I’ll be honest – sitting down to write this post was more of a challenge than I expected. I’ve always considered myself a confident person: I thrive in groups even when I don’t know a lot of people, I’ve never had a problem with public speaking and I love meeting new people. I’m an extrovert, sure, but that doesn’t mean I’ve mastered the whole self-confidence thing. If you were to peek inside my head on a given day, you might hear questions like, “What if my idea isn’t well received?” “Will anyone actually come to my dinner party?” “Was that blog post good enough, or should I rewrite it again?”
Confidence is a process; no one can master it in a day. We’ve all heard the tip a hundred times: “Fake it ‘til you make it.” But simply pretending to have confidence skirts the real issue: confidence is about knowing yourself, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, knowing your fears and working to overcome them. But the good news is, it can be learned. I’m no psychology expert, but these are a few simple tricks I’ve integrated into my own life. Even if you only find one that strikes a chord, it just might be an important step towards a more confident you.
featured image by bryan rodner carr
1. Don’t play the comparison game.
It’s something we all fall into: comparing ourselves to others and judging our own talents based on someone else’s. The truth is, we’re all more confident in some areas of our lives than others, and instead of focusing on how you measure up to someone else, take a moment to focus on your own strengths. Identify the parts of yourself that make you the most proud to be you, and celebrate those daily!
2. Learn to accept praise.
You look beautiful today. You did a fantastic job on that project. Does anyone else tend to second-guess a compliment as soon as they hear it? I do. But chances are, if someone takes the time to pay you a compliment, they mean it! Learning to accept praise is a huge step in building confidence. No second-guessing, no diminishing the work you did. Just give a heartfelt smile and a simple thank you, and then take those words to heart.
3. Take risks.
Try a bold new lip color. Say yes to last-minute weekend plans. Be the first to strike up a conversation at your next party (even if you don’t know a soul.) I’ve set a goal for myself to do one “daring” thing a day, no matter how small. Yesterday I wore a Panama hat to work, a style statement that is definitely out of the norm for minimalist me. For the first hour, I debated taking the hat off a dozen times. But the number of compliments I received when people noticed I was trying something different gave me more confidence than I ever could have imagined! So push your boundaries a little, even in small ways. You won’t get very far in building your confidence if you stay huddled inside your comfort zone.
image by erik melvin for garance dore
4. Change your attitude, mentally and physically.
Practice a positive mindset. Expect success from yourself and others. An optimistic outlook creates powerful energy and an instant confidence booster. And so can your posture! In one of my favorite Ted Talks, Amy Cuddy shares how body language can shape who you are (click here for the full video.) The smallest changes in your demeanor can dramatically affect how others see you. So start speaking with a stronger tone of voice. Stand up a little taller and straighter, and hold your head high. You will instantly appear more confident to others, and you’ll probably start to feel more confident yourself.
These are a few tips that keep me on the road to self-confidence, although I’m still a work-in-progress. What are some of the most effective ways you’ve built your own confidence? I’d love to know in the comments!
image by the coveteur
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