Confidence is a bit like money — everyone wants it. And luckily, everyone can have it.
Where confidence and money differ, however, is in the fact that confidence always has to be built. You can’t get it from an inheritance or find it lying on the ground. You can’t borrow it from a friend or win it in a lottery.
Confidence comes from repeated physical and/or psychological labor a person exerts to build up their abilities to the point where they can trust, or rely, on those abilities.
Building confidence always takes work. And fortunately, there are a lot of ways to work it up.
Here are 9 effective ways to build the confidence you need to pursue the things you want.
If you meditate for two minutes on the activities you’re really confident about doing — tying your shoe, cooking a favorite food, riding a bike — you’ll probably realize that you’ve practiced those actions over and over. You’ve tied a shoe everyday for years and you’ve likely ridden a bike over a thousand times. Practice is an important way to building up technical skill, experience and resilience for any activity, whether simple or hard. Practice allows you to use what you have, recognize what you need and develop what you want. And, each time you choose passivity over practice, you lose an opportunity to build confidence.
Observe/Model Confident People.
Take a look around. Find people who you believe to be confident, and watch them. Really. Observing how someone confidently responds to a situation that you may later encounter could increase your propensity to respond in a similar way. This means confidence is contagious.
Strike a Power Pose.
If you don’t have real life confident people you can model to help you raise your confidence level, try imitating a superhero like Wonder Woman. Superheroes have super poses where they spread their legs apart slightly beyond shoulder width, push their chests out and place their fists on their hips. You usually see characters strike this pose right before facing an enemy or immediately after defeating one. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says that posing in a posture that people mentally associate with being powerful can help them feel and behave more assertively.
Remember Strengths and Wins.
Your brain is hardwired to pay extra special attention to negative emotions and experiences. It’s why you may immediately think back to a prior negative outcome when you consider repeating the same action later. Your fear wants to shield you from all kinds of harm, including physical and social. Ruminating on negative experiences, though, does nothing to help you build confidence. What helps, instead, is putting in some extra mental work to remember your strengths and wins. According to authors of Confidence Code for Girls, remembering your strengths and past accomplishments activates the brain’s pleasure center and keeps the brain’s fear center calm. It may be helpful to create and keep a confidence notebook close by so you can access your strengths and previous wins more quickly.
Utilize Positive Visualization.
Can you think back to the time you learned a new skill, aced a test or won an award? Do you remember what you heard, felt and saw during those positive, confident moments? Or, can you project yourself into a future scenario where you are confident, calm and in control? The power of positive visualization comes from using all of your senses to connect to your confidence. It’s part of a process of training your mind to think positively. Done repeatedly, positive visualization can help you take your confidence to an entirely new level.
Compare Yourself Only to Former Versions of Yourself.
Rihanna may have said it best: the biggest mistake you can make is to compare yourself with someone else. When you measure yourself against a friend (or foe) who appears to be more successful than you, you simultaneously depreciate your effort, dismiss your progress and diminish your ambition. It’s basically a blow to your confidence, rather than a boost. But, if you want to elevate your confidence through comparison, try sizing yourself up to former versions of yourself. There are points in your past when you were hoping to be where you are right now.
Have a Conversation with Fear.
This may sound a bit strange, but questioning fear, even if momentarily, suspends its power and allows the voice of your inner confidence to emerge. Your appeal to fear may sound something like this: Fear, I appreciate you wanting to protect me from embarrassment, rejection and failure. But, why do you always have to think the worst? The pause that comes next is filled with opportunity to disrupt fear’s over-protectiveness and uncover its irrationality. And, at the same time, it is making room for your confidence to expand.
Getting genuine, affirming feedback from people in your circle can help boost your confidence level. Psychologist Albert Bandura revealed through research that confidence can be influenced by verbal persuasion. Trust is a main portal through which people can be persuaded. So, surrounding yourself with trustworthy people — people who are familiar and/or similar to you — and listening to their encouraging words can take your confidence level up a few notches.
If you don’t have trustworthy people in your circle that you can listen to to help you boost your confidence, try talking to yourself. Regularly reciting affirmations — statements that inspire, motivate and help create something you want — can help you condition your thinking to be positive and confident. Affirmations have been shown to help people focus away from negative experiences, and you can easily develop your own. You’ll just want to ensure that your affirmations are positive, personal and written in the present tense.
Confidence isn’t something you wait for someone to hand to you. You have to put in the regular work to build it up yourself. The good news is that there are several ways to develop and strengthen your confidence.
What helps you feel confident? Do you use strategies that are not listed here?