Too many people think that being self-confident means you are cocky and disrespectful. Don’t get me wrong – there are people like that – but I wouldn’t call them self-confident. In fact, when I meet someone who is totally full of themselves, I find that it’s typically a total sham to cover up some major insecurities. That’s not confidence.

Self-confidence is defined as: a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment. To me, it means continually striving to make yourself a better person and enjoying the journey. But not in a demeaning, condescending, belittling way to others and not in a way that you think you’re better than everyone. This is about having the self-confidence to know that you are a great catch, and you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

Sometimes my boyfriend catches me checking myself out in the mirror when I’m lifting. He’ll joke with me and tell me I’m conceited, but he really knows that I am just admiring something I love about myself and we all need to do that. I’m not doing it in a way that hurts anyone else – I’m just being self-confident.

Learn to move from a place of, “I can’t do it,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never get there,” “What if she rejects me?” to a place of, “No matter what, I’m going to win,” “I’m not going to get stuck in feeling shameful or angry,” “I’m going to figure out how to make this work for me.”

In a low self-confidence state, you are constantly releasing destructive hormones into your body that dramatically further lessens your confidence and ability to attract women. It’s crucial for every man to identify what is at the core of his negative thoughts, so he can free himself from them.

I believe you need self-confidence in every area of your life to truly be successful in being the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.

You need self-confidence to follow your dreams and start a business or climb the career ladder.

You need self-confidence to maintain a healthy lifestyle: eating right, exercising, practicing mindfulness and reducing stress.

You need self-confidence to find the right partner, believing in yourself that you deserve an amazing partner and that you will be able to create and sustain a fulfilling relationship with that person.

You need self-confidence to train your mind to think positively, to be resilient, to be silent and to be your best friend and cheerleader.

There is nothing more attractive than a confident man…a man who believes in himself, who has taken the time to develop his strengths, who recognizes where he needs to improve but doesn’t get down on himself, who continually strives to get better.

So – how do you become self-confident if you naturally aren’t? Well, there was a time when I was not very confident about myself at all. I felt insecure about how smart I was, how athletic I was, how attractive to men I was – you get the picture, pretty much everything!

I didn’t think I was smart enough so I decided to get a PhD – that would be proof that I was intelligent, right? I started running and biking and entered races – that would prove that I was athletic, right? I jumped from one relationship to the next – that would prove that I was desirable, right?

WRONG!!

I finally realized that acquiring self-confidence does not happen from proving yourself in “feats of strength.” Self-confidence comes from doing the inner work on yourself. Self-confidence comes from training your mind to have a growth mindset.

In a growth mindset, you believe that your most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

Check out the book, “Mindset,” by Carol Dweck – I was fascinated to finally figure out why I had such low self-confidence growing up – it was because I had a fixed mindset. I could read the newspaper at age 4, I was the narrator for a kindergarten play because I was the only child who could read, I was put in a special group of accelerated learners in 1st grade – and then I proceeded to graduate high school in the middle of my class with a B average. What happened? At the rate I was going in 1st grade, I should have graduated school early or at least been the high school valedictorian, right?

Nope! Kids who get too much praise are less likely to take risks, are highly sensitive to failure and are more likely to give up when faced with a challenge. That was me – totally unmotivated and afraid to fail.

“Contrary to popular belief, praising children’s intelligence did not give them confidence and did not make them learn better,” said Carol Dweck. Dweck found that children’s performance worsens if they always hear how smart they are. We should teach kids from an early age that the brain is a muscle that can be strengthened with practice. This sends the message that kids can directly affect their intelligence, which may empower unmotivated teenagers.

So, how did I change this? I started reading as many personal development books as I could get my hands on. I continued to push myself to do things that were out of my comfort zone both physically and mentally like traveling alone, rock climbing, and silent retreats. If I was afraid of something, I leaned into the fear instead of running from it.

I believed that I could accomplish something if I put my mind to it and I had real world scenarios to prove it. I TRUSTED myself. And each time I had a positive outcome, I gained more self-confidence. What will set you apart is your mindset and drive. That is how self-confidence is built.

First steps to take – read Mindset by Carol Dweck – and pick one thing that scares you and take a step towards doing it. It can be a mental or physical goal. If you are afraid to be alone – go to a movie alone. If you are afraid to dance, take a lesson. If you are afraid to fly, get on that plane – or even take a flying lesson! If you are afraid to approach a woman – just smile and say hi to the next woman you pass today!

Dr. Diane Hayden is the owner and publisher of Natural Nutmeg Magazine. She holds a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and is an Empowerment Life Coach. Her passion centers on helping men and women break the failed relationship cycle through her proprietary SPARK method. You can learn more about her online at http://drdianehayden.com/.