At its most basic, confidence is knowing what you’re good at. It’s knowing the value you provide and conveying that value to others. But don’t make the mistake of confusing this with arrogance which involves believing that you’re better than others. On the other end of the spectrum, there is low self-esteem which involves believing you’re less valuable than you think. Your not.
Building self-confidence is aiming for the middle. It’s finding that balance between the two.
Whether it’s personal life, career or social scenarios, confidence is something everyone needs in any given situation. It is how successful people overcome daily obstacles. But it doesn’t happen by accident. If anything, it comes from repeated practice and small successes which then build into larger accomplishments.
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The secret to building confidence is to include it in your life as a habit.
This can be as easy or as difficult as we choose to make it. We know it is harder for those who already have a habit of feeling insecure. Being short of confident is a habit in itself. So the only way to become more confident is to build it as a habit and then become comfortable with it.
This habit formation involves making changes and adopting new behaviors. We can break away from old habits and develop new, more productive ones.
The best way of doing so is to start small. This makes any task seem easy to handle. So take a look at these seven hacks to get you started. You can try one first and then another and another.
Hack #1 Present Yourself with Confidence
A lot of how you feel about yourself is reflected in your appearance and body language. What you see is what you get, they say. How others perceive you also comes from your appearance and body language. This might include your posture, gestures, facial expressions and eye movements.
How we dress plays a part. The point here is not to impress others so much as to feel good about yourself. When you know you look good, you end up feeling good about yourself as well. Dressing well is much more than donning the trendiest clothes. Instead, it’s all about looking poised and feeling self-assured in any situation. Combining that with positive body language brings the whole package together and sends a positive message to others around you.
Besides feeling good about yourself, being well groomed also encourages others to take you seriously. A change of wardrobe can help you land the job you want, the deals you want, the recognition you desire, and even the partner you want.
The other important aspect of presentation is posture. There is a lot of power in posture. If you tend to slouch, straighten up. If you tend to fold your arms, open them up. Along with dressing event-appropriately, your posture and body language say a lot about your confidence levels. Research shows that when you have a confident posture you actually feel more confident.
How you carry yourself speaks volumes about your confidence level. In fact, if you’ve ever paid attention, you’ll see that confident people have a confident walk, with a powerful stride. They stand tall and look up rather than down when walking.
Make a conscious effort to stand tall, talk with your hands, make eye contact and practice active listening. Engaged body language also uses open gestures, nodding and smiling. This can make you seem, not only more confident, but also more approachable. On the other hand, actions like fidgeting and avoiding eye contact are tell-tale signs of nervousness and uneasy body language.
When you shake hands, remember that a firm, solid handshake is a universal sign of confidence. Although, make sure that while it’s strong, it’s not crushing.
Recap: Grooming is important. Smile. Make eye contact. Stand tall. Offer a firm handshake. Don’t fidget. Listen to what others say and be confident in what you have to contribute.
Hack# 2 Use Positive Affirmations
When life gets tough, it’s great to seek advice from others around you. But perhaps the best person who can counsel you is you. For many people, the natural way to relieve anxiety is to engage in some self-talk. But it is the way you speak to yourself during this pep talk that makes real difference.
First, think positive thoughts and pair them up with positive affirmations. Second, remove any negative thoughts holding you down. A simple example may be something like: “I am excited about today.” Imagine saying that every morning when you get up. What a way to start the day on a positive note.
Many of your emotions get determined by the way you talk to yourself throughout the day. Talking to our self means what we are thinking. Are we telling our self negative things or positive things?
When we think about (self talk) negative things all the time it causes us to be worry needlessly. It also brings unhappiness and lowers our self confidence.
There is little doubt that using positive affirmations harnesses positive thinking. Positive statements that you repeat to yourself can help you challenge and overcome self-sabotaging negative thoughts.
When you keep telling yourself that you can do something and do it well, it will keep you motivated and boost your confidence. Identify areas where you need these positive. Finding those that resonate with you will be the most effective. Another example might be when you look in the mirror and are satisfied with your appearance. You can us the affirmation: “I look great and feel great.”
Now – you look great, feel great and your excited about your day. All that with just two little affirmations. Remember to repeat them when you start to feel negative. The power of affirmations lies in repetition.
While these may not help you erase toxic influences from your life, they will help you dwell less on the negative and focus more on the positive.
The reason why it’s important to remove negative thoughts is that too many of these can easily become self-fulfilling prophecies. When you talk yourself into believing that you’re not good enough, these thoughts drag you down and keep you anchored there. Use affirmations to turn such negatives into positives. When negative self-talk makes you struggle, choose an affirmation that is the opposite of that thought or belief and put that into practice.
The most common way of practicing positive affirmations is in front of the mirror. While this may seem silly at first, you do establish a visual and psychological connection with yourself when doing so. By looking yourself in the eye and telling yourself you look great and your excited about your day, you create a stronger belief in that thought. Say it and feel it.
Hack #3 Stop Over Analyzing
Many people tend to overthink and over analyze situations. Do you know anyone like this? I sure do.
Once you start doubting your own inspiration, it’ll become very hard for the idea to materialize. Such second-guessing is perhaps the biggest killer of self-confidence. It’s not that every decision has to be quick and without thought, but if you’re indecisive with most of your choices, it will lower your self-confidence. Besides, overthinking leads to negativity. It has a tendency to twist things around, presenting things to appear much worse than they actually are.
Instead of dwelling on why it won’t work, look at why it will and get busy with a plan of action. You can work out the bumps in the road as you go.
If you want to ask for anything, but feel unsure doing so, you may never actually ask for it. It actually becomes very easy to tie yourself in knots while overthinking an issue. Asking may provide you with a simple solution, but doubting yourself you may not feel entitled to even expressing your own preferences. Just ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. In that case, you look for a solution elsewhere and keep moving forward.
In most scenarios, overthinking isn’t even connected to the present. At best, it’s related to the possibility or mere chance of things happening another way. It is the perfect way to lose direction, and along with it, your confidence in yourself.
Over thinkers often ask themselves the same question over and over again, over planning, canceling plans, asking for reassurances and having a fair bit of trouble making decisions. In the end, over thinkers either beat themselves over making a mistake or fret about how their decision will impact the future. And along with these distressing thoughts, their confidence naturally takes a beating as well.
The problem that over analyzing situations creates for confidence levels is that it stresses you out every time you have to make even the smallest decision. This makes thinking about big decisions completely unfathomable and you are left with your doubts pinning you down. Also known as “analysis paralysis” this bad habit keeps you from moving forward and never being sure of yourself.
Just remember that confident people don’t always make the right decisions either. But due to their level of confidence they don’t give up. Instead they know how to improvise and switch directions when needed.
Recap: Take it one step at a time. Ask for help when you need it. Stay focused on the positive outcome. Don’t allow doubt and negativity to creep in.
Hack #4 Social Media
One of the worst things to damage confidence is the instinct to compare your life to other people. And there has been enough research done to establish that social media furthers this behavior. In fact, research shows that about 60% of people report having tainted confidence caused by social media. Such comparisons of other people’s contentment fuels personal insecurities.
With social media, impossible standards are set by people who may show only the best moments of their life while leaving out anything negative. These picture perfect images become the cause of distress for some. Your are a unique “”one of a kind”” — do not compare yourself to others, especially strangers on social media.
While it is fairly natural to measure progress in life, but when done this way, it becomes problematic. Because now, people compare themselves to perfectly crafted versions of other people, most of whom they don’t even know.
The sad results may be feelings of jealousy or envy that don’t do much to garner confidence. For instance, those with body image issues often feel less happy after spending an hour a day on social media. Teens have a particularly hard time with their need for validation when they compare themselves with peers who seem to have it all. Up and coming entrepreneurs may see their confidence slacken as the competition seems to have made it while they’re still struggling to get through the door.
On a more general note, the excitement of getting likes and comments on social media becomes highly addictive. If your post doesn’t get the feedback you thought it deserved, you start to doubt yourself. Were you not funny enough? Didn’t you look your best? Or was your achievement not as promising as you believed it was? You start to value the opinions of others over your own and any shred of confidence you had may leave you.
There are names for these phenomena such as “Facebook Depression”, “Self-Promotion Envy Spiral”, and “Social Comparison Theory” where constant comparisons lead to feelings of insecurity and/or not being good enough in your own life.
The fact of the matter is that there is no true way to feel good about yourself if all you do is spend your time in front of a screen. All the while, real life is happening outside of screens so make sure that you find the time to explore the real world around you.
There are many “help” type groups. I would bet whatever goal your after has groups with a lot of helpful information. Spending time with learning will be far more beneficial than personal comparisons.
Recap: Utilize social media to learn. Don’t compare yourself to other people, especially strangers. Realize that much of what you see in others are probably far from reality. Remind yourself you are not in a race with anyone. Let them be them and you be you.
Hack #5 Face Your Fear
Everyone has fears but confident people know that they have to act despite their fears. These fears can be minimized if you put them in proper context and move ahead. When you face your fears, you develop resilience and confidence.
For most people, it is their fear that holds them back more than any other factor. The majority of the people are held back by their fear of failure. This fear paralyses many into inaction which, once again targets an individual’s confidence. It restricts you to your comfort zone and makes you avoid taking risks. In your lack of self-confidence, you are more likely to undermine.
No one likes to fail, but how different people handle fear varies. For instance, confident people never let the idea of failure overpower their idea of success. They don’t let their fear overcome their confidence. Confident people will tell you that the trick to conquering your fears is by facing them quickly without allowing yourself time to become afraid.
Interestingly, anyone who faces fear with confidence, actually makes it diminish. The more confident you grow, the fewer fears you have. But if you back away from them, they keep growing with more power. When you discipline yourself against your fear, your dread of that situation fades gradually.
One example where some people need confidence but fear holds them back is that of speaking in public. However, research in this field shows that regardless of how scared a person may be of public speaking, if they regularly face a group and speak in front of it, they will eventually lose this fear. They may start with a very small group of say, three people and work their way up.
Once again, facing and putting your fears in context is easier said than done. The best approach to do so confidently is by taking small steps. Confront your concerns in small doses which makes them easier to overcome. If you lack the confidence of talking to strangers, then simply start off by making eye contact. Gradually move up the confidence ladder by adding in a greeting and then perhaps asking a question. Keep adding on until you’re confident enough to have a conversation.
As your fears subside, you’ll see your confidence grow. This doesn’t mean their is an absence of fear but rather mastery over it. The higher your confidence level, the more willing you’ll be to come out of your shell and take chances. You’ll be less likely to be affected by setbacks and more committed to achieving your goals.
And if your fears stem from what others think of you, you’ll need to look for approval from within. It’s only when you are happy with who you are that you’ll feel confident about whatever you do.
Do not look at mistakes as failures. Consider them learning experiences. We all have them.
Hack #6 Work Up a Sweat
Exercising is a great way to improve your health but how does that exactly fit into boosting your confidence levels? Well, in a few different ways.
For starters, when you feel better physically, you also start to feel the same mentally. Improved health lets you take on more challenges and gives you the stamina to overcome more obstacles. A combination of improved physical and mental health can also help you establish a positive attitude make you ready for taking on more personal goals.
As an example: When people with body image issues turn to diet and exercise, they experience an improvement in the way they look and feel. As their body image improves, it also makes a mark on their other outlooks. Whereas they weren’t happy with their looks before, they can now feel the change both on the outside as well as on the inside. As you start feeling good about your accomplishments, your whole perception changes as well.
Meeting small milestones leading to more ambitious ones yields a sense of accomplishment which is a huge stepping stone for boosting confidence.
Alongside giving your confidence the boost it needs, exercise is also helpful for reducing stress. If you’ve ever experienced the runner’s high, you’ll be aware of the stress-busting potential of exercise. Exercise lets out feel-good endorphins which help control stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
On their part, endorphins act like natural painkillers. They kick in about an hour after intense exercise as a stress response when the body has experienced enough stress and needs something to reduce the pain. And getting a regular hit of endorphins helps the body better respond to different forms of stress.
With improved stress levels, you can better manage daily tasks on hand. You find you have better focus, its easier to think things thru and you find your getting improved results. Thus, you naturally feel better and have more confidence.
Exercising regularly also fuels your brain, literally. It helps bring oxygen and important nutrients to the brain to enhance cognitive functioning. For most people, a workout session helps them think better, concentrate more and feel less groggy.
When results of regular exercise start showing, it starts to have a cascade effect. A person who successfully sticks to their exercise routine is more likely to feel confident about their physical potential. They feel alert and energized and this increase in motivation and confidence will also spill in other areas of daily life.
Hack # 7 Calm the Mind
The idea of meditation may seem counter intuitive right after mentioning exercise, for exercise pumps you up releasing endorphins whereas meditation aims to relax and calm the mind. But… we need balance.
Meditation is a great tool to inspect your inner thoughts. After a good session, your faith in your abilities can reaffirm and help you get past any doubts. Research has established that the practice of meditation can help with stopping negative self-talk. It is this negative self-talk that is often behind a lack of self- confidence.
However, when you meditate, the practice trains your brain to disassociate yourself from the ongoing mental chatter inside your head. This mental chatter is also often the source holding you back from showing your full potential. Your mind is so caught up in debating with itself that it prevents you from taking actual action about things that bother you. But meditation makes you realize that you don’t have to listen to the voice in your head at all times, and particularly when it focuses on the negative.
When you meditate, you can silence your inner critic. Swap that negative self-talk with positive thoughts to get your confidence back on track. While meditation doesn’t mean controlling all your thoughts, it does involve reducing the control your thoughts have on you. For instance, when you start to doubt your abilities, your value as a person or even your appearance, your self-confidence will plummet. Put simply, these thoughts make you feel bad about yourself.
You can pair your meditation sessions with positive affirmations as mentioned earlier. Or try some visualization instead. Visualization makes for the perfect complement to meditation and can significantly improve results. Visualization can be used to overcome doubts and build confidence.
The practice is easy to incorporate into a meditation session where you imagine a positive situation. As such the situation becomes known and familiar to you, which means that you’ll feel more confident going through it as you’ve already – mentally done so.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not something that requires hours of sitting still quietly. So if you think that it would be impossible for you to meditate, then just keep in mind that certain types of meditation such as yoga also include movement. If you believe that people have to be either good or bad at meditating and you’re the latter kind, then just remember that everyone needs practice to get better at anything new.
And finally, if the thought that meditation is all about controlling the mind is holding you back from trying out this practice, know that the opposite is actually true. Meditation is not about controlling all your thoughts but realizing them. This acceptance nullifies your negative thoughts and empowers you to let go of unwanted thoughts easier, including doubts about your confidence levels.
Building confidence takes time and effort. Don’t make it harder than it is.
The fact remains that most people constantly practice mediocre behaviors and routines whereas confident people carry themselves very differently. The trick is to trade one for the other through training and nurturing and then cultivating that confidence level.
Before I go I want to mention some of my articles, programs, guides and ebooks that you will find extremely helpful.
If you find yourself interested in learning more about meditation we have a great guide fully dedicated to the subject. It has been helpful to many. You can find out more HERE
Are you a worry wort? This article is specifically directed at helping you worry less. GO HERE
One of the most helpful things that I have ever learned was to incorporate an attitude of gratitude into my life on a daily basis. I spent a great deal of time putting this particular program together to help others. FIND IT HERE
If we find our life is dis-organized it can add to a lack of self confidence. Find out how you can, not only organize your space but your mind along with it. GO HERE