The Science of Self-Esteem: Learn to Build up Confidence
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The Science of Self-Esteem: Learn to Build up Confidence

Discover all the different methods science can teach you to become more confident in your life and your work
4.8 (6 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
1,194 students enrolled
Created by Manuel Kraus
Last updated 10/2015
Current price: $10 Original price: $200 Discount: 95% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • 4 Articles
  • 39 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Challenge self-doubts effectively
  • Understand and develop ‘growth mindsets’
  • Identify thinking errors and generate alternative beliefs
  • Manage feelings of anxiety
  • Lean into uncomfortable feelings
  • Use positive emotions to raise confidence
  • Use ‘tiny habits’ to build up confidence
  • Go outside of your comfort zone
  • Use long-term strategies to improve confidence
  • Harness your social environment
  • Stop social comparison
  • Build a detailed confidence action plan
View Curriculum
  • All materials and worksheets will be provided so no additional information is needed prior to starting this course.
  • Building self-confidence requires that students have some initial commitment to change in order to be successful. It is recommended that students understand this prior to starting the course.

"Low self-confidence isn't a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered--just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better." - Barrie Davenport

This course distills research from psychology and neuroscience from all over the world into lessons and steps that you can take to become more self-confident.

Become Self-Confident and Set Yourself Up for Success

  • Challenge self-doubts effectively
  • Understand and develop 'growth mindsets'
  • Identify thinking errors and generate alternative beliefs
  • Manage feelings of anxiety
  • Lean into uncomfortable feelings
  • Use positive emotions to raise confidence
  • Use 'tiny habits' to build up confidence
  • Learn to leave your comfort zone
  • Use long-term strategies to improve confidence
  • Harness your social environment
  • Stop social comparison
  • Build a detailed confidence action plan

Get a full-fledged self-confidence course that covers every single factor that contributes to your self-confidence.

Self-confidence is an important factor for how far we get in life. Because self-confidence is part of you achieving your goals, reaching your dreams, creating the life you want. When you start building your self-confidence, you take one of the most important steps towards a successful and fulfilled life. In this course you'll learn how to build self-confidence – based on the scientific research in psychology and neuroscience.

You'll learn how to tackle your self-confidence from the four main perspectives: your thoughts, feelings, behavior and social environment. For example, you'll learn how to change beliefs of self-doubt, how to accept and manage feelings of anxiety and what are the best ways to leave your comfort zone. You'll build a detailed confidence action plan that will eventually lead you to higher confidence. If you keep to it, you will succeed. Every single strategy is based on scientific research and used by experts from all over the world. This course is the first to bring them all together in one single course in 'The Science of Self-Confidence'.

One more thing: You have a totally unconditional money back guarantee. It allows you to study the course for 30 days and if you are in any way unhappy with it, you will get a full refund, no questions asked! Enrolling in the course is absolutely risk free.

Click the "Take This Course" button now and enroll!

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is about self-confidence. It covers scientific background information but at the core it's about applying the knowledge. That's why willingness to engage in the activities and apply the lessons is required. No prior knowledge is needed.
  • This course is best suited for people who want to become more confident and reduce anxiety in certain areas of their lives. These areas include (but are not limited to): social interactions, public speaking, performing on stage, sports, dating, ...
  • The course is probably NOT for you if you are ONLY interested in reading and discussing research literature. However, we do cover science-based concepts and scientific findings.
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Curriculum For This Course
91 Lectures
10 Lectures 15:31

A few words about myself and positive psychology.

Preview 01:59

What Self-Confidence Means

We tend to talk and think about confidence as either low or high. But in reality, confidence exists on a continuum. Only very few people are either extremely confident or lack confidence completely.

Self-Confidence: Low versus High

There are two levels of confidence:

1. overall self-confidence (global self-confidence)

2. self-efficacy (domain-specific confidence)

Self-Confidence: Global versus Specific

At the beginning it makes sense to start asking yourself where you already feel confident. You might find it easy to come up with answers, or you might find it really hard – both are really fine.

When have you felt confident the last time?

What were you doing?

In which areas of your life do you feel competent?

Activity: Which areas in your life are you already confident in?
1 page

This is a short brain-storming activity. The goal is to find a few areas in your life in which you could build confidence throughout this course.

Activity: Where do you want to build confidence?
1 page

Self-confidence is often misunderstood and that's why we'll spend some time to clarify what is not and what we should expect.

What Confidence Is Not

Choose an area for the course that you want to work on your confidence. Even if you’re interested in global self-confidence, the best way to do this is by increasing our confidence in one particular area.

Activity: Choose an Area
1 page

We are not born with high or low self-confidence. Self-confidence beliefs develop over time and through our experience. The development of these beliefs begins when we are infants and then continues throughout life.

How Confidence Develops

Throughout the course, we’ll look at raising confidence from four perspectives:

Our Thoughts and Beliefs

Our Feelings

Our Behaviour

Our Social Environment

Preview 02:39

Self-Confidence Basics
3 questions
Thoughts and Beliefs - Mindsets and Self-Doubt
10 Lectures 24:47
Quote: Thoughts Shape Destiny
1 page

Some of our beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies. Robert Rosenthal's famous study in schools demonstrates this perfectly.

How Beliefs Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Mindsets are underlying beliefs that we have about our qualities and even our personalities. In this video we'll look at our beliefs about intelligence and drawing abilities to understand the idea of mindsets.

Preview 05:30

With a fixed mindset in a certain area of your life, you believe that your qualities are carved in stone. People with growth mindset on the other hand, see their qualities as things that can be developed through their dedication and effort.

Fixed versus Growth Mindset

Activity: Identifying Fixed Mindsets
1 page

Quote: The First Draft
1 page

In this video, we'll explore the value of self-doubt and then the 5 strategies people use to manage self-doubt in a way that reduces confidence:

1. Perfectionism

2. Procrastination

3. Impostor Syndrome

4. Self-Handicapping

5. Other Enhancement

How Self-Doubts Shape our Confidence

In this video we’ll look at what to do against self-doubts: We need to challenge them. When a doubt comes to our mind, we can dispute it.

Challenging our Self-Doubt

3 pages

This is an activity. Remember a time when you've done this in the past and you were successful.

Activity: When in the past were you successful?
1 page

Mindsets and Self-Doubts
2 questions
Thoughts and Beliefs 2 - Changing Thinking Patterns
8 Lectures 04:48
Introduction to Changing Thinking Patterns

The insight that our beliefs trigger our emotional reactions provides the basis for the ABC model developed by the psychologist Albert Ellis. The ABC model helps us understand and control our reactions to adversity. ABC stands for adversity, belief and consequence.

How our Beliefs Shape our Reality: The ABC Model

This is a homework exercise. Do this for seven days. Every time you realize that you have negative thoughts or feel anxious or stressed, grab something to write on and scribble down your ABCs of the current situation.

Adversity: the simple facts of the situation (without judging) For example: Who, what, when, where.

Belief: your belief (why it happened; what will happen next).

Consequence: your feelings and behaviours related to these beliefs.

Activity: Recording ABC Sequences
1 page

Cognitive distortions – or also commonly referred to as ‘thinking errors’ – are thinking patters that distort information. In this video, we'll go over a list of the most common thinking errors. By understanding our thinking errors, we can spot our unhelpful thoughts more quickly and respond in healthier, most constructive ways

How Cognitive Distortions Shape our Self-Confidence

This document constitutes a lectures on its own. It introduces you to the most common cognitive distortions and builds on the previous lecture's introduction.

Cognitive Distortions Overview
3 pages

Now that you have a basic understanding of the major cognitive distortions, we can move on to ways of fixing them. This takes effort and quite a lot of practice. In order to stop cognitive distortions, the exercises in the area are a good place to start.

Activity: Identify Cognitive Distortions
1 page

Once we have identified a few ABC sequences, we are ready to start changing our thought patterns. There are two options to deal with them. The first option is distraction. This activity helps become aware of cognitive distortions in the momnt we are thinking them. It’s a really important step to bring awareness to our thoughts, and helps us let go of these unhelpful thoughts.

Activity: Dealing with Cognitive Distortions 1
1 page

The second option to deal with cognitive distortions is generating alternative beliefs. That's what this activity will teach you.

Activity: Dealing with Cognitive Distortions 2
2 pages

ABC Model and Cognitive Distortions
4 questions
Feelings - Managing Anxiety
10 Lectures 14:20
Introduction - Feelings and Self-Confidence

Anxiety is our body’s and our brain’s response to something that we perceive as dangerous. It’s a feeling of unease that everyone has at some point in their lives. In this video, we'll learn what evolution can teach us about it.

Causes and Purpose of Anxiety

We naturally react quite strongly to negative, threatening events. The explanation for this comes from evolutionary psychology. We humans are born with an inherent disadvantage: The so-called negativity bias.

Negativity Bias

It’s very common that with feelings of anxiety come shallow and fast breathing. One solution is diaphragmatic breathing. It is one of the most useful tools in stress management.

Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing

Worksheet: Diaphragmatic Breathing
1 page

A lot of research in sports psychology looks at the impact of self-talk on anxiety as well as confidence. It is clear that people can use positive self-talk to reduce their anxiety and increase confidence in the moment.


Activity: Counter Negative Self-Talk
1 page

How we perceive the way we feel about a challenging situation greatly influences how we feel about the challenge itself. Anxiety and excitement are very similar to each other, only our interpretation makes the difference.

Preview 01:46

Activity: Reinterpreting Anxiety
1 page

Exercise, meditation, and relaxation are productive, positive stress management techniques. But we also have some that come with negative long-term consequences: for example, smoking and alcohol.

Other Stress Management Techniques

Managing Anxiety
4 questions
Feelings - Accepting Anxiety
4 Lectures 07:28

Acceptance is easily misunderstood. It means fully opening up to the feelings of anxiety, acknowledging them and then letting go. Accepting doesn’t mean we like the situation how it is at the moment or that we want to stay here. It means accepting our feelings of anxiety so that we then can effectively change our situation.

Understanding Acceptance

Typically, we try to avoid feelings of anxiety and low confidence. However, this forms a vicious cycle.

Preview 01:09

To break out of the vicious circle of avoiding anxiety and as a result avoiding actions to build confidence, we can learn to stay with our feelings of anxiety.

Learning to Accept Anxiety

Body Scan Meditation is a great way to learn how to feel anxiety without recoiling from it.

Activity: Body Scan Meditation
1 page

Accepting Anxiety
4 questions
Feelings - Using Positive Emotions
6 Lectures 05:04

Feelings are not only negative – so that we have to manage or accept them in order to build confidence. No, we can also use positive feelings and emotions to raise our self-confidence. That’s what we’ll look at in this section.


According to Albert Bandura, the psychologist behind self-efficacy theory, our psychological states also play an important role for our self-confidence. Being in a positive emotional state serves as a self-confidence boost.

Feeling Good: A Confidence Boost

In this video, we’ll explore the so-called ‘Undoing effect of positive emotions’.

It has been discovered by the renowned emotion researcher Barbara Fredrickson and it describes the impact that positive emotions have on us when we are stressed or anxious.

The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions

Activity: Positive Emotions as a Confidence Boost
3 pages

Share your favourite quote

Sometimes, I like to get a quick boost of positive emotions. I’ve gathered this list of these videos that I would love to share with you. If you have any suggestions for videos to add here, please message me or share it in the forum!

List of Uplifting Videos
1 page

Positive Emotions
4 questions
Behavior - Start Small
10 Lectures 21:02

The best way to change our self-confidence is through our behaviour. In this section, we’ll explore why this is the case and how to tackle confidence from this angle.


This counter-intuitive theory explains how we form beliefs about ourselves. We observe our behaviour, and only then reach conclusions about who we are and what we believe. We form our attitudes based on our behaviour.

Self-Perception Theory

If self-confidence is ‘the stuff that turns thought into action’, using behaviour to improve self-confidence is somewhat of a paradox. How can we build self-confidence through our actions when it’s self-confidence we need to act in the first place?

Self-Perception Theory: The Paradox

Make a list of possible confidence challenges. Use the confidence challenge hierarchy template for this and then rate the difficulty of each challenge 1-5. Find at least two challenges for every difficulty level.

After you completed your confidence challenge hierarchy, use the confidence challenges you identified to gradually increase your exposure and build your confidence step-by-step.

Activity: Confidence Challenge Hierarchy
1 page

Increasing stress levels can help focus motivation and attention, but only up to a certain point. That’s what is known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law. It’s important for learning to have a mild amount of stress – not too much and not too little.

Preview 02:41

This video is about BF Fogg's 'Tiny Habits' program and how we can use it to increase our confidence.

Small Daily Habits for Long-Term Change

Activity: Confidence Challenge

Quote: The Secret of Getting Ahead
1 page

Visualization - or mental imagery - can help us get started.


Activity: Visualization
1 page

Start Small
10 questions
Behavior - Fake It 'Til You Make It
11 Lectures 14:58

Nike has it right. 'Just Do It' is a great strategy to build confidence.

Just Do It

Quote: Ever Tried. Ever Failed.
1 page

You don’t decide to go out of your comfort zone and risk failure for no reason. This activity is about clarifying your reasons and making them explicit.

Activity: Just Do It
1 page

The anxiety curve is a graph that shows how anxiety changes over time if we are exposed to something we fear.

The Anxiety Curve

Willingness is a concept from Acceptance-and-Commitment Therapy (short: ACT) and basically means allowing something unpleasant in order to do something that is important to us.


Activity: Willingness
1 page

Activity: Willingness II
1 page

This lecture deals with the fact that risk-taking and failure are in inevitable part of building confidence. If we try to avoid it, we will limit our potential.

Dealing With Failure

Quote: Learn to Fail or Fail to Learn
1 page

Holding our body in expansive, "high-power" poses for about two minutes stimulates the release of testosterone and reduces cortisol.

Power Poses

Worksheet: Power Poses

Just Do It!
6 questions
Behavior - Long-Term Strategies
6 Lectures 05:48

One of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety is physical activity. If you manage to add exercise to your routine, your anxiety will decrease over time.

Confidence Boost: Physical Activity

Reaching for goals is an important part of strengthening our self-confidence. It helps shape how we define ourselves and at the same time adds a sense of accomplishment to our lives.

Setting Goals for Confidence

Setting goals to where plan where you want to go is a great first step to take. If you don't define your goal, you don't know where you're going. In this activity, you'll plan a few basic steps towards higher self-confidence. Based on goal-setting theory, you'll also consider a few important ingredients for a successful goal-system (timelines, sub-goals, obstacles and resources).

Activity: Planning Behavior and Setting Goals
4 pages

Research shows that practicing a skill, strengthens our confidence in this area. It is very obvious but easily overlooked.

Raising Competence

This activity is a short brain-storming about how you could become more competent in whatever area you choose. With increased competence comes increased confidence.

Activity: Raising Competence
1 page

1 page

Long-Term Strategies for Self-Confidence
3 questions
Social Context
10 Lectures 11:07

This video is about social network analysis and how it shapes our understanding of social relationships.

The Social Context of Self-Confidence

One of Albert Bandura’s four principles to raise self-efficacy is what he calls ‘modeling behavior’. This means finding examples of people who are performing at a very high level.

Modelling Behavior

One thing we know is that people don't attempt to achieve something unless they believe it can be done. We know that people are much more likely to attempt to do things if they've seen that someone like them can do it.

First we need to know that it can be done. Then we need to know that we can do it. Role models can help us with both of these steps. They are the obvious proof that some things can be done.

Activity: Finding Role-Models
3 pages

This lecture is all about connecting to your fellow students. We are all in the same boat, so let's make use of this.

Activity: Learning from our Peers

Social persuasion is a powerful tool for combating self-doubt. Encouragement from people we trust helps convince us that we have what it takes to succeed. So, when you’re facing a challenge, surround yourself with people who believe in you. Their belief will help build your confidence in your skills and abilities.

Building a Support Network

A board of success is a group of friends, colleagues or your family who meet regularly to keep each other updated about their goal pursuit. They also hold each other accountable and give each other feedback and support.

Activity: Board of Success
2 pages

This activity basically consists of one question. It's simple yet powerful if you really take some time to think about it.

Activity: Who can help me with this?
1 page

We human beings constantly compare ourselves to others. That’s what psychologists call ‘social comparison’. It’s our drive to evaluate ourselves against other people, their abilities and accomplishments.

Preview 02:47

Quote: Social Comparison
1 page

This activity is all about putting into practice the lessons from the previous video lecture. Negative social comparison is not helpful and reduces our self-confidence so now it's time to do something about it.

Activity: Stop Negative Social Comparison
1 page

The Social Context of Self-Confidence
5 questions
2 More Sections
About the Instructor
Manuel Kraus
4.3 Average rating
130 Reviews
9,288 Students
7 Courses
Udemy Premium Instructor for Positive Psychology

Manuel Kraus is the founder of Pocketcoach, a therapy chatbot to support people with anxiety, and Good Life Foundation, an organization seeking to empower individuals and communities across the world to live happy and fulfilled lives by teaching positive psychology. He is also an expert in the field and one of only a few people in the world holding a master's degree in applied positive psychology. His main research interest focuses on the experience of meaning in life.

He teaches positive psychology in workshops and seminars, and is the author of a series of online courses covering topics ranging from building positive emotions and self-esteem to changing mindsets and overcoming tough times.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of life flourishing and optimal human functioning. It asks questions like these: What do very happy people do differently? How do the most successful people think and act?What makes some married couples stay together happily for many decades while others break up within months or years? And why are some people able to bounce back from failures while others succumb to them?

Happiness is not the absence of sadness and anger, and eliminating weaknesses does not mean we are really good at something. Many, many experiments, case studies, analyses and other forms of rigorous research have been conducted to provide insights into what makes our lives good and how we manage to live happily and successfully. Unfortunately, this science is not yet accessible to many people. That is why Manuel is committed to teach these findings and applications. His goal is to help create the foundations for everyone to live a good life by making positive psychology research accessible to everybody.

'I believe that the scientific study of what makes our lives most worth living can help people transform their lives. That is why I teach about topics like personal growth, building fulfilling relationships, goal-setting, mindfulness, self-esteem and realizing strengths. My personal mission is to make positive psychology research accessible to everybody, and thereby creating the foundations for people to live a good life and help build a better world.'