Developing robust self confidence can seem to be such an immensely personal thing; a quality acquired only by trial and error, something requiring lots of introspection and self-analysis.
If this were completely true, then precious few people would ever really be confident. Yet the fact is that many people are – regardless of whether they are capable of real introspection or profound self-analysis.
In reality, feeling good about ourself is directly related to self-esteem or how much we believe we are worthy of respect, from ourselves as well as from others. A perceived lack of respect prevents us from feeling we are capable of trying new things, let alone accomplishing or excelling at them.
A self-defeating dialog between inner and outer perceptions creates a cloud of inaction, and feelings of low self-confidence that can lead to anxiety, mood swings and feelings of depression.
Instead of viewing self-confidence as something that is developed exclusively from the inside, here are some tips that can help anyone connect with the outside world and so enhance inner feelings of confidence.
Take Care of the Basics
One of the foundations in self-confidence building is to recognize that care needs to be taken of all aspects of the self – body, mind and spirit. Eating properly and exercising on a regular basis not only increases our level of physical fitness and health, it also alters our brain chemistry, releasing powerful ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters. Feeling good within ourselves is key to self-confidence.
When it comes to meals, make sure you plan ahead. If necessary, carry a prepared lunch with you – never allow yourself to substitute a candy bar or bag of potato chips for a proper meal.
Follow basic grooming rules, shower, wash your hair, wear clean clothes and occasionally treat yourself to something that makes you feel special. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Perhaps you can book a massage or buy a new book, phone app or scarf. Stick a post-it note to you mirror that says ‘You look great!’ With a positive feel good self-image, you start to believe in yourself.
Establish a regular exercise regime and sharpen your brain by reading, writing, or with online games. Spending time on yourself is respecting yourself – and self respect goes hand in hand with self confidence.
Get to Know Yourself and Be Honest
Self-confidence diminishes when you set unreasonable goals and expectations for yourself. You do not look like Brad Pitt – only he does – so just get over it. Maybe you’ll never be a rock star or international sports hero. It’s fine to admire the stars and archetypes who inspire you, but be realistic. You are who you are and the sooner you make it your job to really define your strengths and weaknesses (and love that person), the sooner you’ll feel more confident to take your talents out into the world.
No need to sit at home reflecting. Go out to a coffee shop and start writing a journal about your perceptions of the things around you. Define your values and be prepared to discuss your principles. Practice by sharing with a trusted friend. Why not begin by simply saying ‘I believe in_____’?
Set Achievable Goals and Reach Out for Help
As feedback from the outside world helps you define what is important to you, start building a plan to become successful in doing that thing. It doesn’t matter what it is, but anyone can become an expert at any task, with simple tenacity, preparation, and consistent practice. See any setbacks and challenges as part of the learning process, teaching aids in your journey into true self-confidence.
That champion tennis star, Arthur Ashe, said: ‘An important key to success is self confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.’ So prepare yourself, go online and find a free course, join a meet-up of like-minded people. If you’re too shy to talk in front of others then work with a therapist, or join Toastmasters International. You’ll find all the help you need, but you need to reach out and ask for it.
Practice Giving and Receiving Compliments
One of the easiest ways to bolster self-confidence is to surround yourself with people who genuinely like you. The key here, of course, is ‘genuine’. You have to genuinely like yourself before you can expect anyone else to really like you. (See tip 2, above.)
Practice giving and receiving compliments. Everyone has something about them that is worthy of appreciation, and that’s what a compliment is, an expression of appreciation. ‘That’s such a lovely colour, it really does suit you’, ‘Where did you get your hair done, it looks great’, ‘I love the way you laugh; it lights up the room’ and so on. Be sincere in your compliment and you won’t go far wrong. In the same way that you need to practice giving compliments, so you need to gain practice in giving them. Really unconfident people can have difficulty here. Ask a trusted friend to practise giving compliments with you. You give one and they give you one. Not just one, but many. Practise, practise, practise. The more you practise the more natural – and better – it will feel.
Share Your Passions and Become a Confident Volunteer
When you offer your services as a volunteer, you are giving of your self. There are no financial arrangements, so you really can’t fail at the task. The simple act of accomplishing good by giving back can make you feel confident in your ability to contribute. In addition, it provides a way to interact with other people who will be appreciative of your gift of time.
And you get to benefit, too. You can take any skills you have learned, like organization, management or people relationships, into your own life. Take risks in the things you offer to do as you try new volunteer opportunities. Help paint a house or plant a garden, answer the telephone of help with admin, even if you have no experience. When we conquer our fear of failure by tackling a new task and completing it, we receive a huge confidence boost.
Do One Thing Really Well and Let the Glow Spread
Another way to increase your confidence is to enhance your competence in just one thing – to specialize. Again, it can be completely unrelated to anything you’re trying to do. Learn how to juggle, play the guitar, create a delicious soup, fold origami. Become really skilled at one thing; practise every day, accomplish and achieve small successes. If you want to be a writer – write. If you want to be a swimmer – swim! The confidence earned will filter down into all aspects of your life.
Build your own self-confidence, but make sure you engage with the outer world as you progress on your journey. To gain strength of character, nourish yourself and draw on the world around you. Get out and meet other people – no matter how shy or strange you feel in the beginning. Whatever fear has been holding you back is a phantom. Make a habit of reaching out and soon your confidence will automatically begin to grow.
‘Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.’ – e.e. cummings