How to build self-confidence

Do you hold yourself back from achieving your aims, whether on the sports field, in the boardroom or in your social life? Do you fancy someone but can't pluck up the courage to make a move? If your answer is yes, your self-confidence might need a boost.

Many talented people don't realise their potential because they either do not appreciate their worth or they undermine themselves by being their own worst critics. How can you give your self-confidence a complete overhaul? Follow these tips:

Take a step back: Think and make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and try to be as objective as possible. (Rather don't do this exercise when you’re going through a hard time or are feeling angry, hurt or rejected, however.) The aim is to give yourself recognition for what you have achieved, while identifying those areas that you need to develop. Make peace with the fact that there might be some areas in which you will never excel. Rather build on the positive.

The self-image examination: Carefully scrutinise your self-image and the reasons you fail to feel self-confident. Discard any reasons that are not backed by actual experience and common sense.

Get feedback: Discuss the lists with a good friend whose opinion you trust. Choose someone who will give you honest feedback. You might be surprised to learn that the way you view yourself might differ from the way others see you.

Be realistic: If there’s something you’d like to achieve, set yourself realistic goals. Don't attempt to run the next Comrades if you can only manage 5km at this stage. Failing is one sure way of breaking down confidence. Avoid this by developing a programme of planned, realistic activities. Set yourself small, short-term goals which are measurable, rather than attempting one monumental, impossible task and then berating yourself for not managing it. Reward yourself every step of the way. For example, if you’re struggling to stick to a fitness programme, set R20 aside every time you complete a workout. Spoil yourself at the end of each month by spending it on something special.

Nurture yourself: There is no point in surrounding yourself with people who constantly break you down and who don't appreciate your worth. Make a list of the people in your life who make you feel good about yourself. Invest in these relationships rather than wasting time on people who are not worthy of your friendship.

Don't rush: Take things one step at a time. Self-confidence cannot be built overnight. Be gentle to yourself and reward yourself every step of the way. – (Ilse Pauw, Health24, May 2010)

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