The way to develop self-confidence is to accept that confidence is not something you have, but it is something you create. Being confident is not as complicated as it may seem – It’s nothing more than a feeling of certainty that you know who you are, what you want, and what your boundaries are. Simple as that.

You may be thinking, ‘Well, Grace, confidence has never come naturally to me’, and guess what? Me neither. But, now when I walk into a room, I don’t shy away in the corner and refuse to look others in the eye. Instead, attention is drawn to me as I hold my head high, am self-assured, and shake hands with intentional eye contact. Self-confidence is a skill that I learned and am constantly developing. This is not to say that I do not have bad days, moments that upset me, or am completely self-assured 100% of the time – that could not be farther from the truth. Rather, I trust myself that no matter what happens, I will be able to handle it and learn from the outcome.

So, how can you develop your own sense of self-confidence?

Practise self-love and self-respect

Self-love is a topic that has been widely preached for years now, but I argue that self-respect is even more important. Tony Robbins, life coach and leadership psychologist, writes that mastering the art of self-love and self-awareness are key when it comes to confidence. Defining your values and being proud of them is a great first step. What is important to you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Embrace them equally. Respecting yourself means treating yourself with care, staying true to your values, and not being willing to compromise. This can especially be hard for people-pleasers but being able to say ‘no’ and assert boundaries was key for me when growing in my sense of self. The more you engage in behaviours consistent with your beliefs and values, the more you’ll feel fulfilled and confident.

Create a personal brand

To develop and improve your ‘brand’ aim to develop good habits – and break bad ones. We all know that regular exercise and a healthy diet can dramatically improve your physical and mental health’s, and studies have shown that getting a good night’s sleep is linked with increased optimism and self-esteem. If you project a positive image of your authentic self, you’ll likely start to receive the positive feedback that is important to your self-confidence. You will see positive changes in yourself that make you feel good, and you will strive to continue to feel that way. Outwardly, others will likely see the positive changes you are making, and a nice compliment never hurt anybody’s self-esteem.

List your identities and how each one affects you

How does your race, class, gender affect you? Are you an only child, or do you have siblings? Are you a student or professional? Every identity you can come up with will help you get to know yourself, as Fregoso points out. Understanding yourself from a societal level and how it trickles down to how you individually view yourself is so beneficial. Instead of boxing yourself into these categories, take dedicated time to understand how these different identities may have influenced certain beliefs or behaviours for you. By knowing these distinctions, it makes it easier to know what your own beliefs and attitudes are on a collective level – rather than what society has drilled into your head. This goes along with your sense of self, as identifying your own beliefs and standings in the world can give you a stronger sense of identity and community with others.

‘Confidence is key’, they say, and I must agree. If you are struggling with feeling like you don’t know who you are or are lacking self-confidence, be intentional in practising self-love, not compromising on self-respect, and identifying your values daily. Once you master these, your confidence comes naturally as you know who you are and what you bring to every situation. Don’t try to be anybody else because no one can be you better than you can!

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