Self-confidence is the difference between feeling unstoppable and feeling scared to try or do anything worthwhile. Some people exude self-confidence, while others dread putting themselves forward.
Research shows that lack of self-confidence is associated with loneliness and feeling left out, lower life satisfaction and depression.
Self-confidence doesn’t always come easy for many people. The good news is it can be learned, practiced and mastered just like any other skill — once you master it, you will change your life for the better.
In his recent book, You Matter. Learning to Love Who You Really Are, Matthew Emerzian, the CEO and founder of the nonprofit Every Monday Matters leans on his experiences and struggles — like overcoming chronic anxiety, leaving his career in the music industry behind, and the creation of his nonprofit organization — to illustrate how empathy, perspective, and human-connections shape our purpose and helps build confidence.
Wondering how to build your self-confidence? Here are a few ideas Matthew shares in his book that can help you feel more confident in yourself.
1. Be Authentic
Start showing up as your authentic self wherever you go.
To take the first step at building the confidence it takes to be authentic, ask yourself “what is it that holds me back from being my true and authentic self?”
Identify what the factor holding you back is and how it shows up in different parts of your life. Then write it down.
You might discover that there are different things that keep you from being your authentic self in different parts of your life.
For instance, maybe your work reason is different from your personal life reason. Then use a “5- Whys” strategy, asking yourself “Why” five times for each of the reasons you’ve identified is holding you back.
For example, if you wrote down, “I’m afraid of speaking my truth,” then ask yourself “Why” You might answer, “ Because I am afraid of rejection.” Then ask yourself, “why” again.
Once your “Whys” are identified — begin to align with your interests, skills, and values instead. Create a theme song for yourself, find a song that most defines your authentic self, one that uplifts and inspires you.
Refer back to that song when you notice your behavior shifting from showing up as your authentic self.
2. Celebrate Your Differences
What makes you different or unique should be celebrated and embraced not hidden. Think about one thing that you always thought made you different in a bad way.
It could be a physical difference or a mental difference you’ve held onto as inadequate. Maybe it’s a skill you wish you had more of or a story from your past you wish you could un-identify with.
Whatever the difference might be, write a love letter to it. Let that insecurity know you wouldn’t change anything about it because it made you who you are today — and it matters too.
Share your letter out loud to someone else in your life until you truly embrace it. Celebrate that difference any time a negative thought occurs, You self-confidence will boost every time you accept that difference as an enhancement to your life instead of a burden.
3. Compliment Yourself
Make a running list of things you do well, to start, write down at least 3–5. If you can’t think of any right away, ask someone in your life if they can help, and when they answer say thank you.
All too often people reject compliments or play them down, you’ll feel so much better about yourself and not to mention, it’s so much easier to simply accept someone’s compliment and say thank you — instead of disagreeing with their generous compliment.
The more you accept these compliments that come your way the more you’ll actually start to believe them and learn to treat yourself kinder in return.
Reflect back at your running list of things you do well from time to time and remember to add your name in front of each compliment — this way you’ll start to identify with your own strengths and build your confidence.
4. Be Present
Establish a be-present buddy system with someone in your life. The goal is to create a buddy system with someone where both parties agree to truly be present for one another when special circumstances occur.
This is the person that you can go to when you are having a tough time, going through a big life transition, need advice for a tough decision, or are feeling the need for some focused connection.
This system is an agreement to listen without judgment or distraction and to provide loving feedback and be present in that moment for them.
The more present you can be for someone else when tough situations occur, the more you’ll see your ability to handle your own personal conflicts grow, and peak your self-confidence.
5. Show Up For Others
It’s easy to shift through the motions of your everyday life and only engage in activities that are within your comfort zone and convenient for you.
However, when you’re brave enough to step out of yourself and take a look at what you can do to better your community and the people within your radius, you’ll see a shift in confidence and a strong sense of belonging.
Of course, being of service is not always easy and it’s not always convenient. It requires us to put ourselves second, and become more aware of other people’s needs. You can show up for others simply by, picking up litter, taking the time out to smile at strangers, donating a small portion of your time to a local cause that matters to you most.
How ever big or small your service is, you’ll see a boost in your own self-confidence and ability that you were brave enough to take the first step towards positive change.
This article originally appeared on Medium.