How to find your inner confidence

Confidence can get you a long way at school, university and work, and in friendships and relationships. How can you give yours a boost?

Most of us understand that confidence can make a difference to our life.

“Through my education, I didn’t just develop skills, I didn’t just develop the ability to learn, but I developed confidence,” said former US First Lady Michelle Obama.

Fortunately, our genes aren’t solely to blame for how confident we are.

It’s a quality that can be improved with practice, says Michelle Sales, author of The Power of Real Confidence.

“Research indicates genetics is one underlying driver of confidence, but the choices we make every day can build, or detract from, our confidence,” she says.

“Those choices don’t have to be significant. You don’t have to get on stage in front of 1000 people or stand up for world peace. Small choices every day help, like building a muscle.”

Here are eight ways you can boost your confidence:

Build confidence from the inside out

“Tap into your strengths and think about what you are great at,” says Michelle.

“If you leverage your strengths, you’re halfway to building confidence.”

Ask people you trust what they see as your strengths.

End the day with reflection

“We can go home and be hard on ourselves about something that didn’t go right for us,” says Michelle.

“Recap on what you did well, think ‘what could I have done better’ and think about how you want to show up tomorrow.”

Keep your perspective

You may do something at work or at home and get five pieces of great feedback.

One person says, ‘I don’t know why you did that’ – and all you remember is the one piece of negative feedback.

Focus on the positive feedback instead.

Stop comparing yourself to others

“Comparison is an enemy of confidence,” says Michelle.

“We always compare what is going on for us internally with the shiny outside side of someone else.

“Instead, think about where you are at and what you want to do better. Comparison makes us feel not good enough, so we don’t try new things.”

Make small choices and build to bigger choices

Make choices that are small and sustainable and gradually get bolder.

“We don’t go to the gym and start lifting 80kg. We start light and build as we go,” says Michelle.

“Confidence is the same. Start saying yes to what you might have said no to yesterday. Start making small choices today to build confidence tomorrow. And confidence breeds confidence.”

Find mentors

Mentors can change depending on where you are in your life and what you want to achieve.

Find a mentor you can have honest conversations with and who can help you learn new skills.

Don’t aim for perfect

“Perfectionism is another enemy of confidence,” says Michelle.

“When we must have things done perfectly and things are never good enough, we spend too much time over-thinking and take less action. That limits choices and confidence.”

Make your own definition of confidence

“For me, confidence is feeling positive about your ability to achieve something,” says Michelle.

“It’s not whether you can achieve it, it’s a voice in your head that says, ‘I can give it a go and step outside my comfort zone’.”

The Power of Real Confidence by Michelle Sales is out now, Major Street Publishing, $29.95.

Written by Sarah Marinos.