7 simple ways to build your confidence
Are you shy or easily embarrassed? Does an upcoming job interview or networking event strike fear in your heart? A lack of self-esteem, fear of the unknown or just plain nervousness can hold you back in work and life, but boosting your self-confidence is easier than you think. Here, two experts in positive psychology share their tips for losing insecurities and gaining poise:
Giving thanks for even the simplest things can help make you feel good about yourself, says Erika Chomina Carter, MA, who has a counseling background and teaches online psychology courses for University of Phoenix.
“We tend to get bogged down in negative thoughts, like ‘Why don’t I have this job or that car, or x amount of money?’ which saps our self-confidence,” she explains. Instead, she says to think about all that you have accomplished — “I graduated high school with honors,” “I’m the first in my family to attend college,” “I have a great work ethic,” and so on.
“You’ll be amazed at all you have to be thankful for,” Carter adds.
Surround yourself with positive reinforcement.
You can train yourself to silence your inner critic and create a more optimistic mental dialogue, according to Carter. “Whenever that voice inside yourself says, ‘You can’t do that,’ or ‘You’ll look stupid,’ understand that it’s coming from a place of fear.”
She suggests concentrating on happy memories or other things that give you joy, like favorite foods or pastimes. “Creating that positive foundation in our heads helps build resilience, which strengthens us over time,” she says.
You also can build self-esteem through the company you keep, notes Jeana Esler, MS, an online instructor in the bachelor’s in psychology program. “Surround yourself with positive, healthy people who make you feel good about yourself,” Esler says. “Make time to spend with those who boost you up,” rather than those who are hypercritical or engage in other negative behaviors.
Prepare for the worst.
You can alleviate nervousness about things like public speaking by figuring out in advance how you’ll face the challenges.
“Ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ and make a plan of what you’d do in that situation,” Carter advises, such as wearing comfortable shoes to reduce the chance of tripping on your way up to the stage to give a speech. “Once you have a plan in place, it’s easier to cancel out the negative thoughts that arise out of fear.”
Dress for the event.
Whether you’re attending a cocktail party or giving a business presentation, attire counts. “Clothes can make a difference,” Esler points out. “Dressing in clothes appropriate for the occasion, which fit our bodies well and that we feel good in can really boost self-confidence.”
Carter agrees. “I know people who dress up and even put on makeup when they’re working from home and won’t see anyone face to face because it helps improve their state of mind and makes them more productive,” she notes.
Going to the gym or even just taking a brisk walk strengthens both the body and mind, Esler stresses. “Exercise releases endorphins, which are known to boost our mood,” she explains. “The healthier we are, the better we feel about ourselves.”
Stand up straight and smile.
If you look confident on the outside, you can make yourself feel confident on the inside, Carter asserts. “When you stand up straight, your body language says, ‘I am someone to be respected. I have self-worth,’ and people will respond to you accordingly,” she points out. “And it’s hard not to get positive feedback when you smile.”
Talk to strangers.
Walking up to people you don’t know and talking to them is a surefire way to build self-esteem because you can control the conversation, according to Carter.
“If you’re scared to talk to strangers at parties, make a list of things you’d like to talk about ahead of time and practice discussing them,” she advises, noting that “What do you do for a living?” is a good question to start with. “Have bullet points prepared about yourself, too. Grab those opportunities to talk to others, and pat yourself on the back with a ‘Wow! I did that!’ afterward.”