How to Build Confidence Instantly By Changing Your Tape

gain confidence

Increasing Confidence Means Changing the Message

By: John D. Moore, PhD

One of the primary reasons people seek out counseling is to gain support and guidance with building greater self-confidence and self-esteem. Part of how we view ourselves depends in large part emotional traumaupon our experiences from the past. For example, if you had a difficult childhood, bad relationships or emotionally un-supportive family members, you may arrive at conclusions about yourself that become part of internal tape.

Over the course of time, this tape is played many times, fortifying unproductive and unhealthy messages about yourself that can keep you trapped in a cycle of low self-confidence and poor self-esteem.

What if you could change that? In other words, what if you could change your internal tape and swap out the negative messages that were implanted from yesteryear and swap them out with something more productive – something that empowers your self-confidence to grow and raises your self-esteem? I am here to tell you it is possible but it will require you to have an open mind while also focusing on being mindful of the moment.

Build Confidence and Self-Esteem

Keeping with a theme of positive change, I would like you to considerhumanistic psychology that by focusing on this moment in time – as in the here and now – you can create adjustments in how you view yourself and your perceptions of how others view you.

Borrowing from the basic tenants of cognitive therapy and strength based psychology, let’s first attend to the very important task of eliminating the question why from your vocabulary and replacing it with the word what. You may be curious about the reason I am asking you to do this.

Eliminate the Word Why

The word “why” – at least in terms of self-confidence – can lead us to ask questions of ourselves that have no concrete answers. Examples include: Why don’t people seem to like me? OR Why should I bother applying for that job OR Why am I so unhappy?

The responses to any one of these questions we ask ourselves can be never ending and almost always negative. Worse, our self-responses are typically not grounded in truth. This is that tape I am talking about. Play those messages long enough and they can plunge you into a deep place of despair. Why questions can also reinforce a pattern of learned helplessness.

Replace Why with What

Let’s create change right here and now. Re-frame each of these questions using a strength based approach, replacing the word why with what and adjusting the structure of question along the way.

What Questions

Why Question What Question
Why don’t people like me? What is likeable about me?
Why should I bother applying for job? What skills can I bring to the job that is unique?
Why am I so unhappy? What can I change to create happiness?


Do you see the difference? By removing why from our cognitive vocabulary and replacing it with the word what, we have created immediate change in what we think about ourselves, which in turn has a positive impact on self-confidence and self-esteem.

Self-Confidence Book Recommendation

There is a wonderful book I would like to recommend to you that is all about building up your self-confidence and self-esteem, using some of the concepts we have explored here. The title is called, I Need Your Love – Is That Really True: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead. What is great about this particular book is that the author, Byron Katie, helps readers create change around that tape we have been talking about. The book challenges you to stop negative patterns of thinking, which do nothing but chip away at your self-concept.

Building Confidence Final Thoughts

Building up your confidence is no easy task. The ability to create positive change in how you view yourself depends on a number of Avoid Failing Collegefactors, including your ability to conduct an honest exploration of what messages you are sending to yourself and how often you repeat these messages throughout the course of your day. And it goes without saying that the effects of past emotional traumas should not be minimized when assessing these messages. Ugly experiences from earlier in life need to be validated and should not be discounted.

I am including an strengths and qualities worksheet, made available by the good people at Therapist Aid, to help you begin the process of taking an inventory of your positive traits so that when you begin swapping out the why questions with what. This tool may help to provide a foundation from which to work on your path to increasing your level of self-confidence. I hope you found the information listed here useful.

Thanks for taking time to read this post. We hope you found this information useful. Please Like 2nd Story Counseling on Facebook, Circle us on Google Plus and share on Twitter!


  1. I like the idea of substituting WHAT for WHY. That may have as much of an impact to my thinking as substituting AND for BUT. I have been fortunate to be successful in monitoring my internal tapes and am always looking for little ways to tweak it. Of course, if something really bothers me that I cannot stop thinking about, a snap with a rubber band also works. =) I also appreciated reading your essays about dogs and how they affect our mindfulness and traits we can learn from them. I have been involved in dogs all of my adult life While it has meant less money and toys for me, I have found a lot more happiness in my life than a lot of people have.

    • Hi, Jenny,

      Thank you for stopping by! I am glad you found the information on What to Why useful! And yes – I am in agreement with you about the dogs for sure! So interesting how many people have found dogs as the ultimate “Zen” teacher for mindful living. You rock! 🙂

Comments are closed.