Whether it’s because of experiences you had as a child, or some major knock-backs you experienced in later life, when you have no self-confidence inside you, it can affect your prospects at work, it can make you lonely and it can make you feel tense and nervous in the company others. In fact, having no self-confidence at all, is downright horrible and it’ can be a very difficult thing to overcome.
I was never a particularly confident person as a child and I was constantly filled with self-doubt and worry. I overcame that, to some degree, as an adult, and I can put down to a successful career. However, when everything started to fall apart around me a few years ago, all the confidence that I had gained seemed to evaporate again and I was left feeling so deflated and, useless, that I returned back into my old introverted self again.
Now, some two years after I had a complete mental meltdown, I’m learning to build that confidence back up again, so I guess you could say I’m a bit of an old hand at the self-confidence building game, having had to do it twice in a lifetime.
Whilst I’m no expert in psychology (There I go again, with a disclaimer to cover my lack of self-confidence!) I’m happy to share my thoughts and hope that someone, someone will find them useful. Here are my ten tips on how you can build, or re-build, your self-confidence.
For those of you who brim with self-confidence, you will find this a little weird! People with really low confidence and low self-esteem aren’t exactly what you would call sharp dressers. We don’t like change, we like to try and blend in, and we don’t like going into shops anyway! However, I can tell all you who do lack in self-confidence that, smartening yourself up and getting some new clothes really can make a huge difference to how you feel about yourself. Trust me, it might not make you feel like a million dollars but, at least you won’t feel like 5 cents anymore!
2. Shut out the failures and focus on the successes
Having a lack of self-confidence will probably make you dwell on past mistakes and that will just confirm your feelings of self-doubt. So much so, that sometimes we forget all about the great things that we have achieved. Try to not even think about the things that you think might have gone wrong in the past, because there is nothing that you can do about the past anyway. Remember Peter Pan and his happy thought? Well, my happy thought was my children and one happy thought really can make you think you can fly!
3. Walk like you’re going somewhere
Walk like you have places to go and people to see. It will make you feel a lot more confidant. It sounds crazy but, if just pick up the pace when you walk it really does make you feel more purposeful. There is some science behind this too because, when you exercise your body, it releases endorphins into your bloodstream, which are your feel-good hormones that lift your mood.
4. Talk yourself up
If you tell yourself you can do something often enough, eventually you will start to believe it. Try and motivate yourself to speak up in public or, to ask someone on a date, by telling yourself that you can do it, over and over again. No one is saying that you will become the most confident person in town overnight, but you really do have to take matters into your own hands and begin to believe that you can do something about your lack of self-confidence.
A few years ago, my self-confidence was so low that I wouldn’t take the chair in the back row of a meeting; I’d have been outside, peering through the window! Try gradually moving yourself toward the front of groups and you’ll find that it’s nowhere near as bad as you thought. Eventually you’ll get so close, you’ll think, damn it! I might as well it right at the front.
6. Speak up
All of these things come through gradual exposure to your fears, so you are not going to become a proficient and confident public speaker overnight. To overcome your fear of speaking out in public, the first thing that you have to do is stop over-thinking the problem. If you are anything like me, then you probably find yourself taking so long to think of something to say that you feel won’t make you sound foolish that, by the time you have thought of something, the conversation has moved on. People aren’t going to think you foolish and everything that you say doesn’t have to be a pearl of wisdom. Start, by trying just to add something small to a conversation and see how you get on. When you do start to speak up, your self-confidence will gradually improve.
7. Take deep breaths
If you do start to feel your confidence slipping and the nerves taking over, then taking a couple of deep breaths can really help. Breathing deeply will increase the supply of oxygen that is getting to your brain and that will help to calm your nerves and make you think more clearly.
8. Don’t slouch
Your stooped posture is another way that people who lack self-confidence subconsciously try to hide. Try and get out of the habit of attempting to make yourself invisible and stand up straight, or sit up straight, in your chair. It will make you feel far more positive and it will make you look more confident too.
9. Use compliments
To get you used to communicating more, use compliments to start a conversion. A compliment is the safest thing that you could say to say to a person. After all, who is going to argue with you? A compliment will put the other person at ease; make them warm to you and make conversion far easier. Once you have crossed the initial barrier of making small talk, you will have more confidence to carry on with the conversation.
Lack of self-confidence is really a fear of what other people think about you, as much as it is a lack of self-belief. Sat in a room, all by yourself, you probably feel quite confident about your own abilities, but out there in the wide world, your confidence fades. People really aren’t as judgmental as you think they are and, anyway, if you know people who are judgmental, then you should be ignoring them. Stop trying to please other people all the time and you will begin to feel more confident about yourself.
The most important thing that you can do to regain your self-confidence is to realise that you have a problem in the first place and take the decision to do something about it. No one can expect, though, to become super confident overnight, you have to take things, one step at a time. If you chip away at the problem slowly, you can become more self-confident and you will feel a whole lot better about yourself. Be patient, don’t get angry with yourself, but, do give it a go.