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How confidence can impact mental health, and how to become more confident

Written by Madeleine Chamberlain.

There are many things that can impact how we feel, from our quality of sleep to whether we’re eating enough. While these things can change, there are other things that are more consistent, that still play a big role in how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

Confidence is one area that can make a surprising different in how we feel in ourselves, and how we respond to difficulty or challenges.

Most obviously, low confidence can lead to us not pursuing opportunities we are interested in because we don’t believe we are up to the challenge. But low confidence can also make us less likely to stand up for ourselves at work, less likely to take care of ourselves, and can make it harder for us to recover from setbacks.

Luckily, it’s possible to improve our confidence over time, which can have the knock-on effect of also improving our mental health.

Confidence can be built up or brought down by people around you, your own expectations, stress, or difficult life events. When we see ourselves in a positive light, our confidence rises, and we find it easier to deal with difficult things.

Boosting your confidence can have a positive feedback-loop, as once you have the confidence to go out and try new things, you may find activities you really enjoy, further improving your confidence, self-esteem, and mental health.

How does having low confidence and self-esteem impact us?

Often having low self-esteem can cause us to retreat from social situations and avoid challenging environments. This could prevent us from finding things we really enjoy and find satisfaction from.

Low self-esteem can be the greatest barrier to getting to places we want to go. It could be a new job, a travelling opportunity, or the chance to speak at our best friend’s wedding.

Whatever it is you want to do, having low self-esteem can sometimes prevent us from feeling like we are capable of doing those things. Over time, this can build up into a solid, fixed, unmovable idea of who we are, that we are not the kind of person who can do those things, and that we will be stuck feeling the same way forever.

But we don’t need to stay that way.

How to improve confidence

Challenge negative self-beliefs

We sometimes have low confidence due to negative beliefs about ourselves. If we can start to challenge these beliefs, we can start to slowly build up our confidence.

A good way to do this is to build evidence against the negative self-beliefs, so you can prove to yourself that they’re false. From there, you can begin to build your confidence without a part of you believing you aren’t good enough.

Positive self-talk

Another way you can increase confidence is by talking to yourself like you would talk to a friend. While we might be our own worst critic, we are often our friends’ most vocal supporters. We trust our friends, support them, help them, and believe in them.

If we can extend those same qualities to ourselves, often our confidence will improve over time.

Keep positive

Another way to build confidence is to to remind yourself of things you are good at, or you like about yourself. This isn’t easy, especially if you have low confidence, but this can really help with improving your overall outlook in the long-term.

Surround yourself with positive people

The people around you can make a huge difference on how you view yourself. Although you can’t always control who you have to spend time around, whenever you can, choose to spend time with people who encourage and appreciate you. It makes a big difference to your mental health.

Say no when you need to

Being more assertive and learning how to say no can really improve confidence. Asserting boundaries helps us realise that we have agency, that we have a choice over what happens to us.

Feeling in control can be incredibly beneficial for our mental health.

Trying new things

Trying new things and giving yourself a challenge can be great for confidence. That thrill of trying something for the first time and maybe even finding a new passion can open up new opportunities for us, and change how we think of ourselves.
Encouraging yourself to think positively about yourself will enable you to take the necessary steps towards your goals.

If you believe you can do it, you are more likely to give it a try. Each step and each plunge into the unknown of doing something new will build confidence and resilience, which ultimately help to improve mental health.

Although everyone has days where we feel less confident about ourselves and our abilities, we all deserve to feel good about ourselves.

Read more about self-esteem and mental health, or learn how setting small goals can improve your mental health.

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Posted on: 29th September 2023

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