Read These Self-Help Books To Feel More Sure Of Yourself During These Uncertain Times

Your confidence level’s low because things aren’t going your way at home and at work? Turn to these authors’ works for some words of wisdom, inspiration and advice.

By Chris Ong        18 May 2021

We know how the pandemic has made a mess of our lives on all fronts – social, work, family – and even, of ourselves on the inside. COVID-19 has caused us to lose our social support network because we can’t meet as often, created hiccups in our work life and family life, and even led some of us to question ourselves and lowering our self-esteem. Time to read a few good books – such as these below – on how to deal with issues of self-worth and get our mojo back.

Cringeworthy A Theory of Awkwardness
Photo: Amazon

Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness
by Melissa Dahl

We have all been there, done that. Losing track of your thoughts during a job interview, meeting your ex (or worse, exes) at a singles party, expressing your dislike of your boss to an acquaintance only to realise the acquaintance is said boss’s friend/cousin/other half. Awkwaaard. Yes, that familiar, common and also, not-much-thought-about emotion (that can lead to a momentary but affecting loss of confidence) is the focus of Dahl’s book (she’s the co-founder of’s “Science of Us” site that deals with the science behind why we do what we do). It’s a hilarious yet well-researched read, with Dahl chronicling her attempts at chatting with strangers on the New York City subway and going on “Tinder-for-friendship” app dates. These personal accounts add a welcoming and comical personal touch to her insights about social discomfort, and how we can come to understand awkwardness and even find joy instead of crushing embarrassment, in our everyday moments of “cringe”.

The Gift of Self-Love A Workbook to Help You Build Confidence, Recognize Your Worth, and Learn to Finally Love Yourself
Photo: Amazon

The Gift of Self-Love: A Workbook to Help You Build Confidence, Recognize Your Worth, and Learn to Finally Love Yourself
by Mary Jelkovsky

Ladies dealing with body-image issues, this one’s for you. Written by inspirational speaker, author, podcaster and “worldwide retreat leader” (check out her blog and Instagram account @maryscupofteaa to see how she leads her vivacious and bodacious life) Mary Jelkovsky, this interactive self-love workbook is all about loving yourself, self-care and body positivity. And, she should know; Jelkovsky was a bikini fitness model who had struggled with years of insecurities, an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. Written like a letter to a friend, there are writing exercises, a quiz and a guide, as well as Jelkovsky’s own personal stories and advice to help encourage and empower women of all shapes, sizes and weights to love their bodies.

The Courage To Be Disliked
Photo: Amazon

The Courage To Be Disliked: How to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness
by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

You could either take a little while getting into this one or warm up to it in a heartbeat – it’s presented as a conversation between a philosopher and a cynical young man struggling with self-acceptance, feelings of inferiority and unhappiness with the society-at-large. Conceived by Ichiro Kishimi (writer, lecturer, counsellor and consultant for the Japanese Society of Adlerian Psychology) and Fumitake Koga (professional writer), the book proffers legendary Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler’s ideas about being a member of society and our freedom, our attitudes toward living, the danger in believing that one’s past determines the future, and the negative feelings that arise from regarding other folk as competition. A cheem (but also digestible), mind-expanding and refreshing take on the self-help genre.

Photo: Amazon

Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence
by Amy Alkon

Get hooked by the “clickbait” title, stay for the actual good read. Crowned as the queen of “science help”, this “applied behavioral science” expert does a bang-up job of translating science-y talk into practical advice for the layman. Alkon uses research from clinical and evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, behavioural science and her own experiences, to tear into uninformed notions about shame, willpower and self-esteem with biting humour. At the same time, she offers up fast-paced, science-backed sassy advice for going about making real proper change to be less fearful and less socially anxious, so that one can realise their fuller selves and be more comfy in their skin, platitudes be damned.

Photo: Goodreads

Shy: How being quiet can lead to success
by Annie Ridout

Not the kind who can go full boss/beast mode for your confidence because you’re more the shy type? No problem, says Annie Ridout, freelance journo and author; embrace the strengths and benefits that come with this attribute. Instead of treating shyness as a flaw, Ridout takes a different tack, suggesting that we celebrate and harness its power while taking on ways to overcome its more debilitating aspects, so as to emerge happier (while still retaining your reserved self), and win at life and work.

Photo: Amazon

Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges
by Amy Cuddy

It’s by a Harvard Business School professor with a viral, super-popular TED Talk about “power posing”, a technique known the world over that supposedly promotes the adoption of certain kinds of open and expansive body postures to positively influence how you feel and behave. After some 9 years, the popularity of “power posing” – and the attendant controversy about its scientific validity – continues to this day. Read this 2018 print publication and decide for yourself if Cuddy’s techniques for tweaking our body language, behaviour and mindsets can really help us feel more powerful and level up our presence in high-pressure situations, such as during job interviews, tough work meetings, and even competitions and difficult conversations.

Enquire or search for the availability of these aforementioned books at reputable bookstores such as Books Kinokuniya or,,, and other online book retailers.