In the children’s story The Little Engine That Could, a big locomotive pulling a long train of cars full of toys breaks down. When other large engines fail to take over, the Little Engine hitches herself to the train, telling herself, “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” as she chugs up the mountain pulling the long train of cars behind.

At Kidpower, we know that, for children and adults alike, our belief in ourselves as being powerful, competent, and valuable is one of the most important personal safety tools we have. In our programs, we create experiences to help our students build their positive beliefs by giving them practice in how to act with awareness, calm, respect, and confidence in dealing with challenging situations.

We do this because confidence comes from experience. By having been successful in doing something difficult, we are more likely to have the confidence to tell ourselves, “I’ve done this before, and I can do it now.”

Self-confidence comes from within. Even if we haven’t done something before, our thoughts about ourselves and our abilities can create the self-confidence needed to believe that we can figure out how to try new things and overcome obstacles. Or if we can’t figure it out, we can see the experience as a learning process, rather than getting down on ourselves for failing.

Self-confidence grows from what we tell ourselves when something doesn’t go the way we thought it would. The thought might be, “I tried my best, I learned what didn’t work, and I’ll try it again to see what might work differently. I know I can figure it out.”

Confidence and self-confidence are feelings, and our thoughts create those feelings. So if we want to feel confident AND self-confident, we need to learn how to think thoughts that empower us to tell ourselves, “I think I can!” even when something is hard or after we have failed.

Many of us struggle with self-confidence because we’re used to saying mean and critical things to ourselves when we are afraid of failure, such as:

  • “I’m just not good enough for this.”
  • “There must be something wrong with me.”
  • “Nothing ever goes the way I want it to, so why keep trying?”
  • “This is too hard for me.”
  • “They think I’m incapable.”

Those thoughts will create feelings of disappointment, self-doubt, discouragement, or defeat. Are those feelings going to help us move forward? Of course not! So let’s try different thoughts. Instead, we can say:

  • “I’m figuring this out, and I can keep trying.”
  • “I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.”
  • “It didn’t go the way I wanted it to this time, but let’s see if this other way works…”
  • “This is hard, and I can do hard things.”
  • “I’m as capable as I need to be.”
  • “If one thing doesn’t work, I can try something else.”
  • “I will decide to believe in myself no matter what.”

To practice, start by paying attention to the negative and positive messages you tell yourself. What thoughts get in the way of your goals and wellbeing? What are some much kinder – and still believable – thoughts you can choose to help build your self-confidence?

With experience and determination in taking charge of our thoughts, we can take charge of our actions, leading to greater confidence and self-confidence that will help us to have safer, happier, healthier, more successful lives.

April Yee is a Holistic Life Coach focusing on Transformative Self-Care. We hope her insights add value to your day or week. To connect directly with April, you can visit her website or sign-up for her weekly newsletter to receive self-care insights directly in your inbox.


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Published: July 2, 2024   |   Last Updated: July 2, 2024

April Yee, Board President of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, Holistic Health & Wellness Advocate, former Investor Relations Specialist - Private Equity