University of Maryland Counseling Center



The image you have of yourself is an important factor in attaining success and happiness. Feeling good about yourself will ideally give you a sense of control over your life, and help you feel positively about other people and various situations. If you are self-confident you can set realistic expectations for yourself, and you may be willing to take actions even at the risk of others' disapproval.


A positive attitude will help you on many occasions, such as achieving academically, making friends, performing at a job, and entering new situations. You can demonstrate a good attitude by:

  • Being willing to learn new things
  • Showing enthusiasm
  • Preparing for growth, development, and change
  • Cultivating a sense of humor
  • Listening to others attentively and sincerely


Just as it is important to learn certain behaviors, you need to be aware of which self-defeating thought patterns to avoid. For example, try to avoid thinking of things in terms of "all or nothing," such as expecting everyone to agree with you, or anticipating that you will be thoroughly competent in all areas of your life, or deciding that you are a total failure if your performance in one activity is not perfect.


In order to develop your self-confidence, you may want to consider the following strategies:

  • Emphasize your strengths by giving yourself credit for trying
  • Approach situations as opportunities to learn, rather than as win-lose events
  • Self-evaluate to avoid dependence on others' opinions


If you would like additional information, contact the UNIVERSITY COUNSELING CENTER, 301-314-7651, Shoemaker Building. The CENTER offers workshops on self-esteem and assertiveness training, in addition to individual and group counseling.


You may find it helpful to read some of the following Self-Help pages: Academic Success, Assertiveness, Anger, Depression, and Loneliness.

Compiled by Margaretha Lucas with help of the staff of the UM Counseling Center.