How to Build Confidence & Make Friends

Build your confidence to make friends by feeling good about yourself.
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Having confidence and good self-esteem can make it easier to develop friendships. When you are confident, you feel good about yourself and are more likely to reach out to others. Though it might seem like the popular kids at school come by their confidence naturally, anyone can build self-esteem and learn how to make friends.

1 Spiff Up

Though you should not judge a person by his outward appearance, feeling good about the way you look can help boost your confidence. Pay attention to personal hygiene such as keeping your hair neat, your nails trimmed and your breath fresh, says psychiatrist Neel Burton, in the "Psychology Today" article, "Building Confidence and Self-Esteem." Wear clothes that fit well and make you feel attractive. Ensure that you eat healthy foods, get regular exercise and enough sleep, so that your body is tuned up and your mind is sharp. When you feel good, it builds your confidence and helps you become more open to making connections with others.

2 Break Old Negative Thought Habits

Examine how your thoughts might be holding you back from making friends. If you tell yourself things like, "Nobody will want to talk to me," or "I am too boring to hang out with those kids," challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions such as "What evidence do I have that they won't like me?" You are most likely your own worst enemy, and much too hard on yourself. Burton recommends boosting your self-confidence by making lists about your positive qualities. For example, make a list of your strengths or what you admire in yourself as a friend, such as being a good listener, generous and reliable.

3 Reach Out

Reach out to others to start building friendships, says psychotherapist Jeanne Segal in an article for "HelpGuide." If you find yourself waiting before class with a fellow student, make a comment such as "That was a tough assignment last week, don't you think?" The next time you see each other, make small talk and ask questions that show you are interested in getting to know her better, such as "How was your weekend?" Once the two of you have become comfortable talking on a regular basis, consider inviting her to do something outside of school, such as seeing a movie or walking to the local mall.

4 Be Reliable

Maintain your confidence by acting as the kind of friend that you would want to have in return. Be reliable, dependable and trustworthy. If you make plans to see a friend on the weekend, honor that commitment even if you don't feel like going out that day. If a mutual friend starts talking about someone you know behind his back, refuse to participate in gossip and change the subject. Be the kind of person with whom others feel comfortable sharing feelings and secrets and your friendships will be long-lasting.

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.