Sixteen ways to kickstart your confidence

1.Try to beat self defeating thinking. Many of us hold very negative opinions of ourselves and bombard our minds with these images. It is important to establish if these evaluations are based on fact, most are not. Then, make a conscious decision to try to stop putting yourself down mentally. People offend in this regard regularly, they tell themselves they are stupid/useless/talentless.

Aim to focus on your skills and talents instead. Place a value on yourself and refuse to allow yourself or others chip away at it.

2. Take note of your successes, however small or insignificant they may seem to you. Getting out of bed when you feel bad is an achievement in itself. Not getting involved in a screaming match with the children, decluttering your wardrobe, finishing an assignment you put on the long finger, getting fit or staying within budget are all accomplishments.

3. Reward yourself. Draw up a list of treats - freshly brewed coffee, a walk by the sea, a new book, an evening at the cinema or a deliciously wicked slice of chocolate cake - and indulge in these pleasures when you have realised a goal, attempted something new or had a difficult day.

4. Make the most of your appearance. You will feel more confident if you look well. Take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and decide if you need to update your style. Start by looking at how others dress, everyone from the people in the street to politicians/celebrities. Mark them out of 10 on your mental scoresheet. Who are the clear winners and the non-runners? As you group the winners you may become aware of common ground they share - all have good haircuts, dress to suit their shape/colouring/age, are impeccably groomed or are skilled in pulling a complete look together, for instance. Now armed with this knowledge put it to good effect by applying what you’ve learned to your own situation.

5. Shed toxic friends. These are the ones who tell you you look a sight/chose the wrong partner/have children from hell, not out of nastiness, of course, but because they believe in being truthful! Funnily enough they are not so hasty telling you you lost half a stone or that your flower-filled garden is worthy of first prize or that you are a sharp dresser.

6. Set goals. It will help you have drive, determination and motivation. It will also give you focus and a sense of direction. Select goals you care about and which will benefit you because you will be more likely to want to achieve those.

7. Do not fear failure. Accept that failing at something does not make you a failure. We must take risks to grow.

8. Have a balanced, positive view of yourself. Do not beat yourself up over missed opportunities, hasty decisions or errors of judgment. Be sure to afford yourself the same kindness, understanding, forgiveness, appreciation that you would to others.

9. Take ownership of your feelings. You are the architect of your destiny so try not to blame others for life not turning out exactly as you would like. You may have felt inferior to your brother, your teachers may have trampled on your self confidence and your boss may be an ogre but it is important to try to rise above the negative and angry feelings such incidents provoke and carve out the best life you can for yourself.

10. Work on the dos not the don’ts. Often it seems that our lives are full of negatives and it is all too easy to become overwhelmed by difficult circumstances. Even on the darkest days make an effort to see the sunshine behind the clouds. Keeping a daily gratitude diary in which you record the positives in your life may help open your eyes to the simple things which brighten up your day.

11. Make decisions. This is empowering and will help develop your confidence. If you are a ditherer and shy away from taking any action for fear it may be the wrong move vow to break this behaviour pattern now. Start simply (eg, be the one to decide which film you are going to see ) and go from there.

12. Take risks. People who lack self confidence often avoid situations where they will be put to the test. They do not apply for challenging jobs, avoid taking on more responsibility and opt to stay in a comfort zone where their abilities will not be overly stretched. They may claim they are too busy or tired to socialise because they feel uncomfortable in a big group or let others decide what to do all the time or tolerate unacceptable behaviour from others because they are afraid of standing up for themselves.

Do not be afraid to take risks, many settle for security and often boredom. Growth involves change. Aim to take mini-risks at first - the fallout from these will be more manageable. Never underestimate your potential. You have the capability to change, all you need is desire and commitment.

13. Learn to love yourself. Self esteem centres around knowing and valuing yourself. Be comfortable with who you are and stay true to yourself. Do not depend on others to boost your self worth.

14. Choose your inner circle carefully. Seek out uplifting people and avoid those who pull you down and chip away at your self belief. Gravitate towards family and friends

who will nurture and inspire you.

15. View setbacks as learning experiences. If you stumble and fall on life’s journey do not lose heart. Analyse what went wrong and learn from it. Did you try to do too much? Did you aim too high? Was your focus scattered? Did you not have sufficient support? Were you too overburdened already to direct enough energy and motivation into a new project?

16. Vow to eliminate the word guilt from your vocabulary. That extra chocolate, the lie-on in bed, the brandy which helped settle your nerves before you opened your January credit card bill or your failure to get supremely fit in the New Year. Enjoy any treats and do not let concerns over expanding waistlines or untidy houses take the edge off your fun or enjoyment.

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