Confidence is essential in all aspects of our lives. It helps us reach our goals, try new things, make decisions and be independent. It enables us to manage stress and equips us to deal with emotional, practical and physical problems. It's how we measure our ability to cope and to succeed. When we're feeling confident, it makes everything easier. The trouble is that when confidence is proving elusive the opposite is true. So what can you do to capture and build your confidence?
No-one is confident all the time!
No-one feels confident all of the time. How confident you feel is on a continuum; you go up and down depending on what you're doing, your mood and your experiences. Even the most confident people never feel totally 'ready' for something - they just get stuck in. Next time you want to do something remind yourself the 'right' time is unlikely to ever come. The best thing to do is to just get started and give it a go.
- What would I say to a friend in this situation?⠀
- How might I encourage them and help them through it?⠀
- Use this advice on yourself! There shouldn't be two rules - that you deserve criticism, but that it wouldn't be helpful for anyone else!
Step out of your comfort zone
It's good to do things that mean you take a step out of your comfort zone. New experiences, new hobbies and challenging ourselves on a regular basis are massively important for maintaining good mental health, personal growth and improving confidence and self-esteem.
Confront anxious predictions
When you're feeling unconfident, you're more likely to predict the worst, "I can't do it", "it won't go well". If you listen to these predictions you'll never take action and end up feeling worse. Next time you think you can't - test it out by doing whatever you fear and seeing what happens! It's only by moving past the discomfort of I can't, that you get to see I can.
We tend to be good at having compassion for others, but not so good at being compassionate to ourselves. Many of us imagine it's being weak, but when you think of the qualities it's made up of it's anything but. Compassion means being strong, non-judgemental, kind, brave, warm, fair and wise. Core ingredients for confidence!
To overcome procrastination (a confidence killer!) you need to get more in touch with your future self. Make sure you're really clear about why you want to do what you're doing. How will it make things better for you in the future, why will you benefit? Make your goals really concrete and think about what you'll gain if you do them.
When we think about doing something, we often play out the scenario in our mind. If you're imagining it not going well, you'll start to feel anxious. Instead visualise all the possible positive outcomes of an event, so you're seeing hearing and feeling success. It puts your mind and body in the best possible place for a great outcome.
- Over the next week note down anything that goes well, any compliments, positive feedback, anything you're pleased with.
- At the end of the week, read it back!
There's no such thing as perfect
While pushing yourself to achieve more can be a good thing, be careful of aiming for perfection. Looking for perfect means your focus will be on what's not going well and since perfect doesn't exist you'll constantly feel like you're failing. Making mistakes isn't a weakness, it's part and parcel of learning, growing and understanding yourself better. Take a fairer viewpoint. If 80% is going well and 20% going not so well that's how you should split your time!
The mind and body are pretty amazing - just changing your posture can change your mind set for the better. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that subjects who sat up straight in their chairs, instead of slouching, were more confident about the things they were then asked to write down. In addition, they discovered that posture builds a sense of strength and confidence in social situations too. So use this to your advantage - stand up straight, push your shoulders back and hold your head high.
To celebrate International Day of Happiness on 20th March Dr Jessamy is running a free 5 day Happiness Challenge. Every day at 9am you'll receive an exercise, which will outline your task for the day. It's a crash course in understanding your mind + a strategy every day to boost your mood. All the strategies are evidence based, which means they are proven work. To take part you can sign up here
This blog was originally written for Social Butterflies a brilliant new lifestyle magazine