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7 Strategies for Building Self-Confidence

Building self-confidence starts with learning to trust yourself. Career coach Sandy Aquino shares tips for how to silence your inner critic so you can start believing in your ability.


Sandy Aquino


Your brain is hard coded to prepare you for potential dangers that lie ahead. It’s recorded every negative moment you’ve lived and every negative comment you’ve heard. If you let it, your brain will play these moments and comments on repeat. To succeed and unleash your potential, you need to override this brain setting. When you do, you’ll make room for positive thoughts that will build your confidence instead of holding you back.


Here are 7 strategies you can try to build your self-confidence: 


1. Silence your inner critic.

You alone determine which thoughts get to take up the valuable space in your brain. Become aware of your negative thoughts when they occur. Understand what triggers them. Create a “snap out of it” word or mantra you can recite when you notice these thoughts creeping up on you. You can turn down the volume on the negativity with a little practice. 


2. Practice affirming self-love.

Your brain believes what it’s told. Make sure you’re consistently telling it how awesome, capable and deserving you are! To help take control of your thoughts, start every day with mindfulness. Gratitude is the antidote to anxiety, so spend time thinking about the things you appreciate about yourself.


3. Stop people-pleasing. 

Confidence is about how you see yourself, not how others see you. It’s about trusting that you know what’s good for you and believing that you have control over how much you take on. 

Learn to say no. There is no need to feel guilty about disappointing co-workers and acquaintances. They’re not responsible for meeting your obligations, raising your kids, or getting you out of the office on time. You are. If you’re not confident or comfortable saying no, check out these tips I wrote.


4. Become competent in your field.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but confidence comes naturally when you have the required skills to do your job well. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of being properly trained when they’re promoted. (Just because you were good at the job you did doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be good at managing others to do it.) A learner’s mindset is critical to success. If you did not receive the proper training, it’s up to you to go out and get it. Confidence is born from competence.


5. Let go of perfectionism. 

Women feel compelled to make less mistakes than men in order to be taken seriously. We think we’re being judged by everyone in the room, but the truth is people are far too self-absorbed to be that worried about you! Once I realized this, my whole perspective changed. 

Let it go. Stop chasing such an impossible notion. When your goal is perfection, you’re going to be let down. It’s fuel for that inner critic. Being perfectly imperfect is much more authentic and well-received by others anyway. 


6. Take small risks.

If you’re not sure, try it. If it works, do it again. When that becomes comfortable, take another risk. As you prove that you can do hard things, you begin to slowly trust yourself. You have to strengthen that trust muscle. Confidence is not about knowing everything. It’s about trusting your ability to figure things out. 


7. Find a mentor.

Find a champion that will push you out of your comfort zone—someone to hold you accountable to your goals and challenge you to unlock your full potential. Once you know that someone else has your back and is investing their time and energy into helping you be your best, there’s no going back!


Confidence is a learned behavior. It comes from taking actions that result in positive feedback. That feedback helps build trust, belief, and self-worth. 

Believing that you are good enough, deserving, capable and strong is possible. If you haven’t found your confidence yet, don’t give up. I promise you it’s in there. If you don’t believe in yourself right now, don’t worry. I believe in you enough for both of us! 

I’ve coached hundreds of managers into successful, confident leaders over the last 30 years and now I’ve compiled all my best secrets into my signature 12-week coaching program. Learn more.