Developing self-confidence

  • Become aware of the reasons for a lack or loss of self-confidence
  • Become aware of the consequences of a lack of self-confidence
  • Develop your self-confidence and free your potential


Do you lack confidence in your work? Are you uncomfortable when you speak? Do you sometimes doubt your skills? You have just been promoted but you do not feel legitimate in this new position? You don't dare to assert yourself? Are you afraid of being rejected or of what others might think of you? Do you constantly ask yourself questions about yourself and about everything? You are unable to take initiatives? You don't trust others and you can't fit in? What if it is a lack of self-confidence?

You should know that this is a vast and complex subject that affects 85% of the world's population (according to an article published on Forbes: "How self Worth affects your salary"). On the other hand, did you know that we are all born with the ability to be confident? So why do so many people suffer from a lack of self-confidence? It is in fact a process that appears as we go along in life: lived experiences, labels that our parents, teachers, entourage put on us or have put on us, which can diminish our self-confidence. However, there is no fatality, we can regain our self-confidence at any time provided we change certain ways of being and doing.

Before going into more detail, it is important to define self-confidence and self-esteem together, and to highlight the differences and links.

  • Self-confidence is an element that contributes to the development of self-esteem. However, without having a good self-esteem, it is impossible to have full self-confidence. It is the fuel that will allow you to act, to make decisions, to assert your rights and your desires, to dare, to assert yourself, to believe in your abilities in order to face even the most complex situations.
  • Self-esteem corresponds to the appreciation and personal evaluation that we make of ourselves. This allows us to know ourselves better and to have a rewarding perception of who we are. It can be fluctuating: thus according to the judgement which one carries on its acts, one can develop oneself by considering that what one made is valid, or on the contrary to devalue oneself.

The 4 Pillars of Self-Esteem

Source: Creative Dynamics


1. Why do we lack or lose self-confidence?

The good news is that awareness of our brakes, beliefs and blockages is the first step in any change and development of self-confidence.

1.1 Fear and negative thoughts: the "saboteurs”

The main enemy of self-confidence is fear. The development of self-confidence begins with the elimination of this "inner demon", which follows us everywhere and constantly whispers in our ears:

  • "You won't succeed, don't try because you might make a mistake"
  • Don't express your opinion or you will be judged".

As Shirzad Shamine, author of the book and test Positive Intelligence, says, "Our mind can be our friend but also our worst enemy "**, and to better fight against our enemies it is important to be able to "identify" them. He calls this type of "demon", the enemy within: the "SABOTEURS ".

He identifies several types of saboteurs and names the one mentioned above: the Saboteur "Judge Yourself". This saboteur is composed of beliefs and fears that limit our self-confidence and cause us disappointment, anger, regret, guilt, shame, stress, anxiety.

He also identifies 2 other main Saboteurs:

  • "Saboteur Judges Others"
  • Saboteur Judges Circumstances" (events)

He also identifies 9 "Accomplice Saboteurs" who work in close collaboration with the "3 Saboteurs Judges".

1.2 Confidence and Fear are in opposition

  • When fear is high, it blocks trust.
  • Conversely, when confidence is high and fear is low, individuals function better because it allows them to achieve a positive sense of self-worth.

In our social relationships, the 3 main fears are :

1- Being ignored: fear of not being recognised by others, not participating in their exchanges, not being integrated into their group. The challenge for the person: to be included 2- To be humiliated: fear of not being up to the challenge, of not being competent, of not knowing how to do things. What is at stake for the person: control

3- To be rejected: fear of not being appreciated as a person, of not being loved; not for reasons of competence or importance but for what the person is intimately. The challenge for the person: to open up to others

To regain confidence, the most important thing is to accept one's fears, to train oneself to play down the situation in order to project oneself into success.

2. What are the consequences of a lack of self-confidence?

As we have just seen, the lack of self-confidence is linked to fear and to our saboteurs that generate anxiety, stress, sadness, impossibility to reach our goals, resentment, and the feeling of never being good enough. If you don't sound the alarm and start taking action, you risk devaluing yourself and having the imposter syndrome, which can also lead to burnout.

2.1 Self-deprecation

The "Self-judging saboteur" can have a significant impact on self-depreciation and consequently on self-esteem. This creates a real vicious circle.

See diagram below :

Vicious circle of self-deprecation


Source: Daniele Simon

Personal monologues are sneaky. We don't always notice them, but they have a significant impact on our moods, beliefs and behaviors.

2.2 Imposter Syndrome

The impostor syndrome was revealed in 1978 by two psychologists, Pauline Clance and Susanne Imes. This phenomenon is expressed by the feeling of not deserving the place one occupies It has its origins in battered egos and the need to compare oneself to others. It creates uneasiness in the person concerned, a feeling of wanting to be perfect and can provoke disproportionate reactions such as exhaustion (hence the risk of burnout), which reinforces the feeling of incompetence, given the efforts made. Others become discouraged, underestimating their abilities and falling into procrastination.

The phenomenon of the impostor is widespread. In fact, psychologists estimate that 70% of people have been affected by this syndrome at least once in their lives. The impostor syndrome appears in particular during periods of transition: first degree, first job, new course of study, important promotion...

Far from being limited to the world of work, impostor syndrome also affects family and social life, for example, in parents who underestimate their ability to take care of their children, or in a couple when the other person sends back an image of oneself that is considered to be too positive in relation to the one one you have.


We have seen the reasons and consequences of a lack or loss of self-esteem and self-confidence. Let's now see how to develop self-esteem and self-confidence.

1. How to develop self-esteem?

Self-esteem is developed through constant awareness techniques, self-knowledge, kindness towards oneself and concrete actions to face one's fears.

1.1 Being kind to yourself

Self-acceptance is the key to eliminating those negative emotions that cause us fear and loss of confidence. The work of acceptance focuses on concrete elements: emotions, thoughts and behaviors adopted in situations that are a hindrance to self-esteem. There are nine steps to developing self-esteem (see diagram below), and it starts with the below), and it starts with self-love. Whether you achieve yourself, set goals for yourself, or want to grow, it should not affect your love for yourself. You are a unique being. You must love yourself, no matter what. Love yourself for what you are.

Tell yourself from now on: "...... (your name), I love you with your qualities and your defects, with your weaknesses, with your strengths, with your weaknesses: I LOVE YOU! You will make great achievements and sometimes you will fail. You will have good behaviors and sometimes you will be a notorious fool. No matter what, I LOVE YOU! It's important that you know that I love you unconditionally.

The 9 keys to developing kindness towards yourself

Source: The Self-Confidence Toolbox. Annie Leibovitz


1.2 Knowing oneself and celebrating one's successes

The development of self-esteem requires self-knowledge and the celebration of one's successes.

1.2.1 Knowing yourself

Knowing yourself means being aware of your personal and professional skills but also of your values, that is to say what is important to you in your private life and at work. Values are beliefs that influence our attitudes and behaviors. They allow us to orient our choices and adapt our behaviour according to the social context. Taking stock of our values and identifying priorities allows us to be coherent and aligned with ourselves, i.e. to make decisions in accordance with ourselves, to dare to be ourselves, to reinforce our self-esteem. Indeed, if our values are not respected we weaken them and each time our behaviors are consistent with our values, we strengthen our self-esteem.

1.2.2 Celebrate your successes and be proud of yourself

This is the 2nd step in the development of self-esteem. The diagram below will allow you to become aware of your level of self-esteem. Here are the steps of analysis:

1. Assess your self-esteem

2. Promote success and the feeling of being worthy and reliable

3. Take initiative

4. Adapt to your environment

5. Congratulate yourself on your successes and give yourself and give yourself signs of recognition.

6. Find the balance between self, action and others

7. Implement an action plan to increase your self-esteem

The 9 prioritised keys to self-esteem

Source: C. André (2004)


1.3 1.3 Practice self-acceptance :

1- Become aware of the times when you do not accept yourself

2- Practice saying "yes" in your head and accept that some events do not go as planned

3- Stay in the present moment to calm mental ruminations and talk to yourself in the present ("I am...", "I do...")

4- Accept the idea of the worst case scenario in order to calm yourself and avoid running around in a loop on scenarios that will not come true 99% of the time. Ask yourself questions such as: What is the risk if...? What problem do we fear?

5- Accept and make peace with the past

1.4 Project yourself positively

Is it necessary to know the cause of the problem to find the solution? We are influenced by our doubts and sometimes create our own obstacles by interpreting reality.

Solution Oriented Intervention (SOI) is an approach created in the 1980s by Steve de Shazer and his team. The method is based on the observation that the solution is not linked to the problem and that we can therefore avoid analysing it. This approach focuses on the language, beliefs and solutions of the person. It allows us to reverse the process by repositioning the situation through a prism that reverses the perspective from which we see the situation. Indeed, the more we talk about problems, the more important they become, which causes frustration, stress and loss of self-confidence. **Conversely, the more we talk about solutions, the more they take place in reality.

Here are the presuppositions that will allow you to have a solution-oriented approach :

  • Each person has all the resources to solve problems
  • Change is permanent
  • It is not necessary to know the problem or the cause to solve it. Everyone defines his or her goals
  • Focus on what is achievable and can be changed, not on what is unattainable and cannot be changed

2. How to build self-confidence

2.1 Face your fears and negative thoughts

Choose a situation in which you feel "uncomfortable":

1. What type of fear is it (being rejected, ignored or humiliated)? _________

2. What do you want to change, to improve? _________

3. Describe precisely what you want to do, how you are going to do it, and your indicators of success_________

The key to any type of change is awareness: take stock of your day and commit to writing down your negative thoughts every day in order to reduce them.

2.2 Power poses

Amy Cuddy's study contrasts "low power poses", where the subject cowers in on himself, with "high power poses", where the subject takes space and asserts himself.

A clinical study has shown that people who adopt a "high power pose" saw :

  • their level of testosterone - a key hormone for self-confidence - increased by 20% after only two minutes
  • their level of cortisol - a stress-related hormone - decreased by 25%

Conversely, people who adopted a "low-power pose" saw their testosterone level drop by 10% and their cortisol level rise by 15%.

We were not born feeling more comfortable in certain postures. We learned to feel more comfortable holding our bodies in that way. Everything that has been learned can be unlearned.

Looking at the illustrations above, what are your usual ways of standing and sitting? How do you feel about doing the opposite?

Through this worksheet, we have seen the reasons and consequences of a lack or loss of confidence, as well as ways to develop it. It's up to you to experiment with this practice and to go deeper into the resources below.