Make 2018 your year: Here's 10 ways you can boost your self-confidence
A new, better you
Everyone has a different definition of self-confidence – whether it’s being self-assured that you needn’t seek the approval of others, not having to put others down just to make you feel good about yourself, or having it in you to take that leap into unknown territory.
Once you start limiting yourself mentally with low self-confidence and negative internal opinions, you miss out on wonderful opportunities because you were sitting in your comfy zone, weary to make that first step.
That is why it’s important to carry confidence in you wherever you go. As multiple studies have shown, your belief affects your action, and your actions affect your life. It may takes months or even years. But rest assured that with hard work, comes the bliss and the realisation that you actually did it.
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor, gave an infamous TED talk about power-posing. She says that “our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behaviour, and our behaviour can change our outcomes.”
When you assume more open and big postures, you feel open and disinhibited – as opposed to curling up and keeping our arms close to our body when we feel inferior or awkward. By power-posing for a few minutes, your behaviour changes and you feel more confident, because you’ll believe that you can.
The mood you leave home in pretty much depicts your mood through the day. So in the morning, pose like Wonder Woman – chin up, legs apart and hands on hips. Or if you need a little boost through the day, straighten up your posture or find a little corner to become your own hero. Just as a peacock shows off its feathers, you can and will show off your confidence.
A study was done by the U.K University of Liverpool, where men were told to wear either scented or unscented deodorant, before having their photographs taken. The photos were then given to women, who were told to point out those that seemed more attractive.
The women unknowingly selected the men who wore the scented deodorant because they appeared more self-confident. The men themselves reported that they too felt more confident and attractive than those who wore unscented deodorants.
Researchers suggest that because you feel this way, it leads you to carry yourself in a more positive light, which leads to a higher belief that you can conquer what comes your way, so to speak.
Ever heard of the saying that negativity only invites more negativity? Well it’s true. Case in view: You’ve got a deadline coming up and you’re absolutely stuck panicking about not finishing everything on time and everything that could go wrong.
Life coach and sociologist Martha Beck says that “Real problems are wonderful, each carrying the seeds of its own solution.” So instead of channeling your negative energy into the problems and its cons, focus on its solutions – the things that would drive and inspire you, like a promotion or simple satisfaction.
You’ll find yourself more contented and self-assured that you can complete the current task. If it helps, list down your fears and list the positives next to them, and focus on those instead. Over time, this will become autopilot and self-doubt will be a thing of the past.
Step out of your comfort zone and take control of your fears
Sometimes, we don’t even have things to focus on because we aren’t willing to step out of our comfort zones. We’ve all been there once or twice, whether it’s volunteering for an event that could boost your career or simply boarding a rollercoaster.
As a self-proclaimed scaredy-cat – of standing up for myself and heights – I can definitely say that I miss out on a lot of opportunities, which affects my attitude and experience. Long story short, I’m extremely afraid of making mistakes and displeasing those around me.
So step out of your comfort zone and you’ll realise that there was never really anything to be scared about. Whether you’re going to try sky diving or take up that big work project – remember that mistakes make us human, and we need to make them in order to improve. Then you’ll have the ability to try new things with your sparkly confidence.
Once you’re willing to step out of your shell, go ahead and learn a new skill, or hone your current ones. According to a research done by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, “adults who were taking a course that suit a need (like a scuba diving or a culinary class) were healthier, and less likely to suffer from depression or low self-esteem.
So learn a skill that matches your wants and needs. Been eyeing a jewellery-making workshop? Try it out, your passion for it will drive you to learn and accept the challenges that come with it. You won’t feel it as much when you’re doing it but at the end of the road, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment from honing your skills or adding on a new one – lifelong learning reminds you of how capable you are.
Our outlook in life is very much influenced by the people around us – just as how toddlers pick up the mannerisms of people around them. So surround yourself with people with the right mindset. You’ll find that their attitude rubs off on you, and if they’re really your friends, they’d do anything in their power to help you reach your maximum potential.
A friend of mine is rather indifferent towards what others think of him, and he lives life aware of the possibility of mistakes, which he braves through. Soon enough, I realised that I was picking up his mindset and others around me noticed, telling me that I was happier and more confident.
So no matter what, always keep some good pals around.
We’re all aware of the multitude of benefits exercising brings. In terms of self-confidence, it is a good outlet to release any negativity and stress that clouds your mind.
Exercising also makes you feel good about yourself. Besides feeling confident in your own skin, you’re also living a healthy lifestyle. Knowing that you are doing something good for your body is already an achievement, especially when lack of time and procrastination are eager villains in play. So don’t belittle it.
Psychiatrist Neel Burton suggests that we should “Go for a brisk walk every day, even if it is cold or rainy, and take more vigorous exercise (exercise that makes you sweat) three times a week.” That means walking to work, or having a lovely stroll at the park in the evening with your loved ones.
It’s always important to check out and check in on yourself. You could be taking all these steps, but it’s crucial that other aspects of your life are in balance as well. Is your physical and emotional health okay?
Give yourself time to de-stress and unwind. Living in such a fast-paced country means always being on the go and sometimes all the rush leads us into a possible exhaustive breakdown. So always be sure to live in the present. Whether it’s setting aside 15 minutes every few hours, or leaving a whole day for some ‘me time’ – always remember to focus on you.
In a study conducted, people were told to imagine either being in a sports team and blowing a big game, or acting in a play and forgetting your lines. It found that those with more emotional resilience were “less likely to feel more humiliated or incompetent, or to take it too personally”.
A lot of our lack of belief comes from past experiences or mistakes that follow us like a heavy weight chained to our feet. Because of how hard we are on ourselves, we deem ourselves unworthy and hold ourselves back from future ventures. So quit doing that and be easy on yourself. Instead of putting yourself down, acknowledge your shortcomings and treat yourself the way you would treat others.
This is to keep yourself on the right track, and for future moments when you need a reminder. Once you’re more confident, you’ll find yourself opening up to new opportunities, and you’ll experience more triumphs.
Caroline Webb, writer of How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioural Science to Transform Your Working Life, talked about a tech executive who wanted to have more self-confidence. Every week the tech executive took the time to note down everything she had achieved that week – whether it was little things like going through a pitch without any hesitation, or even giving yourself the self-care that you need.
By doing this, you’re giving yourself time to think about your accomplishments, and the opportunity to be vocal (not arrogant) about your success. It is important to be humble, but congratulating yourself on the sidelines is very much encouraged. And you’ll find it a particularly good reminder, for those days when you forget about believing in yourself.