Do you believe in yourself? Or do you sometimes fall into thinking that you'll never be good at things? You can build confidence, just like you can build any other positive emotion.

    The exercises below are designed to help. You'll start by working to get even better at something you're already good at. From there, you'll challenge yourself to do something you've always wanted to do but might not feel so confident about.

    Building confidence takes practice. It's not an overnight thing. These exercises are designed to be done regularly. Make time to practice: Try writing a short confidence script each week (task 4) or remind yourself what you're good at (task 1).

    Ready to get started? Pick up a journal or other notebook and write each task at the top of a new page. Then write your answers underneath. There's a reason for writing your answers out by hand: Handwriting helps our brains remember and process information in a way that typing on a keyboard doesn't. You don't need to fill up the page, but setting aside a page for each task means you shouldn't run out of space for your ideas.

    These exercises have an added bonus: As well as building confidence and getting better at things you already love, you'll boost your happiness. That's because accomplishing things — setting goals and stepping up to meet challenges — is one ingredient of true happiness.

    Task 1. Practice What You're Good At

    Write down three talents, skills, or good qualities you do well and enjoy using.

    Examples of talents or skills: dancer, athlete, musician, language learner, artist, writer, environmental activist, organizer, decorator, drummer, programmer/coder, tutor, baker, cook, community service activist, fashion designer, seamstress, knitter, babysitter, reader, performer, poet, swimmer, etc.

    Examples of good qualities: kind, funny, caring, creative, etc.

    Now, think about whether you make regular time for each one. Some skills or qualities might be things you can practice every day, like playing an instrument. Others might happen once a week — like volunteering or taking a yoga class.

    Now pick one strength or skill to focus on. Write down ideas on how you can find time to practice and do it once a week or more. Be specific. Write down where you will take a lesson or class, what team or committee you will join, where and when you will practice or participate, or any other way you will make time for this in your everyday life.

    For example: I'm a good rider, and I'm great with horses.

    To make this talent a part of my life, I will help out at the stables on Saturdays before I ride. I will offer to help groom and care for the horse I ride, and be sure I ride every week.

    Task 2. Make a Can-Do List

    Make a long list of things you can do — even the little stuff. Are there things people don't know about you?

    For example: I can fix a flat tire, do CPR, ride a bike, tune a guitar, milk a cow, run a 5K, groom a horse, bake bread, cook a meal, play the violin, draw cartoons, make a dress, knit a scarf, swim, lifeguard, babysit, drive a car…

    Task 3. Give Yourself a Confidence Challenge

    Now it's time to step up and challenge yourself.

    Write down this sentence and finish it at least 5 ways: "If I had more confidence, I would…"

    For example: If I had more confidence, I would compete in a rodeo, do a standup comedy act, learn to drive, start a band, try out for swim team, design a website, be a lifeguard, babysit, study abroad, start a fashion blog, apply to MIT…

    Think about what's stopping you from doing each thing. Pick the easiest or hardest one. Think of how you could muster enough confidence to give it a try. What would you need to do? Whose support or encouragement could help you? Imagine you did the thing. Write about it as if you had gained the confidence you need and did what you imagined.

    For example: If I had more confidence, I would compete in a rodeo. My riding skills are solid, but improving my lasso skills will give me more confidence. Luckily, I can learn from Jason at the stable and watch videos. Now… picturing I did it…I believe I got the most confidence from practicing and not giving up in frustration when nothing seemed to go well.

    Task 4. Write a Confidence Self-Talk Script

    Write down what you'd say to convince yourself that you already have what it takes to do each of the 5 things you put in your list for Task 3.

    For example: My comedy routine on open mic night will kill. Everyone says I have a talent for picking up on life's oddball moments. I've noticed people laugh at my storiesa LOT. It feels great to hear them laugh, but hearing their laughter also puts me on a roll and I come up with even more funny stuff. OK, being realistic might feel a bit scary being up on a stage. So I'll just look over at my friends and pretend it's the lunch table. I've practiced and prepared my routine. I'm ready! Acing this is going to make me so happy!

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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