Any guy who’s ever set out to improve his self confidence – or even just start learning how to become a more confident man – knows it can often feel like a daunting task.
We can’t help but compare ourselves to loud, brash, extroverted or outgoing guys, which only makes us feel more insecure about our introspection, over-thinking and self-doubt.
One of the worst things about this feeling is the way it convinces us that we don’t just lack confidence, we lack the ability to ever build or cultivate it. Some guys just seem so naturally self-assured, and since that kind of confidence doesn’t come naturally to us, we assume it can’t come to us at all.
Building Your Own Confidence and Self Esteem
The good news is that this is, scientifically speaking, total and utter bullshit. Confidence isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you build.
And I should know – because I did it the hard way. In my late teens and early 20s I was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that it led to depression, and desperation.
In an effort to finally feel better about myself, I started trying everything I could possibly think of to improve my mind, body, social skills and style, and kept at it until I developed a deeply rooted, authentic and unshakeable sense of confidence and self esteem.
And you can too.
In this post I’ll outline the process I used to become a more confident man, and explain how you can bolster your physical, mental, sartorial and social confidence.
By following the principles laid out below, any guy can go from a life of self-doubt and insecurity to one of strength, style, character and confidence.
How to Become a More Confident Man
1. Fortify Your Physical Confidence
Build a Better Body, Build a Better You
If you’re just setting out to learn how to become a more confident man, the first and best piece of advice I can give you is this: start exercising regularly.
Guys, I know: the very notion of starting a workout plan – even a modest one – can intimidate a lot of people.
But you’d be shocked at how easy it is if you do it the right way: slowly, but surely.
Week 1: 5 Pushups Per Day
If you’re not in the habit of working out at all, the best way to start is by doing something so easy, you’d almost feel foolish not doing it.
For instance, try doing just five push ups every morning before you hop in the shower. That’s it. Five big ones.
Now, you might be tempted to think, “Five measly pushups? Why even bother?” But it’s simply an undeniable truth that you’ll be healthier, stronger and better off if you do them. Slightly healthier? Yeah – very slightly. Marginally stronger? Yep, just marginally. But better off? Definitely.
When you look at it like that, there really is no reason not to do something small, quick and easy each day if you know it will lead to a net gain.
Push (Just a Little) Further
Week 2: 10 Pushups Per Day
After a week of doing five pushups each day, bump your daily number up to 10.
It’s still not a colossal undertaking, but you’ll probably find that after 10 pushups your heart rate is up and your chest and triceps muscles even burn a little. I’ve been doing this for years and I still feel it each and every time.
But the good news is that starting to do pushups was actually the hardest part of the whole sequence. Now that you’re already in the habit, making the leap from five to 10 will feel relatively easy.
Build on Your Progress
Week 3: 10 Pushups, 5 Squats Per Day
After a week of doing 10 pushups each day, add five squats into the mix.
You can either do the squats first to get them out of the way, or tack them on after the pushups because you’ve already gotten used to dropping down to the floor.
Either way, adding just five squats won’t feel like much of a burden.
You Probably Guessed It
Week 4: 10 Pushups, 10 Squats Per Day
The following week, bump your squat number up to 10 so that you’re now doing 10 pushups and 10 squats everyday before you hop in the shower.
Once again you’ll find that the extra five squats provide a bit more burn than you were getting last week, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
Celebrate Your Success
At the end of week four, stop and think about what you’ve just accomplished. One month ago you didn’t work out at all.
Today, however, you can not only point to one thing you’ve done each day to move your body and increase your health, but you can take pride in knowing you’ve upped the ante and pushed yourself a bit further each week – all without feeling like you’ve had to climb some insurmountable mountain.
Maximize Your Momentum
With the momentum you’ve built up this month, continuing to push yourself and get even fitter becomes easy and automatic. For Week 5, add five sit ups into your routine. In Week 6, yep, you’re going up to 10.
After progressing this way you’ll of course feel better physically, but also mentally and emotionally – you’ll feel proud of your accomplishments and optimistic about what you can do in the future.
If you want to become a more confident man, this is by far the best place I know to start.
Stop Doubting. Start Dominating.
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2. Cultivate Mental Confidence
Educate Yourself to Master Your Mindset
The second step in learning how to become a more confident man is to start reading books about psychology, anthropology and human relations.
I can’t overstate how liberating, confidence-boosting and validating it is to learn that you’re not the only one who feels the way you do, your insecurities and struggles are shared by many people and, most importantly, you can overcome them.
Improvement Follows Information
To give you just one example of how this can work: I’m an introvert and used to feel shy about socializing and talking to other people. You might not think that reading books would make you a better conversationalist, and I was pretty skeptical at first, too.
But what I found was that learning more about how people communicate – and how they think, feel and behave while doing so – was a huge help. It got me over a hurdle I had previously never cleared successfully, where all I could think about while in a conversation was myself: How was I being perceived by my conversation partner? What if I put my foot in my mouth? And what in the hell was I going to say next?
Reading books about how to interact with other people helped me realize that my conversation partners are just that: people. They have insecurities, wants and needs too, and thinking about them as vulnerable human beings who wanted to be heard really helped me feel comfortable with both them, and myself.
A Shit Ton of Self-Improvement Options
Of course, my interests (and if I’m being honest, insecurities) extended beyond simply making small talk. So over the years I’ve picked up books about self-esteem, habit building and dozens of other topics.
I’ve rounded up a few of the most helpful titles in a separate post about the best self-help books for men, which is a great place to start looking for books that will boost your self-confidence.
If nothing on my list catches your eye, don’t be discouraged. Try choosing an area where you lack confidence and punch that specific thing into Amazon.
You’ll probably find multiple books about that topic, and simply learning more about this particular area will bolster both your performance and confidence.
Warning: Here be Dragons
One word of caution: in the self-help section of any bookstore, there be dragons. (Actually, that makes it sound too cool.) What there actually be are hundreds upon hundreds of titles that offer shitty, nonsensical feel-goodery that will purport to take you on a magical journey, but ultimately just take your time and money.
If you want to save both a little time and (potentially) a lot of cash, I’ve put together a quick rundown of the process I use to discern whether a self-help book is legit or full of shit over here.
The good news is that this will give you a checklist for determining a self-help book’s worth. The bad news is that I couldn’t resist the urge to come up with a rhyming title. (Sigh. I struggle.)
Check out my post rounding up The Best (Bullshit-Free!) Self-Help Books for Men or go to Amazon and search for an area you’d like to improve to start learning more about yourself and how you can achieve your desired outcomes. (But remember to maintain a discerning eye and find a book that’s not total B.S.)
3. Sharpen Your Sartorial Confidence
Because When You Look Good, You Feel Good
For me, looking and feeling good means being more conscious and aware of the visual impression I’m projecting to the world.
In a previous post I outlined a method you can use to feel and look more confident every time you leave the house: by creating what I call a Personal Style Profile (patent pending).
It starts by identifying a few style icons who convey the confidence, poise and overall look you’d like to have, and then taking certain elements of their style or wardrobe and incorporating them into your own look.
Inspiration, Not Imitation
For instance, one of my style icons is Steve McQueen, because obviously.
But McQueen was in his prime back in the ‘60s – if I were to dress exactly like him, I’d look more like my Grandpa and less like a confident young man in the 21st century.
As I’ve said elsewhere, you’re going for inspiration, not imitation.
So instead I take influence from him and some of the pieces he made iconic – like Persol shades, the Barracuda jacket, shawl collar sweaters – and find 21st century versions of these things that fit me and my style.
When I put one of these pieces on, I can’t help but be reminded of one of my idols, and I hold myself up a little taller as I leave the house.
Read this post to learn how you can look confident all the time by creating your own Personal Style Profile.
4. Strengthen Your Social Confidence
Power Up Your People Skills
While those of us on the more introverted end of the spectrum may find solace in our internal lives, there’s simply no denying that humans are social animals.
No Escaping Evolution
For our prehistoric ancestors, exclusion from the pack could mean fewer resources, less protection from predators and ultimately an early death.
And thanks to a pesky evolutionary inheritance, no matter how much you may want to spend your days in a quiet cabin drinking Scotch and writing the 21st century’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, the most primal parts of our brains still drive us to crave human interaction. (Thanks for nothing, Darwin!)
As Brett and Kate McKay from The Art of Manliness wrote in their excellent series on shyness, “Even though social rejection today doesn’t pose such a serious threat to our survival, our brains still react to it in the same way… [Shy people] want to reach out and socialize because 1) we’re evolved to be social and 2) there are rewards that come with socializing, like romance, career advancement, or just plain fun.”
Power Up Your People Skills Slowly
I know firsthand how intimidating it can be for an introvert to start putting himself out there and start interacting with people. But it’s important to remember that social skills are just that – skills – meaning they can be learned, slowly but surely, over time.
Yep, there’s that pesky word again – time. As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, I’m a big fan of incremental progress. Start small, build slowly but consistently, and damn near any goal is attainable.
And if there’s one goal many of us have, it’s to better connect with other people. (And let’s just cut the shit and be really honest: by “other people” we usually mean women.)
An earlier post I wrote about how to become more social is a great place to start. I’ve laid out step-by-step instructions for easing yourself into social interactions that will make you more comfortable starting conversations, cultivating relationships and just being around other people – no matter how pretty.
Check out this post about How to Become More Social and follow the three-phase plan for developing, practicing and honing your people skills.
5. Accelerate Your Altruism
Focus on Others, and Forget Your Own Insecurities
I saved the best for last.
If the 2,000 words above haven’t resonated with you (thanks for reading all of that, by the way!), or if you remember nothing else about how to become a more confident man, just remember this:
Hands down, the best way to feel better about yourself is to do something nice for someone else.
Focusing on another person’s happiness rather than your own has a metric shit ton of benefits, including:
1. It gives you something external to focus on, which helps you get out of your own head.
2. It helps you increase your people skills, as I alluded to above.
3. It makes you feel competent, proud, and yes, confident, secure in the knowledge that you’re able to positively affect another person’s life.
4. But most of all, it increases the world’s net amount of happiness, joy and human well being – and I don’t know of any goal more worthy than that.
Random Acts of Confidence
Don’t believe me? Try it. Set a goal to undertake three random acts of kindness each day.
There’s simply no better feeling than bringing joy – even a small amount of joy – into another person’s life.
Try this just once and you’ll be able to go to bed knowing you added a net amount of joy to the world. Try it for a week and that joy will have increased sevenfold.
You’ll still, of course, have flaws. You’ll still have areas you want to improve and things you feel insecure about.
But it’s almost impossible — in fact, no, I’m just gonna go for it :
It’s absolutely impossible not to feel good about yourself when you know you’ve brought goodness into the lives of other people.
There’s no better way to start building self-confidence.
Undertake three random acts of kindness today to bring just a little bit of joy into another person’s life.
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- Increase Your Manly Confidence Overnight – Art of Manliness
- Confident Man: 10 Steps to Higher Self-Esteem – Guy Counselling
- Top 10 Tips to Project Confidence – AskMen
Exercise illustrations EverKinetic via Wikimedia
Book in field photograph designed by Jcomp – Freepik.com
Dating photograph designed by Pressfoto – Freepik.com
Irreverent Gent founder Dave Bowden is a men’s style specialist, an Amazon bestselling author, an unrepentant introvert, a (patient, if long-suffering) Toronto sports fan and the husband of a wonderful (and fortunately much more patient) wife.