Build your confidence through esteem-able acts 🙌
An audience member asked me this at one of my recent talks:
“I try to think positively before going to networking events but I still fumble over my words, and end up feeling foolish in the moment. Can you help me?”
My response? You can’t *think* your way into self-confidence.
You just can’t!
Yet so many of us continue to walk into social situations with the resolve to act more confidently only to end up consumed by the same anxieties and fears.
That’s because there are limits to what our rational, thinking brains can pull off, and trying to move beyond those limits using positivity alone is futile.
But here’s the good news: you can act - in everyday ways - to build your self-esteem and deepen that sense of “knowing” that you are enough.
I call these esteem-able acts. Actions - often small ones - that improve your overall sense of self-esteem, dignity, and self-worth. These acts boost your self-confidence - not in a superficial way - but in a genuine way that aligns with your values.
Here’s what esteem-able acts look like for me:
Mentoring people or donating my product or service
Stopping my own negative self-talk or comparisons to other people
Volunteering at Be My Eyes, a nonprofit that helps individuals with low vision
Managing stress by going to the gym or taking a walk
Calling a friend or family member to ask how they’re doing or how a recent life event went for them
Your turn! Can you come up with 5-6 acts that consistently build your self-esteem?
Once you do, I challenge you to use these tactics as a way to nurture your confidence when you need it most.
If you're having a hard time coming up with esteem-able acts or want to add to your list, I recommend these universal strategies that are sure to build your self-esteem:
Quick Confidence Tips For Simple Esteem-able Acts:
Interpersonal: Do 5-minute favors. Pitch in and ease someone else’s burden, even if it’s in a small way. This might mean helping someone else...unexpectedly! Just the other day this happened to me: I was working hard to steer my mom, in a wheelchair, through a crowded, frenzied airport. The kindness of strangers who helped me clear a path forward meant everything. I bet something like that’s happened to you too. So how can you do more of this for others? Why not hold the door open behind you? Or you could invite the person who’s alone to lunch. Or ask if someone needs help. Imagine how that might affect their day. …And someone else’s day…and someone else’s day! Start a cascade now.
Embodied: Show up for your commitments. Of course, it’s better to show up late than never, but there’s something hugely esteem-building about doing what you say you'll do, when you say you’ll do it! This means offering to do things you're sure you can deliver on. And it means consistently following through on your commitments. Did you promise to make an introduction between two of your contacts? Do it. Did you say you’d reach out to plan a coffee or call with someone? Do it. Did you offer to help someone by agreeing to have a career conversation? Do it. Your actions are what people will remember. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
Mindset: Take stock of how far you’ve come. One of the best ways to convince a skeptic that their self-esteem is indeed improvable is to have them look back. Try it now: Remember a time in your life when you really struggled, but you fought hard to change or improve yourself or your circumstances. It might have been an unhappy job situation - or struggles related to socializing and making friends - or a really tough time that you endured. The fact is, revisiting the dragons you’ve conquered is an exceptional way to improve your self-esteem. So enjoy reminiscing on the ways you’ve progressed, and do it often. The dragons you’ve tamed in the past are what make you better equipped to support yourself in the future.
I know it can feel frustrating when all you want is to look, sound, and — most importantly — feel confident in crucial moments.
But don’t let those feelings discourage you. Self-confidence and self-esteem are skills, and just like any other skill, they improve with consistent practice. One baby step at a time.
Let's grow our esteem-able acts lists by sharing! What actions do you practice that give you an immediate boost in self-confidence? Let us know in the comments.