Confidence is a wonderful thing. It allows us to move through life with poise and self-assurance, and to take on challenges that might otherwise seem overly daunting. But confidence is a fickle thing, too. Some people seemingly have it in spades, often crossing into over-confidence or arrogance. Others lack confidence and can become self-conscious, whether socially, in the workplace, or in other aspects of daily life.
Low confidence can be the result of many things, from our genetic makeup to our life experiences. But while extremely low self-esteem is never a good thing, a lack of confidence is not necessarily always a negative — some research suggests it can even make you more successful, by encouraging hard work, self-reflection, and an openness to feedback. Still, many of us wish we had just a bit more pluck and certainty when navigating life’s challenges. Here are some wise words about building confidence from famous figures spanning from ancient history to the present day, from Marcus Aurelius to Robert Downey Jr.
Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there.
— Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor
We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.
— Marie Curie, Nobel-winning physicist and chemist
If you hear a voice within you saying, “You are not a painter,” then by all means paint, boy, and that voice will be silenced.
— Vincent van Gogh
Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all of your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.
— Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel
I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence but it comes from within. It is there all the time.
— Anna Freud, psychoanalyst
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
— Eleanor Roosevelt
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
― Eleanor Roosevelt
You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.
— Rosalynn Carter
When you win, you don’t get carried away. But if you go step by step, with confidence, you can go far.
— Diego Maradona, soccer legend
The confidence I now have is rooted in the discovery that who I am is okay.
— Dudley Moore, actor and comedian
Have confidence that if you have done a little thing well, you can do a bigger thing well, too.
— David Storey, writer
Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.
— Richard Kline, actor and director
I’m not sure that I want to be without some lack of confidence. If you are too sure of yourself, you don't grow. You may feel confident in some things, but other fields come up as a challenge. And if you don't anticipate trouble, you will be in trouble.
— Lucille Ball
Doubt can motivate you, so don’t be afraid of it. Confidence and doubt are at two ends of the scale, and you need both. They balance each other out.
— Barbra Streisand
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
— Dale Carnegie, writer and lecturer
When someone tells me “no,” it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.
― Karen E. Quinones Miller, historian, author, and activist
My theory is that if you look confident you can pull off anything — even if you have no clue what you're doing.
— Jessica Alba
I think the best way to have confidence is not to allow everyone else's insecurities to be your own.
— Jessie J, singer-songwriter
There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
— A.A. Milne
I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done.
— Robert Downey Jr.
Photo credit: Kym MacKinnon/ Unsplash