12 Quick Tips to Help You Feel Confident

None of us go through life with our confidence meter stuck on 100% all of the time. Why do we feel confident? Why don’t we? Improving our confidence takes self-reflection and practice.

I recently conducted a  workshop on improving self-confidence at the University of San Diego’s Women’s Center. I had about an hour to condense a broad topic into a crash course. In addition to a quick look at psychological studies of confidence issues based on gender, and providing a detailed handout for self-reflection, here are a few ideas I taught to help give your confidence a boost:

  1.  Visualization

Visualization is not about seeing yourself trying to succeed at some point in the future. It’s about using your imagination to picture and experience the desired results like they’ve already been accomplished.

Before doing something that requires confidence, go to a quiet place where you can meditate. Imagine yourself doing the actions required and the feeling of success. Visualize everything that’s going to happen; what you’re wearing, how it feels and how everything works well. To engage in full visualization, also do affirmations and move your body. By engaging everything, you can experience the whole event before it happens and be a success when it actually does.

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  1. Rewire your Brain

When you feel nervous, your body floods with adrenaline, making you feel jittery. Instead of telling yourself you feel nervous, say “Yay! My superpower is here!” Adrenaline has helped people lift cars off people who are trapped, it’s like magic. Say “I’m SO EXCITED!!”  instead of “I’m nervous.” The more you focus on thinking of nervousness as a good thing, your brain will begin to associate it with positive, not negative, feelings.

  1. Put together a “Change My Attitude” playlist

Think about songs that make you feel happy or motivated, then put together a playlist on your favorite music device. Hearing these songs will help you feel empowered.  If you’re in a funk or need to change the way you feel, listen to songs that uplift you. An example is American Author’s “Best Day of My Life.”

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  1. Stop Caring About Other People’s Opinions and Comparing Yourself to Others

          Have an honest conversation with yourself about what makes you care about other people’s opinions. When you were a baby, you were happy and free. Then people’s opinions began to intrude. Your parents & relatives, friends, teachers etc. put labels on what they thought you were and were not.

How much have you let what other people think of you define who you are? Take time to identify and root out old labels that don’t apply to you, or ones you still need to conquer.

Also, don’t compare your life to other people’s lives, bodies, houses, families etc. Most times, we don’t know the difficulties people are going through because they don’t reveal their problems. Not many people get on Facebook or Twitter and say “I gained 50 pounds!” or “I’m crushed by a mountain of debt!”

Be happy with who you are and don’t reach for an “ideal” based on images sold by the media or on social media.

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  1. Stay Present

          Learn to let go of the past and don’t worry about the future. Stay present. By being present, we connect with others. When we’re not on our iPhones, rehashing our failures or obsessing about the future, staying present in the moment can help minimize our fears.

  1. Likeability/Listening

What makes a person likeable? They’re present, they connect and they listen. Everyone wants to be noticed.  Ask people you meet, from your barista to your family, “How’s your day?” Ask  follow-up questions if they give you a quick “Fine.” Engage and find out more. There are lots of things to learn from other people. If you listen without judgment, people will learn to like and trust you, adding to your confidence.

  1. Gratitude

Instead of focusing on your problems and what you don’t have, take time to reflect on what you do have. When you believe and embrace that anything is possible, you come into vibration with a positive energy that helps you achieve your goals. Take  stock of what you have, not what you don’t.

     8. Never Stop Learning

          To have more confidence, it helps to know what you’re doing, and that’s where learning comes in. Even when you think you know what you’re doing, there’s more to learn.  If you don’t know an answer, don’t guess. Say “I’m going to find out!”  In this information age, it’s easy.

Knowledge gives you power. Facts give you power. When you’re able to say “I know that because…” and can give a concrete example or reference, it lends you more credibility and helps you feel confident.

  1. Perspective

          We have all reached a certain point in life by going through problems. When you face a challenge, think about what you’ve navigated before, how you succeeded and where this problem falls compared to others you’ve lived through.

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  1. Use Positive Self-Talk and Affirmations

Don’t let the traitor in your brain talk about failure. When you hear negative talk, visualize trapping the traitor in a closet, bound and gagged!   Watch what you think/say. Instead of “I’m trying to lose weight,” say “I’m losing weight.”

A common phrase people say to themselves is “I can’t”. When you say to yourself “I can’t,”  you are creating a barrier. This will prevent you from achieving a task you could otherwise succeed at.   If you would like to be successful, you need to start saying “I can” a lot more.  When you hear or say something negative, say “Delete, Delete, Delete. ”

  1. Confront Your Fears

Ask yourself what you are afraid of. Then ask, “What is the worst that can happen?” Go through each step of the process and see if you can change your attitude. By breaking things into small steps, they will seem much more manageable. Every journey begins with one step. Don’t let fear stop you from going on what could be a fantastic journey.

  1. Use Body Language and Presence Awareness to Project Confidence

            Before you go into a situation that requires you to feel confidence, do what Ted Talk presenter and Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy has suggested– strike a power pose: Put your hands on  your hips like Wonder Woman, above your head like you just won a race or other power positions that helps you feel more confident. Do some deep breathing to calm yourself and, if giving a talk, do some voice warm-ups so your voice doesn’t sound shallow or crack. Enter the room with good energy, project confidence and you will look like you’re ready to take on the world.

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        You can do it!  Take these tips, apply them and give your confidence a quick boost.

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IMPROVING YOUR LIKEABILITY FACTOR

In the past week, I’ve had two people tell me that I have a rare quality: likeability.  One of these people proclaimed it loudly to others, delighting me, of course.

Some people are instantly likeable. They have an easy manner, a ready smile and their energy is attractive to others. It’s been shown that people who have this characteristic go far in life, from politicians to employees.

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 The good news is it’s something you can learn.

You see, likeability isn’t something that came naturally to me. It’s a skill-set I’ve been working on for quite awhile. I began life painfully shy and introverted.  I also have a face that, when resting, looks like I’m contemplating the darkest problems of the world.  The Joker would definitely ask me “Why so serious?”

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Being a former prosecutor hasn’t helped. My tone of voice can become so intense it occasionally sounds like I’m trying to convict the person I’m speaking with of some heinous crime.

Here are a few ideas on how to improve likeability:

1. Connect with Others

When you see someone, friend or stranger, smile at them. Ask them how their day is going, then don’t settle for the standard answer of “Good or Fine.” Ask some follow up questions. A friend recently told me about a study where participants spent five hours on a plane solely asking questions about their seat-mate’s lives.  Participants would always turn the conversation back to the person and never gave any information about themselves. After the trip, when asked what the seat-mate thought of the other person, they invariably said “They’re the most interesting person I ever met!” Even though they knew nothing about them.

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Davy Rothbart, an author and filmmaker, told a story about how he and his dad would eat at a diner somewhere and, over the course of the meal, his dad would start asking their waiter about their life. Where are you from? What are your interests? What do you hope to one day become? His curiosity was so kind, genuine & gentle, it was never long before the server glanced around for the manager and sat down. By the time they left, his dad had a new friend. He wasn’t trying to promote anything or network. He just believed our lives are made richer when we can engage strangers and take time to connect meaningfully with people who cross our paths in everyday life. He always seemed to effortlessly, magically befriend people who crossed his path from waiters to a person in front of him in line at the grocery store to a ticket scalper outside a football game. Simply by asking questions about who they were and what made them tick. These encounters left both his dad and the people in brighter spirits.

2. Be Present

We all do it. Someone is talking to us and we’re thinking of what we’re going to say or other things.  We stop looking into that person’s eyes and giving them our undivided attention, our minds elsewhere.  We’re jonesing for our smartphone, which we haven’t touched for 2 seconds. There’s probably an email or text waiting for us. Or a move to make in Words with Friends.

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Stop. Focus on the person in front of you and really, truly listen.

3. Care

Recently I saw a former colleague and noticed he wasn’t quite his usual happy-go-lucky self.  When he saw I genuinely cared to find out what was going on in his life, he disclosed that his  niece had been in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She’d require 24 hour care the rest of her life. When I saw him again a few weeks later, I made sure to ask after his niece.

We all have problems. We’re all wrapped up in getting through our days and figuring out our lives. The thing we have to remember: so is everyone else. Take time to notice.

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