Training Toolkit: Self Confidence and Assertiveness

MEW Topic: Developing confidence and self-esteem and assertiveness to develop emotional and mental wellbeing

Why do it

By accessing the materials in this topic, it will enable you to consider developing understanding and skills in self confidence and assertiveness:

Confidence and Self Esteem:

  • Have more knowledge about the concepts of self-confidence and self-esteem and the connection between both for you.
  • Know the importance of a positive self-esteem and how it can benefit you.
  • Know how to develop your own skills to improve self-confidence.
  • Know how to develop skill sin assessing one’s level of current self-confidence and self-esteem to improve self-knowledge and general wellbeing.



  • Understand what assertiveness is and how to develop skills in becoming more assertive.
  • Understand the link between assertiveness, in helping mitigate mental health and mental health issues.
  • Know how to develop knowledge about how to assess one’s level assertiveness, and how to use the knowledge to improve general wellbeing.
Psychological distress, self-confidence and self-esteem

While self-confidence refers to trust in one’s abilities, capacities, and judgment, self-esteem refers to a person’s overall sense of his or her value or worth.

People experiencing mental illness are often subject to different negative stereotypes and stigmatisation, which can lead to the development of self-stigma, an internalisation of cultural stereotypes about mental illness, that can affect profoundly their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-concept (beliefs about oneself). As a result, people can feel inadequacy, a general sense of worthlessness and inferiority, which in turn contributes to a low level of self-esteem.

Having a positive self-esteem and self-confidence promote mental health and general wellbeing, for this reason it is important to have awareness about and learn how to manage one’s feelings, beliefs and thoughts, keeping a positive thinking and attitude. It is also very important to develop a positive and high self-esteem, being pleased with who you are, which will have an impact on feelings of being well-anchored, security, self-worth and satisfaction with yourself.  Believe in your value as a person, that you are as capable as others to perform in the different areas of your life, to perform social roles, such as having a professional career, self-confidence to take on challenges at work, have affective relationships, among others, can help you to develop a positive self-esteem and self-confidence.

You can improve your self-esteem by recognising what you are good at, building positive relationships, being kind to yourself, learning to be assertive, start saying ¨no¨ when needed, trying new things and taking challenges.

Building a positive self-esteem promotes an increased self-confidence and has several benefits, such as:

  • Be confident about who you are as a person.
  • Positive thought patterns which lead to healthy behaviours.
  • Ability to form healthy and meaningful relationships with people who support you.
  • Ability to not fold under stressful situations.
  • Have a healthier lifestyle that promotes taking care of yourself.

Please refer to the How to Do It section below for further practical examples.

Assertiveness as a means to mitigate mental health challenges

Assertiveness, self-esteem and self-confidence are inextricably linked. Confidence is developed through a high self-esteem and gives someone´s the inner strength to take control of a situation, while assertiveness is how people externally demonstrate self-confidence. 

Assertiveness is related to a positive image of yourself, feelings of self-respect and improvement of relationships quality.

An assertive behaviour involves the affirmation of one’s rights and the expression of his/her thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly, honestly and using an appropriate manner; or to exercise his/her own rights without denying the rights of others.

In terms of assertiveness training, it has been proved to be useful to people experiencing mental illness, with positive results in anxiety and depressive disorders. There is a connection between non-assertive behaviours (violent or passive) and anxiety and mood disorders, which are expressed due to a low self-esteem, anger, self-pity and disregard.

Assertiveness training is related to an increased assertive behaviour and self-esteem. It was also studied the role of assertiveness in the enhancement of self-esteem, self-confidence, interpersonal relationships, personal fulfilments and internal locus of control (Williams, 1985, as cited in Pourjali and Zarnaghash, 2010). Being assertive has a strong influence on psychological well-being as well. A higher assertiveness predicts better mental health and conversely. Please refer to the How to Do It section below for further practical examples.

How to Do It

Psychological distress, self-confidence and self-esteem

Self-confidence promotion strategies and tips:

  • Keep a positive self-talk (e.g.  ¨I can do it¨, ¨’It doesn’t matter if I make a mistake¨
  • Don’t compare yourself to others, believe in your own talents and abilities
  • List successes you’ve had in your life
  • Recognise and emphasise your strengths. Reward and praise yourself for your efforts and progress
  • Embrace your failures and treat yourself with kindness and compassion
  • When you find yourself questioning your thoughts, acknowledge them, but don’t get stuck there. Examine your goals and things you can do to achieve them regardless of what your thoughts are telling you
  • Know what is important to you, define realistic and achievable goals accordingly and create an action plan that involves taking small steps every day to achieve it.
  • Do not expect unrealistic achievements and perfection
  • Do something that you enjoy, and that you are good at (paid work, volunteering, caring or a hobby)
  • Slow down when you are feeling intense emotions and think logically about the situation
  • Ignore labels like “lazy” and “worthless
  • Focus on self-care (rest, exercise, and nutrition)
  • Recognise that past negative life experiences do not dictate your future
  • Learn how to control the sources of stress in your life. Stress management can be a source of self-confidence.

Are you ready to work on developing skills to improve your self-esteem? If so, you may start by referring to the Case studies/videos and then consider the identified activities in the Ready to take the leap section.


How to express oneself assertively:

  • Learn to say no to unreasonable requests
  • Express your feelings, beliefs and needs directly and respectfully
  • Don’t let people treat you with a lack of respect.

Assertive Communication Tips (from the pdf ¨Assertive Communication Skills¨, Cornell Health)

1. Use “I” statements that focus on how you feel in a specific situation. “I” statements help the listener know exactly how you feel and why you feel that way. “I” statements reduce the likelihood that the listener will feel accused, blamed, or defensive. Example: “I feel disrespected when you show up late without calling”

2. State your needs clearly. Don’t assume the other person knows what you want or how you prefer to see them behave. Don’t make them guess — tell them what you need or how you would like things to be different in the future. Example: “I would like you to call ahead of time when you know that you will be late”

3. Keep the conversation present focused. Try to avoid bringing up the past, or using statements such as “you always” or “you never” Maintaining present focus allows you to address one need at a time, and can prevent feelings of frustration that may lead to conflict escalation

4. Practice good nonverbal skills. Speak calmly, stand or sit-up straight, and look the other person in the eye, without glaring.

People who use mental health services are usually passive receivers, unable to express their needs and under treatment conditions in which they did not play a role in the decision-making process. With a higher assertive behaviour mental health services´ users develop the right of self-determination (making one’s own choices and controlling one’s own life), express their need for information on medication and other types of treatment, and also have a contribution to the end of discrimination and stigmatisation.

Learning to be more assertive will allow you to:

  • Feel more in control of your life
  • Feel more confident
  • Say ¨no¨ more easily and without making an excuse or feeling guilty
  • Make sure your needs and feelings are being considered
  • Express yourself clearly
  • Be authentic to who you really are
  • Improve your relationships
  • Allow you to feel generally healthier and happier, which in turn will help to manage better your mental health challenges.

Developing skills to mitigate emotional and mental distress through enhancing self-confidence and self-esteem

Are you ready to work on developing your confidence and self-esteem? If so, you may start considering the following activities by clicking on the hyperlinks and following the instructions:

ACTIVITY 1: Self-Care Assessment

Reflect on current self-care practices, recognise areas that could be improved, and generate ideas for new self-care activities you would enjoy.

ACTIVITY 2: Worksheet – Strengths Exploration (self-confidence and self-esteem)

Identify strengths, and explore one´s roles in different areas of life (relationships, professional life, and personal fulfilment)

ACTIVITY 3: Self-Esteem Journal

To improve feelings of well-being and self-esteem


Are you ready to work on developing your assertiveness skills? If so, you may start considering the following activities by clicking on the hyperlinks and following the instructions:

ACTIVITY 1: Worksheet – Assertive Communication

Assertiveness training

Explore what is assertive communication its definition, and practical tips and examples. Use the knowledge gained to by correctly identify assertive communication and behaviours using scenarios which can be answered on the page or used for role-playing.

ACTIVITY 2: Worksheet – Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Communication

To recognise each communication style

For further information and References See Appendix: MEW Topic: Developing Confidence Self Esteem and Assertiveness


 “The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

This is an educative website to help develop strategies for improving mental wellbeing. If you are currently experiencing emotional distress and you have a history of experiencing mental health challenges you are strongly advised to contact your general practitioner /doctor.