I’ve always been subconsciously aware that I lacked confidence most of my life. It played out in the way I thought about myself, the decisions I made, and how I interacted with others. I hated it. Hated feeling low self-worth, hated knowing it held me back in life, but mostly, I hated that I felt clueless about why others seemed to exude traits of confidence and I felt completely lost on the topic.
I just hated feeling like I was missing out on some sort of, apparent to everyone but me, secret, to feeling confident.
It wasn’t until I actually became more confident in myself as a side result of my personal growth journey, that I was able to identify just exactly what those “secret” traits of confidence were. Which, by the way, are no secrets at all, I just couldn’t see it at the time.
This may sound strange but I’ve wished a thousand times that I could take the once lost and timid preteen, that was myself, by the hand and share the wisdom of my hard learned life lessons with her. It would have saved me so much frustration. If only I had known then what I know now as the saying goes. I know it’s not really possible but I realized that while I can’t help my younger self, maybe, just maybe, I can help you. Which is exactly why I’m writing this post.
Is Confidence A Skill or Is Confidence a Character Trait?
Before we jump into the traits of confidence I wanted to cover the age-old question about whether confidence is a skill or character trait. After all, either way, it’s the make or break perspective that will define whether you do or don’t have confidence. If you believe it’s a skill, you’ll be able to work to build it, if you believe it’s a character trait, you won’t do anything.
As many people do, I believed it was a character trait. Like a Maybelline commercial campaign, the phrase, “maybe she’s born with it. Maybe I’m not” played through my head every time I saw a seemingly confident girl. Surely, confidence being a character trait some people possess and others don’t was exactly why I didn’t have confidence despite wanting it so desperately, right?
The idea that confidence might be a skill suggested that I could be confident and I so clearly wasn’t. Then I got to thinking, there are a lot of areas I am confident in now that I wasn’t at one point. I was super nervous the first week of my first job. The first time my mom took me out driving, I drove so slow that I was the lead in a caravan of about twenty cars on a one-lane road (I was mortified when it finally split into two lanes and everyone visibly peered into our vehicle to see who was driving). With time, increased knowledge, and practice, I became more skilled and confident in these areas.
These are everyday examples of things we all go through. We all have areas in our lives that we’ve become more confident in with a little knowledge and practice.
Confidence is built with knowledge and practice. It is absolutely a skill and the wonderful thing about that is it means you can build yours.
10 Traits of Confidence to Develop in Your Life
I mentioned a little earlier that my confidence truly began increasing when I started my personal development journey. The reason is that confidence is not a personality trait but these traits of confidence are about being your true self.
Contrary to popular belief, confidence is not about always being sure, never doubting, never questioning yourself. Those are all parts of being human. Confidence is simply about learning to boldly be yourself. And learning to do so, changes everything.
#1 Confidence Trait: Self-Awareness
My life literally changed when I started to become more self-aware. I don’t say that lightly. A lot of people throw the term “it changed my life” around like a beach ball at a pop-up country music concert but I mean that in the heaviest sense of the phrase.
I truly believe nearly all things in personal development and intentional living start with self-awareness. My strong belief in this is based on a rather simple idea: how can you develop who you are or change your lifestyle if you aren’t aware of where you stand or what you want?
How can one be confident in who they are if they aren’t even aware of who they are?
Simple but somewhat profound. Self-awareness brings clarity to your life. It helps you step out of autopilot, unlocks answers to a lot of “why” questions, brings the opportunity to take action, and opens one up to change.
This is why I picked self-awareness as number one on my traits of confidence list. Truly self-confident people are self-aware.
#2 Confidence Trait: Self Acceptance
The second thing I believe a person who exhibits traits of confidence does, is finding self-acceptance, both for themselves and others.
I struggled with this for years and spent most of my life wishing I was like other people. Countless hours of my life have been lost comparing myself to the characteristics of people I admired on social media. It made me anxious, uptight, and unaccepting of who I was. I was constantly fighting to be like others and it did a number on my confidence levels.
What’s worse, is that it made me unaccepting of other people too. I had this idea of how life and people should look and act based on the narrative of societal norms. Not only did I hold myself to these unrealistic expectations, but I also held other people to them. Which means when I saw someone who dressed, acted, or lived in a way that went against my idea of “ideal”, I judged them for it too. I hate that I once thought this way but it’s the truth and I see others doing the same all around me.
Most people see things in black or white; right or wrong. There is no in between or grey for them. I have extended family who thinks this way and because I don’t see life the same way as them, I’ve been outcast and made wrong. They fail to see that what’s right for my life, doesn’t have to be the same thing that’s right for their life, and neither of those options, have to be wrong.
Accepting your individuality helps you accept others individuality and when that happens, you can stop comparing and judging. Instead, become confident in yourself even when it looks different because you know it’s right for you.
#3 Confidence Trait: They Have Clarity
Have you ever heard someone say something like, “now that’s a girl who knows what she wants”? I’ve heard it countless times in movies and tv shows. 100% of the time, this phrase is used it’s to convey confidence in a person.
So it makes total sense, that having clarity on what does and doesn’t make you feel confident, lands on my traits of confidence list.
The thinking behind this one is fairly simple too. If you know what makes you feel confident, you can do more of it. If there’s something that consistently makes you lack confidence or makes you feel bad about yourself, then don’t do it anymore. Or if there’s an area you realize you aren’t confident in but you want to be, figure out what you need to do to become more knowledgeable and confident in that area.
Having clarity gives you the ability to stop clambering through life unsure of how you feel about things. This can be big or little things. If you hate the way a shirt looks on you, don’t wear it anymore. If you hate the way you feel being in that mommy and me group because of the way they talk, leave it.
I took the time to sit down and get clarity on the people and things that made me feel confident and made me feel awful. When I did this, I really surprised myself with the list of things that made me feel confident vs not. Having clarity is a confidence trait not everyone may see directly, but the decisions made because of it enables a whole new level of confidence.
#4 Confidence Trait: They Don’t Tolerate Toxic People
There used to be a few people in my life that I felt I had no voice with. They would say or do things and I would just smile and keep silent. I still remember saying to myself, “I wish I was more confident because then I wouldn’t put up with their bullcrap”.
I think this used to be the confidence trait I most admired in people. I’ve always had a pretty high patience level for other people’s crap. Looking back, I think I stayed quiet because I didn’t want to upset anyone as if their happiness was within my control and/or responsibility.
Anytime I saw someone skilfully handle a toxic person or avoid their drama, I would daydream of doing the same thing someday. I would see myself standing tall, saying something clever and to the point, and then immediately leaving without waiting for a reply as a sign that their treatment towards me would no longer be accepted. It was always wishful thinking though because I never acted on any of it.
But then, about 6 months into my journey of becoming more confident, the craziest thing happened. One day, I did stand up for myself and boy did it spark some backlash. It was uncomfortable and went against everything I had always done, but I did it. It felt great and weird all at the same time. You see, as I became more confident in who I was, I didn’t need everyone to approve of me. I didn’t need to tolerate the toxic people for the sake of appearing accepted because the truth is, those people didn’t take kindly to me being confident. Toxic people crap on your confidence with their words and play mind games to shake it as a means to control you.
Separation from toxic people is a trait of confidence because it allows one to take back their life.
Need some help in this area? Check out this video from Mel Robbins:
#5 Confidence Trait: They Celebrate Success
Have you ever been working so hard at something and when you finally accomplished it you were just like, “well onto the next thing”? You never stopped to celebrate what you already accomplished because you felt like it isn’t enough yet? I have and it was because I was always chasing the idea of more and the idea of enough. I felt like I needed to do more and I was never doing enough. No matter how much I did accomplish, it wasn’t enough.
This kind of thinking is clearly not grounded in confidence. It’s grounded in the comparison game, shame, and low self-esteem – the exact opposite of a confident mindset.
Celebrating personal wins, even the small ones, is a trait of confidence because it says that someone is proud of what they’ve done. It says that they are confident enough to give themselves credit for their progress instead of feeling like it still isn’t enough.
Not only do confident people celebrate their own successes, but they also celebrate the success of other people. I used to downplay other people’s wins because I felt like it would somehow define my own. The reality of it though, is that when we feel confident in the individuality of what we’re doing we can celebrate others feeling confident in theirs.
#6 Confidence Trait: They Know How to Recharge
This trait of confidence took me a while to grasp. I had this idea that part of what makes someone confident is there ability to do it all well. I just assumed that if you were confident it was because there wasn’t anything to not be confident about; there wasn’t anything lacking. Which meant that they somehow managed to do it all and do it balanced.
What I’ve learned over time though, is that people who are confident don’t do it all. They do what is necessary. They learn to prioritize, they focus on the things that matter the most, and they include themselves on the priority list.
I don’t mean they’re selfish or negligence of others. But how on earth can a person look and feel confident when they’re in a constant stage of running around to give of themselves to do it all, and being worn down, or worse, burnt out? As women, we feel the need to do it all. It’s the constant fight to do enough that makes us give of ourselves but we rarely stop to recharge. The problem is, running all over the place to help everyone else, runs our energy down. Then there’s nothing left to give and it’s hard to feel worn out and confident at the same time.
Confident people learn to recharge. Or perhaps, more importantly, they learn what recharges them. Whether that’s finding what gives them energy, taking time away, or by learning to identify what is important and saying no to the things that aren’t. They don’t let others completely drain them.
Related Post: How to Live a Well Balanced Life
#7 Confidence Trait: They Take Responsibility
The day I started taking responsibility for my own life, was a day that I made a major shift in nearly everything. I stopped blaming things on other people and started focusing on what I could do to make a change.
If I wanted something in life, I stopped expecting other people to get it for me. Instead, I took the responsibility of my life back from others. This is a crazy idea in our world today because so often, it is so much easier to think something is someone else’s responsibility. It’s less of a burden that way but when we shift the responsibility to others, we shift the power to them too.
We do this in so many areas. We make our happiness someone else’s responsibility, we blame our lack of success on others, and we’re skittish when it comes to taking risks that could fulfill our dreams. We’re slow to take responsibility and yet oh so quick to push it off on others.
People who are confident, know what they want, and they go get it. They take responsibility for it. They take power over their life back into their own hands. It’s a freeing but profound suggestion, I know. I promise you though that the day you start to take your power back is the day you’ll start to make more progress.
If you want to learn more about taking responsibility and power back in your life in a way that changes everything, check out the book QBQ!: The Question Behind The Question. It’s a quick read with powerful results.
#8 Confidence Trait: They Just Keep Trying
Has it ever seemed like confident people are more successful? I used to think it had something to do with their already evident personality trait lottery win. It doesn’t though. Not entirely anyway. It’s not that confident people don’t feel embarrassed or scared to fail. It’s that they keep trying despite it.
They have a growth mindset and it aids them in a lot of things. Even though they may get embarrassed or not succeed right away or even the hundredth time in something, they just keep going. The take one more step in the next direction.
Confident people aren’t invisible to the fear of failure or the shame that goes with it. They’re just often confident enough in their dream to keep going despite those feelings. Rachel Hollis was turned down by dozens of book publishers until deciding to self publish and now she’s a New York Times Bestseller. Michael Jordan didn’t even his high school varsity basketball team. Ellen Degeneres was told no one would ever want to watch her. Steve Jobs was kicked out of the Apple company before returning nearly ten years later and saving it from bankruptcy and creating the company as we all know it today (source).
Every one of these people seems so confident in what they do, but they haven’t always been that way. They just never stopped trying.
Related Post: How to have a Growth Mindset as an Adult
#9 Confidence Trait: They Don’t Put Others Down
I once saw someone write “confidence is silent, insecurities are loud” and the accuracy of it resounded with me. I even added it to the inspirational phone wallpaper quotes I give away.
The people I know who are the loudest fighters, always putting others down to make themselves look better, always trying to get the last word in, those are often the people with the lowest self-esteem. The people who don’t attack people just to make themselves feel better, who don’t judge others just because, those are usually the most confident ones.
It doesn’t mean that confident people don’t speak hard truths but they don’t do it as an attack. A confident person doesn’t bring someone down to raise themselves up because they’re already standing up.
#10 Confidence Trait: Daily Renewal of Confidence Positivity
The things we see and focus on are what consume us, our thoughts, and ultimately our actions.
When you’re regularly negative about life, chances are really high that you’ll be negative towards yourself too. It’s crazy how hard we are on ourselves. We would never even imagine telling our best friends the kinds of things we tell ourselves. The kinds of things that fuel low self-esteem. The exact opposite of confidence.
This is why the last trait of confidence we’re talking about here is the daily renewal of positive confidence. As many times as you tell yourself you aren’t enough, you need to remind yourself that YOU ARE ENOUGH. When the positive begins to be the norm, so does confidence.
Confident people speak positive things over themselves, and others, daily. I think this confidence trait may just be the most difficult for most of us. I know it is for me. It’s why I created a download of 20 confidence building phone wallpaper quotes. That way, every time you look at your phone, you’ll have a positive reminder for yourself. Don’t worry, they’re free. Grab them below!
I hope this article has helped you see that confidence isn’t just a fate personality trait someone is born with. That being confident doesn’t mean not having doubt or feeling unsure, but rather, moving forward despite those feelings. I hope you can see that being confident is about actions, not feelings. Most of all, I hope it has helped you see that you too can be confident. It may not happen overnight and it may not look exactly the way you had hoped it would, but it is 100% possible for you to sharpen your skills and build your confidence.
I struggled with being confident for years. I hid my true self and became a chameleon for fear of rejection and disapproval. It’s crazy that for years, I lived in fear of upsetting people with my beliefs and who I am. If everyone else ordered pistachio ice cream, I would too, even though it’s one of my least favorite flavors. When all my friends bought a certain kind of handbag, so did I just to fit in. I even started dressing differently to blend in better. If you do this too, let me be the first to tell you, there is no shame in being yourself. There is only freedom in rising up confidently to be the person you were made to be.
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