The art of confidence: 5 ways to boost your self-esteem in less than 30 days, according to psychology

If you’ve been hitting a wall of self-doubt or feeling like you’re constantly falling short, you’re not alone – some estimates suggest that 85% of people worldwide have low self-esteem. Yes, 85%! 

I have also struggled with self-esteem on and off throughout my adult life. 

This was especially true when I was running my own startup a few years ago, where the constant ups and downs, along with the pressure to succeed, made me frequently question my own worth and abilities.

There’s also plenty we can do about it, however. 

Self-esteem isn’t a mystical trait that we’re either blessed with or not. It’s a skill, something we can work on and improve over time. It’s like a muscle—the more we flex it, the stronger it gets. 

So what did I do?

I looked to the pros for some advice. 

There’s no shortage of advice on how to become more confident and boost our self-esteem, but for me, these five have been by far the most effective. 

Let’s get to ‘em.

1) Start comparing yourself to past yourself…only

This is a huge one. 

Have you ever caught yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, comparing your life to the highlight reels of others?…your college friend flaunting their new dream home, a former colleague celebrating a big promotion, or another person showcasing their seemingly perfect family life? 

What does this result in?

Well, noted by Psychotherapist Amy Morin, research suggests that “when people compare themselves to others, they experience envy. And the more envy they have, the worse they feel about themselves.”

I noticed this personally as an entrepreneur; I would compare my journey to those around me, often feeling disheartened seeing others achieve milestones at a pace I hadn’t reached yet. The turning point came when I recognized that such comparisons were not only unhelpful but also skewed my perception of my own achievements. 

The solution, as you might have guessed, is to compare yourself to yourself. This was one of my biggest takeaways from Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson’s bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. He dedicated an entire chapter to this. 

How to apply this to your life in the next 30 days

I’ll be honest: with the ultimate comparison machine at our fingertips, this is no easy task, but if you can do this, you will see a huge boost in your own self-esteem. Or at least, I did. 

Here are a few things that worked for me: 

  • Keep a journal: Document your own progress and achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Reflecting on your own growth can be incredibly empowering.
  • Set personal benchmarks: Instead of measuring your success against others, set your own goals and celebrate when you achieve them.
  • Limit social media exposure: Reduce the time spent on platforms that trigger comparison, and curate your feed to include more content that inspires and educates rather than evokes envy.

2) Hang out with the right people, i.e., confident people 

Back in university, I had this friend who wasn’t just confident; he was supremely confident. 

When I was with him, I felt almost invincible, as if his confidence had a way of rubbing off on me. Remarkably, this effect wasn’t just temporary; I started to feel more self-assured even in his absence. 

I’ve observed similar patterns with some of my current friends, but it was during those university days when I first realized the profound impact of surrounding myself with confident individuals.

Ever found something similar?

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Some agree with this, and some question it. It doesn’t really matter. 

What is for sure is that the people we spend most of our time with have a huge influence on who we are.

Psychologists might refer to this as “social contagion”. As put by Science Direct, this is a “process by which information, such as attitudes, emotions, or behaviors, are rapidly spread throughout a group from one member to others without rational thought and reason.”

The point? 

Confidence is contagious

How to apply this to your life in the next 30 days

In the coming month, take a moment to reflect on your social circles. Here’s how you can shift your social dynamics to boost your self-esteem:

  • Prioritize time with your confident friends: Make a conscious effort to spend more time with those who uplift you and make you feel more capable.
  • Limit time with negative influences: While it’s important to support friends in need, consistently negative or pessimistic individuals can drain your energy and self-esteem. It’s okay to set boundaries for your own well-being.
  • Seek out new connections: If you find your current circle isn’t fostering the growth you’re seeking, don’t hesitate to reach out and form new relationships that align with your personal development goals.

The people you surround yourself with can either lift you up or bring you down. Choose them wisely. 

3) Do the things that scare you

pic2484 The art of confidence: 5 ways to boost your self-esteem in less than 30 days, according to psychology

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Above is a quote by Dale Carnegie, the celebrated self-development writer, but this is also advised by modern experts. 

Psychotherapist Amy Morin, whom I mentioned in the first point, for instance, advises us to face our fears. Clinical social worker Lena Suarez-Angelino advises something similar — “Step out of your comfort zone” – in her post on Choosing Therapy

How to apply this to your life in the next 30 days

Here’s a simple roadmap to guide you through this process:

  • Make a fear list: Write down everything that scares you, big or small. Seeing your fears on paper can make them less intimidating and more manageable. Is it public speaking, initiating conversations with strangers, or perhaps taking on new responsibilities at work? Maybe it’s something as personal as expressing your feelings to someone close to you. Whatever it is, write it down. 
  • Pick your battles: Begin with fears that are less paralyzing and gradually work your way up to the bigger ones. This helps build momentum and confidence.
  • Set weekly challenges: Aim to confront one or two fears each week. For example, if you’re apprehensive about public speaking, start by speaking up more in meetings or join a local Toastmasters club.
  • Prepare and practice: For challenges that require skill or knowledge, such as public speaking or a new activity, take the time to prepare and practice. Competence breeds confidence.
  • Celebrate your victories: Acknowledge your courage in facing your fears, no matter the outcome. Every attempt is a step forward in your journey to greater self-confidence.

4) Set realistic sub-goals

Goals are good, folks. As noted by Harvard Business Review, they “give us a sense of purpose” and help us “feel accomplished.” 

If you don’t have any, start setting them. 

But here’s the thing: most of us have goals…the problem is often that they’re often too big and intimidating.

This was a significant challenge during my venture with my small startup. My aspirations were sky-high, which, while ambitious, often left me feeling overwhelmed and stuck.

It wasn’t until I adopted the approach of breaking down these colossal goals into smaller, more manageable steps that I began to see real progress. 

This strategy not only helped me achieve my objectives but also significantly boosted my confidence. Each small victory propelled me forward, making the next step seem all the more achievable.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was doing is actually recommended by the experts as a way of increasing confidence. For instance, in her CNBC post, licensed therapist Jenny Maenpaa advises breaking big goals into “bite-sized pieces.”

This approach not only makes your goals more attainable but also guards against the disheartenment that often follows when we fall short of our overly ambitious aims.

How to apply this to your life in the next 30 days

  • Break down your goals: Start with your main goals and list out all the smaller tasks or sub-goals required to achieve them. These should be manageable tasks that you can realistically accomplish.
  • Prioritize your sub-goals: Determine which sub-goals are most critical and start with those. This helps ensure that your efforts are focused on what will make the most significant impact.
  • Set deadlines for your sub-goals: Just as your main goal should be time-bound, so should your sub-goals. This will keep you on track and help maintain momentum.
  • Celebrate small wins: Acknowledge and celebrate each sub-goal you achieve. This reinforces a positive feedback loop and builds your confidence.

5) Practice gratitude

In the business of life, it’s easy to overlook the good things and focus on what’s going wrong. 

However, crucially, as noted by researchers, being grateful is also linked to higher self-esteem. 

When running my startup, when setbacks seemed relentless, gratitude anchored me. Acknowledging the lessons from each challenge and even the small wins along the way shifted my focus from what was going wrong to everything that was going right. 

This shift didn’t just help me navigate those tough times; it fundamentally changed how I viewed myself and my capabilities.

How to apply this to your life in the next 30 days

Incorporating gratitude into your daily routine can be simpler than you might think, and the benefits are well worth the effort. Here’s what worked for me:

  • Keep a gratitude journal: Each day, write down three things you’re grateful for. They can be as significant as a life-changing opportunity or as simple as a warm cup of coffee on a chilly morning.
  • Express gratitude to others: Make it a habit to thank people in your life, whether it’s for something specific they’ve done or just for being there for you. This not only strengthens your relationships but also amplifies your own feelings of gratitude.
  • Start and end your day with gratitude: Take a few moments each morning and evening to reflect on what you’re thankful for. This practice can set a positive tone for your day and help you end on a high note, regardless of what the day brought.

The bottom line

Boosting our self-esteem and confidence isn’t about overnight changes or quick fixes. 

It’s about taking small, consistent steps. Try out these five strategies; they might just transform your self-perception over the next 30 days. 

As always, I hope you found some value in this post. 

Until next time. 

Picture of Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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