Three Ways to Increase Your Self-Confidence
Self-confidence definitely belongs in a conversation on health, since it makes for better mental health, and being self-confident means that you’ll be happier, make more money, and meet more beautiful women. In general, self-confidence just makes life a whole lot better. Here are three ways to increase your self-confidence; these methods have scientific backing.
The first step is to understand that hardly anyone is thinking about you.
I’ve sometimes thought that despite a fairly long life in which I can’t remember many things that I’ve done or said, every embarrassing thing I’ve ever done stands out clearly in my memory.
But almost undoubtedly, no one else remembers any of them. How do I know this? Because I can’t remember any embarrassing thing anyone else has ever done. Or if I possibly could, by digging deep into my memories, I don’t feel embarrassed for the person that did the action. I attribute it to common humanity, to foibles of which we’re all capable.
If I can’t remember others’ past embarrassments, or don’t care about them, why should I care about mine? Why should you care about yours? They happened, they’re over and done with. Dwelling on them only harms you. Forget them.
The Spotlight Effect
Perhaps my biggest barrier to increasing my self-confidence was the idea that people would look down on me if I did something out of the norm.
One of the main features of self-confidence is doing what you want without caring what others think.
And the first step in not caring what others think is to realize that they don’t think about you very much at all.
People are ensconced in their own lives. Each of us are at the center of our own life. How much do you think of your neighbors or coworkers when they’re not right in front of you? Exactly — hardly at all.
The spotlight effect is the name given in psychology to the idea that people think they are noticed much more than they really are. (I was surprised to discover that psychology only recently gave it this name, which I learned from Titus Hauer.)
Egocentrism, the fact that we are the center of our own world, explains the spotlight effect. We just don’t know or care much what others are doing.
Are you worried about what others will think of your new clothes or haircut? Most of them couldn’t care less.
Concerned about being rejected when you approach an attractive woman? Even if you do get rejected, the woman in question will forget about it much faster than you.
No one is thinking about you.
Fake it ’til you make it
The fact that people don’t think about you, or even know you all that well, means that they take what you say and do at face value.
If you act with self-confidence in what you do, others will believe that’s just who you are.
So fake it ’til you make it. Act as if you had all the self-confidence in the world, and soon you will.
Muhammad Ali used to boast, “I am the greatest.” That wasn’t just boasting — although it was that too — he was faking it until he made it. He had yet to face the toughest fighters in the world, yet he insisted he was the greatest.
And Ali became the greatest.
He was bucking himself up. He was infusing himself with self-confidence.
The philosopher Pascal said that the key to belief was not professing that belief, but acting like you already believed it, and then the belief follows.
Believe that you are important. Believe that you are confident. Your beliefs will help to create the facts.
The Impostor Syndrome
The impostor syndrome is the belief that you are somehow a fraud, that you don’t belong in your position, or don’t deserve accolades for what you do, or even that you’re incompetent and fraudulently representing your skills, intelligence, or status.
The impostor syndrome is very prevalent. According to Infogalactic, “Psychological research done in the early 1980s estimated that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds and other studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another.”
The impostor syndrome is almost the opposite of self-confidence. It’s crucial to increasing your self-confidence to conquer the impostor syndrome, and if you’re intelligent and/or ambitious, chances are good you have it.
The way to overcome the impostor syndrome is very similar to the way to overcome the spotlight effect: realize that it’s very common, and many or most successful people have it to one degree or another. Another way to overcome impostor syndrome is as stated above: fake ’til you make it.
A man who is fully self-confident, who acts with honor and in good faith, doesn’t care what others think. He uses his own judgment, and acts.
But if you still care about what others think and want to overcome it, just realize that others are not thinking about you, and they care even less.
If you act to overcome a lack of self-confidence by faking it until making it, you will overcome.
And if you feel like a fraud in acting with self-confidence, realize that this is an extremely common feeling, of little consequence.