Do you ever look at some people and just wish you could have their confidence? They seem to glide through life, smiling and enjoying themselves with a great sense of ease making the rest of us feel somehow less than. But first of all
What Exactly Is Confidence?
Although this post is aimed at adults, I love the definition on kidshealth.org which says: ‘Confidence means feeling sure of yourself and your abilities – not in an arrogant way, but in a realistic, secure way. It isn’t about feeling superior to others. It’s a quiet inner knowledge that you are capable. Confident people feel secure rather than insecure’. So how can you be more confident about yourself?
Realize that confidence can be an illusion!
So often we are completely taken in by appearances and think that everyone else has got their life together, knows where they are going in life and are super-confident when the fact of the matter is that it just isn’t true. Many people put an exceptional face on their lack of confidence. Imagine you are on the beach in your swimmers and worrying that everyone is looking at your wobbly bits. The reality (unless you are at some ‘A list’ pool party in Miami!) is that others are too busy worrying about their wobbly bits to be remotely concerned with yours!
Using your body to feel more confident
Your physiology can absolutely change how confident you feel. When going into a situation where you feel less than confident, be sure to stand up straight with your shoulders back, keep your head held high take a few deep breaths. This will give the illusion to others but also sends a much stronger message to your brain that you are capable, rather than staring at your shoes and hoping for the ground to swallow you up. Mirror the body language of the person you are talking to – in fact when you become more relaxed you will find you are doing this unconsciously but until then, do it on purpose as it creates rapport.
Amy Cuddy, a Social Psychologies and Associate Professor at Harvard University, says that ‘power posing’ can actually increase your feelings of power and decrease your feelings of stress. Check out a short version of her TED talk here.
Furthermore, I can tell you from my own personal experience, that being physically strong has increased my own confidence immeasurably. A couple of years ago I took up training with weights and as a consequence, I feel much stronger mentally as well as physically. You may already have read about it in an earlier post, The Law Of Attraction and Weight Loss.
Model the posture of someone you know
A good way to work on your own self-confidence is to model someone you know who you admire for being confident. How do they stand? What gestures do they use. If you do this enough you will develop your own style while taking on the characteristics of the other person.
Focus on what could go right!
So many people who lack confidence focus on what could go wrong! When you do this you remove any power you might have had in creating a good outcome and will quite possible talk yourself out of facing your fears at all.
It is sometimes easier to self-sabotage, as it keeps us in control of the situation and people lacking in self-confidence generally want to be in control. Ellen Hendriksen PHD (a clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety) describes this self-sabotaging behavior like this – ‘instead of shooting for the stars we end up aiming right for our foot’ which is a brilliant analogy that is all too true. It is indeed true that we are not in control of what could happen but we are in control of one thing – our response to any given situation.
Make a point of talking positively. In fact, if you catch yourself saying or thinking a negative thought, you should replace it with 5 positive comments or thoughts! Such is the power of negative self-talk that it takes 5 positive thoughts to undo the damage! Get into the habit of congratulating yourself any time you have overcome even the smallest challenge. (Or if part of a team effort be sure to say ‘well done, us!). Over time, this will make a difference in how you view yourself.
Put others at their ease
Hang on a minute, I hear you say, isn’t this supposed to be about me and my lack of confidence? Well yes, however, if confidence in talking to people is an issue for you, a great way to take the focus off of yourself is to put it on others and their concerns. There is no better way to gain confidence than asking some questions and letting people talk about themselves. Before you know it, you will be enjoying the conversation and perhaps even learning new things. (You might want to have some questions made up ahead of time just to be on the safe side!)
Do not be envious of the super-confident
Best-selling author and super-coach, Bob Proctor, says that envy is ignorance – if someone else can do something, so can you so there is no need to be remotely envious. Confidence comes with knowledge so you just need to learn what they know! Consider some area in your life where you are already confident. Perhaps you can drive a car quite happily and have a conversation at the same time, whereas when you first started driving, you had trouble getting the car moving smoothly without having the added distraction of someone talking! It is possible to become confident in most things in life – your just have to practice it.
Deliberately get out of your comfort zone once in a while
Drew Hendricks of Buttercup.com says ‘Anything that I struggle with, I keep trying different approaches until I’m no longer scared of it. Sometimes it takes a while to get comfortable, so I try different approaches daily, or just keep at it until it become comfortable. Then I move to the next uncomfortable thing.’ Interesting! Can you imagine the difference this would make to your overall confidence? Take a moment now to think of something you are a bit uncomforable with, put yourself in that situation and see how fantastic you feel afterwards.
In conclusion – you are what your think you are
How you see yourself is how you will act. Start now to see yourself as growing in confidence every day in life. If you are not skilled in the area of visualization, then I highly recommend you read the wonderfully titled Mach II With Your Hair On Fire by Richard Bliss Brooke (note to self, do a review of this soon). It becomes so much fun – you could become addicted at the same time as growing in confidence!
Are you naturally confident? Or are you lacking in confidence or have you overcome self-confidence issues? I would love to know in the comments.