How to Be Confident: 7 Essential Mental and Social Strategies
You may think confidence comes naturally to beautiful, successful people, but that kind of thinking will only stunt your personal and professional growth.
No matter how pretty, how successful, or how respected, most of us are dealing with insecurity and lack confidence in at least one aspect of our lives. That sense of insecurity can often come from how we think we’re perceived by the people around us.
Having low self-confidence doesn’t just result in shyness, but that timidness will also prevent us from taking advantage of opportunities that come our way.
So what can we do to get out of this rut and take control of our success?
Poll: Average Confidence
On any given day, how confident do you feel?
1. Learn to Enjoy Doing Things Alone
The first step to confidence is building self-assurance by becoming more connected with yourself. Doing things alone will help you learn about yourself and. Watch movies you want to watch, eat the foods you enjoy, take the opportunity to discover new things about yourself. It can feel awkward the first few times you eat out by yourself but resist wanting to distract yourself with a book or a phone. Learn to face that uncomfortable feeling head-on. It’s all about learning to be okay with being by yourself and to feel comfortable with your emotions, pleasant or otherwise.
If you don’t want to be with you, others won’t want to be around you either.
2. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: Try Everything!
Even though you may be socially awkward or scared of the unfamiliar, make a conscious effort to push beyond your boundaries. Your comfort zone will only keep shrinking if you don’t regularly push back. Sign up for that class you’ve always wanted to take, volunteer, join a club. Is there something you think you might like doing, but not quite sure? Do it anyway. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Who knows, you might even find your passion! It’ll take a lot of courage, but push through, and you’ll be surprised at what you’re capable of.
3. Recognize That Your Memory is Biased
We may not want to admit it, but let’s face it. Our memories are not the most reliable. We don’t preserve information exactly the way it comes in. Your brain operates on what psychology calls “confirmation bias.” That means that your brain stores and organizes information according to your self-image, current beliefs, and values. That’s how your brain can store and access information so efficiently.
But this also means that if you’re low in self-confidence and self-esteem, your brain may choose to store more information that confirms your beliefs that you’re not good enough. For example, even if someone compliments you for something, you may remember that instant as someone giving you a sympathy vote or being insincere. So whenever you think you had a negative experience, it can be helpful to take a step back, go through the sequence of events again, and consciously look for the positive things.
4. Practice Getting in Touch With Your Emotions
Emotional intelligence is all about being able to understand and channel your emotions in a healthy and productive way. Did something upset you? Anger you? Make you sad? Instead of trying to avoid the negative emotions, dig deeper and understand what made you feel that way. Once you understand your emotional triggers and how you react to certain situations, you'll gain a deeper insight into your strengths and weaknesses.
And as you start to feel more comfortable with your emotions, you’ll feel more confident in knowing how to take control of how you react to any situation, and therefore more empowered to control the situation itself.
5. It’s Okay to Fake It
You’re only as confident as you appear, but that doesn’t mean you should lie about having qualifications when you don’t or pretend to be someone you’re not. The key here is not to hold back just because you don't think you're good enough. If you want that job, apply anyway even if you don’t have the required experience. Don’t assume that you won’t have a chance.
Similarly, when you're in a social event or encounter a networking opportunity, don’t get hung up on all the ways you could be better. Instead, focus only on your strengths. When you present yourself positively, others will be less likely to notice your weaknesses. And with time, that air of confidence will start to feel genuine as your mindset shifts towards optimism.
6. It’s Also Okay to Ask For Help
When our confidence is low, we can be uncertain about many things, which contributes to our timidness to approach people and try new things. So don’t be afraid to get help. Ask for advice, support, or even for people to clarify what you don’t understand. Most people are happy to help and will love to tell you more about themselves. If someone does refuse to help (which is rare, but does happen), that’s fine. Don’t take it personally and move on to the next person.
7. Most Importantly, Laugh at Yourself
It’s natural to want to hide and gloss over your imperfections and weaknesses, hoping that if you pretend they didn’t exist, others will too. But, just like seeing someone trip and fall in public, if that person gets up looking embarrassed and keeps walking as if nothing happened, wouldn’t you feel awkward and embarrassed for them too? In contrast, if that person bursts out laughing and cracks a self-deprecating joke, wouldn’t they appear more confident and comfortable to be around? The same concept applies to most other weakness we have.
Accept that you’re only human and you will make mistakes. Don’t take yourself too seriously and learn to laugh at yourself. Not only will you feel better about yourself, but you’ll naturally open up to others who will laugh with you instead of at you.
Poll: Asking For Help
How comfortable are you to ask for help?
Final Note: No One Else Can Determine Your Self-Worth
Remember that your worth is never dependent on the recognition of others. Your confidence and sense of self-worth can only come from a thorough understanding of yourself and acceptance of your weaknesses and strengths.
© 2018 KV Lo