I used to think confidence meant being that person at the party who was talking the loudest, guffawing with their head thrown back - and likely, spilling their drink over the poor soul next to them (often, myself.)
Now I know this is not true confidence - more accurately, it might be drunkenness.
Confidence is something that is much harder to see - at first anyway. It's nestled inside us, and even when it's hibernating and seemingly nowhere to be seen: it's there.
The trick is nudging it awake and allowing it to be the driving force that gets us to do the things we want to do but feel a little (or a lot) afraid to do.
So, how does one tap into this confidence in any situation?
Well, I'm all about routines.
I'm proposing we extend this even further: that a healthy routine can actually increase confidence.
Right now I'm the result of an experiment of one, but if you're up for participating too, here are my five daily routines to increase confidence:
1. Identify what knocks your confidence (and remove it)
One of the first ways of breaking any bad habit or negative train of thought, is simply to become aware of it. If you can't see it, you can't change it.
To make this as routine as brushing your teeth, make a list of everything you can think of that may be the source of your low confidence.
Notice throughout the day what triggers feelings of low confidence. Where you are, what you're doing, who you're with.
Then every morning I would remind myself of this list, and watch out for those triggers during my day.
If one came up: I could identify it, and act accordingly.
For example, when I was struggling with low body confidence, I was following a lot of accounts on Instagram related to health and fitness.
Rather than the 'motivation' I was hoping to get from seeing these girls with ripped abs and fake boobs, I was feeling more and more insecure each time I went for a scroll.
So once I identified this, I unfollowed all the accounts that were bringing me down.
Now, this isn't always possible. If your boss is bringing you down with negative criticism I'm not telling you to quit your job (not today anyway.)
But if you can identify it, you can try to remember this:
Their negative words and behaviours are only a projection of their own insecurities. Don't let them affect you.
Over time, reminding yourself of this daily, and trying to remove yourself from negative situations when possible, your confidence will grow.
2. Get outside and move
Exercise releases those feel-good chemicals in the brain like dopamine and endorphins, whilst also helping to regulate stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
An instant mood lifter! Plus, if it does happen to be sunny where you are, just getting 10 minutes of those rays can brighten any mood - literally.
It also gives us a sense of accomplishment, which I find to be crucial to boosting my self-confidence.
Now I'm not saying to exercise in order to look better in order to feel more confident: I'm saying that movement in itself can boost our confidence.
Just getting in a 20-30 minute walk outside every morning seems to set me up for the day. Teamed with some uplifting tunes, I'm feeling pretty confident by the end of it.
3. Change the label
Thinking about ourselves as being 'confident' or not, instantly puts ourself into a category with a label.
Just labelling ourselves as shy or insecure, we start to emulate those feelings and ideas.
This label can be hard to shift - especially when we've been dealing with it since childhood.
But simply by changing how we see the word, and moving it from a noun to a verb can change how we feel about ourselves.
We aren't someone who is not confident. We are someone who might be currently lacking confidence, but that can go out and get some.
Each morning, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat a positive affirmation such as 'I am gaining more confidence each and every day.'
I also dare you to say this out loud. If anything, the sheer guts it takes to say something like this to yourself in the mirror is the equivalent of deadlifting an elephant for your confidence muscles.
4. Treat yo' self
It's common to let self-care slip when we're suffering a bout of low confidence or self-esteem.
But we can control our internal environment quite dramatically by changing our external environment.
It might be taking a long shower, and putting on your favourite outfit - the one that makes you do a double-take in the mirror because DAMN when did you get so hot?
Even if it's wearing matching lingerie, or some outlandish socks to the office: little things that make us feel cared for make a surprisingly big difference to our confidence.
5. Make a list of your qualities
Each morning, write down 10 things that you love about yourself. If love is a little strong, like is fine too.
Some could be physical, like the colour of nailpolish you're wearing. Others could be much deeper, like your ability to empathise with others.
Don't stop until you get to 10 - even if they start getting repetitive. It's the routine of doing this daily that enables us to internalise these and truly believe in ourselves.
Keep a snap of that list on your phone and use it as a pick-me-up whenever you need it.
Make a folder on your PC or laptop or Evernote, where you can save all the things that boost your confidence.
Thank you notes. Praise from work. Testimonials from clients. Positive ratings from Etsy. Kind emails from friends.
All the little things that make us feel good about ourselves STILL WORK even when read and re-read at a later date.
Cat Rose is the founder of the online community, the League of Creative Introverts. This is a place where creative business owners can learn how to get their work seen and recognised, and get the confidence they need to do it.Suggest a correction