When I was young, I had an adult in my life ask me, "How did you gain this much confidence in yourself? Most adults don't have this kind of self-conviction." I had no idea, since I just did what I wanted and if no one else was going to be the leader, then I was going to.
While I was unable to answer her at the time, I have been thinking about self-confidence since then and how I would answer her now.
What is confidence?
The Merriam- Webster Dictionary offers these meanings as a few definitions of ‘confidence’:
1a. A feeling of consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances.
b. Faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way.
2. The quality or state of being certain.
There are a few additional meanings, relating to trust, discretion, or even the origin of the ‘con man’ that are available at Merriam-Webster, but we’re going to focus on the first few listed here.
Basically, confidence is believing in yourself and others to have the competence to be successful.
What does confidence do for you?
Having confidence can literally open doors for you- when you walk anywhere with purpose and determination, you will rarely be stopped. People will trust what you say and be more likely to rely on you for getting high-quality work done accurately and efficiently.
In a job interview setting, having confidence can help you to land the position.
When competing in sports, you can overwhelm and potentially even frighten your opponents by appearing confident.
Even in daily life, notice how people tend to gravitate towards and look up to those who are confident in themselves.
People who are confident tend to feel good about themselves and frequently help to raise others up as well. While some people are naturally confident, it is a skill that everyone can learn and improve upon!
Ways to gain confidence in yourself.
Adjust your body language.
The best example of this would be to compare Clark Kent and Superman. People always question why no one recognizes that Clark Kent is just Superman wearing glasses. While wearing glasses is actually an effective component to a disguise, Superman shifts his posture and his overall body language when transforming into Kent. Notice how his shoulders slump forward slightly, his arms assume a more defensive position in front of him, and he keeps his face downcast so that your eyes glide right over him.
When Kent becomes Superman, he stands up straighter, boldly making eye contact, and not wasting a single unnecessary movement. Superman draws your eye to him immediately and not just because he’s wearing a bright suit. You trust him to take control of the situation and that everything will be alright with him there, just simply by his confidence.
(Compare that as if Superman had his powers but Kent’s demeanor. You wouldn’t believe in a good possible outcome.)
A simple element of body posture that you can experiment with is to notice how your hand placement affects your confidence. Notice how you feel when you have your hands balled up to your chest, down and relaxed by your side, or crossed behind your back. Look around you to see how those around you portray their confidence or lack of it, simply by how they hold their hands.
Improve your posture.
Regular stretching can help you to improve your posture overall, which can boost your confidence. Improving your posture can reduce back pain, often caused by your spine being out of alignment. When you are feeling good and not in pain, you have the confidence to be yourself and present in the moment.
You can also incorporate stretching into power posing, which boosts confidence by allowing yourself to take up space. Power posing involves opening yourself up, especially your chest area. When we are feeling uncomfortable, we tend to curve inwards, making ourselves smaller and in a defensive position. Stand with your legs spread apart, your arms up, and breathe deeply in this position for a few seconds- you’ll notice that you’ll immediately feel better!
Focus on your strengths.
If you were asked to write out both your strengths and weaknesses, which list would be longer and easier to fill out? If your list of weaknesses is longer, take a moment to lightly cross each one of them out and in their place, think of two more strengths to add instead. Give yourself at least ten minutes to do this, but the longer you give yourself, the more strengths you may discover!
Positive Psychology goes a bit more in depth on identifying your strengths, so take some time to read through if you need a bit of help.
Take time for yourself.
Many people struggle with slowing down and taking time just for themselves, whether it is to do something they love or even just asking for a day off work to allow their bodies to recover. This often stems from the idea that if you aren’t working hard enough, you don’t provide value to your community as well as the idea that taking time for yourself is selfish.
When you take time to do what makes you truly happy and feel refreshed, it shows that you have confidence in your work, it helps to prevent burnout, and you are able to support your loved ones better. Confident people know the importance of taking care of themselves and putting themselves first.
If this seems daunting, give yourself just ten minutes. Have a bath with the book you’ve been wanting to read or take a quick walk around your neighbourhood. Taking care of yourself is a huge step towards improving your self-confidence.
Dream big and set goals.
One of the best ways to build your confidence is to give yourself something to work towards. Creating goals helps you to add purpose to your day and when you feel that you have a purpose or know what you’re doing, you can feel more confident.
You could set a large goal like buying a house in a certain number of years or it could be as simple as getting all the laundry done and put away in a few hours. Your goals could be towards fun things, like completing a painting or more career-focused, such as achieving a certain job position. Regardless of what your goals are, creating them will inspire you and help you to build confidence in yourself and your abilities.
If it is too hard to say aloud in the mirror at first, repeat it in your mind, mouthing the words, and whispering it very quietly to yourself. You will begin to see progress just by this small step.
At the same token, watch out for self-deprecating humour or negative comments directed to yourself when something doesn’t go as planned. You may not think twice about cursing when you make a mistake, but that utterance can begin to create a small crack in your confidence. After all, mistakes are okay and they are the best way to learn!
Regardless if you meditate with an app, a Youtube video, or at your own pace, meditation is a great tool for allowing yourself to slow down, stabilize your emotions, and work on building your confidence.
One of the biggest affectations to your confidence are feelings like anxiety and fear. Meditation allows your body to relax out of the “fight or flight” state of stress, which can help you feel stable and grounded. It is hard to be confident when you feel anxious, but as you begin to become grounded, you’ll notice your confidence levels slowly improving!
Put effort into your appearance.
Reflect back on a time where you looked and felt good. You had probably recently showered, you might have just had a hair cut, and your clothes looked flattering on you. Your appearance has a significant impact on your confidence levels.
When you wear clothes that don’t feel like “you”, subconsciously you are telling yourself that you are hiding who you are and that you don’t belong. Instead, find clothes that make you feel good about yourself and spend a few more minutes on your appearance when you get ready for the day. This could be refining your hairstyle, adding makeup that makes you feel powerful, or even just taking an extra minute to ensure that you like the outfit you picked for the day.
Spend a few minutes journaling.
Journaling is a great way to be able to process all of your thoughts. You can use it as a way to ponder negative thoughts and to reshape them. Creative journaling allows a safe place that you can use to explore your imagination. Even just spending a few minutes each day to record the good things in a gratitude journal can help to boost your confidence and shift your overall mood.
Ask a friend or loved one for help.
Sometimes, it can be hard to see all of our accomplishments, especially when we’re only acknowledged for what we’ve done wrong. This is where it is great to ask a friend to tell you what is wonderful about you.
Your loved ones truly want what is best for you, and they aren’t looking to deceive you with their answers. How they respond is truly how they perceive you.
Don’t pass judgement right away on what they say, regardless if you agree with it or not, and thank them for doing this for you. Try to see yourself through their eyes and why they enjoy your company. If you reject the kind things they say immediately, believing them to be untrue, know that you are discrediting and devaluing your friend and their thoughts, which is not your intention.
Appreciate the fact that they took the time to tell you what they see is best about you, so allow yourself to read their words aloud several times until you start to believe them.
Gaining confidence in yourself may not be an overnight process, but you can begin to make small improvements right away. Find one or two of these suggestions that resonate most with you and implement them into your life. Take a few moments to notice any changes in how you feel about yourself throughout this process. Chances are, you’ll notice little differences that you may not have suspected, such as feeling more rested or friendly to the people around you.
One of the biggest benefits to increasing your confidence is that you will also increase your happiness levels and contentment in life. When you are confident, you tend to look on the bright side of things and regularly appreciate what you have been given. You will draw good people into your life and wonderful opportunities will begin to flow your way.
Good luck on your journey to gain confidence in yourself and we look forward to hearing about your success!
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