Life is tough but we all have the power to get through it. What does this mean? A strong belief in oneself: the strength that comes from self-confidence.
“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.”
—Joe Namath (legendary quarterback).
Confidence is all about making the most of what life throws at you. Two main things that contribute to self-confidence are self-efficacy and self-esteem.
Self-efficacy is when we start to gain expertise in certain areas and achieve targets related to them. How does this relate to confidence? It gives us faith that we can face any challenge, regardless of difficulty, and persevere through disappointments, troubles, and letdowns.
Self-esteem is more a feeling that we can cope with our lives, and that we are continuously engaged in the active pursuit of happiness. This is partly governed by the need for the acceptance and approval of our peers. It’s also influenced by our sense of right and wrong, our competence, and our ultimate ability to succeed in life.
While self-confidence can be built with positive thinking and affirmation, setting and achieving goals (to build competence) is equally important.
The road to true confidence is never easy: it takes time and practice.
Here are 10 great ways to boost and build your self-confidence:
1. Try to smile and make eye contact when you speak.
Making eye contact with people helps you to focus on them, and makes them pay attention to you. This allows for better communication, and both you and your audience feel acknowledged and special. The people you’re talking to will feel positive and engaged in your company.
Smiling makes your face glow, and makes you look younger and thinner. It also makes you seem more likable, courteous and competent.
Regardless of how you feel, smiling releases feel-good chemicals: serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Instead of waiting to feel good to smile, smile to feel good. Don’t you feel more confident when you feel good about yourself? That’s what smiling does for you.
2. Learn new things and improve your skills!
Learning opens many doors, not just career-wise, but socially.
When done sincerely, learning can lead to a sense of upliftment that comes with knowing more about the world around you and understanding it better.
It helps you to make better use of your time. It also helps you to be more valuable to society, either by sharing your knowledge or putting what you know to good use, which is definitely confidence-building.
Doing what you love is a dream come true for most people because you don't need much additional motivation to do it. Building on your existing skills, or doing what you love can make you an authority in that particular area, which naturally builds confidence. Isn’t it nice to know all the answers?
3. Be positive, stop comparing yourself to others!
To be fair, a little comparison to people around you is normal and even recommended. How else would you know if you’re any good (or bad)?
In fact, Leon Festinger, a social scientist, has gone so far as to mention, in his Theory of Social Comparison, that people are innately driven to evaluate their characteristics by comparing themselves with others.
The problem is that instead of making objective comparisons to help ourselves, we tend to either underestimate or overestimate ourselves when it comes to other people. People with low self-esteem particularly tend to compare themselves with everyone and come out losing in the end. If this is you, just stop it! You’re not doing yourself any favors. The beauty of life is in its differences. Celebrate that! We’re all born different, with different skills and personalities. Improve what you want to, but don’t forget how wonderful you are, because that’s the key to confidence.
4. Be aware of your attire and body language.
Your clothes and body language make up your presence and the impression you make when you enter a room. While we aren’t looking for anything particularly dramatic, a neat appearance and positive body language will leave you feeling good, and quite fresh all day.
Maintaining a good posture helps to keep a steady spine, and take the pressure off your neck, shoulders, and back. While it may sound like a pain to stand on two feet, with your weight evenly distributed, it can save you discomfort you may experience from standing for long periods of time. Keep your head up, chest out, shoulders back, not hunched forward, and not so far back as to look like a rooster. This is a confident pose.
Maintain a pleasant facial expression. While we can be aware of what our bodies are doing at all times, the same cannot be said of our faces. For example, our brows might tend to furrow, our eyes could squint, our jaws might slacken, anything can happen really.
This is something you can practice at home, in front of a loved one or a mirror, until you are more aware of these changes. You don’t have to be constantly smiling, but don’t frown. Try not to fidget, as this gives off impatient or nervous vibes. Deep breathing can help, no matter what your personality is like. It will keep you calm.
Maintain eye contact: don’t flinch away from meeting someone’s eyes: it shows a lack of confidence. Don’t stare either. Just maintain eye contact for a few seconds at a time, you can also focus at a person’s forehead, but not in an obvious way.
As for clothes, clean, ironed clothes are a universally accepted norm.
If you are casually dressed, the same rules apply. Nothing should be stained or torn. Shoes should be clean, if not also polished. Always try to wear clothes that fit, that are not too tight or loose.
Hair should be combed, shampooed and kept away from the face.
Physical hygiene is important. Bathe every day. Do what you can to control body odor.
Looking and feeling your best is a key principle of confidence.
5. Speak clearly and precisely.
Before you speak, try to project your voice from deep down in your stomach. Deep breathing helps here. It may take some effort, but it will help in the long run. People cant listen to you if they can't hear you! Speaking precisely also means speaking to the point, without too many ‘hems’ and ‘haws’. Enunciate every word, or practice doing so in your spare time.
If you follow these tips, everything you say will be perceived as worth listening to, because it comes from a place of confidence.
6. Gain expertise in your desired areas.
There is a correlation between confidence and expertise levels. As you gain expertise in areas of interest to you (where you already have some knowledge), you will automatically gain confidence.
For example, a sales trainee may be less self-assured and confident in making a sale because he/she will lack experience, and possibly sales technique and knowledge. A sales manager, however, will be more confident if he/she has had the experience of successful sales, handling numerous customers and years of knowledge.
7. Organize your living space and work area.
A neat and clean home and workstation make us feel more in control of ourselves and our lives. Conversely, a chaotic home and workspace reflect disorganization, helplessness and a lack of control in our lives. A healthy mind thrives in a healthy environment and if either of these is messy, it’s no fun for anyone. An organized environment builds confidence.
8. Achieve big goals by setting reasonable targets.
When we are able to achieve our goals, that gives us a sense of self-confidence. Success is always encouraging, but not if we get stressed, and go nearly insane in order to reach difficult targets. Trying to set big goals and using big chunks of time and effort to achieve them is like trying to climb the stairs of a 300-story building all at one go. You’ll get tired and burn out at some point.
Instead of looking to do more in a short period of time, set a practical, reasonable goal, scheduling in time for possible delays, extra research, and resources and any number of variables. This gives you time to take a breather and see if your project is going the way you want it to, or if you’d like to change something. It’s like the old cliche: failing to plan, is planning to fail. Give yourself a fighting chance, you’re worth it.
9. Exercise and eat healthy to live better.
When we exercise, our body and mind respond positively because we’re investing in ourselves, and making a commitment to live longer and healthier lives. When you eat healthy food, you have more energy and not many health issues. Life starts looking up, no matter what you’re going through.
When you start on an exercise or fitness programme, do it for yourself. You’ll see the improvements and feel happy and confident because you will automatically look and feel better.
10. Talk to yourself once in a while.
Think about all the positive things you’d like to say to yourself.
They can be as simple as:
“I am smart.”
“I am wonderful.”
“I can do this.”
Write them down if you have to. Now stand in front of a mirror, back straight, chin up, and say these things sincerely and lovingly, to yourself.
Do this every day, and it will impact how you feel about yourself.
It will systematically build your self-confidence because it will affect you on the deepest possible level.
Everyone can do with a bit more faith and confidence in themselves because that’s what gives us the conviction to do our best every day and make a difference in the world. These are ten practical tips to build self-confidence. Try them out and see the difference!