How Can I Improve My Self- Esteem? 7 Confidence Hacks To Leave You Feeling On Top Of The World

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When I was in high school, a teacher suggested I take a dance class to improve my confidence. Someone else sneered at the suggestion, saying, "the way to put yourself out there is to just do it." But you can't "just" become confident, especially if you're a woman and you've been socialized your whole life to doubt everything you do. And as it turns out, a performance or exercise like a dance class is a great way to do this.

"In working with thousands of women, I do know that many suffer from diminished self-confidence," business coach Janet Zaretsky tells Bustle. "Almost always, there are a number of times throughout our lives when we tried something, failed, and someone said something that we turned into a ‘life sentence’ about who we are or our relationship to failing. Whatever we decided and sentenced ourselves to has a long-term impact on our self-confidence. This seems logical to most people, but often, you can’t see it. It is like water is to fish: when you are swimming in it, you don’t know you are in water. Same for us, when we lack confidence."

If you've trained your mind to think less of yourself than you deserve, here are some easy ways to challenge those negative thoughts and get your confidence up.

1Write Down Your Self-Doubting Thoughts

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To get to the bottom of the thought patterns that undermine our confidence, Zaretsky recommends writing them down in a notebook or on your phone. Then, once you identify recurring thoughts, try to remember the first time you had each thought. Often, you'll realize you adopted the belief based on faulty premises. Then, make up another, more empowering story about yourself to substitute it with.

2Ask Yourself What You Would Do If You Were More Confident

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Sometimes, you have to fake it til you make it — but that's easier to do once you have a clear vision of what you're trying to fake, says Zaretsky. Imagine a bolder version of yourself, and ask what they'd do. Then, challenge yourself to do that thing.

3Dress The Part

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Women's empowerment and divorce coach Heather Debreceni tells Bustle she asks her clients to make a collage of women who dress in ways that look confident. If you emulate what they wear, you might actually start to feel more confident, too.

4Get Outside

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Debreceni also suggests taking a walk outside or otherwise getting out in nature to help quiet some of your self-destructive thoughts. "It isn't so much about the level of physical activity as it is about stepping away from the chaos of life to spend time quietly reconnecting with both nature and our thoughts," she says.

5Collect Praise

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Communication Coach Nicole Ramano recommends writing down or screenshotting every kind thing people say to you. "When you're feeling low, you can reference these reminders of how great you are," she tells Bustle. "Sometimes, when you can't find the confidence within, it's okay to get some help from the outside."

6Set Affirming Reminders

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Create calendar events with positive statements about yourself to coincide with times when you think you'll need them. Ramano suggests setting an alarm to go off before a presentation, for example, that says "My presentation is going to be epic because I'm epic."

7Accept Compliments

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If you struggle with lifting up yourself, the lucky thing is that there are plenty of people around you who can help. But you have to accept their help, says Ramano. When someone compliments you, say "thank you" in a confident way that silently conveys "I know." Don't act surprised or try to undercut what they're saying. Act like you believe it, because they wouldn't be saying it if it weren't true.

"I know it is not comfortable to jump in while being afraid," says Zaretsky. "However, I have found with numerous women, once you do it, you discover you confidence skyrockets. The first time is challenging, and then it gets easier."