Want to learn how to recognise your strengths and feel more confident in them? You’ve come to the right place!
Self-confidence is, unfortunately, not a skill most of us are taught at school. As a result, many young people and adults struggle to recognise what they’re good at, leading them to underestimate their own abilities and suffer from low self-esteem and reduced confidence.
What is confidence?
Psychology Today defines confidence as “a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life’s challenges and to succeed — and the willingness to act accordingly.” In other words, confidence is a basic belief in your own abilities and skills.
Remember: confidence is not arrogance. Confidence is not about thinking that you’re amazing at everything or have nothing else to learn. In fact, all of the most confident people I know are happy to admit when they don’t know something and are always looking to learn and improve.
A confident person is able to thrive in a range of situations, adapt to challenges, and build strong personal, social, and working relationships.
Fun fact: the word confidence comes from the Latin fidere, which means “to trust.”
5 Tips to Help You Build Confidence in Your Skills
Feeling under-confident? Many of us do, at least some of the time. But don’t worry – we’re here to help. Here are five top tips to help you recognise your skills and build confidence in them.
1. Ask yourself and others what your greatest strengths are
What are you good at?
If you’re tempted to answer that question with “I don’t know” (or worse, “nothing,”) then I want to invite you to pause, take a big step back, and really reflect on it for a few minutes. Or perhaps you already have a good sense of your strengths. If so, great!
Write down a list of 3-5 things you’re really good at. These can include both concrete or work-specific skills (“I’m a great writer” or “I’m really good with computers,”) and softer but no less important skills (such as “I have a high level of integrity” or “I’m kind and generous.”) Don’t be tempted to qualify these statements or downplay them! Doing so will just undermine the confidence you’re trying to build.
Next, ask others what they think your greatest skills are. Try to ask people whose opinion you trust. You might ask your parents, a close friend, your partner, a teacher or lecturer, a careers advisor, or a mentor. Anyone who knows you reasonably well should be able to give you some insight.
Does this sound scary? Remember that all these people probably care about you a great deal and want you to succeed. So be brave and ask! Just say, “I’m trying to identify my skills and build confidence, I wondered if you could tell me what my three greatest strengths are in your opinion?” You might be surprised what you hear.
Here’s an exercise for you: keep the list you’ve created somewhere you’ll see it every day (like in your planner, stuck to your bathroom mirror, or on your desk by your laptop). Seeing it all the time will help you to keep remembering and internalising the things you’re great at.
2. Challenge yourself and learn new things
Confident people tend to be lifelong learners. One of the best ways to build your confidence is to be aware of what you don’t know as well as what you do know, and to view the desire to keep learning as a strength in itself.
Therefore, challenge yourself! Take that class that sounds really interesting, especially if you think it will stretch you. Volunteer to be on that challenging project at work. Read an article, book, or paper on a subject that interests you for the sole purpose of soaking up knowledge and improving yourself. Attend talks, lectures, and webinars.
Next time you come across a situation that calls for information you don’t have, switch “I don’t know” for “I’ll go and find out.” After you do this a few times, it’ll become second nature. By trusting your own ability to learn, grow, and try things out, you’ll build your confidence in navigating all kinds of situations and environments.
3. Support and help others
Chances are, you’re really good at something that someone else struggles with. One of the best ways to develop your confidence is to support and help other people in the areas you’re good at.
So don’t be afraid to help where you can. Being supportive is not the same as being a know-it-all. There are numerous ways to do this – speak up next time someone says “can anyone help me with…?” Volunteer to be a peer mentor at your school, university, or workplace. Offer to teach an informal class or workshop. Pull together an online training toolkit or downloadable resource. And so on.
There’s another advantage, too: by being generous with your time, skills, and expertise, you’ll build stronger working relationships and have more people in your corner when you’re next up for a big project or promotion!
4. Maintain a positive, can-do attitude
The most confident people tend to have a positive overall attitude to life and work. No-one is expecting you to be bubbly and smiling all the time, of course – that’s not realistic. But staying positive is a virtuous cycle – it’ll make you feel more confident, which will make you feel more positive, and so on.
Part of positivity is a can-do attitude. This means you believe in your ability to achieve success and approach challenges with a sense of curiosity and optimism, rather than fear and defeatism. In other words, stop saying “I can’t do that” and start saying “I will work out how to do that.”
5. Speak up about your successes
Speaking up about your successes isn’t bragging! As long as you do it in the right way, it’s actually a really important part of building confidence. Being humble is an admirable quality, but that isn’t the same as being self-effacing or denying your accomplishments.
Next time your boss asks for updates in the team meeting, go ahead and share something positive you’ve achieved that week. If you’re in a job interview and asked about your skills, don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. Even posting on social media about a success you’ve had can help you start to build confidence in shouting about your own achievements.
As long as everything you say is truthful, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the things you do really well.
You are amazing!
Everyone is really good at something. You might already have a good sense of your skills, or you might still be learning about what your strengths are. Either way, building confidence is an ongoing challenge, not a one-and-done task.
So stick with it, believe in yourself, and remember – you’re amazing!