A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.’
Mark Twain


The real key to self-confidence is about believing in yourself and trusting your own views and opinions. At times, this can be difficult, especially if you have a tendency to listen to others and benchmark yourself against what they think of you. This can leave you very vulnerable and the ability to establish your own inner benchmark to success is essential.
Every human being has the ability to take control and make positive changes. Other people may try to stop you, but only if you allow them to. When you look in the mirror, be proud of the person you see, knowing that you do the best you can.

The most important relationship you will ever have is the relationship you have with yourself. Would you choose to be your best friend? If you don’t like yourself or believe in yourself then how do you expect anyone else to? You need to like and enjoy the person you are. Embrace your strengths and accept your imperfections – everyone has some. It would be very dull being perfect. Being a person in progress will give you something to work on, something to aspire to.

Working on your own self-confidence is a very good investment of time and energy. There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and it is important to be honest with yourself as well as seeking feedback from others to gain a balanced perspective. It is also important, however, that you don’t rely on others to big you up and make you feel better. It is important that you learn how to recognise and appreciate yourself when you have done something well. If you rely on others all the time or become so preoccupied with other people’s opinions of you, it can create insecurity and paranoia. It is about establishing a balanced viewpoint.

Imagine having no one to compare yourself with except yourself. What a sense of relief this would bring. We wouldn’t have to worry about not looking like the alpha male or being the female with the smartest mind, the most important job role and the biggest pay packet. We wouldn’t have to worry about our bodies not being the youngest, most beautiful and most sexy.

All you would have to think is: did I do this activity better than I did it last week? Have I moved forward in my own definition of success? Am I doing my best for my health? Do I have an attractive mind and healthy relationships with other people?

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-Confidence – Steps to Success

  • Be your own best friend
  • Take personal responsibility
  • Be self-aware and understand yourself
  • Be the best that you can be
  • Use positive language
  • Challenge your beliefs

Finding somewhere in the middle

The most powerful place on the continuum is somewhere in the middle: having faith in your own perception and judgement but still being open and receptive to others’ feedback.

Benchmark your success against your own performance rather than someone else’s. Ask yourself:

  • Did I do this better than I did it last time?
  • Have I moved forward in my own definition of success?
  • Am I feeling content?
  • Am I doing my best for my health?
  • Do I have an attractive mind?
  • Do I have healthy interactions with other people?

To fully understand your own personal success, you will need to determine your own value. Take a good deep look into the essence of your being and see what it is that makes you who you are. Ask yourself:

  • What qualities make me feel good about myself?
  • What can I offer to the world around me?
  • What is my personal gauge of success?
  • What is my own definition of happiness?

Then consider how you measure up against these scales of success. Ask yourself:

  • How far am I making myself feel good about myself?
  • Am I offering enough to the world around me by my own standards?
  • How successful am I according to my own gauge of success?
  • Am I happy by my own definition?

If there are areas where you think you could be more successful, make an action plan for improvement. But remember, you are only human and can only strive to be the best you can be.

Confidence exercise

Use this exercise to identify strengths to celebrate and weaknesses to work on so that you can be the very best you can be:
Being self-aware and knowing your own strengths and weaknesses are the foundations to building your self-confidence. However, the journey of self-discovery can be painful because when we really look at ourselves, we may not always like what we see. We may learn things about ourselves that make us afraid. But this is when we can really start to cast away the things that hold us back, and begin to move forward into a more positive future instead.
  • Write down three things that you believe are your greatest strengths. Then write down what you perceive to be your three biggest weaknesses. Provide evidence to back this up.
  • Ask three people – a friend, a family member and a work colleague – to tell you what they think your three biggest strengths and weaknesses are. Ask for examples to back this up.
  • Write down five words you would like to hear if someone else were describing you. List the reasons why.
  • Make an action plan of what you are going to do each day to become the five things that you most aspire to.

In order to build self-confidence, it is essential that you believe in yourself, recognise your own value and trust your own opinions. What you think of you is the most important opinion. Accept that your definition of success might look completely different to someone else’s. Consider the questions below to determine your value and to benchmark your own success.

Imagine having no one to compare yourself with except you. What a relief that would be; you wouldn’t have to worry about performing as well as your colleagues, or being the best, the most attractive, intelligent, fittest, most popular, wealthiest or most important.

In neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), broad distinctions are made between predominantly internally referenced people who are generally better at using their own referencing to measure their success and those who are more externally referenced, who look for reassurance and confirmation of their abilities from others. Externally referenced people are more likely to make comparisons with other people for self-affirmation, but everyone has some kind of referencing system to people outside of themselves.

The perceptions we have and comparisons we make will be based on what we see and hear. However, we see and hear only a small range of other people’s behaviour, so we are making assessments based on a small chunk of information that is internally processed through a system coloured by our own perceptions of self, role, status and personality type. It is no wonder that many people find success a difficult concept to grasp and find it easier to use other people’s measures of success than find their own.

Change: Ten Tips


Self-confidence is crucial if you are to achieve your goals and reach your full potential – not just at work, but in all areas of life. If you don’t believe in yourself, or trust and value your own opinions, no one else will! Use these tips to boost your self-confidence:

1. Take personal responsibility

Take a good look at yourself in the metaphorical mirror and start by being really honest. What is your true opinion of yourself? Are you appreciative of all your strengths and qualities? Or do you beat yourself up on a regular basis about all your misgivings, mistakes and weaknesses? We have to take responsibility for being the best that we can be. So often we will compare ourselves to others, and in so doing, we run the danger of engendering vanity or bitterness, because there will always be people we see as better or worse off than ourselves.

2. Be self-aware

Explore why you feel the way you do and try to better understand why you behave the way you do in certain situations. That understanding will give you the opportunity and freedom to change those things you would like to change about yourself and create the life that you really you want. Without fully knowing who you are, self-acceptance and change are virtually impossible.

3. Believe in yourself

The key to self-confidence is believing in yourself and trusting your own views and opinions. This can be difficult, especially if you have a tendency to listen to others and benchmark yourself against what they think of you. This is, however, very dangerous and the ability to be able to establish your own inner benchmark to success is essential.

4. Like yourself

If there is something about yourself that you do not like then do something about it. Every human being has the potential ability to take control and make positive changes. Other people can try to stop you, but only if you let them. When you look in the mirror, be proud of the person you see, knowing that you do the best you can every day of your life. If you make a mistake, see it as valuable lesson and learn from it.

5. Listen to yourself

Tell yourself that you are confident and believe in yourself. Focus on your strengths and the positive aspects of your character and set about developing areas that have potential for improvement. Be your own best friend and, above all, be really kind to yourself and make sure that you do things that nourish rather than deplete you.

6. Develop good posture

The way you carry yourself is very telling. People with slumped shoulders and lethargic movements display a lack of self-confidence. By practising good posture, you’ll automatically feel more confident. Stand up straight, keep your head up, and make eye contact. You’ll make a positive impression on others and instantly feel more alert and empowered.

7. Develop an attitude of gratitude

Be grateful for what you have. Set aside time each day to mentally list everything you have to be grateful for. Recall your past successes, unique skills, loving relationships, and positive momentum. You’ll be amazed how much you have going for you and will be motivated to take that next step towards success.

8. Compliment other people

When we think negatively about ourselves, we often project that feeling onto others in the form of insults and gossip. To break this cycle of negativity, get in the habit of praising other people. Refuse to engage in backstabbing office gossip and make an effort to compliment those around you. In the process, you’ll become well liked and, by looking for the best in others, you indirectly bring out the best in yourself.

9. Speak up

During group discussions and meetings at work, many people never speak up because they’re afraid that people will judge them for saying something stupid. This fear isn’t really justified. Generally, people are much more accepting than we imagine. In fact, most people are dealing with the exact same fears.

10. Exercise

In a similar way to personal appearance, physical fitness has a huge effect on self-confidence. If you’re out of shape, you’ll feel insecure, unattractive, and less energetic. By working out, you improve your physical appearance, energise yourself, and accomplish something positive. Having the discipline to work out not only makes you feel better, it also creates positive momentum that you can build on for the rest of the day.