Building your self-belief can be difficult when you start university.
You are finding your place in a new location with a new group of people.
In times of change, self-belief can drop, leaving you anxious and hesitant, fuelling your inner critic.
Mastery experiences - Your successful experiences boost self-belief, while failures decrease it. This is the best source of self-belief.
Vicarious experience - Observing a peer succeed at a task can strengthen beliefs in one's own abilities.
Verbal persuasion - Tutors can boost self-belief with their communication and feedback to guide you through a task or motivate you to make your best effort.
Emotional state - A positive mood can boost your self-belief, while anxiety can undermine it. Try to reduce stressful situations and lower anxiety.
There are a number of other ways to counteract low self-belief, which are addressed on the tabs on this page.
Identify your strengths, abilities and achievements.
You may decide you want to make changes in your life to improve your self-esteem and self-confidence.
Think about what you can change that will improve how you feel about yourself. For example, you may want to make changes in your studies, job or relationships, or develop new skills.
Make a plan so that you can:
Learning to communicate assertively will help you form better relationships and find new opportunities.
It can also bring about a shift in the way you think about yourself.
“Assertiveness” may make people with low self-belief hesitant.
Being assertive might sound overly aggressive, pushy, or just too out of character.
There are three common communication styles:
Being an assertive communicator is nothing like being an aggressive communicator. Assertive communication is simply expressing yourself honestly and directly, while being polite and open.
Adapted from: Ackerman, C. (2020) 18 Self-Esteem Worksheets and Activities for Teens and Adults (+PDFs). Available at: https://positivepsychology.com/self-esteem-worksheets/ (Accessed: 18 May 2020).
Do one thing, every day if possible, that scares you. Whether that’s standing up in class to give a presentation, calling a local company for some valuable work experience, or joining in a new activity or club. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be a massive leap towards building your self-confidence.
The Student Life service offers support and advice on a range of things:
And don't forget... your personal tutors will listen and help you.
If you have a tendency to be shy, set yourself mini personal challenges, especially during the first few weeks of university. Try smiling at the person that sits next to you in your lectures, or saying ‘yes’ to going along with classmates for a coffee. As you complete each challenge, you'll feel your self-confidence growing.
Food can be an incredibly effective tool for getting people to bond, so whether you go out to eat or cook at home with your flatmates, it can help create feelings of trust and increase closeness.
As you go along, remind yourself of the positive steps you’ve taken, perhaps writing them down in a notebook once a week. This can help build your self-confidence back up when you’re having a particularly bad day.
Celebrate your achievements as you practise building your self-esteem and self-confidence. Make time to treat yourself with experiences and activities you value.
If you can, tell a good friend what you're doing. Their encouragement and feedback on the changes you're making could be invaluable support. You can also help other people to see themselves as capable and worthwhile.