How to build confidence is a question that plagues both men and women from all walks of life. Don’t be fooled - it doesn’t just afflict the quieter types! The most gregarious party animals worry about what everyone thinks of them as much as you do!
It’s eye-opening to see how many successful, career-driven and seemingly confident women sit in front of me and fall to pieces. They are plagued with inner doubts and insecurities and completely taken aback (and comforted at the same time) to learn that it is incredibly common.
When we dig down to core level we find a mass of inner criticism going on, speculation on when we’ll be discovered as a fraud, intense fear about not meeting others’ expectations and worry about the day our big fall will come. Sound familiar?
Where this really hits home is in relationships….booming career, zero love life. In a job you can get away with competently doing a series of tasks and achieving planned results – it’s more skill and action based than thought based. In life, and especially in dating and relationships, there is no such plan and you rely on yourself alone. Hence, melt down city.
How do we tackle it?
Well, first it’s important to understand the nature of confidence and I like to replace it with another word that makes more sense to me: acceptance.
To me, lack of confidence is just another term for over-worrying about what others think of you, about fear of judgment and rejection. It’s not about actions, about speaking loudly and doing the power-handshake….you can do this when you’re alone, but that does not make you confident. When other people turn up, confidence goes to mush. No, it’s our fear of what others are thinking that crushes us.
So why is acceptance the key? Well the fact is that when we learn to truly 100% accept ourselves we cease to give a toss what others think. It’s that simple. If I think I’m a pretty good sort, then why should you thinking I’m a complete cow bother me in the slightest? Those words can only affect me if somewhere in my heart I also think I’m a bit of a cow.
So don’t work on confidence, on doing things loudly and with impact, on being more social, more funny or more anything. Work on acceptance, in the moments of quiet you have by yourself. Work on feeling your own space when you’re with people, on leaning back and being present in the moment. On reassuring yourself that you’re ok.
Here are 3 things you can do day to day to begin to work on your self-acceptance:
Meditation is one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves. It’s hard for busy-minded people, but they are the ones that need it the most.
When we allow ourselves to just “be”, to sit in calmness within a present moment, there is no fear, no anxiety, just peace. Practicing these moments more and more within meditation will bring more and more of those moments when you’re out and about.
You don’t have to empty your mind - you can listen to music, you can let your mind daydream, you can follow a guided track. Whatever you do the most important thing is to be present, nowhere to go, no one to be. Just you, here now.
Remind Yourself It’s Ok Not To Be Perfect
This is something that is so simple yet when I first started saying this to myself it struck me like a lightning bolt. After a lifetime of achievement, of always trying to be the best, of always competing and totally fearing failure, hearing the words “It’s ok not to be perfect” was like someone opening a door into a warm room.
And here’s what I learned about not being perfect – people like you more. If you’ve been striving to achieve all your life to gain more love and acceptance from others, I can tell you it’s counter-productive. Showing others that you’re human, that you fall over, that you’re vulnerable, that you hurt, is completely endearing to others, and it allows them to be the ones that help you for a change – that’s a gift.
Focus On What You Like About You
We do 1000 things right every day, yet we focus on the ONE thing that we do wrong. Your thoughts are not reality, yet they become your reality, so make a useful choice about the thoughts you allow into your head.
Make a list of all the great stuff about you – from the tiniest physical things (man, I have a cute dimple…) to your admirable character traits (super kind, me…) to the great stuff you do (just saved that skink lizard from the cat…). Then…read it…daily!
So next time you’re curled up in a foetal position in the corner wondering how you’ll ever find the courage to foray out into the world again, remember that you’re not alone. And in the same way that spiders are more afraid of you than you are of them (mostly), it’s useful to remind yourself that everyone else’s fears and insecurities are playing havoc with them just under the surface too. You don’t need to worry what they think of you because they are far too busy worrying about what you think of them!
If something else has worked for you to improve your confidence, share it in the comments section below – we can all use the tips!
Stephanie Chan is a Sydney based Life Coach, Dating Coach and Presenter.
Her passion is in working with people to improve self-worth, confidence & strength in all areas of their lives.
For daily tips, articles and insights, follow Steph on Facebook