20 April 2021

Tips for building confidence at any age

confident older woman

A lack of confidence can be very damaging, and we can lose it for many reasons and at any time in life. You might have had an accident, suffered abuse or simply be someone who has never possessed true self-belief. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to rebuild confidence. For example, as we age, people find that making a home safe with accessible equipment like UK stairlifts can increase confidence, letting you go about daily tasks without fear of injury. This is just one of many ways that self-doubt and fear can be overcome. Whether you lack the confidence to meet new people, stand up for yourself, or simply leave the house, in this article, we present some top tips for building confidence for those who may have lost it or never truly possessed it in the first place.

Transfer confidence from one area to another

The key to building confidence is first understanding what confidence is. Speaking to us about her tips for becoming more confident, life and success coach Alice Dartnell, explained the nature of confidence and that a great way to improve it is to transfer self-belief from one area of life to another:

“One of the biggest misconceptions we have about confidence is that it is something we either have or is something we are born with. Confidence is not a personality trait but is in fact situational. This is why we are confident in some areas of our life but might not be in others. The advantage of this, therefore, is that confidence is a muscle, and it is something we can grow and strengthen. The best way to grow your confidence is to transfer that skill from an area of your life that you already have it in.

“A great exercise to do to help with this is a simple three-step process. One: identify an area of your life that you are already confident in (whether that is at work, or baking the best apple pie, or being a fantastic parent).

“Two: note what makes you confident in this (for example, it might be because of your knowledge or the fact you have done it a million times).

“Three: look through the reasons of what makes you confident and see how you can apply that into the areas you are not so confident in.

“Voila! You now have a mini formula to help grow your confidence in different situations!”

Limit negative self-talk

Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies, talking down to ourselves, being overcritical, and convincing ourselves that we are not good enough. This type of behaviour needs to be stopped if a confident mindset is going to take root. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others, for example, and then berate ourselves internally because we don’t match up to what someone else looks like or is capable of. Bonita, a transformational coach from Hypnotherapy Associates, spoke to us about her confidence-building advice, saying:

“Remember what you are good at, even if you feel these are small things i.e. I am good at gardening, I am a good friend, someone easy to talk to etc. We often dismiss aspects of ourselves because we believe they are not big or valid, for example, ‘I’m not clever because I didn’t go to university’ or because ‘I didn’t do well at school’, but intelligence is multi-faceted and an academic system does not prove intelligence, it proves academic ability, so be more rational and not so tough or yourself.”

Carissa, from the blog Sixty and Me, shares: “Negative self-talk can, in many ways, be more impactful than insults or negative comments from friends and colleagues. This is because we are far more likely to believe our own thoughts than others.”

Try to say positive things to yourself, remember that you have attributes and capabilities that others don’t, and you never know what someone you are comparing yourself to is going through in private. If you catch yourself thinking unkind thoughts, remember that you would never talk to a friend like this so why should you be any different.

Take care of yourself

woman stretching

If we don’t take care of ourselves, we are unlikely to feel very good, this pertains to both physical and mental health. Mental health website Very Well Mind shares: “It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’re abusing your body. On the other hand, if you practice self-care, you know you're doing something positive for your mind, body, and spirit, and you'll naturally feel more confident.” For example, by starting to exercise and build up your strength, you can start to feel less fragile, steadier on your feet, more capable, and less dependent on others. Further still, with more energy spent on exercise, your body will have less energy to use up on feelings of anxiety.

Set goals and tick them off

By setting yourself regular goals and then actually accomplishing them, you can start to gain a sense of achievement, knowing that you have accomplished something tangible. This can be a real benefit to building confidence as you will have evidence and recent memories of your successes. So, consider making a list and put down short, medium, and long-term goals to accomplish. It could be starting to stretch each morning this week, painting the garden fence at the weekend, or learning to play an instrument. What the goals are don’t really matter at first but get used to setting them and then follow through with trying to achieve them.

Take small steps

Building confidence can involve making some changes to our present way of life, such as with exercise. This can, of course, be rather daunting, but this is why taking small steps is key. It’s great to have ambition and big goals but to get the ball rolling and build up your confidence, start small. For example, you might be someone who is nervous about leaving the safety of your home after an incident. Well, why not just start with a walk to the edge of your front garden? Then, to your neighbour’s house, then progress to the end of the street, and so on. With incremental steps, a ‘can do’ attitude based on your recent experience will develop and your confidence will slowly start to build. Whatever it might be, meeting new people, returning to work, or picking up that old sport, starting with small steps will help.

Find support and social connections

older man and woman walking

It’s always good to remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Seeking support from others and social connections can be a very helpful way to start building that confidence. For example, going for a walk with a family member each day might be easier for you and going shopping with a friend perhaps less scary than heading to the high street alone. Bonita from Hypnotherapy Associates spoke to us about how the kindness of those around us can be a real help when looking to advance in confidence: “Another useful tip is to recall nice comments from others and remember the nice feeling felt from these. Writing them down can be helpful and popped on the fridge door to remind you of them each day.”

Further still, if you have been through a traumatic experience, speaking to others who have been through what you have can be very beneficial as you can learn from their experiences. Mental health charity Mind advises, “Making connections with people who have similar or shared experiences can be really helpful. For example, online communities like Mind's Elefriends can be a good source of support.”

Finding a community that helps you feel safe and at home is also a good idea. If you are living somewhere that is bad for your mental health, a change in location might be smart. From support networks to friends and family, a lot of confidence can be gained from the backing and companionship of others. Find someone you trust and let them be there for you.

How to become more confident

  • Transfer confidence from one area to another
  • Limit negative self-talk
  • Take care of yourself
  • Set goals and tick them off
  • Take small steps
  • Find support and social connections

By utilising a combination of the above tips and advice, building confidence can start to become a reality, allowing you to blossom into the person you were meant to be. By starting small, setting some goals, and learning to be kind to yourself, the difference made can be really dramatic.

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