Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. – E.E. Cummings
The major blocks that stood in the way of me pursuing my dreams for quite some time was the fear of failure and the absence of confidence needed to overcome my fears.
It’s something we all face, I think. The key question: how do you overcome that fear?
By working on elevating confidence and self-esteem.
It’s what I’ve been doing over time which continues to fuel the manifestation of my dreams.
I still have those fears, I probably always will. Waiting for them to completely dissipate before stepping out into life’s arena would keep me stuck until the end of my life and that was simply unacceptable. All I could do was find workarounds to help me stand tall and go for it. I’ve shifted through to the other side of fear many times now, and that success will fuel further success.
I know that some of you will make a strong distinction between self-esteem and self-confidence. In this article, they’re used interchangeably, even if there is a subtle but perhaps important difference. The difference is whether you believe you’re worthy of respect from others (self-esteem) and whether you believe in yourself (self-confidence). In the end, both amount to the same thing, and in the end, the actions I mention below give a boost to both self-esteem and self-confidence.
Taking control of your self-confidence
If you are low in self-confidence, is it possible to do things that will change that? Is your self-confidence in your control?
While it may not seem so, if you are low in self-confidence, you can do things to increase those levels. It’s a matter of belief. If you believe that you’re not very competent, not very smart, not very attractive, not very elegant, not powerful, or fascinating, cute, beautiful or worthy etc. it can be changed.
You can become someone worthy of respect, and someone who can pursue what she wants regardless of the good opinions of other people.
This transformation takes place when you take control of your life and subsequently taking control of your self-confidence. By taking concrete actions that improve your competence and your self-image, you can increase that self-confidence.
I’ve outlined 25 things that will help you do that. They’re not revolutionary. The list certainly isn’t comprehensive. These are just some of what I used to help me shift from level to level and beyond.
And you don’t need to do all of them, as if this were a recipe. Pick and choose those that appeal to you, maybe just a couple at first, and give them a try. If they work, try others. If they don’t, try others.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Groom yourself. I speak about this almost religiously. It’s amazing the difference simple grooming or a beauty routine will boost your confidence levels. There have been days when I turned my mood around completely by implementing this one thing.
2. Dress nicely. Dressing nicely = feeling good. You’ll feel successful and presentable and ready to tackle the world. Dressing nicely means something different for everyone. It doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a $500 outfit, but could mean casual clothes that are quality and fits well.
3. Photoshop your self-image. Our self-image means so much to us, more than we often realize. We have a mental picture of ourselves, and it determines how confident we are in our abilities and how confidently we show up in the world. But this picture isn’t fixed and immutable. You can change it. Use your mental Photoshopping skills, and work on your self-image. If it’s not a very good one, change it. Don’t like your hair, change it. Don’t like your body weight, change it. Don’t like your posture, change it. Figure out why you see yourself that way, and find a way to transform it.
4. Think positive. One of the things I learned when I started creating content, was how to replace negative thoughts/thinking with positive ones. I can actually pivot my thoughts, and by doing so make great things happen. With this tiny skill, I was able to write, create and produce content and material for publication on almost a daily basis. It sounds so trite, so new-age but it works. Seriously. Try it. The trick is to remember to use it and not get caught up in long bouts of negativity.
5. Kill negative thoughts. Goes hand-in-hand with the above item, but it’s so important I made it a separate item. You have to become diligently aware of your self-talk, the thoughts you have about yourself and the things you do. When I was writing, sometimes my mind would start to say, “This is too hard. I want to stop and go watch TV.” Well, I soon learned to recognize this negative self-talk. I now see these thoughts and soon learned a trick that changed everything: I would imagine that a negative thought was a bug, more precisely a mosquito. I intensely dislike these insects, and I would vigilantly be on the lookout for these bugs. When I catch one of these ‘buggy thoughts’ I would mentally stomp on it and squash it. Kill it dead. Then replace it with a positive one.
Know yourself and you will win all battles. – Sun Tzu
6. Get to know yourself. When going into battle, savvy generals learn their enemies strengths and weaknesses. You can’t defeat the enemy without knowing him. And when you’re trying to overcome a negative self-image and replace it with self-confidence, the enemy is you. Get to know yourself well. Listen and capture your thoughts. Journal and capture various aspects about yourself, and about the thoughts you have about yourself, and analyze why you have such negative thoughts. Think about the good aspects of yourself, the things you do well and the things you like. What about your limitations? Are they real or you carrying around old stories or even making them up? Clear things up with a healthy dose of reflection and writing.
7. Act positive. Action, actually, is the key to developing self-confidence. It’s one thing to learn to think positive, but when you start acting on it, things change, almost magically. You are what you do, and so if you change what you do, you change what you are. Act in positive ways, take action instead of telling yourself you can’t. Talk to people in a positive way, put energy into your actions. You’ll soon notice a difference.
8. Be kind and generous. Being kind to others, and generous with yourself and your time and what you have, is a tremendous way to improve your self-image. You act in accordance with the Golden Rule, and you start feeling good about yourself, and see yourself as a good and worthy person.
One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation. – Arthur Ashe
9. Get prepared. It’s hard to be confident if you ill-prepared. Beat that feeling by preparing yourself as much as possible.
10. Know your principles/values and live them. What are the principles upon which your life is built? If you don’t know, you will have trouble, because your life will feel directionless. For myself, I try to live the Golden Rule (and fail a lot sometimes). This is my key principle, and I try to live my life in accordance with it. I have others, but they are mostly in some way related to this rule (the major exception being to “Live my Passion”). Think about your principles. You might have them but haven’t given them much thought. Are you actually living them or only paying lip service to them?
11. Speak slowly. Such a simple thing, but it can have a big difference in how others perceive you. A person in authority, with authority, speaks slowly. It shows confidence. A person who feels that she isn’t worth listening to will speak quickly. Even if you don’t feel confident yet, curb the urge to rush through your words. Sounding rushed is a dead giveaway that you’re uncomfortable in your own skin.
12. Stand tall. Learning to stand tall was the most important lesson I learned during my modeling days. Erect posture signals self worth. When I remind myself to stand tall and straight, I feel better about myself. I imagine a rope pulling the top of my head toward the sky, and the rest of my body straightens accordingly. As an aside, people who stand tall and confident are more attractive and elegant.
13. Increase competence. How do you feel more competent? By becoming competent. How? With practice and study. Just do small bits at a time. If you want to be a more competent writer, for example, don’t try to tackle the entire profession of writing all at once. Just begin to write. Journal, blog, write short stories, do some freelance writing. The more you write, the better you’ll be. Set aside 30 minutes a day to write (for example), and the practice will increase your competence.
14. Set a small goal and achieve it. People often make the mistake of shooting for the moon, and then when they fail, they get discouraged. Instead, shoot for something much more achievable. Set a goal you know you can achieve, and then achieve it. You’ll feel good about that. Now set another small goal and achieve that. The more you achieve small goals, the better you’ll be at it, and the better you’ll feel. Soon you’ll be setting bigger (but still achievable) goals and achieving those too. If you’re lost on how to stay accountable, I can help you with that.
15. Change a small habit. Not a big one, like quitting smoking. Just a small one, like writing things down. Or waking up 10 minutes earlier. Or drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Something small that you know you can do. Do it for a month. When you’ve accomplished it, you’ll feel like a million bucks.
16. Focus on solutions. If you are a complainer, or focus on problems, CHANGE your focus now. Focusing on solutions instead of problems is one of the best things you can do for your confidence and your life. “I’m fat and lazy!” So how can you solve that? “But I can’t motivate myself!” So how can you solve that? “But I have no energy!” So what’s the solution? “I’m a failure” What can you do about that?
17. Smile. Simple. But it works. I instantly feel better when I smile, and I’m kinder to others as well. This tiny thing can trigger a massive chain reaction of good. Not a bad investment of your time and energy.
18. Volunteer. Related to the “be kind and generous” item above, but more specific. Make the lives of others better. It’ll be the best time you’ll spend, with amazing side benefits, for one, you’ll feel better about yourself, instantly.
19. Be grateful. I’m a firm believer in gratitude. It changes the trajectory of your thoughts and actions. Whatever you’re doing or wherever you are, you can ALWAYS find something to focus gratitude upon. Look around closely and you’ll find it.
20. Exercise. Exercise has been one of my most empowering activities. All you have to do is take a walk a few times a week, and you’ll see benefits. Start the habit.
21. Empower yourself with knowledge. Empowering yourself, in general, is one of the best strategies for building self-confidence. You can do that in many ways, but one of the surest ways to empower yourself is through knowledge. This is along the same vein as building competence and getting prepared. Knowledge aligns with confidence. The Internet is a great tool, of course, but so are the people around you, people who have done what you want, books, magazines, educational institutions, mentors and coaches.
22. Do something you’ve been procrastinating about. What’s on your to-do list that’s still sitting there? Do it and get it out of the way. You’ll feel great about yourself. Trust me. I’ve sat on a project long enough and finally did it. Feels amazing!
23. Get active. Doing something is almost always better than not doing anything. Of course, doing something could lead to mistakes but mistakes are part of life. It’s how we learn. Without mistakes, we’d never get better. So don’t worry about those. Just do something. Get off your behind and get active.
24. Work on small things. Trying to take on a huge project or task can be overwhelming and daunting and intimidating for anyone, even the best of us. Instead, learn to break off small chunks and work in bursts. Small little achievements make you feel good, and they add up to big achievements. Learn to work like this all the time, and soon you’re confidence will be shooting through the roof!
25. Clear your desk. This might seem like a small, simple thing (then again, for some of you it might not be so small). But it has always worked wonders for me. If my desk starts to get messy, and the world around me is in chaos, clearing off my desk is my way of getting a little piece of my life under control. It is the calm in the center of the storm around me.
So there you have it. Twenty five action items you can immediately implement to increase your self confidence. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, this list is not revolutionary, nothing that you haven’t seen or heard before. The question is, will you act on any of them? The power and magic lay within the tiniest and simplest of thoughts, ideas and actions. It’s the boldness of those who venture forth are the ones that reap the benefits.
Will that be you I wonder?
Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable. – Walt Disney