How to Regain Confidence After Depression – 17 Point Guide

17 steps to regain confidence after depression

Hey Guys, Paul here. Kat asked me to write this post about regaining confidence after depression. She thought I could express some things that might help since my life has had many brushes with the illness. Not only have I dealt with it after my divorce, but my brother committed suicide, losing his battle with depression once and for all.

I did some research about the best ways to regain confidence and added some of my own experiences related to what worked.

So, how do you regain confidence after depression? Regaining confidence after depression requires intention and a commitment to reinvent a new sense of self. The major areas that are involved are restoring self-image, managing self-talk, replacing negative thinking, regenerating purpose and redefining failure.

In essence, you have to go to work on changing your relationship with yourself. While setbacks and low self-confidence can lead to depression, depression can also lead to low self-confidence.

Since you cannot outperform your self-image, you will need to get clear on what it is and what is holding you back.

It’s easy to minimize these things and feel helpless, but I have put together a list of things that you can do to be intentional about getting back on track to living a life that you love.

My divorce came on the heals of many other set backs, among them were my brother’s suicide rooted in depression, my mother’s death due to terminal cancer, bankruptcy and foreclosure.

My life felt messy, and if you had asked me to describe how my life was going to go when I was school boy playing on the playground during recess, it would have never looked like this.

I grew up in a strict Christian home. My father was a war veteran with un-diagnosed PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). My brother came ten years to early while the family was in turmoil with all of it.

When my parents got into Christianity, everything changed. The yelling, the strife and the discord stopped.

Looking back, it came a little too late for my big brother Ricky. There were so many scars. I felt like all he needed was a couple wins to turn his life around, but he was haunted by failures and growing up in a harsh environment.

Depression and threats of suicide became the norm, and I found myself thinking, “Just do it if you are going to do it.” The rollercoaster of emotions just served to upset everyone.

I know it was a harsh thought, and exhaustion can lead to thoughts that are unfounded.

Years later, nothing could have prepared me for the phone call, that he was gone.

For a long time, I wondered if there had been anything else I could have said or done.

But there wasn’t. Rick had hopped off one med and started on another with no ramp down or ramp up process. I believe the thought of ending it all was just too big to manage. Together with the diagnosis my mom had gotten, I think it became unbearable.

Depression came knocking at my door a few years later. At this point, I had walked my mom down the cancer road to her grave, and my dad was dealing with heart issues. I was working through my divorce and a general feeling of having lost my compass in life.

The direction of my life seemed aimless. There was an unmistakable thought that, “My best days were behind me.”

My best days are behind me.

The recurring thought I had

I remember some days I put on a suit, walked out the door to go to work, and walked back right back into the house and took it off.

I had run out of steam. During work, I’d spend lunch parked in a parking garage at the local Target, curled up in my suit in the back of my car. I tried to sleep, sometimes I could. Sometimes, I couldn’t.

I felt alone. Although I was seeing Kat at the time (and she was an angel), I couldn’t shake the misery.

My counselor told me I needed to reinvent myself, and that seemed impossible. What was I going to do?

I turned to the doctor for a prescription. He didn’t want to give me one. I remember sitting in the exam room (in a suit) looking well put together, and I lost it. The tears rolled down my cheek, and I uttered, “Please help me, I don’t know what to do.”

It was an ugly, unbearable time. My three kids were destroyed through the divorce, and I dealt with parental alienation.

My soul felt like it was in vice press. I was so good at faking it. Most never knew what I was really dealing with.

The more I let people in, and started dealing with how my life had turned out in reality helped me discover the road to healing and to reinventing myself and sense of dignity.

17 Strategies To Reignite Your Confidence After Depression

1. Get Honest With Yourself And Others

We choose to suffer in silence. We don’t want to share what we are experiencing. I get it. It can be scary because we worry that others will judge us.

I don’t recommend taking it all to everyone, be selective, but it is time to open up and air your soul. I always wanted to act and appear strong, so this level of vulnerability closely resembled failure for me.

Remember that most of us are going through something, and when you share, it gives them a place to share. Your relationships will deepen and you will find yourself not having to pretend that you have it all together.

It alleviates the burden of having to carry it all on your own in silence.

2. Negative Self Talk (Get Aware Of It)

Remember what I mentioned about being intentional? This is one of the areas that has to be addressed.

You may not be aware of it, but like I began to believe that my “best days” were behind me, you may be holding onto thoughts that stand in the way of your getting any peace of mind.

Since those days, I have realized that “my best days are behind me” is a lie. It was part of a huge amount of negative self-talk that was going on in my head.

I’m not sure why we do this to ourselves. While it feels true, it isn’t true unless you make it true.

The mind is powerful. The more the subconscious rehearses that negative things will be coming down the line for you, the more you will find exactly that happening.

Do some research on “confirmation bias.” All humans have a thought or emotion and then start out to create a story for themselves that supports what they already believe.

It can be destructive when you are dealing with negative self-talk.

Start noticing what you tell yourself and investigate how it is making you feel? Good or bad? If you follow the feeling back to the attitude, you can discover your self-talk.

Try on different things to take the place of the negative words. If you find yourself telling yourself you are stupid. Change it to. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (even if I feel stupid.)

You may get clear on how deprecating the action is and start to find it comical that it is so deeply rooted.

Look At Your Level Of Self-Judgement

If you are having trouble finding anything you like about yourself, you can be relatively certain that your judging yourself harshly.

Consider how you would judge a friend who expresses that they hate themselves or don’t like the actions they are taking.

If you are anything like me, you may have all of the grace in the world for someone else, but when it comes to you, you just can’t let yourself off of the hook.

I recommend dealing with yourself graciously and begin to evaluate your self-judging tendencies.

The Repeating Record

It truly can become a replaying record that tells us that we suck. Start paying attention to the first time you heard those words or you told yourself that.

You may find that you can trace the trail back to a primary care giver. In this case, it isn’t even your own voice in your head.

It may be the voice of a parent or authority figure that told you didn’t belong, have what it takes, or have any value.

Confront the record, so you can push pause.

3. Pain And Depression

I remember that while my mother was fighting cancer, the pain had a way of pulling her down. She was so strong, but depression and pain can go hand in hand.

If you are dealing with injuries or pain in your body, you may find yourself feeling a loss of desire to do the things that you have always enjoyed.

This is a good indicator that you may be suffering from some level of depression. Do everything that you can to rehabilitate yourself physically.

This can help alleviate the lethargy, fog and anguish that is often associated with depression. Sometimes we underestimate the toll that pain takes on our emotional well-being.

The best way to recover confidence is to approach rehabilitation head on. Even if you never quite regain a completely pain free life, this will go a long ways to experiencing yourself as someone who can bounce back.

This alone can help you recover your self-esteem. In general, I find that my mind follows my body. If my body isn’t doing well, then, almost certainly my mind follows.

4. Affirmations And Thankful Journal Every Day

One of the things that has helped me is writing down 10-20 things that I am thankful for every day in a journal.

At first it seems a bit awkward, and if you are like me, you may feel like you don’t have 10-20 things that you could write down. But I found that the more I did it the easier it got.

It can be things like the ability to inhale a full breath of air. You can also write down the things that you are thankful for from your past.

Things that made a difference for what you have achieved in life. Things without which would have left you in a worse position.

Bouncing back can be tough. Force yourself to take inventory of everything that is going well for you.

When I was struggling to come up with things I was thankful for, I began to write things that I hoped for the future as if they already had happened.

I wrote things like:

  • I’m thankful that my business is going well.
  • I’m thankful that I have a six pack and my health is back on track.
  • I’m thankful I am learning so much.

You get the drift. I don’t want you to think that I am oversimplifying how complex it is to shake the funk, but focusing on how difficult it is only solidifies it.

Take small steps, and do whatever it takes to move beyond where you are. Remember life is supposed to hurt sometimes. We grow through our suffering.

Leave Post-it Notes Around The House That Remind You Of Positive Thoughts

Once you get clear on some of the things that you are thankful for or things that you want to focus on, post little reminders throughout the house.

When Kat was working on a weight-loss goal, I wrote the goal number all over the house. It was everywhere.

5. Surround Yourself With Positive People And Things You Love To Do

During this time, you should have a low threshold to getting around people that support you.

It’s tempting to loan-wolf it during the phase where you know that you want to recover your self-esteem, but it isn’t a time to prove anything.

I recommend being selective about the people you engage with during your low season.

I thought people would judge me if I wasn’t available or wasn’t there for them. I found absolute freedom when I could finally let people in, and let people know that I was honestly hiding out.

It’s okay to be a cave-dweller for a season.

The part that we forget about depression is that is invisible. No one really knows the inner turmoil going on unless we tell them.

I like to think of it as a broken limb. Most likely, you would have no qualms about telling someone you couldn’t play football because broke your arm and are on the mend.

However, when it comes to emotional well-being, we don’t want others to think we are crazy so we hide it.

What I have found is that as I share my struggles with people, they end up sharing their own with me. It creates a place of understanding and support that isn’t otherwise available.

I don’t recommend necessarily posting it all on social media since the internet doesn’t forget, but choose some people with whom you feel comfortable with, and invite them to understand what is going on for you.

Once you don’t feel so isolated and you have shared, you will find that the shame of the situation diminishes, which is critical in getting yourself to be able to begin to work on your self-confidence.

6. Look For Inspiration In Books, On Audio Or Youtube

A friend of mine, who knew what was going on during my depression, recommended that I read, and there were some books that did me a lot of good.

He also told me that there is so much emotional sorting going on that doesn’t quit. You can pick up a book at 2am when you can’t sleep. Calling a friend who has to work the next day may not be ideal for them.

Audio books are great too because if you are like me and get tired when you read, it gives you another option that can make it easier. I have a subscription to audible so I can churn through books.

In addition to these avenues, don’t forget that there are a lot of great resources online (like on YouTube). I guarantee others have been where you are.

I like to search for inspirational videos. They usually help me get dialed in and refocused.

7. Listen To Music That Encourages Positivity

When we search for music to get us through tough times, we often look for songs that adequately express the feelings we experience. It’s a coping mechanism.

However, while it is soothing to know how universal a problem can be, it is important to find uplifting music that soothes your soul and play that as you start your journey to recovering your heart.

I personally love Spanish guitar. I don’t play guitar, and I don’t have a background in this type of music. However, for some reason, when I hear it playing, it puts a smile on my face.

Look for what sparks a bit of joy for you, can play it.

I remember when I was going through my depression, I loved to listen to the song, Don’t worry, be happy.

Even though it felt impossible at the time, it sparked a faint spark of hope that I could hold onto.

8. Get A Hobby That Allows You To Not Only Enjoy Yourself, But Have Some Positive Wins

It’s time to look for things that interest you. Join a running club, or reading club for that matter. I recommend forcing yourself to do it, and just see where it goes.

For me, when I started doing CrossFit, it not only helped me recover my health, I had access to a community that wanted to see me win.

They are all on their own journeys. Many of the people I work out with now have confided in me that they suffer from anxiety and are on a journey all their own.

It became a safe place for me to regenerate my purpose.

I recommend that you find something that resonates with you and produces an environment where you can get enjoy small wins. The latter is important because it will help you reset your relationship with yourself.

As you begin to relate to yourself as someone who can have victory in their life circumstances, it will expand your sense of self and put you on the road to recovery.

9. Change Your Relationship With Failure

It’s easy to get bogged down in believing that you are failure when you experience set backs. As one of my mentors told me, you are only a failure when you stop trying.

When you are depressed, you might find yourself throwing in the towel on some things that you thought were important to you.

I think that process is normal and re-calibration is essential in reinventing yourself.

However, this is a time to be gracious with yourself. Just because you have goals that you didn’t accomplish or never suspected that you would end up where you are, doesn’t mean anything.

History has a plethora of stories of people who have endured setbacks, failures and then triumphed.

You have what it takes to do the same. Life is about progression.

When you began to walk, you fell, you bumped your head, but you got back up and kept going.

Although the scars are more emotional than physical as we become adults, don’t let the mindset stop you.

If someone else can accomplish what you have set out to accomplish, you can do it too.

10. Accept How You Are And How You Are Not

Self-acceptance is easily glossed over. For most of my life, if you asked me whether I had a high-level of self-acceptance, I would have told you yes.

But saying that you accept yourself and really accepting yourself are two different things.

Making progress in this area is when you actually start celebrating your weaknesses.

For example, I am competitive, and most of my life I didn’t like this about myself. As a matter of fact, I denied it. I though it was a virtue not to be competitive, and I defended how non-competitive I was (heck, there is a clue.)

As I’ve rediscovered myself after my depression, I realize I am competitive and I need a competitive outlet. Once I embraced this, it ushered in so much freedom.

I can now readily tell people how competitive I am and feel good about it.

I realize that this is just how I am wired, and if someone catches me being too competitive, I will go to work on making it right in terms of the impact it had on them, but I’m okay with the fact that I am like this.

When I catch myself being competitive, I can chuckle at myself and celebrate the fact that this makes me unique.

When you begin to embrace the differences that make you uniquely you, it gives you access to something that isn’t available otherwise.

I also leave my dirty socks by the side of my bed. I have to remind myself to pick them up, and I love that about myself.

When you discover your inconsistencies, faults and short-comings, embrace them. Tell yourself, “So What!”

It’ll go a long ways to help you reclaim your damaged ego.

11. Therapy Can Help

Having regular conversations with a licensed (and trained) mental heal counselor can help you sift through the rubble of your demolished self-esteem.

Consider your journey to reclaiming your self-esteem as a careful sifting process.

When you are depressed, you may be stuck in a pattern of negative thinking, in which you blame yourself. You may be experiencing intense feelings of not measuring up, not belonging, isolation, guilt and shame.

A trained mental health counselor can help speed up the sifting process of what is yours to own, what is real and what isn’t.

When I say what is “real” and what isn’t, I am not talking about denial. I am talking about accepting responsibility for what you contributed to get you where you are now in the first place and understanding that there are other factors that were beyond your control.

Don’t play the victim. Take responsibility for your life while not owning every bad thing that happened can set you powerfully on the path to recovery.

12. Get Your Eating Sleeping And Self-care Under Control And In A Routine

We all know inherently that we should take care of ourselves, but when no one is looking it easy to derail your rest, nutrition and recreation.

But the truth is our bodies operate much like a machine. If we don’t make sure that the proper maintenance is in place, the machine will not continue to function sufficiently.

Likewise, when you are coping with depression, it can be easy to let your sleep and eating patterns get out of whack.

Sometimes, you have to enlist the help of others to make sure that you get on a schedule that works.

By getting proper rest, you are setting yourself up better to shake or at least deal with your depression.

If you want to be able to reclaim a positive self-image, you are going to be mindful of how you are taking care of yourself.

Make a list of 5-7 things that can help with this, or 5-7 things that would help you improve your quality of rest, nutrition, and recreation.

13. Evaluate What You Are Afraid Of

For years, I have lived under an unspoken rule. It went something like this. Be nice or something bad will happen to you.

Others may do things to ensure people like them, won’t abandon them or generally fear a loss of love from others.

It’s amazing what we will do in order to feel loved by others.

I was about 10 or 11 when I faced up to a bully on the soccer field. I finally mustered the courage to fight back and tell him I wouldn’t be treated the way he was treating me.

I can still remember the smirk on his face to say go ahead and try, punk.

With all my might I pushed him. Problem was, he was about a head taller than me. My pushing him, caused me to step back.

When I stepped back, there was a hole the size of large pizza about 10″ deep.

I lost my footing and fell flat on my back.

Everyone laughed.

I had similar experiences to this growing up when I was confronted. I had an unconscious record that played. If you stand up for yourself, if you don’t go with the flow and be nice, something bad will happen to you.

But over thirty years later, my life was still being run by that embarrassed 10 year-old.

The funny part is that it’s not true, but I have lived most of my life as if were gospel.

What are you afraid of? What do you secretly hope no one finds out about you?

Come to grips with these internal drivers so you can do something about it.

14. Get Your Financials Under Control

I remember driving my fancy car through the local drive thru only to order a dollar burger and a cup of tap water. I was bankrupt and broke.

When you find yourself in the middle of financial trouble, it can take the wind out of your sails.

Fight back by creating a plan. Stick to it the best you can. As you relate to yourself taking back your financial life, it will give you strength in other areas of your life.

If you need budgeting advice, I recommend Dave Ramsey’s course on gaining financial freedom.

Taking back a sense of control over your finances is akin to taking back control over your life.

I get that things can be so messed up that it seems impossible, so do what you can with what you have.

15. Clean Your House, Your Closet And Your Garage

One coping method that has helped me over the years is taking initiative to get your home life in order.

Have you ever noticed that you feel great when you go to a hotel? It’s because it is clutter free and the environment is in order.

Getting some order in your life will increase your sense of power over your environment and will give you a sense of accomplishment.

If you can control nothing else in your life, at least control your personal space.

Order is the first law of heaven, and you have to have order to survive on Earth. Figure out what has to be done each day, each week, each year and develop a system to achieve it.

Iyanla Vanzant

16. If You Believe That You Lack Confidence You Do

The mind is a conundrum and the origin of action can be elusive. It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg situation.

It’s easy to wonder if you have to feel confident to believe that you are confident. Or whether you have to believe you are confident in order to feel confident.

The reality is it’s intertwined.

One of the best ways to get a grip on what you believe is to look at what you “do.”

By default everything you do, comes from a supporting belief system. If you want to know what you believe, just look at what actions you take.

Think about what someone must believe about their work, if they are always late, etc.

Whether you think that you can or that you can’t, you are usually right.

Henry For

Doing some soul searching during this time and figuring out what you must believe given the actions you are taking, can give you the ability to uncover motives that you may not have known were at play.

This insight can bring you a step closer in dealing with unaddressed beliefs that are keeping you from bouncing back after a bout of depression.

17. Mindfulness, Meditation And Prayer

The soul searching I described in the last point is what I mean by mindfulness. In order to rebuild my self-confidence, I needed to know what I was doing to support my recovery and what I was doing to sabotage it.

As you gain clarity, you can finally do something about the place you have found yourself in.

We all have blind-spots that hold us back. These misunderstood areas in our personality that are often at play that contribute to the results we get in life.

As you come to know what they are, you can start working on moving them out of the way.

Meditating can be helpful in clearing your mind and bringing back a sense of peace into your life.

A couple of years ago, I was struggling to get my business off the ground. I ended up reading the book of Job, and I realized that there are greater forces than my own operating in this world.

People speculate that prayer may do nothing more than prepare the heart, but although I think it does more than that, it can’t hurt on you on your journey to discovering a new you post-depression.

Related Questions

How to get my old self back after depression

Clinging to things the way they “used to be” may not be the right approach. You may want to consider that the “old you” will never exist again. Instead, try reinventing yourself.

Go to work on creating a new you, one you like, admire, and respect. Recognize that the old you was amazing, but the new you will have a flavor all its own

Follow the steps listed above to set out a journey to discover who that person will be.

How to regain confidence after long years of setbacks and depression

Luckily, when it comes to depression, you can have a breakthrough no matter how long it has been. If it’s clinical, make sure to get your chemistry right.

If it is recovering a situation that was long in the making, go to work using the steps above and regenerate yourself.

Remember life is full of setbacks and although it feels personal, we are all dealing with something that isn’t ideal.

Adjust your expectations of how life should go, regroup, and be intentional about creating a life that you want to live.

Take responsibility for your life, forgive those that hurt you, harvest the good things that came out of it (and what you learned), and go to work on reinventing yourself.

Your confidence will follow

How we regain confidence after a rough time dealing with depression?

I don’t think there is anything easy about depression. Depression is like the 18th mile of a marathon.

You are exhausted and it feels like it will never end.

But, if you can make it through the rough patch, you stand a great chance of not only regaining your self-confidence, but also being much stronger than when you fell into the rough patch.

The steps above should help you shorten the learning curve and speed up the process. Bear in mind, you will want to approach your recovery with grace and patience.

Kat Clukey

I am so glad you are here, and have chosen to spend your time reading my blog. I'm a Life Coach through the Procter Gallagher Institute . Since 2013, I have been on an intense mission to read books, go to seminars, and generally turn myself inside out to find out why some people seem to feel good in their own skin while I've struggled with self-worth and low self-esteem most of my adult life. I hope you find insights that help you on your journey!

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