THE BLOG

Can You Achieve Real Confidence?

05/02/2016 15:02 GMT | Updated 05/02/2017 10:12 GMT

When I'm out and about meeting Psychologies readers at our events, we often talk about no-limits, 'magic wand' thinking. If you could wave a wand and change something about yourself - what would you change? 'Confidence' is the word I hear over and over again. If we could only be a little bit more confident and comfortable in our own skin, the world would be our oyster...

You will be relieved (I was!) to discover that it's normal - and healthy - to feel scared when you're about to do something new. In our new book, Real Confidence, we show how - from overcoming your initial fears to just 'having a go' until you become more skilled - as you slowly take baby steps out of your comfort zone. Then, over time you can build your confidence on a foundation of real skill and faith in your ability.

Real Confidence is the first book in a new series by Psychologies magazine. We've delved deep into the world of confidence, using the team's own experiences as inspiration. The book challenges the concept of confidence, revealing what being confident really means and how to achieve genuine confidence. We worked with author Lorna V to share our top tips to give your confidence a boost today.

1. Assess yourself

Instead of staying in the fogginess that is lack of confidence, take stock. Forget thinking that you need confidence, we find it helps to focus on what it is that you want or need to do. Any time you feel a bit wobbly and sense yourself falling into 'I'm hopeless, I can't do it' territory, stop, detach yourself from your emotions and assess where you are, where you need to be and what you need to learn.

2. Keep learning

Regardless of what you want to become confident at, any learning has a spin-off effect. Instead of dwelling on a lack of confidence at work, say, we recommend taking courses in something that interests you outside of work. The combination of pursuing a passion and engaging your brain in learning will give you a happier energy, and your confidence will spill out at work too.

3. Develop your willpower

You may wonder about that person who lacks confidence yet is able to somehow achieve their goals. The answer is willpower. Rather than focussing on not having confidence, switch your thinking to how much you want something, why you want it and what could happen when you get it. Let's say you haven't got the confidence to go running, but really want to complete a marathon for a charity that helped a loved one. Focussing your motivation for that will give you the willpower to start running and slowly work towards completing the marathon.

4. Talk about your positive experiences

Do you spend more time talking about how you made a mess of things or what you can't do? Try and switch from this habit to talking about something, anything, which was even a tiny achievement. Rather than going over and over how rubbish you are, talking about the process of trying and making small progress is a habit that will help you to make greater progress.

5. Tone down your worst thoughts

Being real means accepting how you feel. So if you feel terrible then that's where you are, but you don't have to stay there. In order to shift, get into the habit of toning down your worst thoughts. 'I'm going to be a disaster when I pitch for business and then I'll get the sack', can be toned down to 'I might not be brilliant, but my boss knows this is my first time and will make allowances.' Modifying your thoughts is more manageable than a complete radical change.

6. Ditch thinking for doing

We're not going to pretend that how anyone feels about themselves is going to change overnight or even within days. Confidence fluctuates and is affected by several factors. You'll have wobbly moments- even days. This is when you need to get out of your head. As soon as you become aware of thinking too much, start doing anything. Absolutely any activity can help ignite confidence. Next time you start to feel yourself worrying, go for a walk, clean the house, or do some gardening instead.

7. Adopt good posture

A recent study led by social psychologist Professor Amy Cuddy at Harvard University found that power poses (opening up our bodies rather than closing them down) change our hormones so we are less reactive to stress and more fired up with testosterone energy. This isn't just about how others see us, but crucially, how we feel. Just two minutes of opening up and stretching arms out (instead of sitting huddled up) before a job interview zaps tension and boosts confidence. Rather than trying to nervously change your posture during a stressful situation and feeling it's weird and fake, develop the habit of becoming aware of your posture on a daily basis.

Real Confidence by Psychologies (published by Capstone) is available now. Click here to find out more.

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