Tips to build self-confidence

Sometimes I am asked questions such as “how can I build my self-confidence”? The first question I might ask in return is – “what do you mean by self-confidence”?

There is a difference between having “social” confidence (i.e. confidence when chatting to friends, or confidence when chatting to individuals 1:1 or confidence in groups of people we may not know or not know very well), or confidence in giving a speech or giving a performance. Being clear about one’s needs is the first part.

If this is the case, what is it about you that might make you wary of meeting other people? Is it about you, or them? Do they strike you as a group of nuclear physicists who might laugh at you for being a humble gardener, cleaner or check-outs assistant or graduate drop-out? Are the nuclear physicists somehow “better” people than you? No, they are simply different. I repeat, they are *simply* different.

If you went into a room full of people wearing sweat shirts and jeans, you might make a generalised assumption that because you are also wearing sweat shirts and jeans, that you are from similar walks of life but of course clothing is simply a badge or a uniform of sorts that perhaps helps us fit into a specific social sphere. When one goes to a job that requires certain professionalism, your clothing marks you out as one of those professionals. When one meets people socially, if you meet in a café – you might wear jeans and a sweatshirt, you might dress up a bit more – depending also on your age and gender. Accessories can mark people out – are you carrying a handbag or a rucksack? A camera or a briefcase? A wheelie bag or a changing bag? I am aware that as a therapist, I tend to dress casually, comfortably but clean and presentable. People who may come in for therapy often attend from work and are wearing suits or smart office wear. I am mindful of our differences yet it doesn’t mean either of us are any “better” or “worse” than other other, nor would I take credit for being an expert inasmuch as this is a possible scenario and a potential mismatch if you simply took our attire into question. In fact the client is the expert of their life, not I.

Value judgements are being placed constantly on people by the clothes they wear and what they are carrying with them. Take note, watch. Are they wearing trackies that hang down their backside? Is Vicky Pollard in town? Fingernails – clean or polished? How is their hair? If they are balding that could signify a range of things; balding as a hereditary factor or a cancer patient. Rings, bracelets, necklaces. Some men wear chains around their necks; I am aware of me placing an involuntary judgement on men who wear jewellery – but that is based on me and my own personal background. Do you find yourself doing likewise? Before being self-conscious as to who you are, think about who you are meeting and dealing with.

If you went into a room and half were wearing jackets and ties and half were wearing jeans with holes in and sweatshirts that needed a good wash, what would your mind set be?

Social confidence isn’t just about you the individual – this is the point; it is the value judgement we place on being with “certain” people and how we might assume they perceive us. The point is we don’t know! So why place a value on something when we are simply making assumptions?

If everyone in a group speaks and sounds clever, with degrees coming out of their ears (or so you might assume), or they speak with “posh” English, how do you know WHO they really are, what their true values are, simply because they speak differently to you? Would you reject them because you have assumed they would never be interested in you because for one thing you find it hard to explain who you are, and even if you did, they would probably think you stupid?

Self-confidence comes from within; if someone makes a comment to you that clearly is not you, why bother arguing? If it’s their perception and you know it to be untrue, simply either ask if they could explain what they meant or just walk away. It comes from their perception based on their life, their thoughts, and their feelings. You may not know their background; it might be that your face simply reminds them of someone they once knew who did display the character traits they are now projecting onto you.

Another aspect to consider when it comes to confidence is that in order to achieve more confidence, it is about doing more in your life; so you will need to come out of that safe comfort zone and challenge yourself, fail a little and thus learn; once you have achieved that new understanding confidence evolves and develops; it doesn’t just happen on its own. Breathe a little, remember you have to start somewhere – maybe think back to when you learned to ride a bike; perhaps you fell off to start with or perhaps you just got on and rode; where did that confidence come from? If you drive, remember when you first learned the different parts of learning to drive, mirror, signal, manoeuvre. Eventually it became an unconscious exercise and you simply drove to where you needed to get to. There was no magic pill, it happened and you can congratulate yourself!

These simple social tools will help build your self-awareness and confidence. Think about your assets, qualifications, looks, how you live your life. What is your life like? Do you know what another person’s life is like before you judge who they are and how you might respond to them? If you’re affected by something someone has said, why do you think that is so? What was it about them that affected you, what is it about you that might be affected? Take the focus off the other person who perhaps annoyed or angered you, consider your inner feelings.

Respond, rather than react. Listen rather than speak. Speak then listen. Here are ten top tips to building confidence [click the link for the source].

1. Dress Sharply

Although clothes don’t make the (wo)man, they certainly affect the way s/he feels about her/himself. No one is more conscious of your physical appearance than you are. When you don’t look good, it changes the way you carry yourself and interact with other people. Use this to your advantage by taking care of your personal appearance. In most cases, significant improvements can be made by bathing and shaving frequently, wearing clean clothes, and being cognizant of the latest styles.

This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot on clothes. One great rule to follow is “spend twice as much, buy half as much”. Rather than buying a bunch of cheap clothes, buy half as many select, high quality items. In long run this decreases spending because expensive clothes wear out less easily and stay in style longer than cheap clothes. Buying less also helps reduce the clutter in your closet.

2. Walk Faster

One of the easiest ways to tell how a person feels about herself is to examine her walk. Is it slow? tired? painful? Or is it energetic and purposeful? People with confidence walk quickly. They have places to go, people to see, and important work to do. Even if you aren’t in a hurry, you can increase your self confidence by putting some pep in your step. Walking 25{5aab48c0ceab8741cc5e1b3637a0d930ede57d31081a536cd0d11b2818162fd7} faster will make to you look and feel more important.

3. Good Posture

Similarly, the way a person carries herself tells a story. People with slumped shoulders and lethargic movements display a lack of self confidence. They aren’t enthusiastic about what they’re doing and they don’t consider themselves important. By practicing good posture, you’ll automatically feel more confident. Stand up straight, keep your head up, and make eye contact. You’ll make a positive impression on others and instantly feel more alert and empowered.

4. Personal Commercial

One of the best ways to build confidence is listening to a motivational speech. Unfortunately, opportunities to listen to a great speaker are few and far between. You can fill this need by creating a personal commercial. Write a 30-60 second speech that highlights your strengths and goals. Then recite it in front of the mirror aloud (or inside your head if you prefer) whenever you need a confidence boost.

5. Gratitude

When you focus too much on what you want, the mind creates reasons why you can’t have it. This leads you to dwell on your weaknesses. The best way to avoid this is consciously focusing on gratitude. Set aside time each day to mentally list everything you have to be grateful for. Recall your past successes, unique skills, loving relationships, and positive momentum. You’ll be amazed how much you have going for you and motivated to take that next step towards success.

6. Compliment other people

When we think negatively about ourselves, we often project that feeling on to others in the form of insults and gossip. To break this cycle of negativity, get in the habit of praising other people. Refuse to engage in backstabbing gossip and make an effort to compliment those around you. In the process, you’ll become well liked and build self confidence. By looking for the best in others, you indirectly bring out the best in yourself.

7. Sit in the front row

In schools, offices, and public assemblies around the world, people constantly strive to sit at the back of the room. Most people prefer the back because they’re afraid of being noticed. This reflects a lack of self-confidence. By deciding to sit in the front row, you can get over this irrational fear and build your self-confidence. You’ll also be more visible to the important people talking from the front of the room.

8. Speak up

During group discussions many people never speak up because they’re afraid that people will judge them for saying something stupid. This fear isn’t really justified. Generally, people are much more accepting than we imagine. In fact most people are dealing with the exact same fears. By making an effort to speak up at least once in every group discussion, you’ll become a better public speaker, more confident in your own thoughts, and recognized as a leader by your peers.

9. Work out

Along the same lines as personal appearance, physical fitness has a huge effect on self confidence. If you’re out of shape, you’ll feel insecure, unattractive, and less energetic. By working out, you improve your physcial appearance, energize yourself, and accomplish something positive. Having the discipline to work out not only makes you feel better, it creates positive momentum that you can build on the rest of the day.

10. Focus on contribution

Too often we get caught up in our own desires. We focus too much on ourselves and not enough on the needs of other people. If you stop thinking about yourself and concentrate on the contribution you’re making to the rest of the world, you won’t worry as much about you own flaws. This will increase self-confidence and allow you to contribute with maximum efficiency. The more you contribute to the world the more you’ll be rewarded with personal success and recognition.