Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. - E.E. Cummings
A few months ago we published a very successful article on Conveying Self-Confidence - Fake It Till You Make It. One question that came back over and over was: How can I convey something I don't have to begin with? Faking it till making it didn't seem to fly with some readers.
Today, we'll explore 8 proven methods for actually building self-confidence.
1) Do More Things You're Good At or Improve At Things You're Not
For many of us, self-esteem comes from being really good at something -- anything. Someone who is an exceptional shoe-shiner can derive great pride in his work -- more than a really incompetent surgeon. When we do something well, we feel great about it. Even if no one is looking. Alternately, making major improvements at something we are not good at, teaches us that our effort can really impact our capabilities which is a huge confidence booster.
2) Commit Esteemable Acts Both Large and Small
When we do good things for others, we tend to build our self-esteem. Little things like opening doors for strangers can leave you feeling good all day. Regularly volunteering with an at-risk youth organization or another type of non-profit can help you feel great for months. All just from being of service to others. Volunteer Match is a great website that matches good people with good causes based on what you care about and your location.
3) Live in Alignment with Your Values
When we live outside of our values or are not authentic with ourselves, we begin to question our own worth. Guilt and shame are powerful emotions, and they most often come from doing things we don't feel right about. Check out this amazing video Ted Talk by Brene Brown that went viral with over 6 million views. Are you not being transparent with someone you love? Or are you working for a company you don't believe in?
4) Inhabit What Feels Like Your Native Environment
In its native habitat, a redwood will grow over 300 feet tall. In the desert, it won't grow an inch. Environment is everything. Sometimes no matter how hard we try to assimilate, if we are in the wrong job, company or industry we will always feel uncomfortable -- like something is just off. Without the right environment or ecosystem, we try to adapt, but always feel just a little out of place. This anonymous quote states it pretty well, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
5) Dress the Part
This may seem superficial, but dressing well and looking the part can do wonders for your self-confidence. You know when you look great. And you also know when you look like sh*t. But don't overdo it. Obsessing about your looks too much can drain you and is apparent to others. While this might involve some conformity to your environment, the key is doing this in a way where you are most comfortable in your own skin (or in this case, clothes).
6) Reframe the Negative Things You Say About Yourself
You spend more time with yourself than with anyone else, so if you're talking down to yourself all the time, you will feel down. We all have old stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what our limitations are, etc. And most of them are bogus. If you want to know what your greatest strength is, look at what you think your greatest weakness is -- your gifts bloom in the vacuum your weaknesses create. Another trick is to treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. Meaning think about your self-talk and inner critic, would you ever say that to your best friend? The answer is probably not. Check out ways to improve your mood and give yourself a boost.
7) Celebrate the Small Wins
We all have big dreams. But we get there through a series of failures and small wins. Want to start a company? Pitch it to your friends first. Want to climb Mt. Everest? Start with a much smaller mountain first. Want to run a marathon? Run a half-marathon or a 5K first. You get the idea. By setting and attaining small goals, we build the confidence we need to take on bigger challenges. Every huge feat is just a series of smaller accomplishments, similar to taking baby steps. By breaking down big tasks into small ones you can achieve more than you ever thought possible.
8) Ignore the Haters
There will always be haters who try to knock you down. People who say negative things, look at your askance, talk about you behind your back. Ignore those people because they are haters. They are only expressing their own lack of self-confidence by trying to tear down yours. Instead of letting them get in your head, learn how to deal with them. Because only people who are hurting, try to hurt other people. It is also a sign that you are doing something notable. People don't bother hating on those that have no impact.
Practice these 8 Tips for Building Self-Confidence and you'll be well on your way.
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You might also enjoy reading, How To Be Assertive - well, 5 Tips to Stay On Top Without Stepping On Toes.