The first step to building self confidence in a tough environment would be to think about the things that are really important to you, and what you want to achieve with your life. Set yourself goals related to this. It is important to start with small achievable goals, and as you succeed in these, you will feel more confident and be willing to take on something a little more difficult. You can begin by focusing on the basics.
For example: if you are shy and making friends at work is something that you would like to work on then starting small, in this case would imply; smiling at a fellow colleague, nodding as in acknowledging his/her presence, going upto your colleague or if you pass him/her on your way then a "How are you" or "How is work coming along", can imply that you care, and you will be responded to by similar action.
Or if you want to be able to take on a new task or project that seems very difficult, try to think of the steps that would lead you to be able to achieve this. Is there some small aspect that you can take on, consult someone else and then attempt to do it? If it works well, you will be able to take on something a little more complex and get the satisfaction that you can do it by yourself. Eventually, building self confidence means, doing the things you fear.
* It would be helpful if you do not make goals particularly challenging at this stage, try to get into the habit of achieving them and celebrating them.
* It is important to pick up and defeat the negative self-talks which can destroy your confidence. For example: "others always laugh when I make a presentation, so I might as well not take any initiate". It could be that they were probably sharing a joke, or that they got distracted or maybe even knew what you were talking about, hence didn't find it important to listen.
* It is also helpful if you are able to remind yourself of your Strengths & Achievements. One way is to make a list of things you like about yourself. Read it over and over again, and you could possibly feel that zest and energy of "I have these abilities and I am going to make good use of them, today!!"
You do not have to wait to feel confident before you act. Although many factors affecting self confidence are at times out of our control, there are a number of things that you can consciously do, to build your self confidence that you need to reach your potential.
Preparing and practicing thoroughly will help you know all your facts; you can then work towards anticipating possible questions, and even prepare for those answers. For example: if you have to do a presentation at work; rehearsing and rewriting what you want to say over and over, so that you can pretty much learn it by heart, will help you remember those crucial facts.
You can also look towards asking for support from your family, or spouse, your friends and others who are close to you; to tell you what they like about you or think you do well and where you may need to improve upon.
Take care of physical appearance
The way we dress can have an impact on the way we feel about ourselves. Taking care of your personal appearance can also have an impact on how confident you come across to others. Small changes like a different hairstyle or wearing well-fitting clothes could make a difference.
If you need to lose/gain weight, improve your skin or anything else, it might be worthwhile to see a doctor or other specialist who can help you do this. Appearance is superficial of course, but when you feel that you look good, this tends to have a positive impact on the way you perceive yourself.
Similarly, practicing good posture by standing straight, keeping your head up and making eye contact, can help towards making a positive impression on others. A firm handshake and a smiling face, can also take you a long way.
If you are able to stop thinking about yourself, and start thinking about the contribution you are making to the rest of the world, you probably will not worry so much about your own shortcomings and be able to focus on and achieve your goals.