Building self confidence in your relationships is completely possible. In this article, you will learn 4 simple and clear steps to become more confident in your relationships.
Lacking Self Confidence in Relationships
Feeling insecure in your relationships is incredibly uncomfortable. When you lack this confidence, you may notice you’re socially anxious in general.
Alternatively, you may feel quite comfortable in many relationships in your life except romantically. In this case, you may have an anxious (or anxious-avoidant) attachment style.
Wherever you may find yourself, these 4 steps will help you manage relationship insecurity successfully.
Building Self Confidence in Your Relationships Step #1: Give Yourself Grace
When you lack confidence in any or all of your relationships, it’s natural to sometimes think critically about yourself. This may include judging your insecurities or social anxiety.
Maybe you pick yourself apart about the things you need to fix before you can be more confident with others?
If you relate, please know this is very understandable and common. Sadly though, while understandable, being critical towards yourself only makes you more insecure rather than allowing yourself to become more confident. This is why you must practice giving yourself grace.
Be Understanding Towards Yourself
Learning how to give yourself grace is often confusing when people lack self confidence in their relationships. If you find yourself confused too, this makes sense.
Fortunately, giving yourself grace is a practice you can cultivate – it’s called self-compassion. There are 3 components to the practice of self-compassion. Most basically, it’s all about being kind to yourself even in the face of challenges and mistakes because all people are imperfect and will experience disappointment and setback.
Related: What is Self-Compassion?
To practice self-compassion right now – and any time in the future – you can simply provide yourself kind understanding.
Take a moment to think about the following question – or use it as a journal prompt:
Why does it make sense that I sometimes feel insecure or lack confidence in my relationships?
A part of you may resist answering this because you don’t want to blame anyone but deep down, you probably also understand why you sometimes lack confidence. You can honor this without making anyone else wrong i.e., I know my dad was doing his best but when he wouldn’t pick me up on his weekends sometimes I felt that he was avoiding me. Now I’m always afraid the people in my life don’t really like me.
It’s Human to Feel Awkward Sometimes
Another part of self-compassion is accepting that you are human and because of this there are common experiences in life.
For example, part of being human is having insecure or awkward moments. Most people, at least sometimes, have felt awkward or like they did or said something “wrong” or “stupid.” This doesn’t mean you actually did something wrong when you feel this way.
And even if you feel that cringe sensation you can make a choice to be kind to yourself. When you provide yourself understanding, rather than criticisms, you help lay the groundwork for more confidence in your relationships. You are helping boost yourself up rather than tearing yourself down just by being kind and understanding towards yourself!
Building Self Confidence in Your Relationships Step #2: Regulate Your Nervous System
Lacking self confidence or feeling insecure is something you experience in your body rather than only your mind.
In other words, your insecurities aren’t just “in your head.” All human beings have a nervous system which can either be in a calm state or triggered state. When you feel insecure in your relationships, you naturally may enter fight or flight (or freeze) when hanging out with others.
Feeling On Guard with Others
When you enter fight or flight with others, your focus shifts from enjoying the relationship to your sense of safety. This is a natural, unconscious process. In fight or flight, you stop listening to friendly, kind, supportive voices and instead listen for danger.
In relationships, this means you stop hearing the other person’s acceptance, love, or appreciation for you and instead may start looking for criticisms or rejection. Naturally, this shift in focus will hurt your sense of confidence with them.
Alternatively, in the freeze state, you may feel “foggy” and literally may feel like you can’t see or hear others. Naturally, this hurts your sense of connection with them.
Feeling Safe and Calm with Others
Because the fight-flight-and freeze states happen automatically in your nervous system, the way to redirect your focus and feel safe with other people is to attend to your nervous system itself.
To understand this process in more detail, you may want to read The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation by Deb Dana. (It’s written very clearly so it’s a good resource for everyone, not just therapists.) Some practices recommended in this book to soothe your nervous system include:
- Identifying words that make you feel safe and then stating them to yourself. This can be any word that truly makes you feel more grounded i.e., peace, connection, safe – anything!
- Place a hand over your heart and a hand on one side of your face. Hold yourself like this to feel calmer as the turns on the vagal brake which redirects your nervous system from a sense of danger to safety (and connection),
- Sit on a therapy ball or rocking chair. These movements help regulate your nervous system. You can think of a kind mother rocking her child to sleep to see how this is innately true.
Building Self Confidence in Your Relationships Step #3: Build Mastery
You probably have experience with committing to a goal and making progress (or achieving) that goal. Maybe you wanted to earn a degree and you did? Or read a book a month? Or be able to run a mile in 10 minutes?
These are just a few examples to jog your memory that there are times you have wanted to do something – and did. When you worked towards your goal and made progress how did you feel about yourself? You may still have criticized yourself at times (see Step #1) but hopefully, at times, you felt a surge of pride or confidence because of your efforts!
This relates to the next step which comes from Dialectical Behavior Therapy – this skill “Building Mastery.”
Building Your Confidence
Very simply, the DBT skill, Building Mastery is all about becoming more confident because you see how capable you truly are.
You can Build Mastery by:
- Identifying something you want to learn. This can be anything and you can make it fun! Maybe it’s a new language? Maybe it’s a new recipe? Or perhaps you want to do something physical like lift a certain weight or become better at yoga? Allow yourself to have fun identifying this activity.
- Practice this activity. Set aside time to learn, and practice, this activity to allow yourself to become better at it. You don’t need to become an expert but it’s human nature to become better at things with practice.
- Track your progress if you’d like. You can use a notebook or an app for example. For instance, if you want to learn how to bake cakes maybe you note your first one was wobbly and dry understandably but by the fifth time you thought it looked nice and tasted good! This is awesome progress!
- When you start to focus on how you’re not good enough, which hurts your confidence in general and your relationships, focus on the activity and what you’re learning! You may, for example, shift your attention from how you haven’t heard back from someone you texted to new words you’re learning in Italian.
- Celebrate your achievements – every bit counts! If you want to be able to do 30 pushups, get excited when you can do 5 modified pushups first for example. It takes small steps to climb a big mountain.
Building Self Confidence in Your Relationships Step #4: Be Giving
When you lack confidence with others, it’s natural to sometimes focus more on how others are showing you love or attention than vice versa. This is true even if you feel that you may be a people pleaser. After all, when a person focuses on pleasing others it’s to gain approval and acceptance from them.
Examples of how this may show up are thoughts like: Is the other person giving me enough attention? Are they complimenting me enough? When did they last make me feel special? How long has it been since I’ve heard from them?
These thoughts are understandable but ultimately, take away from feeling truly connected with others.
Practice Being Practice Being Less Judgmental
These thoughts about how others may be showing up for you are judgments. It’s ok to have these thoughts and it is human nature to judge. You don’t need to judge your judging!
And you can still work on being more understanding by going back to the first step ironically – self-compassion.
It is proven that people who are more self-compassionate and genuinely love themselves more, are less judgmental towards their partners than those who lack self-compassion. Self-compassionate people are rated as more caring, affectionate, and open to discussing problems by their partners. Furthermore, they give their partners more freedom and space.
When you are more accepting with others, they naturally gravitate towards you more because it feels good to be with you. Seeing how others appreciate you and want to spend time with you reinforces a sense of confidence that people do value your presence in their lives.
You Can Be Confident
With practice and commitment, these four steps can pave the way for true self confidence in all your relationships. You deserve the peace and connection that comes from practicing these steps.
For more support, you may want to also read other articles on this blog such as:
- 3 Therapy Skills to Overcome Perfectionism,
- How Do You Love Yourself? 3 Tips to Start Loving Yourself Today!
- How to Like Yourself Better: 3 Practical Ways from a Therapist
- What is Self-Compassion?
- Is Self Care Important? 4 Reasons Why It Is and,
- How to Be Your Authentic Self
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
Her third book, Therapy Within Reach: Setting Boundaries, will be released September, 2023.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to email@example.com or DM her on Instagram. Your name and any other identifying information will always be kept confidential.
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