People sometimes think confidence is something you just have like willpower that they just don’t have. Or confidence is something you can develop only after spending 10,000 hours on X to become the confident expert / winner/ top dog of X.
Self-confidence is so much more than that and something that can be learned. Self confidence comes from having a strong sense and value of self and understanding you are of value to the world. If you have this type of confidence, you can feel confident doing anything in life.
Every single person has the power to learn to be confident. Really it’s like walking. It is about learning some new skills and habits. Here are some simple physical and mental tricks to help you hack your way to confidence.
Take up space
Take up more physical space in the world.Stand like you rule all of the apes, are king of the world, and can fly! Do this for 2 min every day preferably before doing whatever it is you want to be more confident doing.
Ok, so you think I have lost it already but I haven’t. When a person is confident, their body language shows it. They tend to take up more physical space by making themselves as big as possible. Researchers studying body language found that when you stand in a particular power stance for 2 minutes, your cortisol levels will drop and help you mirror the chemistry of confidence.
So this step is an easy one. Literally trick your body confident.Come on just take this -> FREE CONFIDENCE!
If you have ever taken swimming lessons and learned to float on your back by spreading your arms and legs like a starfish, do the same thing while standing. If you do not know that I mean, stand tall. Now take a stance with your legs spread more than hip distance apart. Stand up as straight as you can and spread your arms out so both your hands are at shoulder height. Make yourself as big as you possibly can. This is a power stance. Now put your hands on your hips like Superman. Stay in this position for 2 minutes. You’ve got the power. You are amazing and we are all just waiting for you to take up more space in the world. Directly after doing this go on to do what you need to feel more confident doing. You will be more successful and should notice immediate results.
To learn more about body language and the power stance watch this video.
Learn to breathe expansively. Just as one key to projecting confidence is taking up space physically, another key is being able to take up space internally with your breath. The yogis have had this figured out for for time immemorial.
People who are not confident tend to have poor body posture that collapses their lungs, reducing the amount of air they can take in. They may also feel nervous or despondent and change their breathing patterns to more shallow breaths. How we feel affects how we breath and vice versa; how we breath affects our emotions.
Set aside a few minutes every day to breath. Your goal is to learn to breath with all of your lungs. To get an idea of all the areas a breath can fill, put your hand on your belly then take a deep breath focusing on breathing into your belly. Feel it rise and fall. Move your hand to your chest. Take a deep breath in, focusing on expanding your chest. Feel it rise and fall. Move your had to your lower back and breath into your lower back. Feel how it expands. Move your hand up and put it on your upper back. Breath into your upper back, feel it rise and fall.
Now that we covered all the areas you can expand in your lungs, your goal is to learn to breath expansively, filling all of these areas with air in the same breath. Just like you can take up space in the physical world and calm yourself and gain confidence, you can take up space inside yourself with air and calm yourself to focus and approach life confidently.
Take a comfortable seat on the floor or in a chair with your spine straight. Inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Take a deep breath with the inhale matching the exhale. If you are new to breathing deeply start with 4 counts in per inhale, 4 counts out per exhale then rest for 2 counts. When you inhale feel the air expand your belly, lower back, chest and upper back. Work your way up to breathing in and out for 8 counts each. Always rest for 2 counts between breaths. Repeat the breaths 8-10 times.
Note: There are very specific breathing techniques that you can learn to reduce stress and quickly improve your confidence. I will not go into them here as they are best learned from a teacher and in person. If you are having trouble breathing into your full lungs with the simple breathing exercise above you will definitely benefit confidence wise from learning to take up space with your breath. Take a Pranayama yoga class or kriya class. One pranayama technique that you can learn easily via video is Ujjayi breathing. Search around on youtube. Jason Crandell also has a good introduction to Ujjayi on YogoGlo.
See It & Believe It
Visualize yourself doing what you want to do with confidence. This is a technique we are stealing from elite athletes. I used this one when I competed in dance competitions. The secret to this technique is not picturing yourself confident in the one moment when you have to execute; the real benefits come from picturing yourself confidently working up to the point when you need to shine. For example, if you want to win a race in the Olympics, you don’t just picture yourself winning the Olympics. You picture yourself successfully doing everything you need to do step-by-step to get there.
Close your eyes and picture yourself doing whatever you want to do really well. For instance if you have a presentation you do not feel confident preparing and doing, visualize yourself giving that presentation and having it go flawlessly. Picture yourself having great success in your presentation.
Next, visualize yourself each step of the way preparing for your presentation, practicing it flawlessly. Take deep breaths and feel relaxed about it the whole time you are visualizing it. You can see how confidently you are preparing the presentation. You will be successful.
Spend more time focusing on visualizing yourself confidently doing well preparing for success then visualizing the one moment you will confidently achieve. Make sure to note that your posture is in a confident power pose and that you are taking up space in your lungs with air during this visualization process. Now you see it, so be it.
Be Your Cheerleader
Change your internal story of yourself to change your world. Turn off the voice that puts you down inside your head. There are enough people who will not support you in the world. You can’t control those people. They exist. You can control whether or not you let them into your head.
You are your own best friend. Think about that. You are your friends’ cheerleader in life so why would you not be your own personal number one cheerleader? You are awesome. You are special and you are really good at somethings that other people are not. We are all different and have value. Cheer yourself on. I am serious. You can decide how you want to think of you. You can’t control how other people think of you, but for 100% sure you can change how you think of yourself. You aren’t doing anyone a favor most of all yourself by putting yourself down. Embrace your inner rockstar. Now, who’s got the power? You’ve got the power. Every time you think down about yourself,or put yourself down in front of others ask yourself why? Who says it has to be that way. You are awesome. You do not put you down.You are the only one hearing the thoughts in your head. Make sure you are sending yourself a message that will empower you.
Are We There Yet?
So how long do I need to do these steps before I become confident?
Everyone is different. You won’t change overnight. No one does. Stick with them and just keep faking it until you make it. The day you wake up and realize you aren’t faking anything anymore or trying to be confident but really are confident, that is the day you know you can stop ;) Sometimes life is just that simple.