Do You Believe In Yourself?
Here are 7 easy practices I learned to help me build my self-confidence and make it a habit.
Whether it’s personal life, career or social scenarios, confidence is something everyone needs. Self-confident people tend to be positive. They are not afraid to acknowledge their shortcomings, failures and mistakes. In fact, they learn from them and move on.
I was not always a self-confident person. In fact, I think I am still a work in progress. I would worry about “what if it didn’t….” rather than “what if it did”. Fortunately I had two great teachers — my mom and Life. The lessons were not always easy, but worth learning.
What is self-confidence?
Self-confidence is about trusting your judgment and abilities, valuing yourself and feeling worthy no matter what others may say or believe about you. At its most basic, confidence is knowing what you’re good at, knowing the value you provide and presenting that value to others.
Of course, over-confidence can be annoying and seen as arrogance — when you think you’re better than others.
Then again, at the other end of the spectrum is low self-esteem — believing you are less valuable than you are. Low self-esteem and low self-confidence can result in self-sabotage and show up as negativity.
To build self-confidence you have to aim for the middle way without going too far. It is a fine balance.
But it doesn’t happen by accident. If anything, it comes from repeated practice and small successes which then build into larger accomplishments.
How to build self-confidence?
Building self-confidence involves making changes and cultivating new behaviors. This takes time and energy. You have to break away from old habits that hold you back and develop new productive ones. The best way? Start small, so it is easier to handle.
I have found that these 7 practices go a long way in making self-confidence a habit.
1. Present Yourself with Confidence
How you feel often shows up in your body language and how you appear. Gestures, posture, facial expressions and eye movement are all part of this. You know what they say about dressing for success. Looking good is a powerful way to build self-confidence. Dressing well increases performance.
When you feel good about yourself, you appear more self-assured and confident, sending a positive message to others around you. People take you more seriously.
Leverage the power of positive posture.
If you tend to slouch, straighten up. If you tend to fold your arms, open them up. Along with dressing event-appropriately, your posture and body language say a lot about your confidence levels.
Make a conscious effort to stand tall, talk with your hands, make eye contact and practice active listening. Engaged body language also uses open gestures, nodding and smiling. It may even involve mirroring the movements and expressions of others. This can make you seem not only more confident as you engage in dialogue but also more approachable. While shaking hands, remember to practice a firm handshake — the universal sign of confidence.
On the other hand, actions like fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, tapping your foot or biting nails are all tell-tale signs of nervousness and uneasy body language.
2. Use positive affirmations
When facing tough times, it is good to reach out for advice. But most often, we are our own best counselors. Positive self-talk is one way to relieve anxiety — the way we speak to ourselves makes all the difference.
This can be done by:
- Thinking positive thoughts and adding positive affirmations to them
- Removing negative thoughts that drag you down
The way we talk to ourselves in the course of a day determines our emotional state. When we don’t consciously indulge in positive self-talk, we tend to dwell on the things that make us unhappy. This lowers our confidence and makes us worry. It is easy to slip into a negative thinking pattern. Over time, this becomes a deep-rooted habit that becomes hard to change.
Positive affirmations promote positive thinking.
When we repeat positive statements to ourselves, it helps challenge and overcome self-sabotaging negative thoughts. It is quite like regular exercise that improves our physical health.
Find positive affirmations that resonate with you and use them in various areas of your life. It can be to set goals, to build confidence in your appearance and the way you feel.
The power of affirmations lies in repetition. Recite these daily when you need a boost or when you feel those negative thoughts coming. Granted that these may not help you forget your shortcomings, or erase toxic influences from your life; but they will help you dwell less on the negative and focus more on the positive.
Negative thoughts can easily become self-fulfilling prophecies.
When you talk yourself into believing that you’re not good enough, these thoughts drag you down and keep you anchored there. Use affirmations to turn such negatives into positives. When you struggle with negative self-talk, pick an affirmation that is the opposite of that thought or belief and put that into practice.
When I first started using positive affirmations, I practiced in front of the mirror. Seems a bit silly initially, but it works. By looking yourself in the eye and telling yourself you can do something, you create a stronger belief in that thought.
3. Stop over-analyzing situations
We do have a tendency to do this. Rather than act on a great idea or inspiration, we nitpick to the point that we lose the inspiration. When this happens, it is difficult to follow through with that idea. Doubts set in.
Over-thinkers question the heck out of something, plan, cancel that plan, expect reassurances and never reach a decision. Finally, they beat themselves over even simple mistakes. Naturally, their confidence takes a beating.
Second-guessing your every move is perhaps the biggest killer of self-confidence. Not saying that every decision must be instantly made, but indecision about most things can lower self-confidence. Overthinking something also leads to negativity making things look worse than they actually are.
For example, when you want something, but feel unsure, you end up never asking for it. Funny thing is, most of the time overthinking doesn’t even have anything to do with the present. Assuming things won’t go the way you expect is the best way to lose direction and your confidence and get stressed out.
It isn’t that confident people always make the right decisions. But they do decide faster than those who are indecisive. They know how to improvise when needed.
When you become fixated on getting everything absolutely perfect, it will be a while before you build self-confidence in your potential. So work on getting that tendency to over-analyze out of your head. Work on being faster than your doubts.
4. Limit social media
The worst thing you can do to damage your confidence is to compare yourself or your life with other people’s. Studies show that social media can mess with your self-esteem. With social media, impossible standards are set by people who curate their lives and show only the most enviable moments. These picture-perfect images become the cause of distress for many others beating down on their confidence levels.
The comparisons people make on these platforms is often leaves users insecure, as if they aren’t able to keep up with others. It is perfectly okay to measure progress in life, but when done through comparisons with engineered photos, it is a big problem.
For those with body image issues, one hour on social media is enough to feel miserable. Teens compare themselves with peers who seem to have it all. Entrepreneurs see their confidence plummet when they see their competition flourishing while they’re still struggling.
Then there are the likes and comments — self-doubt sneaks in when a post does not get the expected feedback. What others think becomes more important over your own.
How can one build self-confidence by scrolling social media? There’s a real world out there. Why not explore it?
5. Contextualize your fear
Fear is a natural part of our lives. Confident people are aware that they must act in spite of their fears. They minimize them by putting them in proper context and move on.
When we face our fears, we develop resilience and build self-confidence across various facets of life.
Fear, especially fear of failure holds us back from believing in ourselves. It keeps us locked in our comfort zone, stops us from taking risks. When you build self-confidence, you learn to face your fears and crush them.
Of course, confronting your fears and putting them in context is not easy. The trick is to take small steps.
Let’s say you have this fear of talking to strangers. Begin by making eye contact. Gradually, add a greeting. Then, maybe ask a question. Practice this until you feel confident enough to have a conversation.
As your fears subside, you’ll see your confidence grow. Confidence is not an absence of fear but mastery over it. The higher your confidence level, the more willing you’ll be to come out of your shell and take chances. You’ll be less likely to be affected by setbacks and more committed to achieving your goals.
And if your fears stem from what others think of you, you’ll need to look for approval from within. It’s only when you are happy with who you are that you’ll feel confident about whatever you do.
6. Move it, move it
Exercising is a great way to improve your health. How does that help build self-confidence?
When you feel better physically, it helps your mental health. This motivates you to take on more challenges, giving you the stamina to overcome obstacles. You also develop a positive attitude.
If your lack of confidence is due to body image issues, exercise can improve your outlook and the way you look. You feel the change from within as well as on the outside and this changes your perception as well.
Exercise also helps handle stress.
Feel-good endorphins released during exercise control stress hormones. Endorphins are also natural painkillers. Regular exercise means improved stress levels, helping you manage your daily routine much better. You focus on what you need to do and achieve better results. You feel better about yourself and more confident about handling your tasks.
Regular exercise has a cascading effect. When you stick to your exercise routine, you feel self-confident about your physical potential. You feel alert, energized and inspired in all other areas of your life.
Meditation is an excellent tool to introspect, relax and calm your mind. It helps you overcome negative self-talk, which is one of the reasons of low self-confidence.
When you meditate, the practice trains your brain to disassociate yourself from the ongoing mental chatter inside your head, which often holds you back from achieving your full potential. Meditation makes you realize that you don’t have to listen to the voice in your head at all times and especially when it focuses on the negative.
It helps you silence your inner critic and swap the negative self-talk for positive thoughts to build self-confidence. While meditation doesn’t mean controlling your thoughts; it helps reduce the control your thoughts have over you. It also teaches you that all thoughts cannot be controlled.
For example, when you doubt your abilities or your value as a person or even your appearance, your self-confidence dips. These thoughts make you feel bad about yourself.
Yet when you try to shut these thoughts out, you give them the attention they don’t deserve. Meditation teaches you to observe these thoughts, accept them, thus weakening them and reducing the emotional hold they have on you.
It takes time and effort to build self-confidence
Low self-confidence is like driving through life with the hand brakes on. Remember that your confidence level is the result of learned behaviors. Nobody comes into this world with unlimited self-confidence. The good news? You can build it and transform yourself into the focused, confident individual you want to be.
Thank you for reading ❤
Originally published on Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles. Did you smile today?