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Self-belief: thinking positively about yourself and your abilities

Activities to help build your self-confidence

Mastery experience - archerMastery experiences 

  • Think of something you do really well
    • It could be beyond what you do at university e.g. your life at home or at work. 
    • You might see this as a very small skill.
      • Are you good at keeping in touch with friends?
      • Do you reliably turn up to appointments? 
      • Do you know how to dress in a stylish way?
      • Are you good at DIY or decorating? 


  • Did this skill happen instantly?
  • Did you have to work at it and build your self-belief that you could do it well?
  • How can you apply this to your life at University?


vicarious peer learning - bakingVicarious experience 

Observing a peer succeed at a task can strengthen beliefs in one's own abilities.

  • Write down an experience when you've seen someone else learn to do something well. 
  • It could be beyond your studies. 
    • Is there someone in your family who has become very skilful at something?
      • Can they play a musical instrument?
      • Are they a good cook?
      • Have you seen one of your friends play well at sport?


  • What did you learn from watching someone else do something well?
  • Did they succeed every time?
  • What did they learn from bad experiences?
  • Did it change their desire to continue the skill?


verbal persuasion - thimbs upVerbal persuasion

  • Think back to a time when you've received encouragement.
  • Picture the person in your mind. What did they say to boost your self-belief?


  • Did your self-belief change because someone encouraged you?
  • What could you learn from them that you tell yourself when things are not going as well as expected?


Emotional state

A positive mood can boost your self-belief, while anxiety can undermine it.

  • positive experience - today is gonna be a good dayThink back to a time when you handled a stressful situation well.
    • Perhaps you did well in a test or an exam?
    • Did you help someone who was going through a difficult time?


  • How did this positive mood influence what you believe about yourself?
  • How can you draw on the memory of this positive mood when things are not going well?

Adapted from: SERC, Carleton College (2020) Self-Efficacy: Helping Students Believe in Themselves. Available at: (Accessed: 14 May 2020)