Boost your confidence with the right words
"I can do this!"
"I have what it takes!"
"I am a winner!"

These are common confidence boosters that can cheer you on. Positive I-can, I-have and I-am statements like these are able to fill you with good energy for a little while. But, it takes more than these statements to grow real, deeprooted confidence within you.

Cheers are not enough
When you chant the same cheers over and over again, they can become empty. That is because your body tunes out when something happens too often. You might have noticed this for sounds and smells. Walk into a video arcade and you will hear deafening screeches, sirens and blasts coming from the games. Within minutes, the place feels quieter. The noises are still there, of course. Your ears simply get used to them after a little while.

Something like that can happen when you keep repeating the same words to yourself. Your mind gets bored with the repetition, and switches off. In which case, you may not listen to yourself anymore. Self talk is pointless if you do not hear your own words.

Try saying more
Look again at the three cheers. They make grand claims. And, there is nothing more. They leave behind them a trail of unanswered questions. "I can do this!" What exactly can I do? How do I know I can do it?

"I have what it takes!" Really? What do I have? And, what does it actually take?

"I am a winner!" Says who? What if I lose this time? Then, do I become a loser and not a winner anymore?

No matter how many times you repeat the statements, they will not answer questions such as the ones above. That is partly why these cheers can help only for a little while.

Instead of using one-liners, challenge yourself: pose questions and then answer them.

Casey Kasem's advice
An interesting way to do this is to follow 80-year-old radio star Casey Kasem's advice to his listeners: "Reach for the stars and keep your feet on the ground." It means you should aim high but also be realistic.

Kasem was also the voice of Shaggy in the cartoon TV series, Scooby-Doo. If you watched the series, you would know that Shaggy was always running away from something or the other - even his dog, Scooby- Doo, had more confidence than he did!

Do you sometimes feel like Shaggy? Use Kasem's advice.

STEP 1: Reach for the stars. Think of your stars as what you would love to do or have or be. If you are dealing with a problem, the star you reach for would be that situation's happiest-ever-after ending.

STEP 2: Keep your feet on the ground. Figure out whether your wish is humanly possible for you. If it is, first talk to yourself about how to achieve it. If it is not possible right away, then try and come up with a close alternative and work on it.

For example, this is a conversation that twelve-year-old Yeni had with herself:

"What do I want to be? I want to be a tree! Oh dear, that would be impossible, wouldn't it? Okay, let me think about this. What is the closest I can get to being a tree? I know… maybe, I can act as a tree in a play."

Yeni took her self talk seriously. She approached a drama teacher at school and told him about her desire to be a tree. The teacher was slightly amused but he came up with a solution: they would stage an adaptation of Kuo Pao Kun's The Silly Little Girl and the Funny Old Tree. Guess who got to be the tree.

Had Yeni immediately talked to her friends about it, they might have laughed at her. Her self talk was a wise first step. That is how her plan of action emerged. Yeni's confidence grew as a result of the conversation she had with herself as well as what she did after that.

Deep-rooted confidence
It is alright to cheer yourself on with positive one-liners when you need a quick boost. But, it is far better to grow confidence that is more deeply rooted within you.

Deep-rooted confidence does not rely on success stories all the time. Rather, it comes from knowing that you are able to deal with all kinds of outcomes, including failure. Remember: when you pick yourself up after falling down, you become more confident of being able to do it the next time as well.

Being confident does not mean having to do everything yourself either. Turn to people who take you seriously and accept you for who you are. Have thoughtful conversations with yourself as well as those people about how you can reach for the stars while keeping your feet on the ground.