Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. –E.E. Cummings
I love this quote from E.E. Cummings! To me, it so beautifully describes how with greater self-confidence and belief in yourself you gain a sense of freedom and aliveness that changes everything you experience in life.
So what exactly is self-confidence? It’s “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment”. However, self-confidence is not unconditional. You may for example have plenty of self-confidence in one are of your life but not in another. So consider for a moment where in your life you feel incredibly self-confident and where you would love to have more self-confidence.
The good news is that regardless of where you feel you need more self-confidence, you can develop it. Self-confidence is not a genetic phenomenon and you don’t need others to increase your self-confidence. On the contrary, you generate it from within you. In fact that is the only way it happens. And this is the same for all emotions and characteristics – you need to generate them yourself – you need to summon them from within you through your thoughts, beliefs and actions – until they are a part of your being.
However, there are some intentional actions and steps you can take that can help you build more self-confidence. The suggestions to do this are simple and effective. The question is, will you do them? Keep in mind that although this list is by no means comprehensive, it does represent some of my favorite strategies which have worked for so many of clients over the years. Keep in mind that none of these things in and of themself will magically give you self-confidence and they may not all work for you but it is an excellent starting point. My suggestion: pick a couple to begin with – see which work for you, and then be consistent in your application of them.
Here are my top 10 strategies (in no particular order) to help you build more self-confidence:
1. LIVE FROM YOUR STRENGTHS
So many people spend so much of their time focusing on where they fall short and what their perceived weaknesses are. This is not helpful. Studies are conclusive that your best strategy for success is to focus on your strengths. Find opportunities to use them every day and work to make them even better. Imagine what it would do for your self-confidence if every day you were intentional about living from your strengths! Imagine how things around you would change. What are your top 5 strengths? If you can’t immediately identify them, make the time to do this. Then remind yourself of them every day and live from and into them.
2. FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS
Decide today that you will be the person who is resourceful and solution focused. It’s so easy to point fingers and complain but we all know that it accomplishes nothing! So next time you find yourself complaining or criticizing something or someone, commit to at least ask yourself these questions: “how can I change that?” or “what’s a possible solution?” And then notice how much better that feels!
3. WALK FASTER AND WITH PURPOSE
People with confidence generally walk more quickly and with purpose. They are intentional – they know where they are going and what they have to do. So pick up your pace and focus and notice the difference in how you feel.
There is nothing like volunteering in support of a meaningful cause that you believe in to help build your self-confidence. In helping others you get the opportunity to either use your skills or learn new ones, you develop a greater appreciation for what you have in life and you feel a greater sense of purpose for yourself. As you serve others you are both humbled and blessed with a greater sense of fulfillment that elevates your level of self-confidence exponentially.
5. ADJUST YOUR POSTURE
Similarly to walking faster, your posture dramatically affects how you feel about yourself. Think about how you stand when you aren’t feeling confident and how that makes you feel. Now think about how you stand when you are feeling energetic, happy and confident and how that makes you feel. The slightest shift in posture can make all the difference in how you feel about yourself. As Tony Robbins says, change your (physical) state and you change your mood. So stand tall, keep your head up, make eye contact and notice how much more alert and empowered you feel.
6. KNOW YOUR VALUES AND PRINCIPLES
What are the values, morals and principles that guide the actions you take in life? Do you just believe in them, maybe think about them once in a while or do you actually live by them. When you have a strong and clear set of values that you live by, decisions become easier to make, boundaries are clearer and your belief in who you are is more solid. To me, this is a corner stone to developing and having more self-confidence. So if you are not clear on your values and principles, take the time to get clear!
7. WORK OUT
Physical fitness is known to have a huge effect on self-confidence. The more fit you are the more energetic, empowered and strong you feel – both mentally and physically. Find an activity you enjoy and be consistent in doing it – whether you like it or not, you will not only feel better, but your health and self-confidence will also improve.
8. BUILD A POSITIVE MINDSET
Norman Vincent Peale says: “change your thoughts and you change your world.” But how? Choose to! Be aware of your self-talk and what you tell yourself because the more you tell yourself something, the more you will believe it and what you believe will affect your actions. So change your focus. If you find yourself having negative thoughts – change them. Ask yourself empowering questions? Instead of saying for example, “why is this so hard?” reframe the question and ask yourself “how can I create a different experience?” Immediately your thinking is shifted in a more positive direction. So pay attention to what you’re thinking and replace all negative thoughts with authentic, positive and empowering ones. It will make all the difference, guaranteed.
9. BUILD YOUR COMPETENCE
It’s challenging to feel self-confident if you’re not sure whether you will be able to do something required of you. The good news is – this is simple to “fix”. If you want to build your level of competence in any area, learn, practice and prepare as much as possible. As you study and practice your knowledge and skill sets will improve and as they improve so will your self-confidence. So be disciplined, identify what you need to do to feel more competent and then do it consistently!
10. TAKE ACTION
When you take action you create momentum and change and that always feels good even if the first outcome is not the best one. The more action you take, the more your self-confidence grows. The more you stand on the sidelines, the greater your fears become. So get in the game! Just as it is important to have positive thoughts, so is it important to take positive action in your life, no matter how small you start. You will never know the outcome – there are no guarantees in life but you cannot let that stop you from starting.
As Steve Job’s said: ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path.”
So get out there and start building even more self-confidence for yourself!