How I Fake Confidence When My Self-Esteem is Low

How to Fake Confidence When Your Self-Esteem is Low | Not Dressed As Lamb

Being able to fake confidence is something many of us do, not least those who seem the most confident to others.

Self-confidence is always a tricky beast, especially when it comes to your own. I’ll warn you now, this is a real up-and-down emotions post…!

On Tuesday this week I was working with JD Williams up in Manchester as part of their new season/total rebranding campaign (you may have seen some of the sneak peeks on their InstaStories which I took over for the day)! It was SUCH a fun day and you’ll see more about it in due course on TV, on their website and on my blog.

The reason I’m writing this is because of the feelings I had before going up to do this job. As a pro blogger I’m often thrown into situations where I have to meet – and work with – new people. Sometimes it can be five or six new people, sometimes (as this week) it can be about 40 or more. The production team on this campaign was enormous, so it meant meeting a lot of new people and making sure that I did what they wanted me to do (that I delivered, in other words).

However, before going to this shoot my self-confidence was pretty darn low to tell you the truth. I can’t say for sure, but I get the impression that most people meeting me probably think I’m quite a confident person. I know I can be a bit on the loud side. I know I show off with my ability to remember everyone’s names when I meet a room full of people. And I know I can be a bit of a joker at times, playing the fool and doing my best to be the centre of attention (all in jest, of course).

But believe me, it doesn’t mean I’m super confident.

When I travelled up to Manchester on Monday I felt pretty crap about myself. Not for anything major, just all small superficial things that built up to me feeling a bit low in general.

These are things I wouldn’t normally share (haven’t shared) with anyone other than Keith and my closest girlfriends. Only they know the way I feel. It was one of those occasions when lots of small things added up to… Well, a big pile of poo, basically. We all have those days. But sometimes we don’t have to go anywhere and we can just stay at home and ride it out.

This wasn’t one of those days. I was going to be in front of a video camera, and talking. There would be nowhere to hide. I had to look good, I had to sound good and I had to be interesting and engaging and smiley. Just all round aaaaaargh…!


Why my confidence was so low

The reason why I was feeling so low was a multitude of things. Firstly – and this is something that many women will identify with – my weight has ballooned this year*. Where last year I vowed to rid myself of the weight I’d put on following my leg injury at the end of 2015, it seemed to have the opposite effect and this week I found out I have, in fact, matched my heaviest-ever weight.

*Important note: This post is not intended to fish for compliments. I haven’t written it to try and get a rush of “Oh, but you look great!” comments, but to show that sometimes the most outward-seemingly confident people also have days (some, maybe all of them) where they are not feeling their best and really have to fake it.

Now I’m fully aware that I do not “look” overweight. I dress in a way that mostly disguises the parts I’d rather not show off. But I’m very, very unfit right now, and it’s not good for my health. If I were to continue the way I’m going – with overeating and almost no exercise – then I WOULD be presenting myself with a serious problem in the near future. So I am, at least, aware of my bad habits and know I need to do something about them.

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The way it affects my confidence? It means I can fit into very, very few of my clothes, and almost none of the nicest ones. And as a fashion blogger clothes are my “thing”. Take that away from me and it crushes my self-esteem because I’m not always wearing the wonderful things I want to wear… I’m having to compromise the whole time. Therefore at the shoot I knew I would be looking at the rack of clothes and constantly thinking about what parts of my body they would or wouldn’t cover up. It worried me that I’d end up finding nothing to wear.

The other things that affected my confidence that day were lots of small things but they all just added up:

  • My leg injury was back and hurting like hell. It meant I was in pain all day and couldn’t get up and down stairs easily (so felt a right tit hobbling slowly up and down the stairs). I have since been back to the hospital, but I feel like we’re back to square one on that one.
  • I had a terrible night’s sleep on Monday night in the hotel because of my leg pain, so I felt incredibly tired the next day. I’d had very little sleep and we had a 6:45 (eep!) call.
  • I’m growing out my fringe and it’s at the worst stage, so I didn’t feel like my hair was at its best or could be styled very well. Just another little thing to worry about.

So all in all, not the best frame of mind to be in when you have to sit in front of a camera and (behind that) a massive team of people who are all looking at, listening to and recording you. In pain, not confident about the way I looked and having to meet a ton of new people – and perform.

How I Fake Confidence When My Self-Esteem is Low

But you know what? There was no time, or room, for being down. Or rather seeming to be down. I was being paid to do a job, and I knew I had to deliver. What you do behind the scenes and away from the camera is as important as what you do in front of it. It was truly one of those times where I absolutely had to fake confidence, and in abundance.


How I fake confidence when my self-esteem is low

Fake it till you make it, as they say… this was one of those times! This was the third time I’d worked with JD Williams, and the first two times were so much fun and the people were so friendly that I was really looking forward to the day, despite my lack of confidence in myself. Of course, I can’t tell you whether I really DO seem like a confident person to others (maybe I don’t at all!), but these are the things I do and swear by:


1. Surround yourself with good people

Obviously it’s not always possible depending on the situation, but where you have control over who you let into your life then make sure you only let in the good ones. Do something about the bad apples that only seem to breed negativity and make you feel bad. Good people will always make you feel good about yourself so there’s no need to fake confidence when they’re around.  I’d enjoyed working with JD Williams as a brand so it was a no-brainer to do it again.


2. Remember that others are worried about themselves, not you

Everyone has their own hang-ups – believe me when I say they’re not bothered about yours! Think of it the other way: How much time do you spend worrying about or concerning yourself with other people and what they’re doing/saying/wearing/looking like? Probably none at all.


3. Don’t bang on about your imperfections

Most people don’t notice your imperfections, and those that do aren’t worth your time or attention. There’s no need to draw other people’s attention to what you’re not feeling confident about – it’ll only serve to make you feel worse (and can make them feel awkward). Dazzle them with your best qualities instead.

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4. Remember people’s names

This is a great one to make you appear confident. It’s hard to do, but making an effort to pay attention – I mean really pay attention – will impress people. You’ll seem alert and interested, and interesting. My tip for remembering names? Repeat it back to them when people introduce you (“Nice to meet you, Graham“). If you don’t catch their name ask them to repeat it. It’s less awkward to ask someone to repeat their name if you didn’t catch it first time than it is to not know it at all later.


5. See the good in others and pay them compliments

Showing interest in others and making them feel good about themselves will make you feel good in return. Making other people happy is always a confidence-booster. Comment on what they’re wearing, how their hair suits them, say you like their necklace/shoes/sweater or that they have a nice voice. I remember complimenting a waiter on his amazing voice once – he said he’d been thinking of looking to get voiceover work and he said that the compliment had given him the boost he needed, just as he was wondering whether he should do it at all.


6. Accept compliments graciously

On the flip side, learn to accept a compliment. Dismissing them sends a message of low self-esteem and will hurt the giver’s feelings – a simple “thank you” is all it takes. Never, ever contradict them and tell them they’re wrong as you’ll probably never get a compliment from them again.


7. Remember you were invited for a reason

Whatever you’re doing or whatever you’re attending or working on, remember that people want you there (why else would they invite you)? Don’t put yourself down or question why you’re there – accept that people like you! They like you and wanted you there – don’t give them a reason to doubt their decision by being a Debbie Downer.


8. Pay more attention to your hair, makeup and grooming

Looking your best will make you also feel your best. It’s the best thing you can do to give yourself a confidence boost – I was lucky because I had a hair and makeup artist to hand that day, but at other times there’s always the hairdresser or the beauty salon. You never need an excuse to get your hair or nails done, but to boost your confidence is surely a valid one.


Keeping all these points in mind will make you seem like a super confident person. By refusing to be apologetic about whatever you’re not confident about – whether that be your hefty thighs/your unruly hair/your accent/your not-straight teeth – and concentrating on the POSITIVES, you’ll exude confidence.

You might be dying inside, but outwardly people will see nothing but a warm, friendly and engaging person. Someone confident. Someone they want to be with.

And eventually, you’ll just have to start believing it yourself.

At the JD Williams shoot I nabbed the longest maxi dress I could find that covered up everything I wasn’t confident about. I got compliments all day about it (it was a stunning dress). I could have highlighted the fact that I chose it to cover my weight gain, but why would I do that? I also told the MUA exactly how I wanted my hair to try and work with my growing-out fringe.

I ended up adoring my hair in the end, and it made me feel great.

So next time you’re feeling less than confident, just try and fake it. People will never know the difference…!



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How to Fake Confidence When Your Self-Esteem is Low | Not Dressed As Lamb


  1. 31 August 2017 / 9:13 am

    Thank you for hosting dear! I'm linking back to you HERE Hope you'll check out my latest Fashion post

  2. 31 August 2017 / 7:46 am

    I think you're right that most people are less confident than they seem. I often get this feeling of being a fake or not up to the task, so it's good to have the reminder that everyone else is feeling that too. I guess we just need to believe in ourselves and our abilities a bit more, and I love your comment about building each other up too #brillblogposts

  3. 29 August 2017 / 5:57 pm

    Hi Catherine πŸ™‚ These self-confidence tips are 100% exactly what I needed to hear β€” no BS and very straightforward and sensible! I really suffer with my inner demons and I think making some small changes about the way I view things and respond to people will make such a difference! x

  4. 28 August 2017 / 3:57 pm

    I hear you lady! I'm way over the weight I should be and the thought of losing weight and getting fit can be all consuming. I'm taking it one step at a time, one day at a time safe in the knowledge that I WILL get there. And so will you!
    We all have days like this, kudos to you for sharing one of them with our readers.
    PS I know you don't feel it at the moment but you look incredible!
    Michelle xxxx

  5. 27 August 2017 / 6:12 pm

    Wow!! You are "everywoman" and have beautifully, articulately, and with great honesty and vulnerability addressed many issues that plague women of all ages, sizes and nationalities. Some wouldn't admit to having confidence gaps and glitches but I think it's part of being human.
    I've followed you for about a year via bloglovin and have only commented one other time when I was equally moved by your post but THIS one has moved me to sign up for the feed directly to my email.
    You are beautiful in body, soul and spirit Catherine. Your frankness about personal failures of self confidence is in my view clear evidence of your perceptiveness of human nature but also one of the MOST confidence revealing posts on this topic that I've ever read!
    Stunning stuff Catherine. Sincerely, Jude Gramith USA

  6. 27 August 2017 / 4:39 pm

    Everything you listed is so very true. Thanks for hosting and I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

  7. 26 August 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Yay, so happy to hear I'm not alone! After catching 2 bouts of stomach issues this month; first food poisoning, then stomach flu, I have definitely not been feeling myself. Unable to exercise or eat properly I've been feeling no myself. I needed to attended a party last night, even though I was not feeling my best – I blew out the hair, put on some makeup, removed my chipped 30 day pedicure and replaced it with a beautiful new for fall berry color, and grabbed a darling new denim jumpsuit and off I went. I figured I'd feel blah all night, but as soon as I walked in I got compliments on the denim jumpsuit…and instead of explaining that I was not feeling my best, I simply said thank you and my mood was instantly lifted. Point is, you are so spot on. We are our worst critics and can put ourselves into a low energy mood. So knowing how to fake some confidence is important – sometimes just to get us though the evening.
    You look so fabulous in this dress – I love the colors and your hair stylist did an amazing job on the hair.
    As always, thank you for sharing so honestly!

  8. 26 August 2017 / 4:51 pm

    I like how you break down the steps to projecting self-confidence when we are not feeling it. I'm not a schmoozer and attending more social functions has really pushed my limits. I'm getting better but there are still those MOMENTS. Glad to see you on this professional job, Catherine! You look fantastic.

  9. 26 August 2017 / 4:39 pm

    You sound as lovely on the inside as you look on the outside…..I found the same thing awhile ago, I found happiness and joy in life and even the desire to improve what I could was always strongest when I focused more on bringing happiness to those around me, not thinking of myself as much…it seems to bring me balance, and then once again I'm at a place where I can see myself more realistically and work on the things I choose without the harsh self-judgement. Will be wishing you a good solution to managing both your better health goals and your injury, and to have fun doing it! Please know we see a vibrant, caring trendsetter when we see you, and are cheering you on as you help pave the way for the rest of us πŸ™‚

  10. 26 August 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Catherine, i really appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I know I struggle with my self confidence all the time and probably most of us do, but so often we feel that we are the only one. It is good to know we are all together in this. Thanks for sharing. – Amy

  11. 26 August 2017 / 2:16 pm

    Catherine, if I hadn't read this post I never would have guessed you would ever have a self confidence problem. I applaud you for your ability to power through your insecurities with style and grace.
    Love the maxi you chose, and you're right, most of us are so self critical about things that others are not even noticing. #5 works both ways, we need to be kinder and more complimentary to ourselves too!


  12. 26 August 2017 / 1:30 pm

    Absolutely so spot on Catherine! And as Amy above reiterates – 'Fake it til you make it' is exactly the right way to go! But, you know what? Just sharing that you feel like s**t sometimes is enough for many of us to say, 'yep, I feel like that too, but I can get over it.' And we do. This sharing malarkey can be such a good thing. Having just turned 50, I had some really, really deep talks with myself beforehand and I got the wobbles about lots of things (won't bore you here) but I'm through it. I turned 50, it's amazing and I will go on to do and feel amazing (in between the blah times that we all have!). Love it. Thank you so much for sharing. And yes, amazing dress btw!!!

  13. 26 August 2017 / 1:09 pm

    I was just telling my daughter to "Fake it to you make it" yesterday. She just had a baby two months ago and has her first vocal performance on Sunday since having the baby and is very nervous.

  14. 26 August 2017 / 12:39 pm

    I'm a big believer in "fake it 'til ya make it" when it comes to all things related to confidence. I had my own issues for many years, that I won't bore you with now but suffice to say faking confidence worked for me. I've never looked back. Now it's not so much about having confidence as not really minding criticism. Does that make sense?
    On another note, I'm actually blown away by your maxi dress Catherine. Never would've given JDW a passing glance before seeing this dress. xx

  15. 26 August 2017 / 11:02 am

    Oh gosh Catherine what a brilliant post, yes you always look fabulous but I identify with much of your comments. Having managed my weight very well until a knee replacement 3 yrs ago forced not much exercise and weight gain I have been there! I adore clothes etc and so depressed that I can't wear them all. I am on hols in two weeks so have lost some weight but with another knee replacement on the horizon and constant pain exercise is difficult. I am amazed by the lack of confidence this causes! Even when out I am aware of trying to appear fit (and not walking liking an old lady!)I think it suddenly becomes easy to turn inwards and lose confidence. However you really do always look good! Much sympathy though and gratitude for your sharing your insecurities and helping those of us in a similar situation who thought maybe we were on our own.

  16. 26 August 2017 / 10:59 am

    Another great post, Catherine! I am a huge proponent of faking it until you make it. In fact, I wrote a post about this a very long time ago. I will have to dig it up and link it. You have given us so many wonderful tips and what a fabulous reminder for all of us. I am one of those people also who gives the appearance of lots of self-confidence, but it happens more than I'd like that I am dying inside of my insecurities. We are all human and we do all have them. And like you said, most of us are ego-centric (not in a bad way, but in a normal human way) and worried about our own insecurities that we are not even paying attention to the tiny little flaws in others. We are too concerned that others may see our flaws. Which they don't because they are worried about the same thing. Crazy, silly people that we are! In any event, I am glad that you were able to fake it so that you had a fabulous day and a rewarding experience. Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself and remaining relatable to all of us. I hope that you find some relief for your leg pain soon!


  17. 26 August 2017 / 8:07 am

    Thank you for sharing your feelings and insecurities. I'm on a constant battle with my weight. I diet after Xmas up to summer vacation then after vacation up to Xmas. Just 2 diets. Happen to be all year though:) I like food too much.

  18. 26 August 2017 / 8:00 am

    I read this post and I am surprised. Yes I am one of those people that thought you were really confident about yourself. (Not meaning arrogant, meaning it in the good way.) Weight is a tricky thing. As I am older than you I have already experienced what happens when you move slower and you just cannot get rid of the extra weight. I have cut out a lot of food. Not all the time but mostly during the week. As I don't drink alcohol a lot and as I am not much of a foodie, it is easier for me than for most people to stay on my preferred weight. Which has gone up a little from 10 years back. My fixation on clothes is so big that I cannot bear not being able to wear all my favourite clothes. So I really sympathise with you on this one.
    You are a true professional that you could fake it as good as you did. A radiant woman I see, looking wonderful.

  19. 26 August 2017 / 1:13 am

    I completely understand how you feel. After menopause I gained 10 lbs. My nurse practitioner gave me a for lack of a better word "diet" to try. I am off all grains, most sugar, eating full fat foods, meat, veggies, and only berries. Tried it and my usual aches and pains have diminished and I've lost 10 lbs. I've had bread and the pain the next day is awful. This worked for me and I didn't think anything would. With your pain it's understandable that you aren't exercising. Be kind to yourself and know you are perfect just the way you are right now! Love and Light, Mary

  20. 26 August 2017 / 12:28 am

    What a meaningful heartfelt post. I also have gained some weight, but can hide it with clothes fairly well. I don't like the way I look and I want to be healthy.

  21. 25 August 2017 / 10:40 pm

    When I saw the photo of you in that gorgeous maxi dress my first thought was how stunning you look. We all go through those shitty times and usually we don't say anything, except to those closest to us. Having to show up with a smile when you don't feel confident about your appearance or have bad period pain and just want to curl up in bed is tough, but being with positive and supportive people makes an enormous difference. Sometimes that's the one thing that makes it all better xxx


  22. 25 August 2017 / 9:40 pm

    Thank you for such an honest post! I only discovered your blog recently – I am a sewing blogger and usually hang out and follow other sewing bloggers almost exclusively – but you really have changed the way I look at blogging. I love your brand, the style and look & feel of Not Dressed as Lamb! So this week I did a lot of research into blogging and learned a lot on how to improve my own blog, which was catalysed by you!
    So thank you for the blogging inspiration (and great tips on photography) and for the great advice in this post! I am looking forward to reading more of your back catalogue.

  23. 25 August 2017 / 9:24 pm

    You DO look great, but I know how you feel, I've gained too much weight in the last year. The reason I won't go into, but life throws sh*t at you sometimes and throws you on a different course, I'm starting to get back onto mine and getting back into getting fitter and thinner! Blogging has helped enormously and reading blogs like yours have helped so much too. Keep up the great work lady – you're doing amazing. x Jacqui Mummabstylish

  24. 25 August 2017 / 9:03 pm

    We are awfully hard on ourselves, don't you think? Because we all go through this, yet have you ever looked back at photos and seen only greatness and good times….not the imperfections we were focusing on at the time??

    • 25 August 2017 / 9:22 pm

      Yes we are, Jodie… And I can already say I will look back at the pictures of the shoot with fond memories as it was such a wonderful day – I remember the wonderful people and the wonderful dress I wore, not anything else! Thank you xx

  25. 25 August 2017 / 8:49 pm

    I hear you Catherine….with bells on!!
    These wobbles are hard at the best of times, but when the pressure is on to look great and "perform"…. yikes, it's daunting.
    I know too well that even the boldest of people have insecurities.
    We all have to fake it sometimes.
    I loved this post to bits and couldn't agree more with your tips!
    Faking it something I'm pretty well practised at.
    Faking confidence is a great trick, and no one can tell the difference anyway.
    Besides, as you rightly said, most people are more worried about themselves and couldn't give a monkey's about you and your issues.
    I hope your leg pain improves soon and you can get back to exercising and feeling fitter.
    Love and hugs!
    Fake Fabulous | Fake it until you make it! Style Tips & Fun with Fashion, over 40

    • 25 August 2017 / 8:59 pm

      P.S The accepting compliments thing is HUGE…. I spent ages (and I mean months) nagging a friend into saying a simple "thank you" when getting a compliment instead of putting the compliment down….
      e.g…. Me…."That's a lovely dress on you"
      Her…."Urgh, it's not, I'm just wearing it to cover my fat arse"
      Me…." Argggghhhhh…. look, it's a nice dress, the colour suits you, no one cares about your backside. Just say " Thank you".
      You get the picture?
      Months of this until the penny dropped.
      Now she accepts compliments with a flourish and everyone assumes she is confident and self assured.
      The arse is no different… it's all in the attitude!

    • 25 August 2017 / 9:16 pm

      Samantha thank you for such a wonderful (and lengthy) comment as always… So much to reply to!

      You're the queen of faking confidence – as your blog name attests! Not that you seem anything other than super confident, so you must be doing all the same things as me to appear that way. And how interesting about your friend… I'm so glad she accepts the compliments now. What a difference it makes!!


  26. Adrienne Shubin
    25 August 2017 / 8:26 pm

    Oh my goodness, does this post resonate with me. When I hit 48, my weight increased dramatically and I tell you, turning into a unicorn seems more possible than getting back to my ideal weight. I bought a treadmill and use it frequently and I try to watch what I eat and drink, despite being tempted at events and dinners regularly. But my weight does not budge except in the direction I don't want it to go.
    I completely get the not being able to wear your favorite clothes and what a total drag that is. I am going through that right now. Even jeans look unflattering on me anymore.
    I know you don't want to hear this, but you do look beautiful and fit and slim. But what really hits me between the eyes is your transparency and willingness to share this with us.
    I am so grateful for this post – and for you! – and will refer back to it on days when I, too, am not feeling my best.
    Many hugs to you! Thank you for being open and relatable.
    Xo, Adrienne

    • 25 August 2017 / 9:10 pm

      Oh wow we seem quite similar in that way then, Adrienne… it's hard to accept, isn't it, when we can't stay as lithe as we once were so easily. Mine all started with my leg injury, and eventually I didn't have it anymore as an excuse, but I think the weight gain contributed to it coming back again a few weeks ago.

      Thank you for the kind words – and I'm so glad it resonated with you. Keep being your gorgeous self, you lovely lady you xx

  27. 25 August 2017 / 8:15 pm

    Oh, Catherine. I know you don't want to hear anyone tell you that you look fantastic, and not at all fat… but you DO look fantastic and not at all fat. Remember that Roald Dahl quote about how if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely? THAT!

    Weight comes and goes, but you can't fake sunbeams shining out of your face, and you've got that in spades lady. xxx

    • 26 August 2017 / 7:52 am

      Can I second this? It is so very true. As a truth itself and applying to you Catherine.

    • 26 August 2017 / 12:33 pm

      I third this! Is that a thing? Who cares…I third it πŸ˜‰

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