5 confidence-building tips to get you acting and feeling more self-assured
It matters not whether you have the good looks of a crumbling cathedral gargoyle or the sex appeal of a rusted cheese grater because self-confidence is a power greater than the sum of your parts. Confidence opens doors, helps make dreams happen, and, as we all know, ramps up your sex appeal quicker than you can say 'corroded kitchen appliance'.
So how do people who aren't self-confident become so? Let's look at one way often tried (and tried again):
Affirmations as a confidence-building activity: They get a bit repetitive
"Every day in every way I'm getting better and better!" But what if you're not! Émile Coué suggested way back in the 1920s that we repeat this mantra daily to ourselves so as to build self-confidence. The self-affirmation was born and it's an idea that won't go away. But what are the facts?
Repeating good things about yourself to yourself tends to make people who are already confident feel even better about themselves. But according to research, it can make those with low self-confidence feel even worse (1). Oh dear!
Self-confidence is built upon real life evidence and action
Self-confidence isn't just about what you think or imagine, although that makes a huge difference (see: How to Build Self-Confidence). It's also about actions. The activities you do, how you act and stretch yourself, are a vital part of building your self-confidence.
But now we have the chicken or the egg scenario, don't we? Do you act with confidence because you feel confident or do you feel confident because you've acted confidently?
Actually, it's a bit of both. Self-confidence so often emerges after we act. 'Fake it 'til you make it' really does work as part of an overall 'confidence treatment plan'. And any good self-confidence raising program will address thoughts, imaginings, and actions.
So what can you start doing today to help you ramp up your self-confidence?
1) Self-confidence building: Let's get specific
Well, before you do anything you'll need to get specific. All too often people over-generalize: "I'm just not a confident person." But "not being self-confident" can only apply to some of life, not all of it. The danger is we assume it's all encompassing when it's not.
Are you confident you can tie your laces, read this line, write down a sequence of numbers? The truth is, you don't think about what you are confident about. Turn 'not being confident' into 'not being confident about'. Ah, now we have something specific to work with!
For the purposes of this auticle (and increasing your self-confidence), write down one very specific type of situation in which you'd like to feel confident.
2) Build your own self-confidence blueprint
So many people focus on what they don't want. But that's no good because all it does is build the 'blueprint' for how you don't want things to be. If you were doing archery, you'd need to focus on your target - not on all the places you don't want to hit.
Instead write a few hundred words (should take about two minutes) describing exactly how you'd look and act in the specific situation you have in mind. What will your expression, demeanour, voice, body language, even breathing be like once you're supremely confident in this time and place? Really take this opportunity to get some detail here.
- How will you appear/what will others see?
- What kinds of things will you do differently with that confidence?
- What kinds of things will you be saying?
3) Confidence is easier with hindsight - imagine you've already done it
Have you ever had a dream that felt so real it's as if you'd really experienced that dream? You know you didn't, but it feels like you did. There is a great and powerful hypnotic confidence-building activity I'd like to share with you:
- Close your eyes and focus on what it is you'd like to do with confidence. Remember it can be absolutely anything.
- Now, as you breathe nice and evenly - focussing on your out-breath - imagine the moment twenty seconds after having done what (before) you weren't self-confident enough to do.
- Focus on the feeling of how easy and natural that felt - how strangely and wonderfully right and relaxed you were being that confident.
- Now practice recalling how it went, how calm and self-assured you were - as if you've just had that experience, 'remembering' in detail how calm you felt and what you 'said' and 'did'.
The more you do this, the more you'll 'trick' your brain into genuinely feeling naturally confident in this specific situation.
Click on the free audio session below for a taster of this exercise.
4) Act confident: Let's get physical
Self-confidence is infectious. People like and are influenced and inspired by the truly self-confident. Walk tall, smile, and consciously (until it becomes an unconscious habit) focus on physically inhabiting what it means to be confident. We smile when we feel good but smiling can, in turn, make us feel good (2). And standing up straight (as a supremely confident person would) will help get you feeling as confident as your body looks.
5) Set yourself confidence-building activities and tasks
We all need to stretch ourselves to develop. 'Comfort zones' pretty soon become prisons.
Each evening, write down one small task that you'll do the following day, which will slightly stretch you out of your former comfort zone; whether it's making a little conversation with that attractive person working in the shop or calling up someone you only half know to organize a get together.
Close your eyes, relax, and allow images of yourself doing that comfortably and confidently float into mind (you could do this before sleep). Then next day make a promise to yourself that you'll complete the self-confidence task you'd set yourself.
And do it! When you've done this every day, even for just a week, you'll be amazed just how your self-confidence has been allowed to grow in such a short amount of time.