Self ConfidenceConfident people carry themselves differently and have certain characteristics that distinguish them from their more doubt-laden counterparts. The ability to stand strong is an asset when facing life’s difficulties, but developing that strength does not come naturally to everyone.

If your level of self-confidence is not where you would like it to be, there are many things you can do to improve it.

1. Know your self-worth.

Do not undervalue yourself under any circumstances. Allowing others to manipulate your emotions or take unfair advantage compromises your self-esteem. Remember that the feeling of worthiness comes from within, and you are ultimately the only one who can determine how you feel about yourself. Being imperfect does not make you unworthy of love and attention — it makes you human.

Don’t be afraid to set your own standards and live up to them. True self-worth cannot be shaken or destroyed by other people’s opinions.

2. Understand that failure leads to success.

Knowing when to step back and reevaluate is a valuable skill. There comes a time when relentlessly forging ahead only increases the problem, so it’s important to know when to admit defeat — temporarily. Learn from your mistakes, and use that knowledge toward future success. Beating yourself up over prior mistakes saps the energy you need to create a more positive future.

Success requires patience, tenacity, and a healthy perspective on making mistakes. There’s no better confidence booster than overcoming an obstacle and ultimately meeting a personal challenge.

3. Trust your instincts.

When faced with a difficult decision, trust your gut. Recognize that if something does not feel right, it probably isn’t. If it’s not an emergency situation, take the time to weigh the pros and cons, and then act accordingly. Be careful, however, to avoid “analysis paralysis” — going back and forth until the issue becomes totally confused and a decision is never reached.

While other people may have some influence over your choices, the outcome of the situation should reflect what you truly think and feel is right. Giving other people the opportunity to voice their opinions on a subject is a good habit, but going against your better judgment usually is not.

4. Recognize when to lead and when to follow.

Relinquish the need to always be in charge, and understand it is okay to play a supporting role. Sometimes another person’s needs should come first; other times, it is important to be more assertive. For some, it may be uncomfortable to offer conflicting opinions or question another person’s direction. However, by thoughtfully sharing your ideas and opinions, you will actually gain respect and develop the kind of well-balanced relationships you are seeking.

The concept of “power” has no place in intimate relationships. Power struggles are harmful to relationships; truly confident people do not feel the need to bolster themselves by pressuring their partners into submission.

5. Have a clear set of values.

Clearly express your values to those around you. The ability to do this requires some introspection into what you believe about yourself. How you prioritize your life shows others who you are and what is important to you; living consistently with your values allows a natural sense of self-confidence to shine through.

Sometimes the urge to mold our values based on the expectations of others can be pretty strong. But self-confidence should not buckle under the scrutiny of others, and there is no need to apologize for whatever list of values you have. The important thing is to identify the list, then figure out how to live by it.

Improving an underdeveloped sense of self-confidence is a process. Whether you work toward it on your own, or with the help of a professional, you can achieve the personal growth you desire. It is attainable, and the results are well worth the effort. An upcoming post will contain five more tips for increasing your self-confidence.