How to Really Improve Your Self Confidence
A person with self-confidence believes that they have the ability to overcome any challenge they face, no matter how difficult it may be. They believe that they can do something, and believe that they can do it well.
This doesn’t, however, mean that a self-confident person will never feel afraid or nervous, as these are natural emotions which we all experience. Rather, it means that a self-confident person possess the ability to persist despite these emotions, and ultimately, this is what allows them to accomplish their goals.
Some of the defining characteristics of a self-confident person are:
• Remains calm in situations which would normally cause panic.
• Breathes easily and naturally.
• Works towards goals with an expectation of success rather than failure.
• Believes that they can deal with the challenges that lie ahead them.
• Can laugh at themselves and accept constructive criticism.
• Has an overall positive feeling about life, rather than an overall negative feeling.
• Feels that in the end things will be o.k no matter what happens.
As you can see, there is nothing magical about being a self-confident person. People who have self-confidence believe in themselves and in their abilities. As a result, this belief enables them to focus on what they want and then go after it in the best way they know how.
The more self-confident you are, the greater your focus will be. By the law of attraction, this will then result in you getting more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.
Measuring Your Level of Self Confidence
In order to start working on improving your self-confidence, you first need to have an idea of where you currently are. This, however, is something that only you can judge, and so your determination should be based on your own opinion and not those of others.
It is also important to remember that confidence is very rarely fixed at a certain level. Rather, it is much more common for a person’s self-confidence to fluctuate from day-to-day, week to week or even month to month.
For example, you may be having a bad day today because you didn’t achieve what you set out to do. As a result, your confidence has taken a knock and so is lower than usual.
Conversely, you could be having a good day where everything is working out just as you had planned and wanted it to. Naturally, under these conditions, your self-confidence is going to rise.
So when thinking about your current level of confidence, try not to think about it in short time frames, such as a few hours or a day, as that is not an accurate representation of how confident you really are.
Instead, think about your average level of confidence, such as over the past month. For example:
• Have you predominantly been in a bad mood and were afraid to start new projects because you thought that you would fail at them?
• Have you predominantly been in a good mood and were able to accomplish the goals which you set for yourself?
Once you have determined what your average level of self-confidence is, you can then use that estimation as a base line to gauge how much progress you make in improving your confidence level.
What Determines How Confident You Are?
Although there are many different factors which can affect how confident a person feels, all confident people share similar traits and characteristics.
To help you gain a better understanding of what these are, try answering the following questions as best you can:
Q1) Where Are You Going in Life?
Do you know where you are going and what you want to be in life?
People who don’t know where they are going lack self-confidence, because they feel that their life has no real meaning or direction to it. They feel that they will always be where they are and so become depressed about their life situation.
Q2) What Motivates You?
Think about the things that you do throughout the day. Do they motivate you? Do they excite you? Do they captivate your attention?
If you aren’t motivated in life, then you are unlikely to do things which will build up your level of confidence.
Q3) Can You Control Your Emotions?
Are you a person who can control their emotions and respond appropriately to them? Or do you let them control you, and then later regret it?
People who can’t control their emotions (e.g., anger) are ruled by them, and so they usually end up missing out on many opportunities which could have raised their confidence.
Q4) How Positive Are You?
Are you an optimistic person who is hopeful for the future? Or are you always full of doom and gloom with a constant expectation of failure?
People who do not have a positive mindset are likely to doubt their own ability to do something, which then causes them to either never start or quit half way through.
But be careful with this, because people who only focus on the positive and don’t want to hear anything negative, have a tendency to deny reality. In other words, they see only what they want to see.
Q5) How do You See Yourself?
Being self-aware means knowing what you look and sound like to other people. Self-awareness is also tied to self acceptance, which is how much you can accept this image of yourself.
People who are unable to accept themselves are, by default, self rejecting. This mindset can never create a high level of self-confidence.
Q6) How Flexible Are You?
Are you able to change your behavior or opinions based on the situation that you are in or the information that you are presented with? Or do you have a fixed idea about how things should be and are unwilling to change those beliefs?
If you are unwilling to change your views and admit, that in some circumstances, what you currently believe to be true may actually be false, then you will find it very difficult in life to change yourself for the better.
Self confidence comes through learning by experience. So if you always think that what you are doing is right, you will never learn anything and your confidence won’t improve.
Q7) Do You Challenge Yourself?
Do you like to learn new things and challenge yourself? Or do you like to stay in your comfort zone, and always do the same familiar things over and over again.
Personal growth comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone. The longer you refuse to step out of it, the harder it will be to raise your confidence.
Q8) How do You Treat Your Body?
The way you feel throughout most of the day is heavily influenced by the chemicals and hormones circulating around your body. If you eat junk and do not exercise, then your body will suffer and so will your confidence.
As a result, if you are working on your mind you must also be working on your body. Failure to do so will result in slow or non-existent change.
Q9) Do You Take Risks?
When you are not sure how something is going to work out, do you take a risk? Or do you play it safe?
People who take risks in life learn to gain confidence quickly, because they are stepping out into the unknown when most people would have stepped back.
If the risk pays off, then their confidence is likely to skyrocket. If, however, the risk doesn’t pay off, their confidence may take a knock, but they will also have a sense of satisfaction that they at least made an effort to try.
Risks are something that you have to take in order to grow as a person, and they are also one of the best ways to get outside your comfort zone.
But remember, don’t take risks just for the sake of it. Take calculated risks that you feel have some chance of paying off. If they don’t, try something else until you succeed.
Q10) What is the Purpose of Your Life?
What are you doing what you are currently doing for? What’s the point?
People who feel that their actions have purpose, are much more likely to have higher levels of confidence than people who see their actions as meaningless.
Having a sense of purpose about your life is one of the most important things that you can discover, but it can also be one of the most difficult.
Finding your confident self
Now that you have seen some of the things which can make a person confident, how much of what you read do you think applies to you? Here is the list again as a reminder.
• Where are you going in life?
• What motivates you?
• Can you control your emotions?
• How positive are you?
• How do you see yourself?
• How flexible are you?
• Do you challenge yourself?
• How do you treat your body?
• Do you take risks?
• What is the purpose of your life?
Remember, each of these traits will help you to develop a higher level of self-confidence.
So your first step is determine what traits you think you have, and then to decide what you need to work on. These areas should be improved gradually, so don’t expect to master them over night.
If you can achieve everything on this list, you will turn yourself into a very confident person who can comfortably cope with the challenges that life throws at them.
Your Thoughts & Beliefs
One of the biggest causes of low self-confidence are the thoughts that you have on a daily basis, specifically, the thoughts which are self-defeating.
These types of thoughts put you down and reduce your level of self-worth and self-esteem. As a result, you end up feeling worse about yourself, which then causes your self-confidence to fall.
Some of the most common self-defeating thoughts, or self talk, begin with phrases such as:
“I can’t do that…”
“I have never been able to do that…”
“I will always be…”
“I’m not good enough…”
“There is no way that I could…”
These phrases are just a small selection of the many forms of negative self talk that people use on a daily basis. They are signals of self rejecting mind and a state of low confidence.
The Self Rejecting Mind
A self rejecting mind is a mind that works against itself, and as a result, its true potential is continually limited by self-imposed restrictions.
These restrictions are the beliefs that you have acquired from your parents and society, beliefs which now govern your thoughts and actions.
Many of our limiting beliefs, however, are not real. They have no grounding in reality. They are illusions, false statements and misconceptions about yourself and the world in which you live.
Whenever something triggers one of your limiting beliefs, they appear like a puff of smoke in front of your eyes and change the way you perceive reality, distorting it through a lens of lies.
As a result, you begin to see a version of reality in which you are somehow limited or restricted because of some fault or disadvantage which you think you have. This then causes you to live your life within those limitations, never knowing or experiencing the full version of reality that surrounds you.
In order to overcome your limiting beliefs, you need to start seeing things clearly. To start seeing things for how they really are, rather than seeing the false illusion your beliefs are showing you.
This is done by becoming aware of your strengths, and then using those strengths to become a better and stronger person. Let’s now have a look at some of the ways that you can do this:
Recognizing Your Strengths
In general, you will find that the things which you are good at, and which you regard as being important to you, will be the areas of your life that your self-confidence is at its highest.
Conversely, if you are not very good at something which is important to you, then your self-confidence is likely to be much lower.
What this all means is that your self-confidence largely stems from your strengths and your values. In other words, self-confidence comes from the things which you are good at and also from the things which you think are important.
It stands to reason therefore, that the first thing that anyone should do to improve their confidence levels is to start with their strengths.
By doing so, they will be able to build upon an already existing foundation of confidence. All that is then required, is to keep on building your confidence until it reaches a height at which you are satisfied with.
This is done by acknowledging the things which you are currently good at (e.g. playing a musical instrument), and then accepting praise from others (and yourself) for the things you do well.
Once you start to respect yourself for your talents, that self-respect will then slowly spread into other areas of your life thereby allowing you to gain confidence in other things.
To help you decide what you are good at, try thinking about things that you have done well at school, work or home, and then think about any future actions which you could do to expand upon those talents.
For example, if you feel that making people laugh is one of your talents because people tend to laugh at your jokes, then you may decide to expand upon that talent by reading joke books or humor psychology books.
So the basic format to use is:
• What I am good at.
• Example of when I did it well (the more the better).
• How can I expand upon this talent?
After you have completed this simple process, you will know what you are good at and know the things that you can do to start building up your self-confidence.
Asking others what you’re good at
If you are still struggling to find out what you are good at, then why not ask your friends or colleagues? Often, we assume that the things which we are good at others are also good at, and so discount them even though they are perfectly valid (and often unique) talents.
Here are some questions that you can ask other people to determine what you are most talented at:
• What do you think I am good at?
• What could I do more of?
• What could I do less of?
• Can you rely on me for anything?
• How do you think I could improve my skills?
The purpose of these questions is to get an idea of the things that you are good at, why you are good at them and how you could improve them. Once you know what your talents are, you will then have something to work with to improve your self-confidence.
Revealing unknown talents
One of the advantages of asking other people what your talents are, as opposed to just deciding yourself, is that often we see ourselves differently to how other people see us.
For example, we may do things well which we were unaware of, or we may have been doing things badly which we were unaware of. So speaking to people about ourselves can help us to see things which we didn’t see before.
In addition to this, by speaking to several people, you will be able to spot patterns in the feedback that you receive. So if you find that everyone is telling you the same thing, then it would be a wise move on your behalf to act upon what they are saying.
Likewise, if you ask five people for feedback and only one of them says something bad about you, then you might be able to discount what they have said or ask someone else if they agree or not.
This process will enable you to better understand yourself, and the very act of discovering what other people think you are talented at, will raise your self-esteem to a much higher level than it currently is.
It’s All About You
People who lack self-esteem and self-confidence tend to put the needs of others ahead of their own. They do this largely because they want to gain acceptance from others, and think that the more they sacrifice their own needs and wants, the more that others will like them.
When you start becoming a more confident person, however, you will notice a reverse in this type of behavior. Instead of thinking about what other people want, you start thinking more about what you want.
Some people might think that this would make you a very selfish person, and they’re right, as it does.
Being selfish doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, being selfish can actually help you to achieve the things you want in life and also make you better able to care for those who are close to you.
If you are not selfish, the opposite will happen. You won’t get what you want out of life, and people will take advantage of you for their own gain. The reason for this is simple. If you don’t put yourself first, you will always come second.
This automatically implies that you are worth less and deserve less than others, a belief which will then be transferred to your subconscious where it will then influence your future thoughts and action.
So it’s quite obvious that putting yourself second is certainly not an attitude that will help to improve your self-esteem or your self-confidence, which is why it is important that you get rid of the belief that putting yourself first is somehow bad.
If being selfish is still an issue for you, think about how being unselfish has served you so far? Probably not very well, as otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.
So from now on, start putting your needs first ahead of the needs of others, because if you don’t do this, you won’t be able to build up your self-confidence to a higher level.
The Importance of Responsiblity
When something goes wrong in your life, what do you do? If you are like most people, you look for someone or something to blame, because by doing so, you somehow feel better for your misfortune.
When it comes to building up your self-confidence, passing the blame is something you definitely want to avoid because when you blame someone or something for the circumstances in your life, you are essentially shifting your own personal control on to other people or other things.
What this means is that rather than controlling your own life, you allow other people or other things to control it for you. This of course, then leaves you powerless to change things for the better, as how can a person ever hope to improve something which they have no personal control over?
Being self-confident therefore means taking full responsibility for your actions, and this includes the things that go right and the things that go wrong.
It is only when you are able to accept the fact that you are responsible for the way your life turns out, will you then be able to take responsibility for developing your self-confidence to a higher level.
A person who is unable to take responsibility for their actions when something bad happens to them, will sulk, feel sorry for themselves or look for someone to blame rather than trying to figure out how to make things better.
They feel that they are a victim, and because they feel like a victim, they also feel powerless to improve their life or steer it in the direction they want it to go.
As you might imagine, having such a mentality is not going to help a person to build their level of self-confidence or self-esteem, because without accepting responsiblity, these are things which they feel are beyond their own control.
So it is important to remember that the degree to which anyone is able to feel happy with their life, will be directly proportional to the amount of control that they feel they have over it. The less control you have, the worse you will feel. The more control you have, the better you will feel.
The “blamer mindset”
A blamer is a person who is unable to accept personal responsiblity for the way things are. They are viewed by others as someone who likes to complain, make excuses and generally has a negative outlook on life.
Ask yourself, would you like to hang out or be friends with such a person? Of course you wouldn’t, and neither would anyone else, which is why blamers tend to only attract negative people into their life rather than positive people.
The effect of this can be disastrous on one’s level of self-esteem and self-confidence, because people tend to become like the people who they spend the most time with.
So if all a person does is hang around with negative people, then they are likely to spend the rest of their life locked in a mindset of blame and victimhood rather than trying to find a way to make things better for themselves.
If you want to have and be around positive people, then complaining all the time isn’t going to attract them to you. Instead, it will attract exactly the wrong type of people into your life, the type of people who will make it harder, not easier, for you to turn things around and improve your self-confidence.
Learning From Life Experiences
The experiences which you have in life slowly shape the type of person you become. Therefore, the person you are today comes as a direct result of your past experiences, and so the person you will become, will come as a result of your future experiences.
In general, there are two types of experiences that you can have.
Positive experiences are the times in your life when you achieve what you set out to do, and as a result, they make you feel good and help to build up your level of self-confidence.
Negative experiences are the things in your life that don’t go according to plan, and sometimes, can be very painful to deal with. These experiences will lower your self-confidence, although, with the right mindset, they also hold the potential to raise it.
Learning from negative life experiences
Although nobody likes to have negative experiences, they can actually be much more valuable to your personal development than if you just have good experiences all the time.
However, because they are unpleasant to deal with, most people try to forget about them or blame other people or other things for them.
If you want to start building up your level of self-confidence, you therefore need to embrace negative experiences. This includes those which have occurred to you in the past and those that will occur to you in the future.
Embracing negative experiences means accepting them, accepting that in some cases you were responsible for the way something turned out.
When you are able to accept the bad things in your life, only then will you be able to learn from them and then use those experiences to make you a stronger person.
If you can adopt this mentality of learning from your mistakes, you will find negative experiences much easier to deal with and so gain much more control over your life as a result.
Dealing with difficult experiences
There will be some life experiences which will be more painful and therefore, more difficult to accept than others, and these, whilst being the hardest to overcome, will be the experiences that offer you the greatest potential to develop a high level of self-confidence.
For example, if a relationship with a person who you loved has ended, you are bound to feel a lot of pain and find it difficult to deal with.
This is perfectly natural, as painful experiences are painful for a reason, they cause us pain. But for everything bad that happens to you, something good will happen as a result. Why is this? I don’t know, but perhaps it’s the universe’s way of balancing things out.
Take me for example. When a relationship I was in ended, I was extremely hurt and nothing anyone said to me made me feel any better about the situation.
It was only when I was able to accept what happened, realize that I was responsible for it and then move on from that experience, did I start to feel better about myself and get on with my life.
From that experience I developed much greater self-reliance, self-confidence and inner strength, and also became motivated to learn about relationships so that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again.
As a result, even though at the time I saw it as a bad experience, I now see it as a good experience and one that I am thankful for because it made me the person I am today.
Creating New Life Experiences
Since our life experiences shape the type of person we become, if you only experience the same or similar things in your life, then you won’t change very much as a person. By experiencing new things, however, you give yourself the best chance of becoming a new and better person.
The reason for this is that every experience you have in life creates a belief in your mind. These beliefs are like computer programs in the sense that they cause you to act in one way or another by influencing the type of thoughts you have.
So if you have a bad experience, a belief related to that experience will be created which will then continue to influence you throughout your entire life.
The key is to replace that bad experience with a similar good experience, so that you can erase that bad belief and replace it with a good one.
For example, if you were bullied at school and never stood up for yourself, that will create a bad belief in your mind that will continue to eat away at your self-confidence as you grow older.
However, if you are able to do something to erase that belief, such as by learning how to defend yourself or becoming physically strong, fit and healthy, then you will remove the negative influence of that past belief and your self-confidence will grow as a result.
This particular example is very common amongst boxers, such as Lennox Lewis. Lennox was bullied as a child and had very low self-confidence.
But once he learned to box and stand up for himself, his self-confidence quickly grew and allowed him to become very successful later in life.
What Lennox did was to remove his negative belief and replace it with a positive belief. If Lennox had kept hold of his old belief, his confidence would have remained at a low-level.
We can all learn from Lennox, as we all have things that we lack confidence at. But once we face up to the thing we fear, we can start doing something about it to change the way it’s making us feel. It is through this action that we then empower ourselves with the ability to raise our level of confidence.
When you think of a confident person, you probably assume that they are confident in all areas of their life. Very rarely, however, is this the case, because even the most confident of people still have insecurities which they would rather be without.
A good example of this can be found with very attractive people. Most people tend to think of attractive people as being very confident, as not having much that they dislike about themselves.
But the reality is that attractive people often have many insecurities regarding their looks, and so most are not as confident as they appear.
What this tells us about self-confidence is that perception plays a big role in how we see other people. If someone looks confident to us, we will naturally assume (rightly or wrongly) that they are a confident person. As a result, how we act towards them will be different from if we were dealing with a person who appeared to lack self-confidence.
So even if you don’t have very much confidence right now, it is still possible to project the appearance of having high self-confidence such as by displaying confident body language.
Given enough time, this new pattern of behavior will start to imprint itself on your mind, and before you know it, you start automatically acting in more confident ways. In other words, you fake it until you make it.
Importantly, this process will occur entirely by itself due to the automatic nature of human behavior. It has been shown for example, that the more times you carry out a task the better you become at it.
Eventually, you reach a point where you no longer have to think about how you will consciously execute that task, as you will suddenly seem to be able to do it with little or no conscious thought. Psychologists refer to this process as “automaticity”.
But be careful though, because just as automaticity can work in your favor, so too can it work against you. This means that if you normally act without displaying much confidence, then that lack of confidence will automatically result in less self-confidence later on.
In order to be able to fake something however, you need to have a clear picture of what you would like to become. A clear picture of exactly what confidence means to you. One of the best ways to do this, is by using the power of mental visualization.
Here is a simple visualization exercise for developing your self-confidence:
Imagine yourself as a super confident person and then apply that image to a real life future event. Try to notice the things that you are doing, the people who you are with, the talents and skills you have and how you are feeling. This image of yourself should be the ideal person that you would like to become.
Although you probably won’t achieve your visualized image the first time you practice it in real life, you will slowly, but automatically, start to incorporate that image into your personality the more you visualize the super confident new you.
Visualization does work, as numerous studies have shown that when you imagine something in your head it activates the same regions of the brain as if you were actually doing the thing you are imagining. So visualizing something is virtually the same as doing it in real life.
It is very important, however, that you do not rely upon visualization alone. This is because in order to effect a change into your life, mental as well as physical action is required.
So each night before you drift off to sleep, spend a few minutes thinking about the ideal you. The person that you know you are capable of becoming.
If you are realistic about this visualization, your subconscious will start working to automatically bring that mental image into reality.
Portraying Confident Body Language
Your body is the first thing that a person sees when they look at you. As a result, it is also the first thing that they use to judge how confident you are. Therefore, if one wishes to portray confidence to others, they need to display the body language of a confident person.
Some of the ways that you can signal confidence with your body language are described below.
Stand up Straight
Keeping a straight back suggests that you are alert and confident. People who slouch are generally perceived as being lazy or lacking in confidence.
If you feel good about yourself on the inside, you naturally start to smile. When others see this smile, they will perceive you as being a confident person.
People who never smile are generally perceived as being miserable, and when you are miserable, people try to stay away from you.
Make Eye Contact
A confident person can look at someone directly in their eyes. People who cannot maintain eye contact are seen as untrustworthy and weak.
Close Body Proximity
Leaning forward or moving closer to another person is one way of showing confidence. You are displaying that you are not intimidated by their presence, and that you feel comfortable in your own skin.
Firm Hand Shake
A firm handshake is a great way to show that you are a strong and confident person who is not a pushover.
People with weak or limp handshakes are generally regarded as being weak or submissive.