More confidence is synonymous to reducing stress and anxiety, and becoming so calm that you can look past the immediate problems, and see possibilities and solutions. If you are wondering how to develop confidence, start thinking about how to reduce overwhelm and stress in life so that you feel in control of the situations you are faced with.
Have you seen how confidently children behave? They do not seem to bother themselves with the word “impossible”. No matter what they want, they go for it.
Then what happens as we grow up? The experiences and environment shape our thinking and hence feeling. We start attaching the past unfavorable outcomes to define our ability in future. This is what creates doubt in our mind about possibilities. Unintentionally we train ourselves in lacking confidence. Depending on the severity of our experiences such training can be so deep rooted that it becomes debilitating.
But here is the thing. Past is past. We cannot let that affect our future. We simply cannot surrender ourselves to our prior experiences in the hope that future will be better. We HAVE to make it better!
Here are 7 tips to build or increase your confidence over time.
I follow and live by these every day but particularly so in situations when I become nervous – like just before giving a speech or an interview, when I am afraid of trying something new – like dancing or a new software trick which can delete all data I have, when I am sad and feel helpless – like a death in a family or thinking about world hunger.
My hope today is to help you understand that no matter how small or big the impact is, you can and will develop confidence over time, if you put your mind to it. This well help you become a more competent professional, and a happier human being. So go for it! Try these methods mindfully. You have nothing to lose.
1. Surround yourself with positive people
Energy is contagious. If you feed off of positive energy, it will create positive emotions in your mind. There is no need to be in the company of people who drain your energy. I understand that sometimes you do not have a choice. But more often than not you do. Choose wisely.
Do you have people that make you happy every time you think about them? People (in your circle or role models you admire) who are a source of inspiration? Or people who motivate you to push your boundaries? Try to spend more time in their company – whether the company is physical or online such as via their blog or videos.
When you are down, count on such sources of inspiration to lift up your spirits and keep going for your dreams.
2. Look for a solution, not a problem
Your confidence is heavily dependent on how you tackle the challenges in your life. Problems and obstacles are inevitable. But if you understand that no matter what the outcome is, you can come out of this challenge stronger and smarter than you were before facing it, you will be a lot more comfortable going through the process. If not anything, you should always aim for learning something in the process.
The easiest way to acquire this attitude is to start looking for solutions rather than complaining about the problems. When you start thinking about various ways to solve a problem, your thoughts clear up. You become more resourceful. You realize in the process that your challenges may not even be as hard as you initially thought.
If you want to develop this attitude, read this post I wrote earlier for more tips.
3. Count your blessings
This is THE most important habit for me to keep me positive and confident. We all understand we have something to be thankful for right now. If not anything, just the fact that you are alive, and have another day at your disposal to make your impact in this world is worth being grateful for.
Until last November, I was not aware of the power of conscious gratitude. About a year ago, I lost a dear aunt. She was my inspiration, my support, and a great friend. Until the loss, I almost took for granted the existence of all the great people I had and have in my life.
After her death, I decided that rather than thinking about all the things I did not have, I want to take an inventory of priceless jewels I do have. I purposely documented my thoughts in this series called “11 Days of Thanksgiving“.
I cannot describe the joy I felt every single day, as I wrote about my gratitude. The encouragement and motivation that came through this feeling of gratitude has lasted me in the last year. Every time I doubted if I can achieve something or faced a challenge, I reminded myself that even if I lose this opportunity, I still have a lot to be happy about. That instantly took the pressure off, and made me more relaxed even in a stressful situation.
I am going to do such a series of “Days of Thanksgiving” again this year. This year, I invite you to join me as well. Here is the Facebook page for Magic Monday Community. Like it and stay tuned for further announcements.
But start thinking about it right now:
What are you grateful for? Share that with others. And see for yourself how powerful this small act can be.
4. Be aware of your body
When you are nervous or doubtful, notice how your body reacts. Chances are that your head and shoulders droop, your neck tightens up, and your body curls up. There is a scientific reason why this happens. A stressful situation is perceived as a threat by your brain. As a result, it triggers fight or flight response as if you are facing a lion who is going to kill you soon.
In ancient days, lion will either kill you or you will successfully run away from it in a matter of minutes. But in today’s day and age, most stressful situations we face, do not resolve that quickly. Hence the body chemistry keeps signaling the brain that it is still not safe to break out of the fight or flight response.
If you want to feel confident in such a situation, you must break this feedback loop of brain and body signals. Start taking deep breaths. Intentionally change your posture to pull your shoulders back, raise your head high, sit or stand up straight. Within just a couple of minutes, you will start feeling calmer, and hence more confident.
Here is my favorite video on this topic. Check it out if you haven’t already.
Meditation does not have to be boring. It is a powerful activity. Why? Because if calms down your mind, increases your concentration, and makes you more mindful. Here is a short video on the science behind effects of meditation. It can start as a simple practice of being grateful for 2 to 3 minutes every night before you sleep and as soon as you wake up. Below is a video which can get you started.
Then if you feel like it, you can incorporate breathing exercises – Pranayama. Remember what we said earlier about the body language? Deep breaths are therapeutic, right? That’s exactly what you will be doing in Pranayama and meditation.
I follow Silva meditation technique but there are so many others which may suit you well. There is plethora of information available online. But just know that no matter which method you use, it is indeed going to be difficult at first. So do not give up early on in the game.
6. Remind yourself that life is a journey, failures are inevitable
Isn’t that the truth! Failures are always going to be a part of what we do. It is a part of a process. Just because you have to make a rest stop while driving, does not mean you are never going to reach your final destination. It will just take more time than you anticipated.
Failures do not mean “No”, they just mean “Not now”.
But we tend to look at a failure as a definition of our ability. Instead aim at learning from your mistakes and define your own ability. Understand what you can do differently the next time to bring you closer to your goals.
7. Find out and do what you really like to do
How does this affect your confidence?
When you really enjoy doing something (given that it is a legal and ethical activity 😉 ), you are naturally good at it. You excel easily, and think twice before giving up. It helps you get quick wins under your belt.
Have several of those, and you start feeling confident about what you do. Slowly but surely, this will transform in your other activities. You will start recognizing your own value. This is the most important aspect of confidence.
If you do not appreciate your own value, how do you expect others to notice it?
Here are some tips which will help you in finding your passions. Go for doing more of what you love. It will only bring you peace, happiness, and confidence!
Name one technique you use to boost your confidence. How has it helped you in the past?
©2014-2015 Manasi Kakade
Thanks to Varun Kakde for the calming featured image.