If you ask yourself a question — any question — your mind will immediately churn to find the answer. So what if you could leverage that tendency to ask yourself questions that actually serve you and boost your confidence?
“When it comes to increasing confidence, asking yourself the right questions is important because those are what will propel you forward in thought and push you out of your current state. Getting uncomfortable and testing your abilities at new endeavors is an excellent way to learn that you can rely on yourself and grow,” says Sonja Stribling, Ph.D.
Building confidence is not just about feeling better — it’s crucial if you want to succeed in the corporate world, where change has become the only constant. Dr. Stribling even refers to confidence as the new currency: “It is the most valuable thing that no one can give you or take away from you,” she says.
“With that, it’s important to recognize that you aren’t just born with confidence, it is something you must develop and work on. Confidence is a muscle and it is absolutely imperative that it be exercised daily. It’s the exact approach you’d take in fitness when seeking to strengthen or grow a muscle group — it has to be trained and on a regular basis. If not, it will be weak and unable to endure those inevitable instances when an outcome doesn’t go as planned.”
So if you’re ready to flex those confidence muscles and take your self-assurance fitness to the next level, consider asking yourself the same empowering prompts highly confident people ask themselves on a regular basis. Here are seven questions to borrow from their inner-work playbook.
1. How can I serve others to the next level?
This question is empowering because it gets you out of your own head — and any fear-based thoughts that might be causing you to self-sabotage — and makes you focus on serving others instead. Science concurs: A 2017 study published in the Journal of Adolescence showed acts of kindness helped boost adolescent self-esteem. If it works for teens, it sure can work for you.
And if you’re wondering how you can put this into practice at work, start by noticing when you feel pangs of self-doubt about tasks and responsibilities. Then, redirect your thoughts to the ways in which your contributions will be of service to your coworkers, your clients or even through the bigger mission of your organization. Watch your levels of insecurity decrease.
2. What are my wins or things I want to celebrate today?
It is said that what you focus on expands. And if you don’t train yourself to celebrate both small and big wins on a regular basis, it’s easy for your thoughts to zero-in on shortcomings, especially if you’re a high-achiever and nothing ever feels good enough for you. Turn this question into a daily journaling practice and you’ll be amazed at the difference in your confidence.
3. What can I do today to make tomorrow better?
Yes, highly confident people acknowledge themselves and the value they bring. For that reason, they are not afraid to look at mistakes as learning opportunities. Instead of beating themselves up, they ask themselves how they can learn from the day’s unexpected roadblocks and optimize the next day for even more confidence and success.
4. What can I do to be a better person and leader?
In a similar vein, highly confident people are always asking themselves what they can do to serve others even better or how they can become more impactful leaders. This question builds a growth mindset — and that’s what makes it so empowering.
If you’ve never heard of the concept, Dr. Carol Dweck’s work highlights the differences between having a fixed mindset (the belief that intelligence is immutable) and a growth mindset (the belief that intelligence and abilities are not fixed and can be developed. And guess what? Having a growth mindset helps build self-belief.
5. How can I turn my weaknesses into strengths?
Highly confident people tend to enjoy pushing the limits of their own confidence so they can stretch themselves out of their comfort zone and grow. For that reason, they will even look at perceived weaknesses as opportunities for improvement.
For example, if a highly confident person feels they are too sensitive to feedback, they will not only reflect on improving their ability to take feedback, but also on the ways in which that sensitivity can be turned into an edge, perhaps by being able to give respectful and constructive feedback to others.
6. What do I think and what do I want to do?
Highly confident people don’t waste time wondering what people think of them or worrying about others’ judgment.
“They recognize and accept that they are not for everyone. They clearly understand those who are called to learn from or gleam from them will be those who are drawn to their leadership, personality and the type of thought leader they are,” says Dr. Stribling. For that reason, they spend more energy focusing on their own opinions and desires through questions like this one.
7. What would be the ideal outcome?
Truly confident people create from a space of possibilities — not limitations. Asking yourself about the ideal outcome before fretting over possible challenges every time you are faced with a new initiative is a great way to build confidence.
Why? Doing so will help you notice opportunities and increase your chances of success, which is confidence-inducing in itself. But it’s on the journey to the results that you will see what you are made of (and probably be pleasantly surprised regardless of the outcome), which will grow your confidence.