How to Build Lasting Self-Confidence: Habits & Perspectives for a Lifetime



I’m glad you’re reading this. While you’ve only just taken in the title at this point, you’ve committed to, at the very least, opening yourself to the possibility that self-confidence is a process, not an innate privilege enjoyed by a few lucky ones. True, some people seem to have been born with a healthy degree of self-esteem, but most of us struggle with this, whether it’s evident to others or not.


I won’t claim to be an expert. But I will share what I’ve learned over the years, both through direct experience with all the comings and goings of life and through the quiet solitude of my contemplative practice. For me, the key has been to regularly engage in honest, curious self-reflection.


Don’t move mountains… climb them, one step at a time.


Building self-confidence takes time. I’ve lost count of how many women have said to me – and yes, this seems to be more prevalent amongst the female population – “I’m not confident enough to do that.” Sound familiar? It’s similar to what some people say about Yoga: “I’m not flexible enough for it.”


I always want to respond with “that’s the whole point, people.” The goal is not to have met the goal before taking the necessary steps to achieve the goal.


When you climb a mountain, you don’t begin at the top. You start at the bottom and work your way up, feeling apprehensive, doubtful, underskilled, underprepared, and downright clumsy from the get-go, knowing full well that it’s more about the journey towards the goal, be it the top of the mountain, a bendier body, or writing a book, than it is about arriving there. If you started in full confidence or with full flexibility or with a polished manuscript, then what? Hasn’t it always been about the journey?


Say f*ck it to the bucket list.


Set doable goals. To do that, you must have a good sense of what you’re capable of achieving but also what your limits are. You must also expect your capabilities and limits to fluctuate from time to time. Indeed, one of The Four Agreements (Author: Don Miguel Ruiz) is “always do your best”, but know that “your best” isn’t a static capability. It’s influenced by illness, energy levels, and so on.


Deep down you know when you’re doing your best on a given day. So, set reasonable goals. Be okay with saying F-it to old goals that are no longer serving you. Continually create new goals. Rewrite your to-do list regularly throughout the week as your priorities change. Reconsider your monthly or yearly goals regularly to see if they still support what you want to achieve overall.


Practice showing up.


Ugh. That’s probably my most frequently-used sentiment when I’m confronted with my weekly scheduled workout sessions. I can count on one hand the number of times this past year that I wanted to train. The whole thing feels either like a total drag or completely overwhelming. But I do it anyway, save for those times I’m ill. Everyone has something like this in their lives, a sort of nemesis activity that they’d just as soon trade in for a trip to the dentist.


Leo Babauta, Founder of Zen Habits, encourages us to practice showing up with our full selves, even when we’re not feeling it, and “find freedom in our overwhelm.” The key word here is practice. We don’t have to ace it every time. And we don’t have to love it. But we need to commit to it, whatever it is. He frames it like this: What do I care about that’s more important than my discomfort in this moment? Most parents understand this intimately. The principle is the same for any task, project, or goal that we’ve committed to. You have to care more about it than the temporary discomfort it sometimes triggers.


Trust your own resourcefulness.


I’ve struggled with this one throughout my life. What happens if my business goes under, when someone I love dies, or if I get ill? The possibilities for disaster in a lifetime are endless! We have very little control over what happens, which means we can’t trust in a bright, sunny future where everything goes according to plan. However, we can learn to trust ourselves and our ability to make effective decisions and do our best (though that will change day to day), and show up when we need to.


If you take a good look at your own personal toolkit, I guarantee you have a list a country mile long of resources, skills, and talents at your disposal in times of stress, crisis, and decision-making. Trust that you will call in those troops when necessary to meet whatever confronts you. I am a firm believer that life lends us a helping hand with this, and if we’re paying attention, those signs are everywhere, like little markers charting your course.


Just be (and practice).


Self-confidence really comes down to accepting ourselves for who we are, in all the laziness, resistance, self-disempowerment, frustration, and whatever other state of mind or emotion visits us on a given day. The secret is that we’re already perfect as we are. That doesn’t mean change is unnecessary and we shouldn’t seek to improve ourselves or our lives. Rather, accepting ourselves as we already are creates the space for positive change to occur. So when you recognize that you’re not feeling confident enough to tackle a new project or start dating or launch a new business, just be aware of that feeling and go ahead and do it anyway, or as Babauta urges, practice showing up for it. Unless you’re a rarity and born with an innate ability to be good at everything you want to achieve, the only way to get there is through practice.


Be(a)ware of your inner critic.


James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, encourages us to ask ourselves, what am I reinforcing each day? Beliefs are not just byproducts of conscious choices we make about how we view ourselves and the world. They strengthen with reinforcement, and while we’re not always (usually) conscious of it, our thought patterns (ie. that omnipotent voice inside our heads) become our beliefs through a process of “neurons that fire together, wire together” (coined by Canadian neuropsychologist, Donald Hebb). The more we tell ourselves we’re fat, lazy, ugly, stupid, or some other strong and unpleasant descriptor, the more we believe it. And because we’re prone to falling into the common human trap of self-fulfilling prophecy, the more we become it.


First, you must be aware that that voice exists, which involves getting still and silent with yourself every day. As that awareness expands, the capacity for changing those beliefs grows as you realize that you don’t have to believe your thoughts. In fact, doing so will almost surely set you up for a lifetime of suffering. And for what – just to be right?


Actress Viola Davis writes: “I don’t have any time to stay up all night worrying about what someone who doesn’t love me has to say about me.” I couldn’t agree more. You have to snuff out the voice of those naysayers – including the internal critic – that says you’re too (fill in the blank) or not enough (fill in the blank).



“Lack of confidence kills more dreams than lack of ability” (James Clear).


I use the power of Reiki and hypnosis to help my clients get to that still, silent point that allows for greater awareness of their beliefs, offers fertile space for honest self-reflection, and quiets an overactive mind, all of which are essential components of building self-confidence.


Contact me to schedule a time that’s convenient for you. I’m located in Durham Region, serving clients in Clarington and surrounding areas. I look forward to hearing from you.