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