Start with Yourself
Self-confidence is more than just feeling good in your own skin. Self-confidence is an attractive skill to possess. We all want to feel confident, because self-confidence is linked to almost every aspect involved in a happy life.
Self-confidence not only affects you, but the people around you. Self-confidence is the basis of self-love, which in return is the basis for others to love you and for you to love others. It is only with self-confidence that you are able to unlock your full potential. On the other hand, a lack of self-confidence is usually correlated with being too critical on yourself and comparing yourself to others.
Self-confidence is an attitude towards your skills and abilities. It means you accept and trust yourself. You know your strengths and weaknesses and have a positive view of yourself. Being self-confident means understanding that you trust your own judgment and abilities, that you value yourself and you feel worthy, regardless of any imperfections or what others might think about you.
“Low self-confidence is like driving through life with your hand brake on.”
Lacking confidence does not mean that you are broken, it means that you are not focusing on the right things in your life. Self-confidence is vital in almost every aspect of our lives, yet many people struggle to find it. People who lack self-confidence are less likely to achieve the success that could give them more confidence. Sadly, this becomes a vicious cycle
Confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their co-workers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. You can show self-confidence in many ways: in your behavior, your body language, and in what you say and how you say it. Feeling confident requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge.
Projecting confidence helps people gain credibility, make a strong first impression, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. It is also an attractive trait, as confidence helps put others at ease. By now, we know that self-confidence is a nice trait to have, but how do we develop it? Now I will share with you practical ideas on how to improve your self-confidence:
- Set goals
Set goals and don’t stop until you accomplish them. Come on – set your goals, think about what it is that you want to achieve, manifest them. Write them down, surround yourself with things that remind you of your desired outcomes. It will take some time, days, weeks, months or years, depending on the goal, but don’t quit before you even start.
- Stop comparing yourself to others
Do you always find that you compare yourself to others? This is a complete no-go. You are not in a race with anyone. You are unique, you have been given unique gifts, talents and you have your own experiences that distinguish you from others. Instead of falling in that counterproductive game, recognize that you are not in a race. Instead of comparing yourself to others, admire them. You need people to look up to, people that serve as inspiration. We need it along the way. Go ahead!
- Take care of your body
Your body and your mind are one. We only have one and it is our home in this life journey, and we want it to last as long as possible. The American Psychological Association has noted that exercise significantly improves mood and helps combat depression and anxiety. Sticking to new healthy habits can make you feel more confident, and physical improvements will uplift your overall internal state over the long term.
- Think long-term
The foundation of unhappiness is decisions made for short-term comfort that impede long-term goals. You have to decide if your short-term comfort is more important than your long-term goals. Focus on the big pictures and take small and steady steps.
- Practice Self-compassion
For those you do not know what self-compassion is, pay attention. Self-compassion is a positive self-image. It involves relating oneself with acceptance and kindness in times of adversity, rather than criticizing and being too hard on yourself. In other words, you look at your situation with compassion. Practicing self-compassion means that we attempt to find compassion in our pain or situation because we are not perfect: we are human beings and no human is perfect.
- Embrace self-doubt
See yourself for who you are and for who you can become. It is not easy to live with constant self-doubt and it can be very energy draining. Digging into self-doubt helps you reconnect to your own power source so you can recharge and keep going. Chances are high that you sometimes get into a psychic wrestling match in your head that takes away your confidence and you end up falling into your doubts. The most common consequence here, is that actions go undone. The reason why we must just give ourselves permission to plunge into whatever it is that we feel passionate about and ignore this internal voice. None of us are immune to self-doubt, so, just embrace it as part of the human experience. Remember your doubts are not the absolute truth.
- Stop Negative Self talk right away
This is an essential mindset to master if you want to increase your self-confidence. Replace bad thoughts with more positive thoughts. Easier said than done, I know. If there are specific themes to the negative self-talk, step back from that thought. So, from now on, pay attention to your thoughts and whenever you catch yourself having a negative thought about yourself, don’t engage it. Let it dissipate and try formulating it in a more positive way. Ask yourself “why am I thinking that?” “is there a more positive way of looking at this?”
For example: Instead of saying: “I do not know how to use this device”, try saying, “I have still not learned to use this device”. This statement gives you room to improve, the first statement points out the negative situation leaving no potential to improve.
- Power posing
Try holding a power-pose for 2 minutes. For those who never heard of this term, I will encourage you to read more about it. It is worth writing an entire blog article on its own and I will, but you can also download a pdf of the original study. However, practicing power posing for a couple of minutes every day elevates your testosterone levels significantly and increases your confidence, while it decreases your cortisol level and helps you manage stress better. Let’s have a look at this life-hack technique.
As Amy Cuddy, associate professor at Harvard Business School, delivers in her TED talk “a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min. poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful…” Cuddy has significantly popularized the idea that “power posing” can influence behavior positively.
There are several power postures. One of my favorites is the “Hands on hip”. Start by putting your hands in your hips, open your chest, keep your chin up and hold it. I highly recommend you to try this out. I have, personally, only experienced benefits from practicing it. It can change your hormone levels by increasing, as I said before, testosterone levels and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.
Increasing your confidence will take commitment and courage, but I promise it is rewarding and you will soon start to feel the benefits. Create the habit of self- confidence, of challenging yourself, accepting those things you can’t control and focusing on what you can control.
The intentional actions I’ve laid out in this article can help you overcome fear, restrictive thinking patterns and finally boost your self-confidence. Good luck and remenber to start small. Make consistent tiny tweaks in your daily routine: self-confidence is just like any muscle, it can be trained and developed, as long as you decide it.