I’ve always struggled with self confidence from an early age and ironically, people haven’t been shy in telling me. I’ve been told ‘get more confident!’ as if it was something I could acquire out of thin air or a basic object I could buy from Tesco. Over the last year, I’ve been making an active effort to be more confident, from my body language to standing up for myself and realising my own ability. Whilst it’s an up and down journey that I’m still on, I’ve learnt that you can change your perspective by replicating confident behaviours that will eventually come naturally to you.
1. Have positive affirmations
Whether it’s something you like about yourself, or simply repeating a set of statements, positive affirmations are a great way of giving yourself consistent reassurance and support. Research has suggested that it takes 21 days to break a habit and change your way of thinking, so by regularly repeating or writing down your positive statements, you’ll eventually begin to believe them and notice a change in your perspective.
2. Practice open body language
When you’re feeling anxious or uncomfortable in a social situation, it’s easy to revert to defence mechanisms like hunching over or folding your arms. In the short term, these make you feel safer and protected, but they don’t change how you feel.
It’s through making an active effort to change your body language from closed to open that you will realise what brings out your inner confidence and triggers positive behaviours. So instead of hunching over, stand tall and proud. Avoid folding your arms or repeatedly touching your hands. NOTE – as a serial arm folder and nail biter, this is something I’m still working on. The point is that open body language shows others that you are confident in your own skin and eventually, you’ll begin to believe it.
3. Observe a confidence idol
‘I wish I had your confidence’ is what I used to always say to one of my friends at work. She just had this way of appearing so self-assured, so fearless amongst others, without a hint of arrogance. She is what I define as a ‘confidence idol.’ Someone who, whether they have inner confidence or not, exerts an assured, positive energy that others aspire to achieve. It’s important that you are true to yourself and maintain your own identity – a confidence idol is not someone to be copied to the extreme. They are someone whose behaviours you should observe as a guide to being a more confident and happy version of you.
4. Don’t be anyone’s punching bag
This has taken me 20 years to get my head around and I’m still trying to understand it now. People can be absolutely wonderful, don’t get me wrong. I am blessed with my amazing family and friends that I wouldn’t trade for the world. But, on the other hand, some people are just plain nasty. If you’re seen as the nice/quiet/shy/vulnerable one, they think they can wrap you round their little finger. I’ve been the girl that didn’t stand up for herself, that let others determine her own self worth and it was horrible. The lesson I eventually realised was this. Don’t take any crap from anyone. I’ve never been confrontational and I never will be, but I have learnt to stand up for myself when people try to speak down to me and here’s the thing. It’s so, so liberating. The moment when you realise ‘hey, why should I stand for this anymore?’ is defining and one to be remembered.
5. Learn to love yourself
Loving yourself is about acceptance – recognising who you are and everything that comes with you, the ups and downs. It’s about being good to yourself. As children, we have it drilled into us to treat others as we wish to be treated, but through adolescence and adulthood, we sometimes forget how to treat ourselves. It’s when you realise your own self worth and see your ability, that you will find a self-confidence emerge that you never knew you had.
Like I said, I’m still learning. Confidence isn’t something you just ‘get’ in five minutes, but I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the last year and it’s really worth investing that time and energy into your own development.
What do you do to feel more confident?