Self-confidence is one of the most important, yet most difficult attributes to cultivate for a healthy self-esteem. Whether we are burdened with painful childhood memories, unhealthy relationships where we were emotionally beat down or insecurities as a result of societal pressures, self-confidence can seem highly unattainable. I want to let you in on a secret: Having self-confidence is challenging for all of us…even for those of us who appear extremely confident, pulled together and self-assured.
The good news is that self-confidence can be built, and the more you do so, the more successful you’ll be. Self-confidence, however, comes from several different areas of life…and as a result, it is important to build it holistically:
Get Mental. Self-confidence starts with the mind. Positive thinking begets positive results…and the kinder you are to yourself, the happier you’ll be.
- Acknowledge Your Accomplishments: Think about your life and what you have accomplished thus far. Maybe you have earned your degree. Maybe you were promoted. Maybe you had a baby. Acknowledge and write down the things you are proud of having achieved. Don’t think about what others think of your accomplishments, but instead, think of what makes YOU proud. Maintain this list throughout your life and review it every so often to remind yourself of the things you have achieved.
- Focus on Your Strengths: Take a look at the kind of person you are and think about your strengths. Maybe you are a good listener and are especially thoughtful. Maybe you are hard working. Maybe you volunteer. List out your strengths and the characteristics you love about yourself. Again, refer to this list every so often to remind yourself of the wonderful qualities you possess. A great book to help you discover your strengths (if you can’t see them yourself), is Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
- Be Positive and Suppress Negativity. Although the affirmation era may have gone overboard, it did have some merit. Negativity breeds more negativity. When you start to think negatively about yourself, a situation or another person, stop yourself and instead, find something positive on which to focus. Staying mentally positive will help you to be outwardly positive. Further, the more you think positively, the more you will act so.
Get Physical. Although this may sound superficial, the more you take care of yourself…your appearance, your health, your body…the better you will feel. Here are some things to think about.
- Exercise. As a high school student, I wasn’t very athletic. However, in college, I became very active and started exercising regularly. I saw a huge improvement in my self-confidence. I felt better about myself…and felt like I looked better too. If you’re out of shape, it is more likely you’ll feel insecure, unattractive, and less energetic. Exercising will help you to feel energized and more positive. Further, you’ll release endorphins, which are “happy hormones” which will help with the mental side of self-confidence.
- Take Pride in the Way You Look. Taking care in the way you dress and your outward appearance can have a tremendous impact. You’re probably the most critical of yourself, and so, when you don’t look good, it changes the way you feel about yourself, and as a result, the way you come across to others. Regularly showering, shaving, wearing nice and/or clean clothes and grooming oneself is instrumental to feeling good about oneself.
- Take Yoga or Pilates. If you are tight on a budget, buy a DVD and practice yoga or pilates at home. Why? Because both of these modalities can do wonders for your posture and inner peace. Good posture sends yourself and others a message that you are self-confident, alert and empowered. However, those with bad posture come off lacking in confidence and unsure of themselves.
- Make Eye-Contact. Making eye contact can be challenging when you lack confidence. The more you do it, however, the easier it gets. Eye-contact sends others a message that you are comfortable with yourself and with connecting with them. As a result, they feel more comfortable and confident around you…inevitably feeding into your own self-confidence.
- Smile. Although there are times when smiling seems way to difficult, forcing yourself to smile can help you break through some of the most uneasy of times and feel more self-confident. Further, smiling at others elicits a smile back, sending you positive reinforcement along the way.
- Be Complimentary. Paying others compliments not only makes them feel good about themselves, but will also make you feel good for doing so. Instead of finding fault with others (which is often a result of our finding fault with ourselves) find the good in others, which will also allow us to see the good in ourselves.
How is your self-confidence? What do you do to build your own?