If you were to go to the “Self Help” section of any bookstore, you’ll find an immense amount of literature on ways to improve yourself. Self-improvement is a wonderful goal, and there’s always a way we can work on ourselves. I don’t mean that as in you’re not good enough already, I simply think that we should never have a goal to peak– we should constantly improve. There’s too many resources in this life to stay stagnant for too long.
The thing is, though, that I bet that 70% of those books in the Self Help section would become superfluous if no one had any issues with confidence. Confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth are all slightly different in terms of vernacular, but they come from a very similar place. That place is inside your mind, and it lays on top of a blanket of self love. That being said…
Here are some tips for becoming more confident:
1) Practice self love. You have to love yourself first and foremost. You can be a generous person who contributes to society in a big way while still loving yourself first. In fact, you’ll probably get a lot farther if you do. You have to recognize the beautiful things about yourself that you bring into this world. Make a list of things you love in life, and start with “me”. You can love music, hot air balloon rides, and your significant other but they come second. Please affix your self love mask to your face before assisting others.
Really know who you are. As much time as you spend with yourself, you’d be surprised how many things you might not consciously be aware of! I recommend three things for getting to know yourself better: A) Journaling B) Playing the “Question Game” with others, where you go back and forth learning things about each other C) Dating yourself, and truly learning what you consider to be a good time. If you really know who you are, you’ll find it even easier to love yourself.
2) Fake it. That “fake it till you make it” expression is totally true to a certain extent. I’m pretty comfortable in my skin, but I get a much greater feeling of confidence when I’m dressed well. Going out to run errands in yoga pants and a messy bun is super easy, but I don’t carry myself the same way as I do when I’m wearing a colorful dress and pretty necklace. Maybe it’s a superficial thing, but if it helps you and there are other solid things you love and appreciate about yourself as a person, there’s nothing wrong with feeling pretty.
The same thing goes for your behavior. Fake being confident! Do some acting! Pretend there’s a director on the sidelines of your life, feeding you motivation: “Okay, in this scene you’re feeling really confident and sure of yourself”. Once you get some practice with feeling confident in regular situations, you’ll be able to transfer that feeling to other circumstances.
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale
3) Be realistic about failure. I know that “realistic” and “failure” aren’t words I use regularly, let alone in the same sentence, but it’s a necessary evil for confidence. I’m not talking about being pessimistic and expecting failure, though, I just mean that you should think about the fact that the worst possible outcome really isn’t going to end your life. Okay, maybe this interaction when you run into your ex is going to be super awkward, but is it really going to affect your overall well-being and the outcome of your future? Even if you walk in on the person in the bathroom who’s about to interview you for a job or you fart on stage at a giant presentation… life rolls on. Coming to terms with the fact that bad things can happen means that you’ll be less afraid to go after what you want, making you more confident.
4) Interact with strangers. I know that not everyone is outgoing or talkative, but if you’re working on building up your confidence, this is a surefire way to achieve your goal. Initiating conversation with someone you don’t know takes guts, and if you figure out that you can say something to someone who doesn’t know anything about you and emerge alive, you’re probably going to feel better about dealing with other people in general.
Sometimes people suck. I know that. But they don’t all suck, and there are plenty of people out there that you would be ecstatic about meeting if you had a real conversation with them. Even if you don’t have time or room in your life for a new best friend, having a really positive and fun interaction with that stellar human being is still rewarding.
5) Accept compliments. (This is a hard one for me, still.) I can spew off genuine compliments all day long, but as soon as someone says something positive to me about me, I either get slightly bashful or I deflect it with humor. It’s very hard for me to look that person back in the eyes and say “thank you”, but I need to be able to. By being able to acknowledge that nice thing about yourself, regardless of if you had thought about it before or it has just been brought to your attention, you are saying “Yes, I am a good person. And I deserve this praise.”
6) Prepare and practice. It’s pretty simple. If you were selected to speak at a Ted Talk and you didn’t think for a second about what you were going to say, I think it’s fair to say that you’d be a lot less confident than if you’d rehearsed multiple times before walking on stage. The same goes for everything in life.
Practice your skills over and over so you know you can do it right. Think about the things you’re more confident doing… I bet those things are the ones you’ve done more than a dozen times. Changing a diaper, juggling, or driving a stick shift for the first time is jarring. But once you know what you’re doing, you don’t get (as) nervous anymore. Get ready, and your mind will thank you later with pride.
7) Assume you’re going to achieve your dreams. I’m not just talking about being openly optimistic that you could potentially one day be at the top of your game, but being realistically optimistic. Believe in yourself, and know that success doesn’t happen overnight, but you have all the tools to achieve each of those stepping stone goals along the way. Thinking the opposite way will set yourself up for failure.
I hope that you already feel confident in your skin, and that if you don’t you can use these tips as the beginnings tools to building that confidence up! Do you have any more suggestions for how to build self-confidence? Please share in the comments!