Confidence. It’s a highly desirable character trait that seems to elude many people. And if you ask individuals who look or act with self-confidence, even they will tell you they don’t exactly feel confident at all times.
So where does confidence come from?
It’s no secret that our society admires self-confident people, who in turn, tend to inspire confidence in the people around them. And confidence plays such a crucial role in many events in our lives, whether it’s dating, a job interview, or the panic-inducing public speaking event.
What Makes Confident People Confident?
If anything, self-confident people seem to share one thing in common—they see their lives under a positive light. Even in the middle of a disaster, they tend to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel rather than dwell on the problem at hand. They act instead of mope, knowing that doing something—anything—is better than doing nothing at all.
From the outside, confident people seem to have a never say die attitude that allows them to confront their fears, no matter what they may be. And even with what appears to be insurmountable obstacles in their way, confident people somehow manage to get past them.
It would be great if we could somehow take a pill to instantly boost our self-confidence any day of the week. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make small changes to make yourself think positively, which in turn, makes you more confident in yourself and in your abilities.
Ultimately, it comes down to one thing: believing in yourself. That may sound like a platitude, but really, if you can’t believe in yourself, you can’t expect that other people will.
The key is to start small. Confidence and self-esteem don’t happen overnight. By adopting new habits, trying new things, and changing some parts of your mindset, you’ll begin to appear confident at first, and eventually, form the bedrock of real confidence.
Here’s how you can start.
1. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Ask yourself if your circle of friends and family are doing you more harm than good. While it’s obviously easier said than done, it may be time to consider spending less time with people who constantly pull you down or add negativity to your life.
While you may not be able to cut some people out of your life completely, even a temporary break from your negative brother, aunt, or cousin can be enough to make great strides towards boosting your confidence.
And even if you don’t feel particularly positive on some days, don’t be afraid to fake it. Try to be enthusiastic when interacting with other people and throw yourself at whatever project you’re working on. Everyone has problems, but truly confident people focus on solutions, no matter how little they may seem.
2. Meditate or Visualize Your Confidence into Fruition
American self-help author Napoleon Hill once famously said, “What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”
And true enough, visualization and meditation techniques are powerful ways to bring an image of yourself, one that you can be proud of, to life. This approach is exactly why therapies like hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective solutions to improve your confidence and self-esteem.
When you struggle with low confidence, it usually goes without saying that you have a poor perception of yourself, which oftentimes, is completely inaccurate. By conditioning your mind to believe in a confident mental image of yourself, you can push yourself to achieve your confidence goals.
3. Place Importance in Your Appearance
Your appearance matters a great deal when developing your confidence. This may seem like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised how many people underestimate the value of trying to look good.
Beauty will always be subjective, but that doesn’t change the fact that anyone who is well groomed will always look better than someone who isn’t. And this goes beyond appearances. When you’ve showered and shaved, you know and feel that you’re clean and look presentable. This can be enough to give you confidence, or at the very least, improve your mood.
The same principles also apply to how you dress. If you make an effort to look nice—that is, you wear clothes that are clean and fit well, not necessarily expensive—you’ll feel good about yourself. Your mind thinks you look presentable, which in turn makes you better equipped to deal with situations that demand confidence.
4. Work on Your Posture
Again, appearances have a powerful effect on how you feel about yourself. This is especially true when it comes to posture. The simple act of standing tall and straight can be enough to boost your mood and give you an air of reliability in the eyes of other people. It also helps that people who stand tall look more attractive than those who slouch.
5. Know Thyself
Confidence comes from knowing who you are and what you’re capable of doing. Just as any general gathers intelligence when going into battle with the enemy, conquering your fears, anxieties, and negative self-perception is about knowing your foe: yourself.
Pay attention to your thought processes, especially when confronted with stressful situations like meeting someone for the first time or speaking in front of a group. Write down these thoughts and emotions in a journal if you can, and analyze how and why negative thoughts pop in your head.
Do this long enough, and you will see thought patterns that point towards your perceived weaknesses and limitations. You can then do the work of dismantling weaknesses that are simply in your mind. Keep at it, and you’ll eventually come out with greater confidence.
What does physical activity have to do with confidence?
As it turns out, a lot. According to a study published in the Journal of the European Health Psychology Society, “exercisers had a more positive body image than non-exercisers” and “exercise was associated with improved body image.”
The explanation is simple. You already know the effects of exercise—better health and improved physique among several others. When you exercise, you know your body is reaping the rewards of physical activity, which puts you in a positive mindset.
The effect is amplified further when you see the actual results of regular exercise: fat and weight loss, smaller pants size, and improved physical performance among many others. The result? Real confidence after knowing you worked hard to build a better you.
7. Affirm Yourself and Your Qualities
How we view ourselves is directly correlated to how we behave. So, if you want to be more confident, it only makes sense to work on changing your self-image.
Although the science behind self-affirmations needs further study, they’ve been observed to have a powerful effect on our thought processes. Again, what the mind can conceive, it can achieve.
Affirmations are essentially positive statements we repeat to ourselves over and over again. They are especially powerful when said aloud so you can hear yourself saying the words. Just as the mind can heal the body with a placebo, the act of telling yourself that you are a certain way can make you believe that you are so.
For example, repeating the words “I am going to have a good day,” every morning when you wake up, can rewire your brain so it sees what happens throughout the day in a positive light. The same thing can happen when you face yourself in the mirror and say, “I am a funny and confident person.”
Affirmation is also at the heart of why hypnosis can be a viable approach to improving your confident. In fact, a 1971 study found that the application of hypnosis could improve self-esteem using a technique called ego-strengthening.
The idea was that a “psychologically impaired individual may benefit from positive suggestions of self-worth and personal effectiveness.”
8. Test Yourself Every Day
Most people with low self-confidence often think something is wrong with them, or that their insecurities are the reason their self-esteem is so low.
But the truth is that everyone has insecurities. It’s just that some people choose to ignore them and instead, rise above their fears.
And just as the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, the only way to overcome your fears is to face them head-on. That means testing yourself by doing something outside your comfort zone every day, which in turn, develops your confidence.
With each new and ‘scary’ experience you go through, you’ll believe in yourself more and realize there’s nothing particularly frightening about the unknown.
9. Arm Yourself with Information
The more knowledge you have about your weaknesses, fears, insecurities, and the different ways you can overcome all of them, the faster your journey towards real confidence becomes.
Simply knowing the solutions to your problems can make a world of difference in how you handle yourself when confronted with stressful situations.
For example, if you have an upcoming job interview, you can prepare for it by:
• Doing your research about the company
• Improving your resume
• Rehearsing your elevator pitch
• Identifying your selling points
Doing your homework means having everything you need in your mind for the situation at hand. And that can be a potent confidence booster.
10. Re-evaluate Your Reaction to Rejection
Most people make mountains out of molehills when faced with rejection. Yet the fear of being rejected is often at the heart of why so many people struggle with low self-esteem, which is unfortunate because rejection is really just receiving a “no” when you want a “yes.”
So what’s the big deal?
On a cognitive level, the fear of rejection often comes from a fear of being unloved and unaccepted. But this wouldn’t be much of an issue if you were already secure with yourself. That is, you already learned to love and accept yourself for who you are.
If rejection is still something you struggle with, it’s a good idea to ask yourself why. Where is your fear coming from? It might be that you’re still traumatized by a childhood brush with rejection. In this case, you might need therapy to address the root cause of your confidence issues.
11. Set Yourself Up for Success
Building your confidence is a slow process, so it makes sense to take baby steps towards your goals. Whatever these goals may be, the key to building your abilities and confidence is to take baby steps. The more “little successes” you achieve, the more confident you feel about yourself. In other words, start small and work your way towards larger goals.
This strategy is often used by bodybuilders, who start out by lifting light weights, progressing to heavier weights in the smallest increments possible.
You can also keep a journal of your achievements and progress as a reminder of just how far you’ve come. Rather than focus on an intimidating list of “to-dos,” a progress journal will allow you to spend more time on accomplishments—a powerful confidence builder.
12. Stop Procrastinating
If you have a habit of putting off to-dos until the very last minute, stop.
Again, set yourself up for success. Many people tend to procrastinate, even if it’s just on the little things. But if you make a habit of listing tasks down and doing them first as soon as possible, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment and get a boost in self-confidence.
13. Slow Down When You Speak
Most people who have an aversion to public speaking, or talking to new people in general, often end up talking too fast and mumbling their words.
The simplest solution? Make it a habit to speak slowly in these situations. Relax, collect your thoughts, and slow down. This simple adjustment shows confidence and sends the impression that you’re worth listening to.
In contrast, someone with low self-confidence feels embarrassed to have to speak in public, talking quickly to get things over with. This essentially means that person feels he’s not worth listening to.
Even if your confidence still needs work, making a point to speak slowly or with purpose can make a world of difference in how people respond to you, which in turn, helps boost your confidence.
14. Remind Yourself that You’re Just as Good as Everyone Else
People with low self-confidence often have a habit of comparing themselves to other people, thinking they’ll never be as good, as skilled, or as deserving to be successful as them.
But that’s just the part of your mind with low self-esteem issues talking. Rather than see yourself as being inferior, see yourself as being equal to everyone.
You, like anyone else, deserve all the success you work hard for. When you make the mental shift to see yourself as having the same potential as everyone, it becomes easier to build real confidence.
15. Redefine Failure
When you suffer from low self-confidence, your default mindset is to think of yourself as a complete failure. But anyone who has ever achieved success, big or small, is familiar with the bitterness of failure.
Failure is an integral part of any learning process. It’s important to remember that your failures don’t define who you are. Rather, how you rise above failure is a truer definition of your self-worth.
There are countless success stories of people meeting setback after setback, yet they pushed through despite the pain of failing. From scientists, CEOs, artists, to performers, and ordinary people, everyone experiences failure at some point. What’s more important is persevering in whatever way you can.
16. Don’t be Afraid to Say “No”
Part of having natural confidence is knowing what your personal boundaries are. And that means being assertive, learning how to say what is on your mind, and above all, knowing how to say “no.”
The more control you have over your personal boundaries, the easier it will be to build your confidence. It seems like such a simple thing, but knowing your boundaries is often the first step towards controlling the part of your mind that defines your self-worth.
17. Help Others
Everyone is guilty of sometimes being caught up in their own little world and forgetting just how fortunate they actually are. Helping someone else in need allows you step back and see life in another person’s perspective, making you feel grateful for what you have. More importantly, it genuinely feels good to make a positive difference for someone else.
Rather than dwell on your weakness and low self-confidence, try to go out and give back to your community. Volunteer for local mentorship programs, engage in community service, help your neighbors—these are all great ways to build your confidence from the ground up.
Strengthening your confidence will not be an easy task. But these simple habits can be powerful enough to jumpstart your personal process and guide you in the right direction. If you think none of these pointers will do anything to build your confidence, your best option is to consult a therapist for help. Remember, it’s never too late to boost your confidence and feel good about yourself.
About the Author: Dr. Steve G. JONES, Ed.D. is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist who has been practicing hypnotherapy since the 1980’s. He is the author of 25 books on such topics as hypnosis, the law of attraction and weight loss. Dr. Steve has also created over 9,000 hypnosis audio recordings and 22 different online certification programs, which are sold in over 140 countries. Dr. Steve G. Jones works extensively with Hollywood actors, writers, directors, and producers, helping them achieve their very best. He has been featured on Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker as both a hypnotherapist and a millionaire and has been interviewed on CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS. Learn More…