Confidence is the key to happiness and success.
What would your life be like if you were more confident? For starters, the following would probably be true:
- You would feel better about yourself.
- You would be happier.
- You would have healthier relationships.
- You would take action in order to live up to your full potential.
- You would be more successful.
- Confident people are tall and slim, with perfect skin and symmetrical features.
- Confident people come from wealthy families.
- Confident people have high IQ’s.
- Confident people have degrees from the best learning institutions in the world.
Fortunately, confidence doesn’t come from any of the things listed above. Confidence isn’t about looks, money, or the diplomas hanging on your wall. Instead, confidence is an attitude and an approach to life. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin, and being at ease with yourself and your surroundings.
All this means that confidence is something that you can cultivate, even if you’re shorter than you’d like, your net worth is currently in the red, and you got your degree from a community college.
You can make your confidence soar by fine-tuning your attitude. Below you’ll discover twelve ways to do this.
1. Start Feeling Confident Right Now.
Stop waiting for something to happen before you allow yourself to feel confident. Many people say the following to themselves:
- “I’ll feel confident when I’ve lost twenty pounds.”
- “I’ll feel confident when I’m in a relationship with someone who loves and respects me.”
- “I’ll feel confident when I get my degree.”
- “I’ll feel confident when I start earning more money.”
- “I’ll feel confident when I have the right car, and I’m wearing the right clothes.”
Stop waiting for something to happen, or for some external signal of validation to take place, in order to begin to feel confident. Instead, start feeling confident right now, regardless of where you are in life or what may be going on around you at the moment.
After all, as Eckhart Tolle teaches, the now is all there is. Therefore, if you don’t feel confident in the now, you’ll never feel confident.
In addition, you may notice the following paradox:
- When you allow yourself to feel good about yourself, even if you’re currently in a situation that’s less than ideal, you’ll start to act in ways that will help you to create the situations that you’re hoping for.
- But if you tell yourself that you can’t feel good about yourself until a certain situation or event takes place, you’ll act in a way that will prevent those situations from taking place.
You first have to be confident, then you’ll behave in a confident manner, and then you’ll experience the positive situations that come into the lives of those who are confident.
2. Put Yourself In a Resourceful State of Mind.
Paul McKenna, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading hypnotists and Britain’s most successful self-improvement author. In his book, I Can Make You Confident, he explains that most people work themselves into an unresourceful state of mind right before doing something important. They do this through their thoughts, feelings, and physiology.
Here are three examples:
- Right before they walk into their boss’s office to ask for a raise, they tell themselves, “I’m not going to get a dime out of her.”
- Before giving an important presentation they’ll slouch their shoulders and start to fidget.
- If they want to approach someone they find attractive, they’ll talk themselves out of it, out of fear of being rejected.
McKenna goes on to say that confident people do the exact opposite: before taking any action that involves uncertainty and risk, they practice putting themselves into a resourceful state of mind. Resourceful states of mind include the following:
- Compassion; and
Again, they do this through the mental images that they run through their mind, their feelings and emotions, their breathing, and their posture.
3. Pretend That You’re Confident.
A while back I came across an interesting anecdote involving the Spanish Surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Dali came to be known as one of the most extroverted and gregarious personalities of his time. However, his biographer, Ian Gibson, reveals that this was not always the case. In fact, while he was at the Madrid Art Academy, Dali was morbidly shy.
That’s when he received the following piece of advice from his uncle: he should pretend to be an extrovert. Dali followed his uncle’s advice. Every day he went through the motions of being an extrovert. Soon, he became what he was pretending to be. Do the same as Dali: in order to be more confident, pretend that you’re confident.
4. Act “As If”.
Exactly how do you pretend to be confident, if you’re not? You act “as if”. Ask yourself the following:
- If I were confident, how would I move?
- If I were confident, how would I be sitting?
- If I were confident, how would I dress?
- If I were confident, what sorts of things would I say?
- If I were confident, what would my mental chatter sound like?
- If I were confident, where would I go and what would I do?
Then, take your answers and begin applying them. Do this consistently and, pretty soon, you’ll forget that you’re acting.
5. Move Toward Self-Confidence by Taking Small, Consistent Steps.
In the first point of this post I asserted that you need to feel confident right now, regardless of where you are at the moment. However, this is often easier said than done. The truth is that the best way to feel confident is to take action.
- Imagine that there’s another version of you standing or sitting at your side. This version of you is slightly more confident than you are.
- Now ask yourself what you need to do in order to be able to step into that more confident version of yourself. Do you need to be more assertive? Do you need to break your goals down into smaller chunks so that you can start taking action in order to achieve them? Is there a skill that you need to develop? Start doing these things.
- Once you’ve started taking steps in the right direction, imagine once again that there’s an even more confident you sitting to your right. This version of you is even more self-assured, more charismatic, and more resourceful. What do you need to do in order to step into that version of yourself? Do it.
- Keep imagining versions of yourself that are just a bit happier, more enthusiastic, more passionate, and more determined than the version before. Keep taking action in order to keep stepping into these better versions of yourself, until you feel yourself overflowing with confidence.
6. Take Better Care of Yourself.
Confident people excel at self-care. Follow their lead by doing the following:
- Eat healthy, nutritious meals.
- Get some sort of regular exercise.
- Have “me time” during which you meditate, read novels by your favorite authors, or participate in some other activity that you enjoy.
- Stop over-extending yourself.
When you take care of yourself you’re sending yourself the message that you consider yourself to be important, and worthy of care and attention. And, at the end of the day, your self-confidence depends on what you tell yourself about you.
7. Paint Yourself In a Favorable Light.
The other day I was reviewing a college application for a friend’s daughter as a favor to my friend. The girl had written down in the college application, among other things, that she had lived in Turkey and that she spoke French. Here’s why there was a problem with this:
- First, the girl’s mother lived in Turkey when she was pregnant with her, but she returned to Panama to give birth to the girl, and the girl herself has never been to Turkey (being in a country for a few months as a fetus in your mother’s womb does not count as having lived in that country).
- Second, the girl does not speak French. She simply enrolled in French lessons a week before filling out her college application.
Clearly, this girl is rather delusional. However, at the other end of the spectrum are all those people who refuse to give themselves credit for what they do. Here are some examples:
- I knew one woman in Costa Rica with great taste. Her friends were always asking her to help them re-decorate their homes and she always did a great job. However, she refused to take her decorating skills seriously because she hadn’t gone to design school. The truth is, this woman was better at interior decorating than a lot of people with degrees from fancy interior design schools.
- I know someone else who refuses to write down in her resume that she speaks three languages just because she’s not 100% fluent in one of them.
- Yet a third person I know refuses to call himself an entrepreneur just because his small side business isn’t making much money yet.
These three people need to start giving themselves more credit.
Take a good hard look at what you know how to do, and what you’ve done, and paint your skills and your life experience in the most favorable light that you can (obviously, without telling any lies). Then, allow yourself to feel proud and confident of who you are, what you know, and what you’ve done.
8. Be Prepared.
One of the best ways to feel confident in any situation is to do your homework ahead of time and be fully prepared to do what’s expected of you. For example, if you have to give a presentation at work, do the following:
- Make sure that you take the time to do the necessary research.
- Draft up several alternatives.
- Choose the alternative that you think is best, and have all of the necessary data to back up the alternative which you’re recommending.
After all, how can you possibly feel confident in a situation that you haven’t adequately prepared for?
When I was in law school at Georgetown, most of my classes were very large. The professors used the Socratic method of teaching, which means that they taught by asking the students questions, and by stimulating debate. That is, there was a lot of class participation.
At first, I was scared to death of being called on.
- What if I didn’t know the answer?
- What if I made a complete fool of myself in front of the whole class?
- What if the professor yelled at me for not having prepared adequately for class?
In fact, I was so scared of being called on, that on the first day of class I sat all the way in the back of the room. Surely, I would go unnoticed sitting all the way back there. That was not to be; law professors can smell fear.
I was the first person called on, on the very first day of class. And I hadn’t read the material specified on the syllabus. When the professor asked me who was suing whom in the case we were supposed to have read, I answered:
“The plaintiff sued the defendant.”
Of course, the plaintiff always sues the defendant, and it was obvious that I hadn’t read the case. To this day I still blush when I think of that experience.
After that I made sure to read all of the material that was assigned for every class. I even bought study aids to supplement my reading. I can tell you from first-hand experience that your confidence level soars when you walk into a class fully prepared; and this applies to everything in life.
9. Use Visualization.
When you need to do something important that’s outside of your comfort zone, and you’re worried that you’re not going to do well, visualize yourself doing a good job. As an illustration, suppose that you have to give a speech in front of your company’s Board of Directors. Do the following:
- Before the big day, take a moment to close your eyes and see yourself standing in front of the Board, looking confident and self-assured, and flawlessly delivering your speech.
- See yourself in your mind’s eye calmly answering any questions asked by the members of the Board.
- Then, visualize each of the Board members walking up to you at the end of the speech, shaking your hand, and thanking you for your excellent work.
By visualizing yourself doing a good job, when the day comes in which you have to give your speech, you’ll feel as if you’ve already done it before, and that it went well. This will give you the confidence that you need to do a good job.
10. Distance Yourself From People Who Bring You Down.
Unfortunately, the world is full of small, angry people who have failed repeatedly and who have made it their life’s mission to make sure that everyone else feels as miserable as they do. These people will suck all of the self-confidence right out of you, if you let them.
If you want your confidence to soar, stay away from these people.
11. Make It a Point to Catch Yourself Doing Things Right.
There’s a book called “The One Minute Manager”, by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
Although the book’s purpose is to help managers make their team members feel better about themselves–because people who feel good about themselves do better work–you can use some of the lessons in this book to manage yourself in a way that will help you to feel good about yourself.
Here are some of the ideas in the book which you can start applying right away:
- Make it a point to catch yourself doing things right.
- When you do catch yourself doing a good job, praise yourself and give yourself a little pat on the back.
- Allow yourself to feel the pride that comes from doing good work.
- Do this as often as you can.
12. Stop Being So Hard On Yourself.
Lots of people have a tendency to be overly critical of themselves. They tell themselves that they have to do everything perfectly. Then, they berate themselves for every mistake that they make and for every failure to hit the mark smack in the bull’s eye.
If you’re one of these people, in order to make your confidence soar, you have to stop being so hard on yourself. When you do something wrong, do the following:
- Acknowledge to yourself that you could have done a better job.
- Ask yourself how you can correct the mistake, or learn from it so that you don’t repeat the error.
- Remind yourself of how valuable you are.
- Reaffirm that the fact that you did poorly in this situation speaks to your performance on this specific task, but does not in any way affect your worth as a person.
- Once you’ve gone through this process, resolve to do better in the future, and simply release the mistake. It’s over.
Everyone is capable of feeling more confident. All you need to do is to change your attitude and develop new behaviors and strategies. Get started by applying the 12 strategies explained above and watch your confidence soar.
Live your best life by becoming more confident.
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