Confidence makes us happier, feel more positive, and attracts other people to us. I believe that, for the most part, we all want to be confident. But the truth is that a great number of us are self-critical and have low self-esteem. Some people may think it would be impossible to ever be confident in themselves. Maybe an all-encompassing, permanent confidence in every aspect of yourself is impossible-- we all need to critically appraise ourselves every once in a while-- but raising your confidence levels is both possible and within your control. If you want to be a more confident, self-assured person, here are some tips that may help you reach your goal.
Tips for increasing confidence:
- Eliminate negative thoughts. Although it takes some practice, eventually you can learn how to identify and throw away your automatic negative thoughts. Read our blog post here about how thoughts are just thoughts-- involuntary events that do not reflect the “truth” or reality. With practice, you can train your mind to avoid subjects you don’t want to spend time thinking about. For example, if you tend to be self-critical of yourself throughout the day, you can learn to recognize when you're about to go down that negative path in your mind, intercept the thought, and move to a more positive thought.
- Clean your body. This may seem like a strange addition to this list, but the truth is that most of us feel our best when we are looking and smelling our best. Give yourself adequate time to get ready in the mornings, and make sure you are practicing good hygiene skills.
- Exercise. Moving our bodies increases the release of chemicals called endorphins, which trigger positive feelings in our bodies and minds. Exercising frequently makes us feel productive, more energetic, and happier.
- Push yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Often, when faced with a task we haven’t tried before, we are not confident in our abilities. A little practice is all we need to become more familiar with the task and start taking steps toward confidence!
- Give yourself time to prepare. It’s hard to be confident if you feel unprepared to do something. You might doubt that you will do well if you are unprepared. Think of giving a presentation: if you haven’t prepared what you’re going to say, you might flounder in front of your audience. To avoid this, practice! Give yourself plenty of time to prepare and practice. You will thank yourself.
- Stand tall. Amy Cuddy’s research (watch this fascinating Ted Talk!) suggests that our bodies can convince our minds to be more confident. For example, standing straight is a much more empowering stance than hunching over with our arms crossed. The latter conveys discomfort to other people and to ourselves; the former conveys confidence.
- Set small goals and achieve them. This is a surefire way for gaining trust in your abilities. We often set large, lofty goals for ourselves and get discouraged when we fail to meet them. Yet, are we being realistic with ourselves? If we have never run before but want to start, setting a goal of jogging for three minutes every day is much more realistic than immeditaly being able to run three miles. Achieving a small goal is a stepping stone to bigger goals, and it makes us feel good about ourselves along the way.
Because confidence is sometimes misconstrued as arrogance, I just want to point out that it is possible to be confident:
- Without being arrogant or narcissistic
- While acknowledging that other people also have things to be confident about. Just because someone else is beautiful does not mean you are not!
- While accepting the fact that, as human beings, we all have imperfections. That doesn't mean we aren't still awesome!
--Kirsten Dalquist, MSSW Intern