Self-help books to build confidence during difficult times

Are you struggling with self-esteem or imposter syndrome? Or just finding current turbulent times difficult to fathom? These books are all designed to help you boost your confidence, helping you in your career and your life in general.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Working as a creative professional can be a rewarding way to spend your life, offering the potential for both personal fulfilment and financial stability. But it can take some time to achieve that potential. And if it's taking longer than you feel it should, that can lead to feelings of inadequacy.

This, in turn, can mean you don't get the right opportunities (or even apply for them) through a lack of confidence. That can make day-to-day living a financial struggle, and ultimately you can get trapped in a vicious circle.

Unfortunately, current events only mean that more and more of us risk being pulled into such a downward spiral. At a time of war, inflation and global chaos, with inflation starting to bite – just as winter draws in – and the economy beginning to contract, even the most seasoned and assured of us may feel our confidence waning.

But if you're feeling hindered by a lack of faith in yourself, there are practical steps you can take to improve things. Elsewhere on Creative Boom, we've gathered together practical tips from creatives to improve your confidence. And in this article, we present five great books from experts in life coaching and psychology that can help you understand the causes of low self-esteem and take practical steps towards tackling it.

Note that, as ever, the links to these books below don't earn Creative Boom any money but help to support independent booksellers through

1. Positivity: Confidence, Resilience, Motivation by Paul McKenna

When you're genuinely struggling, the traditional notion of 'positive thinking' – constantly telling yourself that everything is okay, no matter the circumstances – can seem like little more than a bad joke. But after 30 years as a therapist, author and TV personality, Paul McKenna has developed a more nuanced, structured and practical approach that can be much more helpful.

His system is not about empty mantras but guided ways to put you into optimal states of mind, build your resilience and encourage good decisions and actions that lead to successful results. In the process, you'll discover how to harness your best natural resources for self-care, self-belief and taking control of your life.

2. The C Word by Mel Schilling

Confidence isn't something you're born with. It's a skill that needs to be learned and developed. And this book, subtitled 'Make friends with fear and build confidence from the ground up', explains how to do so.

Author Mel Schilling is best known as a life coach to celebrities, world leaders and game changers. And here, she walks you step-by-step through the tools and skills you need to expand your comfort zone, learn to take calculated risks, and develop emotional bravery and fluid competence.

Mel aims to help you move from "barely functioning" to "absolutely flourishing". And this clear and well-explained guide will help you step beyond imposter syndrome, a crisis of self-belief, or a deficit of courage.

3. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All by David Kelley and Tom Kelley

Too often, people assume that only 'creative types' can be creative. This book by David and Tom Kelley of the design firm IDEO stands in opposition to that notion and teaches us how every one of us is fundamentally a creative being.

In an entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on stories from their work with some of the world's top companies and design firms, the authors identify the principles and strategies that allow us to best tap into our creative potential. This book can help us be more productive and successful, both in our lives and in our creative careers.

4. Confident and Killing it by Tiwalola Ogunlesi

For all sorts of deep-seated reasons, overcoming a lack of confidence can be particularly challenging for women in our society. Tiwalola Ogunlesi is on a mission to sweep away those barriers and create a world of confident women.

The motivational speaker and confidence coach founded her company with the sole purpose of leading women to love themselves. And in this book, she guides the reader into becoming the most unapologetic and unstoppable version of herself. Featuring practical tips and tricks and real-life stories from everyday women, Confident and Killing aims to help you master your mind, overcome fear and live life to the fullest.

5. On Confidence by The School of Life

The School of Life is a global organisation that believes the journey to finding fulfilment begins with self-knowledge. And this charming and witty guidebook offers a great explanation of what confidence consists of, why we lack it, and how we can acquire more of it in our lives.

This book walks us gently and wryly around the key issues that stop us from making more of our potential. We hear about impostor syndrome, the wisdom of imagining the great in their bathrooms, and what Nietzsche and Montaigne have to teach us about resilience and courage. We often implicitly regard being confident as a matter of slightly freakish and unrepeatable good luck. In fact, as this book explains, the opposite is true: it is a skill that anyone can learn.


Get the best of Creative Boom delivered to your inbox weekly