Start Building Confidence in Yourself Without Trying to Be Perfect

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“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs.” ~James Allen

I know now that I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t even have to try to be perfect. I used to think that things did not come to me because I did not try hard enough. Not true!

The truth was, I was sabotaging myself.

In college in Switzerland, instead of going to that school event or even answering the people who tried to talk to me, I shut myself down and ignored people.

I was afraid of being rejected so I rejected life first. I did not think that I had anything to offer the world. I wasted a tremendous opportunity to see that world and meet unique people.

It was only when I graduated that I realized that everything I wanted was knocking at my door, and I was choosing not to answer. Then I knew I had to change.

I had to find something to believe in—and I was that something. I also ultimately had to forgive myself for repressing myself for so long. This is a journey that I am still on.

I destroyed my early journals, wrought with misdirected messages, but writing once again became my resolve. A chance reading of a book on Zen changed my outlook as I began to meditate and calm my mind.

Meditation is so powerful; it allows you to embody you, as you are. You see and feel yourself, and know deep down that you are alright. From that place of peace you can find the seeds of change.

From there I started to build my life. I joined an amateur theater company, found a job I loved, got into and finished graduate school, and began to write on a new blog. Now I have to the bravery of self-reflection, the support of friends around the world, and the beginnings of my PhD in Humanities.

I am far from perfect, but I am happy.

When you lack confidence in yourself, as I did, it leads to trouble, because no one can give you what you won’t give yourself. No matter where I went, in America or Switzerland, I could not find what I was looking for, because what I needed could only be grown inside of me. I was carrying the seeds without knowing it.

Nothing replaces a humble sense of self-confidence. Here are some ideas on building gardens within you.

Turn yourself up: hear the noise going on in your head. Do you like what you hear?

Write down the messages you wish your mind were telling you and change the script. For example, instead of telling yourself to lose weight, reframe your thoughts to say that your body is your only vessel, and to love it by putting good food into it. This changes the action to a positive one, something that you are more receptive to.

Make plans, but keep them general.

I find that setting times instead of goals helps me achieve more and feel more fulfilled. Dedicate ten minutes to exercising or writing, or whatever you want to do, and you will find comfort in knowing that you only have to focus for a short time. Also, you will likely find that you will have given yourself just enough of a push to keep going.

Be present to what you love. Your child, your spouse, your pet. Let them infuse positivity in you.

If you love something that does not give anything back, consider changing your relationship to that thing. Continue to give love, but do not waste your energy on expecting things from people who are only vacuums of emotion.

Bottom line, you must learn to trust yourself. Without this balance, you will always doubt your actions, even your very being and right to live your life. You were given breath, so you do deserve to use it!

Trusting yourself does not mean being conceited or always being correct. It simply means being able to make informed decisions on your life and accept the consequences of your actions.

Many people give their power away because they are afraid of accepting responsibility for their own life. Accountability is a tremendous step that takes time, so do not be hard on yourself.

As long as you make efforts to own your choices, you’ll eventually feel more confident with yourself, just as you are.

Photo by Key Foster

About Dominique Young

Dominique is a doctoral student in the Humanities. Exploring the human experience is her passion. Read more of her articles at

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  • Ben

    Hi Dominique,
    Sounds like you have made some good progress, i’ve had similar issues of wanting to be perfect and rejecting people first (which wasn’t conscious at all).

    It was funny as I started to feel better about myself these people then treated me better, and it wasn’t that they had changed. It was just that I wasn’t projecting the same insecurities anymore.


  • ek

    thank you for sharing your insights and revolutions! So helpful to “see myself in the experiences of others”, from that universal sharing, I gather strength and courage as I move forward in my own personal journey

  • San

    Great article! Do you mind sharing which book your read that had such an impact on you? Thanks so much! <3

  • Lynnie Lam

    thank you for writing this, just what i really needed as a good reminder to myself right now in my life. : )

  • Guest

    Thank you. Just thank you.

  • spicytofu

    What a meaningful article! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and what it means to be forgiving of yourself and finding ones confidence. I went through a soul quake in the last year and learned that by not making judgements, I am less harsh on myself. I am nicer to myself and in return, the world is nicer to me. And it all started with the seed I was already carrying but did not know. You breath of life, and I wish you a wonderful journey as you pursue your doctorate.

  • Dominique

    Hello Ben, yes I have been on this journey for a while, and I have learned to love it. It makes me happy to be able to share my experiences. Thanks for reading!

  • Dominique

    Yes, I have really learned to be nicer to myself, and it reflects outwards. Thanks for reading!

  • Dominique

    Hello Ben, thank you for reading my article, it makes me so happy you can relate.

  • Dominique

    Your words are much appreciated 🙂

  • Dominique

    Hello Lynnie, thank you for reading. I think that writing is therapeutic for me and helps me understand myself better.

  • Dominique

    Hello, the book was called the Elements of Zen by David Scott and Tony Doubleday 🙂

  • Dominique

    Thank you, I am so happy you could gain something from my writing. 🙂

  • lv2terp

    This is a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your experience, and wisdom!! 🙂 Very powerful!!!

  • a confused soul.

    Hi Dominique,

    Thank you for this article!!
    I must say that i can relate to it a lot coz I am in that kind of state of mind right now.

    I am writing in to get your advice and others in community on something that i am struggling with.

    There is this regular thought that comes to me of what is happiness? how will i get happiness- and a dilemma- On one side-I feel living a life of minimalism with low requirements, no mortgage, no car loans, doing something meaningful which may pay less, travel the world, explore whats on my mind and live a life of freedom and minimum strings attached- is what will give me happiness. On the other side- I have spouse, mortgage, old parents, social obligations and certain lifestyle to manage and off course all the worries, tensions that come with it; living up-to this challenge, working hard to support all this- will bring happiness to me.
    I am not able to understand if the need to leave everything and follow freedom path is actually escapism (generated due to low confidence on myself) or listening to my heart and will it bring me happiness in the long run or sticking to my present conditions, fighting it out will bring me happiness in the long run.

    This dilemma is further adding to my feeling of suffocation and low self confidence.

    I am sharing this to get your perspective and of all the people who may have experienced this or have gone thru this path.

    Looking forward

    a confused soul.

  • Hi Dominique, awesome post. Love it and agree fully with what you said. Thanks

  • GREAT! I need this today 🙂

    I am thinking meditation should be a lifestyle because it helps you know your authentic self being. Thanks for posting this!

  • Chris_Vincent

    Wanting to be perfect is some how subconscious but it is actively influenced by the things we relate so much to in life-especially television, print and others…

    Consistently, we are bombarded with perfectly created situations in the news and movies. A young guy who has gotten it all-looks good, good job, good personality and beautiful girlfriend. If you are not careful, you would begin to think perfection is the default position and non-perfection is the exception, when actually it is the other way. You will begin to think you are a loser, when actually many are losers than those who seem to be perfect.

    How many times do we read about the first class students, the young brilliant children in the news? Though this is good, the more you come across these things without hearing about those who had average marks, the normal children and others, you would begin to think that, you are useless for not being that perfect-as projected by the media.

    Look at magazines and you will fine perfectly Photoshopped images too!

    There was a time I felt lost with studies (module was confusing) in University and I thought I was silly and imperfect for not being able to understand. However when I talked to a bunch of friends, they were all in the same position.

    Overcoming this is difficult but doable…For me, I always remind myself that, the default condition which many are in is imperfection…Nothing bad about that, but it is always good to slowly try to join the few who are not in the default condition (that is even if anyone can be said not to be in there one way or the other).

  • Colleen

    Very good article…so many of us are just this way and are spinning in circles…we really do need to learn to love ourselves and to look within…much easier said than done.