You see THEM all around you:
Walking confidently into a bar and asking someone for their number.
Expressing their views in a company town hall meeting.
Asking the dreaded question to their boss. All these folks are reeking of confidence!! Do you wish you had the confidence that they possess, to do the things they do and say the perfect things they say?
When you hear the word ‘successful’ who comes to your mind first? Someone on TV or real life who seems to feel no fear and says the perfect thing and does things confidently, right? Yes, Confidence is tied to success, and vice versa.
There are several assumptions we make about these confident people.
Firstly, we assume confident people are born that way and possess a natural ability to do or say things that you cannot do or say. They can walk into a bar and talk to someone, because it is an innate ability that they possess. Because of their ‘inborn gift’, they can go anywhere, say anything and do anything.
Fortunately, that is not true! Confidence is a learnable skill. No one was born feeling confident or not confident. We were all born as clean slates. The years of social conditioning and all the other factors make us adopt certain mindsets. Would you be surprised if I told you that you can feel confident this very moment? Yes, you can tell yourself that you need to feel confident right now and you can probably turn it on like a switch. The only difference is that the switch does not stay on forever and will probably flick down in a minute after you adopt that attitude and mindset. The later part of this article will address how to adopt and sustain the confidence mindset.
Another assumption about confidence is that confident people are never scared. Again, this is untrue. Confident people can be scared like the rest of us; they have the same set of limiting thoughts and fears that make them feel not confident at times. What sets them apart is their ability to rise above these fears and forge ahead despite them.
The third assumption is that confident people are confident in all areas of their lives. This isn’t necessarily true. Someone who is confident to ask their boss for a raise may not necessarily feel confident to ask someone out on a date, or vice versa.
Confidence is not necessarily about knowing all the answers; it’s about being able to move forward knowing that you will figure it out. It is knowing that you can handle whatever comes at you.
Here are some strategies and tips for upping your confidence level to make it ever-lasting. Like with all mind-related work, these tools and strategies will produce results only if they are ingrained in the DNA of your being. That begins with consciously practicing them until living in this way becomes a truly ingrained habit.
1. Awareness of your strengths
Not many of us have consciously taken time to understand our own strengths. Being aware of one’s own strengths is an important tool in boosting confidence. There are many online resources and books to help you find your own strengths. StrengthFinder 2.0 is a great book and also provides an online assessment to identify your top strengths. You will be surprised at how spot on it is. The key for success with this strategy is to identify your strengths and constantly remind yourself of them. Make a a list of these strengths and keep it in a handy spot like your wallet, your work desk, or your mirror. That way you can constantly remind yourself of your strengths and play to them. Playing to your strengths will help in making you feel confident about your abilities and provide a constant boost.
2. Confidence-competence loop
The more you do something, the better you become. When you first started riding a bike, you faltered and fell a few times. But you kept at it. The more you tried it, the better you got. And one day, you were able to ride successfully without falling, to the point that you now thoroughly enjoy riding the bike. This is the same competence-confidence loop that you can employ in other areas of your life.
Try it during situations that make you feel uncomfortable and not confident. If you hate eating alone at a restaurant, do it every day for the next 2 or 3 weeks. It’s going to feel weird and uncomfortable at first. The first few times you are not going to feel confident and the hour could feel long. But by the end of the third week, i guarantee you will feel more confident. If you fear public speaking, do it enough and you will see that fear disappear. Very soon, you will be delivering presentations with confidence and ease. This is also tied to the next tip.
3. What’s the worst that can happen?
Often times, that little voice in our heads stops us from doing something and asks questions like:
“Am I sure? Does this make sense for me? Am I capable of this? Do I know all I need to know to do a good job? What if I don’t succeed? What if people laugh at me?” and so on.
That’s when asking a simple question like “What’s the worst that can happen?” may offer a different perspective and a potential way to turn that voice off. What’s the worst that can happen when you try to ask someone out on a date? They could say no. Is that the end of the world? Filter your thoughts through the lens of abundance. Try the ‘whats the worst that can happen?’ tactic the next time that little voice in your head starts asking questions.
4. Past successes
“The more you acknowledge your past successes, the more confident you become in taking on and successfully accomplishing new ones” – Jack Canfield.
Jack captures the essence of this strategy perfectly with this above quote. Even small successes are successes to be noted and celebrated. Every small step that is accomplished towards a major goal is still a step to be celebrated. Sometimes we are so lost in reaching the end goal, we forget to acknowledge the little steps that we take and the little achievements we reach on our path to the goal. Each of these successes from your past should be resurrected in your memory often, serving as a reminder about your abilities and again injecting you with a confidence boost.
For certain tasks, just preparing well ahead of time soothes that negative voice in the head and prevents it from popping up again. Preparing for a speech that you do not feel confident delivering, or a meeting with your boss, or anything that can be prepared for, is definitely a surefire tactic for increasing confidence.
6. Say thank you for compliments
When someone compliments you for anything – for your work, the way you did something, the way you said something or simply for the way you look, how do you react? Do you shrug it off and say ‘it was nothing’, ‘I am not sure why I was given this award’, I don’t deserve it’, ‘I just got lucky this time around’… all these are indicators of weakened confidence.
You do not believe enough in yourself to accept compliments.
Switch out that thinking and start accepting compliments graciously. When given a compliment learn to say thank you comfortably, thanking the person for recognizing your efforts and offering support. It is a display of belief in yourself which repeated consciously over a period of time begins to deeply seat itself in your mind- leading to stronger levels of confidence.
7. Fake it ’til you make it
There are 2 opposing views on this strategy. Some advocates strongly believe that ‘faking it ’til you succeed’ can increase your confidence and thereby increase your competence. The opposing view believes that it is not ethically right to fake it in the first place. I suggest an in-between approach.
You’ve heard of dressing for success. It is a form of faking it ’til you make it. You dress ‘up’ to get the job you want. That does not mean you are not competent or that you are faking it. It means that you want the job and believe you can perform well in that role, and you are displaying that attitude in your external appearances as it relates to the job. You can’t fake being a professional singer if all you do is sing in the shower. But if you are a great singer with true capabilities and experience, looking for better singing opportunities, using a little ’embellishment’ is not wrong. In fact, you are not even faking it at that point.
Affirmations are simple, positive, and specific statements written in the present tense with the sole purpose of changing one’s thoughts. These sentences help in strengthening and reinforcing beliefs you need to achieve success. Affirmations practiced faithfully rewire the brain and help us break negative thought patterns. The best thing about affirmations is that there is no limit to the number of affirmations you can create and say- and each affirmation can be unique for you and for the thought pattern you are trying to break.
The key to finding success with affirmations is through repeating the affirmations on a consistent basis, preferably multiple times- and saying them with conviction. Give this a power boost by standing in front of the mirror and saying these affirmations as you look at yourself. Some examples of affirmations for boosting self-confidence are:
- I have confidence in my ability to do whatever I set my mind to;
- I am discovering more wonderful things about myself with each passing day;
- I truly like myself and this helps others to accept me for who I am;
- I believe in myself completely;
- I believe that I can achieve anything I want;
- My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless;
- My potential to succeed is infinite;
- I acknowledge my own self-worth;
- My confidence is soaring.
In today’s fast paced society, we are generally lost in the daily grind of life and the tendency is to focus on the negative and the bad things that make life a challenge at times. We forget to think about and appreciate the positive. Appreciating each and every small blessing in our lives becomes a task taken for granted and we even forget that those little blessings are in fact blessings that make our life beautiful in some way.
Another great habit to form is the habit of making time to be grateful. Start a gratitude journal and spend 2-3 minutes every night expressing 3-5 things in your life that you are thankful for. Write them down. The power of the written word has been constantly proven to be stronger than the spoken. What you are grateful for every night need not be something profound. Small things like the smell of freshly baked cookies, hugs from your kids, to big things like a promotion at work, or an hour of uninterrupted reading could be things to be thankful for. Some days, I am just thankful to be alive- healthy and kicking. There is no limit to the number of things you can be grateful for. Make this a daily habit and see a tremendous change in your attitude to people and life. You’ll also see your confidence surging ahead when you realize what a great life you have.
As mentioned earlier, all these strategies and tools involve conscious effort and repetition until they become ingrained into your life. But the effort is well worth it when you see a constant upsurge in your confidence levels.
What other strategies do you use to up-level your confidence?