Most of us, if we are honest would like to feel more self confident. For some people, it is situation specific, like meeting new people, speaking in public or attending an interview. For others it is all encompassing.
We are not born lacking confidence; lack of confidence is something we learn.
Before looking at practical ways of boosting self confidence, it is useful to know what confidence is. Probably the best definition I’ve come across defines confidence as ‘an internal faith, believe or certainty about our personal powers and abilities to achieve.’ The word comes from the Latin ‘con fidis’ meaning ‘with faith’, doing something with the faith that you can do it.
Here are 7 ways to feel more confident:-
1. Know that being confident is not the same as being comfortable
Most people think they will only feel confident when they are comfortable doing something. This can be true. If you have been working in your job for a few years, you can be confident in your abilities and comfortable dealing with work-related issues. It is perfectly natural to feel uncomfortable or less than certain in unfamiliar situations. Most people feel less than confident when they are doing something they have not done before. The question to ask yourself is ‘how can I get more comfortable with being uncomfortable?’ This is how we expand our comfort zones.
2. Set yourself a confidence building goal
One of the best ways to boost confidence is to decide to take a specific action so that you can earn and deserve the right to be confident. In other words, setting yourself a little test. One of the things I did in the past to boost my self confidence was to ask more questions at talks or meetings I attended. I would try to come up with something logical to ask, but the main reason I was doing it was to build my self confidence. I wanted to be someone who could ask questions. That doesn’t mean my hand wasn’t shaking when I raised it, but I felt good afterwards. Remember that ‘buzz’ we feel after we do something that scared us, is our self confidence growing.
3. Eliminate Comparisons
This is a neat one. If you are in the habit of putting other people on pedestals, ‘I wish I could do that like her!’ or ‘Why can’t I be more like him?’ what you are doing is putting the boot into your own self confidence. It is one thing to admire someone and ask yourself what can I learn from them, it is another to compare yourself to them. The only comparison that is ever valid is between where you feel you are now and your potential. And remember most of the time when we are making comparisons we are comparing what we feel on the inside with what we see on the other person’s outside! We don’t know what the other person is feeling on the inside!
4. Acknowledge your strengths
When we are lacking self confidence we are focussing on what we believe to be our weakness. A great way to boost self confidence is to make a list of your strengths, the things you are good at, your talents, aptitudes, personal qualities etc. Indications of strengths can be things you enjoy doing, or things you have been complimented on. The foundation of Self Confidence is Self Esteem. The best definition of self esteem I’ve come across is ‘the degree to which you like yourself.’ Spending more time at least acknowledging our strengths will boost self esteem.
5. Confidence is a habit.
As humans we are habit forming creatures. In the same way that we have behavioural habits we also have thinking habits. We have habits about how we think about ourselves and what we are capable of and habits about how we think about certain situations. To change a habit we have to consciously do something differently. For example, rather than focussing on the worst outcome, which is what we are doing when we are lacking confidence, how can we view the situation differently? Just for a split second ask yourself ‘what is the best outcome?’ and ‘what is likely to happen?’ rather than just focussing on ‘what is the worst that can happen?’
6. Put on the ‘uniform’ of confidence
When we are confident we tend to walk tall. Our shoulders are back, and our eyes are looking around (instead of looking down when we are nervous.) We tend to breathe more deeply and our body language is open (no folded arms or crossed legs.) The interesting thing is that by purposefully putting on this uniform of confidence you are not only communicating to others that you are confident (though in the short-term you may feel like a fraud) you are also influencing the sort of thoughts you are having. Our thoughts influence our body language, but our body language influences our thoughts as well. To boost self confidence you need to forge a new habit of body language. You are faking it until you make it!
7. Learn to accept compliments
Learning how to accept a compliment is another powerful way of boosting self confidence. Most people don’t know how to accept compliments, they brush them off – ‘Oh this old thing I have it for ages...’ We all receive compliments all the time, but we don’t realise it. Statistics show that by the age of 18 the average teenager will have been praised about 300,000 times. Scarily about 80% of this positive feedback will have been by the age of 3! The average 5 year old is told ‘no’ or don’t do that’ about 60 times a day. Children are not born with a lack of confidence, but by the time we reach adulthood we are so unaccustomed to positive feedback that when we get it we don’t know what to do with it, so we brush it off. See each compliment as a gift (which it is) and as a little building block to self confidence.
Many people drink excessively or take drugs in an attempt to boost their self confidence. But perhaps there are other more effective and long-lasting ways that don’t have the same side effects. Follow the above 7 steps and you will be unlearning the habit of lack of confidence and enhancing the quality of your life along the way.
James Sweetman is the author of Graduate to Success and is a leading authority on Peak Performance. If you are ready to step into your potential, visit www.jamessweetman.com