Heavy is the head that wears the visor, Coach Lasso. You must have a lot on your mind.
Dr. Sharon - Ted Lasso Season 2, Episode 2

Anyone who’s watched Ted Lasso saw a little into the world of sports psychology. Doctor Sharon is brought in to help the players deal with various emotional elements that could be affecting their minds on the field, and thus their performance. Of course, she also breaks down the impenetrable walls of Coach Lasso and everyone is the better for it.

Sports and puns aside, Ted Lasso touched on performance and confidence which have been widely studied for a long time, but mostly in the guise of competitive athletics. While confidence is complicated, understanding it can help you cultivate within yourself.

Confidence vs self-esteem

Are they the same thing? No. Are they closely related? Yes. Self esteem is about your belief in your self value and worth. Self confidence relates to your belief in your abilities. Robert Wilson puts it this way in an article for Psychology Today:

Confidence comes from the Latin word fidere which means to trust; in other words, self-confidence means we trust our knowledge, skills, and abilities. Esteem comes from the Latin word aestimare, which means to appraise, value, rate, weigh, or estimate; in other words, self-esteem is how we appraise or value our self-worth.”

It’s possible to have high self esteem but low self confidence in certain areas. For example, a person with high self esteem might have low self confidence when it comes to learning a new language.

Why confidence matters

It makes a lot of sense that if you’re not confident about your abilities in something, you won’t perform it very well. What’s complicated is that confidence is undeniably affected by other factors. Emotional and physical wellness as well as stress affect our self confidence.

90% of American college students report education as a significant cause of stress according to the American Psychological Association. (Psst, tips on limiting study stress here.)

We know that stress has major negative effects on our bodies and mental health. If your mental health is suffering, you’re probably not in the best place to feel super confident about your abilities. It makes sense that intense academic stress is likely to negatively affect your confidence over time.

Low self-confidence in the classroom usually manifests as feeling insecure, anxious, and possibly wanting to withdraw. Confident students ask questions and ask for help often because they feel secure enough to do so. While it may seem counterintuitive that someone who’s confident can quickly and easily admit they don’t know something or need help, it’s often the case.

Plenty of studies point to the correlation between low self confidence and low academic performance. But what can you do about it?

How to build confidence

Building up your confidence can take time, but it’s very doable. It requires patience, practice, and the ability to be kind to oneself. Here are some tips:

Set SMART goals

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. It’s a great goal-setting strategy that keeps your goals in check and helps you progress in a sensible way.

SMART goals help you break down your objective to both make sure it’s an appropriate goal and help you accomplish it. Rather than saying ‘I want to run a marathon’, your SMART goal might start with increasing your running mileage by one mile every other week. Read our full blog about SMART goals.

Practice micro confidence 

Similar to some aspects of SMART goals, micro confidence is about breaking apart large goals into small moments you can achieve. The idea is that by building up small moments of micro confidence, it will boost your self confidence overall.

Janice Staab, Ph.D. and life coach reminds us that confidence isn’t an all or nothing thing. In her Linkedin article about confidence she encourages us to, ‘limit the scope and intensity that your confidence must have in order to “count”. Center your confidence on the infinitely accomplishable and the easily doable.’

Build and maintain positive relationships

Humans are social creatures. Many aspects of our days are spent working with or around others. Social relationships are a major component in how we feel about ourselves. Are you encouraged by those around you or do you feel self conscious? Do you have friends or peers who encourage you to try new things?

While we can’t control others around us, we can control who we elect to spend our free time with. Cultivate relationships and seek people who help you feel positive, inspired, and comfortable with yourself.

Of course, you must also maintain a positive relationship with yourself. Confidence by definition is rooted in belief and beliefs can change.


Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
Marie Curie