Fixating on flaws is easy to do, but finding opportunities in failures can lead to a more confident, successful you

Confidence is sometimes too closely associated with arrogance, and therefore some women feel they should act more modestly, often doubting themselves, and using self-depreciating humour to cover all bases. But a lack of confidence can mean a resistance to stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to achieve your goals.

For years, the media has talked about the ‘confidence gap’ where men take a positive outlook on their skills, expertise and job prospects, while women are typically more negative, believing they’re not good enough for a promotion or undeserving of the position they’re in, regardless of their qualifications and hard work to get there. But there are countless charismatic women in the public eye who are showing that we can be confident, successful and likeable. Former first lady Michelle Obama, straight-talking Essex girl Adele, politician Shami Chakrabati, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are just some examples. And they all share the following characteristics:

Michelle Obama at a conference

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1. Turn negatives into positives

Being told you’re not good enough at something can devastate you, especially when you’re passionate about it. Some people take a complete confidence knock and see limits on what they can achieve, or even give up completely.

Confident women accept critical feedback and find the value in it. They also recognise the power in using someone’s negative feedback to fuel their own drive. They do everything they need to prove people wrong through research, practice, and never giving up. There’s no better feeling than proving you’ve been underestimated.

The one way to get me to work my hardest was to doubt me. And I took that as: ‘I will show you who I am’ — Michelle Obama

Every knock-back, every failed attempt at something is just another opportunity to learn, reassess and improve yourself.

2. Be proactive

If there’s something you’re not happy about in your life, don’t wait around for luck or circumstances to change. Do something about it now. Whether it’s at work, in your relationships, or in your social life, don’t be afraid to say what you want, and go out of your way to make it happen.

Mindy Kaling smiling

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3. Give it your all

No matter what you’re doing, put all your effort into it. Often the path to success has hurdles along the way; it’s not a neatly-paved street but a mishmash of rubble, roadblocks, and misdirected traffic signals to the destination you want to reach. Confidence stems from perseverance, from knowing you are good at something and being respected for it.

As comedian Mindy Kaling says, “You’d better make sure you deserve it.” The difficulties you overcome are exactly why you should feel you’ve earned that confidence in yourself.

4. Don’t dwell on the small stuff

Nobody’s perfect. Confidence means not being afraid to admit your mistakes. Hillary Clinton once said, “It’s important to take criticism seriously, but not personally.” Confident women aren’t afraid to own their mistakes because they know their capabilities, and they learn from errors.

Taking everything personally can make you fret over the small stuff, and miss the bigger picture. See the lighter side of things, don’t let negativity bring you down, and trust in yourself. You’ll feel happier for it.

Jennifer Lawrence

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5. Speak your mind

No-nonsense actress Jennifer Lawrence is renowned for her lack of a verbal filter in interviews, which must send shivers of panic through her management team. Not everyone has the luxury of saying things regardless of consequences, but the habit of speaking your mind is a great one to practise.

Confident women are open to listening and understanding others, but make sure their voice is heard too. Don’t be afraid to say no, and don’t accept what you’re told at face value. Question things. If it doesn't feel right, look deeper into something before you make up your mind.

6. Know your worth
Adele

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We all appreciate acknowledgement from time-to-time, but a sign of confidence is that you don’t crave it. You don’t need to boast about your achievements, because your actions should speak for themselves. Confidence in yourself means you aren’t afraid to be fully supportive of others as well, without feeling intimidated or envious. Being encouraging of others’ achievements will radiate your confidence to people.

7. Trust your decisions

You don’t have to be quick on the draw when making choices. Whether you weigh up options for informed decisions or go with your gut, be happy with your choices and don’t worry or second-guess after the act. Adele is a perfect example. The vocal powerhouse once said, “Be brave and fearless to know that even if you do make a wrong decision, it was for a good reason.”

By putting less pressure on yourself, finding value in failures, and trusting in yourself, you can start to embody the self-confidence you deserve. Sometimes the only thing holding you back is your own self-doubt.