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How to build confidence

How to build confidence is a critical issue for many in these uncertain times. It’s estimated that about 85% of people worldwide suffer from low self-esteem.[1]

What is confidence, anyway? It’s shorthand for how well you trust your ability to interact with the world around you. How much faith you put in your skills and capabilities in dealing with the people and scenarios you encounter every day. You can feel confident in one area — doing your job, say — and inadequate at another, such as managing your money.

is a thing, by the way. And it’s inextricably linked to reducing stress and improving your overall emotional confidence.

Confidence is within your reach

The good news is that confidence can be built. Although influenced by factors related to age, socio-economic status and upbringing, your confidence level is not written in stone. You can learn behaviors that, practiced over time, will help raise your self-confidence in all situations, from socializing and speaking in public to financial planning.

Here are five ways to begin building the confident life you want.

1. Focus on the positive

People who lack confidence tend to dwell on their perceived faults. As an example, in a Zoom meeting, Jane’s boss pushed her to contribute. Colleagues decided to incorporate several of her ideas into the project and asked for details in a follow-up team email. Jane, however, couldn’t celebrate; she could only think about how nervous she came across, how she misspoke and what she left out.

Confidence booster: Turn off the inner critic in your brain. Acknowledge your accomplishments and register others’ compliments instead of downplaying them. Make a habit of noting your successes in a daily journal. Ask a good friend or trusted colleague to help you see and appreciate all your good points.

2. Avoid comparisons

All of us are bound to feel inadequate if we constantly compare ourselves to people who are more accomplished in certain ways. Social media can be a danger zone for this behavior. You might not be able to  cook as well as a chef, sing as well as a pop star or own as many homes as a mogul. However, you can be the best version of yourself.

Confidence booster: Be honest with yourself: Who do you aspire to be and what do you want to do? Write down those goals and pursue the activities and behaviors that are going to make you happy. Learning how to build confidence may require rethinking your usage of social media with a greater focus on positive influences.

3. Fake it ‘til you feel it

This is not just a clever axiom. It is advice grounded in research into neural plasticity showing that humans can effectively rewire their brains by choosing to act differently. Acting confident is the key to feeling confident, not vice-versa.

Confidence booster: Don’t wait until you “have it all together” (because that day rarely comes for any of us). Consider taking a risk and acting now. Accept the speaking engagement. Go to the party. By pushing your comfort zone, taking appropriate risks and trying on new behaviors for size, you’ll begin to accumulate small wins that will lead to lasting change.

4. Concentrate on the controllable

People with low self-esteem tend to fixate on circumstances out of their control. Jack yearned for a role with greater leadership opportunities at work.. He hesitated to broach the subject with his boss, convincing himself that other people were more qualified; there probably wasn’t room in the budget; he didn’t have all the right skills; his seniority wasn’t high enough; and on and on.

Confidence booster: Don’t fixate on what you can’t control. Your time and energy are better applied to activities that increase your confidence, such as personal development and attention to your physical and emotional well-being. Also, avoid catastrophizing: always imagining the worst-case scenarios. Take your best shot at what you want and don’t give up.  It may take a few attempts to reach your goal. The key is to keep moving forward.

5. Educate yourself

With knowledge comes greater power over your insecurities. Often, it’s what we don’t know that is most frightening. For example, nearly 40%rcent of Americans lack confidence in dealing with their finances because they find the topic overwhelming.[2] So, they avoid discussing money matters altogether and suffer the predictable consequences of not knowing how to budget, save and protect their financial futures.

Confidence booster: Solid financial long-term habits can have up to a 30% greater influence on your happiness and confidence than your income.2 Educate yourself about how to create a budget, reduce expenses, protect your income and plan for retirement – and also work with a financial professional to put all those pieces into a strategy you can follow, confidently.

A good place to start in building your financial and emotional confidence is to identify your financial profile. What’s your relationship with money? Are you a Day-to-Day Decision-Maker, a Retirement Realist, an Ambitious Spender or a Confident Planner? To find out, take our quiz and then learn how you can create the confident future you want.


[1] The Relationship with Yourself, Psychology Today, 2019.

[2] The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence, 2021

Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2022. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY

2022-146426 Exp. 11/2024 *pre-approved content*

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