and the feeling of confidence comes after. Now you have techniques that can help you to deal with unhelpful thoughts and feeling so that you could take action and engage fully in what you do.

Stop being so serious all the time as well, play the game, try new things, and experiment. Even if you fail, make mistakes, or produce shit, don’t achieve all your goals right away, you will improve your skills, you will learn to make room for discomfort, and gain more confidence as you will have more experience.

When you do something meaningful it’s okay to feel discomfort, make room for it. Create a habit to take committed action based on your values whether you feel like taking action or not. If you struggle a lot, take time to come back to your values.

set realistic goals, make room for discomfort

You are free to dream big and to have big goals. But make sure that you brake these huge goals down into smaller ones, more realistic ones, the goals that don’t exceed your resources. It will help to feel less overwhelmed and stick to taking daily action steps.

If you want to become good at something you need to practice. Practice is not always easy; especially when we practice a brand-new skill. It tends to bring a lot of discomfort, so we tend to avoid the practice. But without practice, you cannot improve your skills, and without improving your skill you cannot start feeling more confident.

Lear from failure, practice self-acceptance

Failure hurts, but if you’re willing to learn it can be a wonderful teacher. How many times have you beaten yourself up when you failed? Clearly, it doesn’t work, because if it did, you could be perfect by now living your dream life.

While dealing with failure you can use the same techniques as dealing with unhelpful thoughts and feelings.

  1. Notice “loser stories” name them, let them come and go, and don’t get stuck in them.
  2. Make space for unpleasant feelings, breathe into them, let them be, and don’t try to suppress or avoid them.
  3. Be kind to yourself, nobody wants to deal with a bully, especially when it’s your mind that bullies you. Practice self-acceptance.
  4. Appreciate what worked, appreciate your courage, effort and persistence. It helps to encourage you and keep going.
  5. Learn from your failure, and find something useful. Ask what can you do differently next time that might lead to a better outcome.
  6. Come back to your values. What do you want to stand for? What matters to you? Why do you do what you do?

Final thoughts

Self-confidence’s not something we’re born with. But I believe everybody can learn to be more confident if we commit to doing so.

It doesn’t come naturally but if you are willing to do daily practice, that helps to defuse unhelpful thoughts and feelings, clarify and embrace your values, take committed action, set realist goals, practice your skills, learn from your failure, and practice self-acceptance, you can definitely learn to be more confident in all areas of our lives.