How can I develop self confidence and self-esteem? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Matthew Jones, life coach and personal growth expert, on Quora:

We all want to be more confident. We imagine ourselves walking through a crowded room with upright posture, dapper clothes, and the confidence-boosting nods of approval. When we lack that presence, it feels good to try on the self-esteem and self confidence displayed by others. Our lives would be so much better if only we felt so unstoppable.

We hold ourselves back. If these other people can feel powerful, so can we. The only difference between us and them is our hyper-focus on our perceived flaws. We think so much about how we are being judged by others that we shackle ourselves to insecurity. We feel pressured to fit into the popular molds created by others rather than embracing the uniqueness of ourselves. How can we stop being our own worst enemy?

Here are five ways to develop self-confidence and self-esteem:

1. Give yourself permission to practice.

Just like the overly aggressive high school football coach said, "Perfect practice makes perfect." Instead of being afraid, shrinking, and feeling like there's no way you could look or speak with such authority as the confident individuals you idolize, give yourself permission to try it out.

Look at your reflection in the mirror and then try to mimic the confidence you admire in others. It may not feel authentic to who you are, but the truth is the outward display of confidence is a mixture of the person's individual traits and an act they perform. The world is your stage, so after trying on different roles, find one that feels comfortable and then make it yours. Your unique style and approach is what makes your character appealing to others.

2. Look the part.

Posture is much more important than we realize. When we stand or sit in a way that conveys power and confidence, our testosterone levels increase, making us feel more confident. If we cower over and minimize our bodies, our minds release cortisol, which makes us feel more stressed and anxious. Part of feeling confident is displaying confidence, so start walking and sitting in a way that conveys confidence and your brain will follow. Sometimes people like to dress up to feel powerful. If this is you, then put on some nice clothes, bathe and groom properly, and then go on with your day. Sometimes the difference between low and high self esteem is looking the part.

3. Maximize your strengths.

Chances are, you're already well aware of your weaknesses and shortcomings. If you want to develop higher self-esteem, then you need to shift your focus to what you do well. Some people have an excellent sense of humor, others are great at making people feel comfortable and understood. Whatever your strengths, you need to use them to build your foundation of self-esteem. Start paying attention to the ways in which you add value to the world and then get better at those things.

4. Develop presence.

Meditation doesn't just help you gain control over your thoughts, it also helps you become more focused on the present moment. When you develop presence, or the feeling-of-being in the here-and-now, you shift your awareness from the past or future to what's happening right now. Becoming consumed by the present moment will help you be more engaging with the world around you. Confidence and self-esteem are byproducts of direct contact and engagement with the world.When you feel insecure, you're likely in a state of reflection rather than a thoughtless awareness of the present moment. Refine your presence if you want to feel powerful.

5. Polish your power.

That feeling of power displayed by a top CEO is something they've taken years to cultivate, and it doesn't just come from their money, success, or validation from others. Their power comes from strength and confidence in their competence. If you want to feel powerful, you need to know who you are, what you have to offer, and what you want out of life. For authentic confidence, you need to put in the work necessary to trust your competence, and then you need to strive for love, happiness, and satisfaction. Sometimes that means addressing your weaknesses, and other times that means being more kind to yourself and recognizing that you have a lot to offer.

Stop preventing yourself from feeling confident. You are worthy of love and admiration, so start appreciating the value you add to the world. The more that you embrace your true self and share that with others, the more others will gravitate towards you. Instead of fitting in, try to stand out. Practice being confident, maximize your strengths, look the part, learn to exist in the here-and-now, and then feel the power that's available to you in each moment. Your authentic confidence will be a breath of fresh air in the era of false bravado.

Matthew Jones writes at, where he shares an integrated approach to wellness and self-fulfillment that's focused on balancing the mind, body, and spirit.

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