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Oftentimes, we are our own harshest critics. Just as it is OK to put yourself first and practice self-care, it’s also OK to second guess yourself or have moments where you doubt your abilities. It’s hard to be confident all of the time, but it is possible to build self-confidence.

That’s where March’s challenge comes in. This month we’ll be focussing on our strengths and using them to build self-confidence. “We, as humans, tend to be really bad at predicting what will make us feel more confident,” said Christine Carter, Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and author of The Sweet Spot and Raising Happiness. Rather than predict ways you might feel more confident, Dr. Carter suggests looking at moments where you’ve felt confident in the past and trying to replicate those feelings.

Beyond looking back, another way to build confidence is to focus on developing your strengths. What are you good at? Maybe you pride yourself in being a kind person — take these 30 days and build on your values by volunteering or doing random acts of kindness. “Doing things, even little things, that we are good at and focusing on that increases our sense of confidence and abilities,” H’Sien Hayward, Ph.D., a Harvard-trained social psychologist, told The Mighty.

If you aren’t sure what your strengths are, try asking those close to you what they admire about you. “Get others involved,” Carter said. “Say, ‘You’ve seen me at my best. When have you seen me at my best and what did you see that I might not have seen?’”

If you need more guidance, Carter and Heyward recommend taking the VIA (Values in Action) Survey of Character Strengths. The VIA survey is a 240-question survey developed by psychologists that can help you identify where your strengths lie. The survey takes about 25 minutes to complete and ranks your top five strengths from a list of 24 characteristics. (The survey will ask you to login so that you can save your results.)

After you’ve identified your top five strengths, you can follow along with our weekly prompts (sent via email), which can help you develop and appreciate things you are already good at.

If you are concerned that your disability, health condition or mental illness keeps you from feeling confident, there are ways to overcome those feelings. If you have a mental illness and feel as though symptoms of your condition are affecting your confidence, seek professional help, Dr. Hayward said. If you have a disability or a chronic condition, challenge your emotion and do the opposite. For example, Hayward said, “Whenever you find yourself feeling shy, do something bold.”

Challenging emotions is something that has helped Hayward, who uses a wheelchair after sustaining a spinal cord injury, build confidence in her own life. “When I was 17, I would go to public places, like the shopping mall. I decided, in my mind, to act as if people were staring at me because they thought I was beautiful or famous,” she said. “The strangest thing happened, being stared at became fun for me. I actually started to enjoy it and had a lot of fun with it.”

Interested in joining March’s My Mighty Month challenge? Sign up for our emails here or follow My Mighty Month on Facebook

Originally published: February 28, 2017
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