Recently, I was having a relatively perfect day. My work was flowing, my health was good, my loved ones were happy and safe. Then boom. That little voice inside my head started screaming. Do you think you’re the right person for this? What are you thinking? You’re not cut out for what’s ahead. These ego thoughts, all of which were based in scarcity and fear, came pouring in. It was as if everything I’d done to build self-confidence came crashing down that instant with my spinning thoughts.
What I’ve learned in my 40-plus years is that wild voice of negativity and self-doubt just happens, I believe to all of us. It can come in like a tornado—and there’s often no clear way to forecast it. Yet, simultaneously, self-confidence can always shine back. The key is to cultivate and nourish it. When we do this, we push back against the self-sabotaging energy and negative societal conditioning and regain a power that is wholly ours.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
1 of 5Image by Riley Banks
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5 Game-Changing Tips To Build Self Confidence
Over the years, I’ve gleaned all that I can to help me through these bouts of low self-confidence and honor my power. These following five tricks—you may call them life hacks, simple supportive practices, or self-care exercises—are the tactics that always help me build self-confidence. They’re free, instant, and easy—and I promise will help pull you out the next time you find yourself in the throes of negative self-talk.
1. Practice the Power Pose
This exercise, which is a favorite of Camille’s, does the job—every single time. And it’s all thanks to the brilliant social psychologist Amy Cuddy. The power pose theory is simple yet revolutionary: You position yourself in a way where your arms are high, your chest lifted, and your legs are spread out and firm on the ground to you make yourself bigger.
Cuddy posits that our body language and the way we carry our physical bodies has a tremendous impact on how we view ourselves (and how others view us). You could say Cuddy started a revolution with her power pose after her 2010 Ted Talk, which has more than 22 million views. In the talk, Cuddy explains how her research findings unveiled that a physiological change happened after people do this pose, including a drop in the stress hormone cortisol.
Cuddy’s research has had an immense impact on me. I do the power post at least once a week. Before a meeting or interview, I’ll step into my bathroom, look in the mirror, and hold my arms up high. But where it mostly comes into the fold is when I’m feeling low. A quick pose and my self-confidence waves come flowing back.
2. Go On a Hot Girl Walk
For the past two years or so, TikTok has abounded with the fitness trend hot girl walks—or as Mia Lind officially coined it, Hot Girl Walk™—and for good reason. Just as its name suggests, a hot girl walk encourages a positive, self-empowering, loving state of mind while doing one of the most highly beneficial forms of exercise. You go on a walk and think wonderful things about yourself: I am beautiful. I am ***. I love my body.
Lind started this trend in 2020 when she started walking for her mental and physical health. When she put a positive and structured spin on what she would allow herself to think while walking, she found that she always got out of a funk and into a place of empowerment. Her concept took off. This exercise has easily become one of the most accessible and impactful ways to tap into my inner confidence. No matter where I am, I’ll take five to ten minutes, put on a positive song, and go pound the pavement.
3 of 5Image of Iskra Lawrence by Michelle Nash
3. Do a Mental Declutter
When negative thoughts enter my mind, I’ve learned to view them as physical objects. This helps me envision physically pushing those thoughts out of my mind to allow room for confidence to fill the void. It’s a unique practice I’ve come to lean on after finding inspiration from author and therapist Peggy Fitzsimmons. An expert on what she calls “mental clutter,” Fitzsimmons believes that our ego mind, which fuels negative self-talk and suppresses confidence, can keep us in a trance.
Simply put: When we start to think “you’re not good enough,” we really believe it and live it. In turn, when we take the time to observe our thoughts, we find room for choice—i.e. we realize we don’t have to let that thought overtake us. So when a swell of negativity takes over, Fitzsimmons says to observe what we’re thinking. If our thoughts don’t serve us or make us feel good, push them away and choose to think of something positive instead.
I love this practice. I used to believe that if a self-sabotaging thought came into my mind, I was its hostage. No longer. When this happens, I witness it for a moment and then push the thought out of my mind. Then I select a happier image. Almost instantly, my confidence swells.
4 of 5Image of Kate Waitzkin by Michelle Nash
4. Talk to Yourself Like a Friend
We’re always there to say nice things to a friend, especially if they’re in a rut. But how often do we speak to ourselves in this kind manner? Psychologist Dr. Kirsten Neff believes not often enough—and she’s out to change this. Dr. Neff feels that we need to have more self-compassion. This means treating ourselves with concern, warmth, and support, just as we would a loved one. Essentially, it’s all about how we treat ourselves during hard times and it’s a key to bolstering confidence. One practice is to literally talk to yourself as you would to a friend. You can look into the mirror and says such things as, “You’re amazing.” “You’ve been through such hard times, you can get through this.” “You are a brilliant, kind, unique soul.”
I’ve used Dr. Neff’s practice and it’s always helped me climb out of a funk and into the self-confidence light. In truth, sometimes I’ve laughed at myself while doing this. But that helps me realize that if I feel positive self-talk is a little goofy (albeit healthy), negative self-loathing is downright a waste of time.
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5. Submerge Yourself in Nature
We all know it: Nature is the ultimate confidence booster and stress buster. Study after study shows the physical and mental benefits of walking in the forest, touching a tree, or simply gazing out into a field. The research spans centuries and countries, starting as far back as the origins of Ayurveda, and has more recently been receiving the Western attention it deserves: We are one with our environments and thus nature can help lift our spirits.
The surrounding earth reminds me that my time here is fleeting, so I must try to lean into it with gratitude and positivity as much as I can.
When I’m lacking confidence, I put down whatever I am doing at that moment, throw on a coat, step outside, and walk anywhere there are trees. Ideally, I submerge myself in a forest. But if I’m in a city, I’ll seek out greenery wherever it is, making sure to look up at the trees and touch the leaves. I will instantly feel a release of tension and a swell of positivity. I’ll also feel humbled. The surrounding earth reminds me that my time here is fleeting, so I must try to lean into it with gratitude and positivity as much as I can.