The Art of Self-Confidence
Are we born confident or is it a presence that takes years to master?
Firstly, what’s important to understand is that many people have an ongoing issue with confidence and absolutely everyone in life experiences a time where they lack self-confidence in some way. Thankfully, although not easy, confidence is just another skill you can learn. How you feel is something you have complete control over.
When you face a nerve-racking situation, your body is presented with a dilemma, ‘fight or flight’, it’s then up to you how you move forward. Do you face the problem, or run away?
You should always face every problem head on, this is how we become a stronger, more confident version of ourselves. But being able to ‘fight’ takes time. You have to train your brain to think completely differently in difficult, challenging situations.
One thing that fills most of us with terror is the thought of public speaking. Why do we have such a hard time presenting in front of people?
They’re normal people, just like us, right? Even if your presenting in front of Her Majesty the Queen, she is still human, just like you.
When you start talking to someone new, you may feel nervous. However, most people find it tolerable. What if you were then asked to speak in front of 4 people instead? Maybe, 10? Or possibly, 50? Now that seems more challenging doesn’t it.
When we present in front of people there is a fear of rejection and that fear multiples when the amount of people do. The more people, the more nervous you feel.
Our mind tells us, “Don’t, it’s too dangerous!” But, we don’t need to feel like that.
So, I want you to imagine you’re sitting down in a waiting corridor and you witness a young man walk in, he is oozing self-confidence and everyone is drawn to his unshaken aura. How do you feel? Have you ever felt envious of a person who can be so confident?
But, could this be a facade? Granted, some people are naturally very confident in themselves, but you will come across people in life that regularly mask how they really feel to protect themselves from embarrassment.
See, you think everyone can see the fear in your face, or your heart beating out of your chest. But, just because you feel certain things does not mean people can see them. This is the first lesson you must overcome, don’t let the fear show.
Many people use this to their advantage. When you see a hugely confident person, how do you really know they aren’t masking their real feelings, just like I described?
So, turn that that anxiety into excitement!
You’re Expecting too Much
Naturally, when something scares us we push it to the side. Because tackling my fear of public speaking can wait right? Wrong!
Just because the current profession you’re working in doesn’t require you to actively participate in public speaking, doesn’t mean that it won’t happen eventually. The likelihood of you having to face this fear again in your life is highly probable. So, whilst you are putting this off, all you’re doing is essentially making this mole hill into a very steep, unclimbable mind mountain.
You see, we have the idea installed into our heads that when we present, we HAVE to be perfect! This pressure can be extremely overwhelming, the idea of unachievable perfection is overwhelming. No one is perfect in this world and everyone has weaknesses but when you are willing to show those vulnerabilities, your audience accepts you as a human being. This then enables them to connect with you, trust you more and it makes them feel more inclined to listen to what you have to say.
People do not want perfection, people cannot relate to perfection. Why? Because perfection is unachievable.
When you are telling yourself “I NEED to do this perfectly” you’re setting yourself up for a loss. Instead, say “I’m going to give this my best shot and do a great job of it too”.
The Fear of Rejection!
Everyone is scared of something. If you spend too much time analysing a fear without taking any action towards trying to conquer it, you will find your confidence in moving past it will start to decrease.
Now rejection is a fear that a lot of us have, this can stop you talking to people you don’t know or avoiding certain events. Perception is everything, the way we perceive things can seem so real that it turns into our reality. We start to convince ourselves that what’s in our heads is the truth, even if it hasn’t happened yet. How crazy is that?
So, create a new reality for yourself. The one you’re living in isn’t bringing anything positive into your life. If anything, it’s holding you back from your full potential!
It’s important to know, although you can change the way you think, it won’t change the outcome. You will or will have been rejected at some point in your life, everyone has. But, changing how you feel about rejection after it happens, then paths your future. If you constantly find that you put yourself down, maybe because you didn’t get that job you really wanted, most likely, you won’t get the next one you get interviewed for when going in with that same frame of mind. It’s a snowball effect. You need to accept that these things happen in life, even to the smartest people on earth. Accept it as a part of life, don’t analyse your flaws, analyse what you could’ve done better and grow from it.
Remember, you can’t please everyone!
The Right Body Language
Let’s start with your posture, when you’re walking, do you hold your head high or do you slouch and hunch?
Walking with bad posture sends signals to your brain, telling yourself you have low self-confidence. Whilst observing someone walking in this manor, you may perceive them to be insecure or not care how people see them.
By making this small change, it really makes a difference on how people view you. Previously, I had asked you to imagine a confident man walking into the room. Did you imagine him walking with his head towards the floor, slouching? Or did you imagine him strolling in with his head held high, with a smile on his face? The second one, right?
Exactly, just by having the right posture, you will feel more confident.
A confident person can always maintain direct eye contact with another person. If you’re talking to someone and you feel pressured because maybe they possess a higher status than you in your workplace, you might feel eye contact with them is a struggle. You may feel uncomfortable or lose your composure.
If you are a person who struggles with eye contact, try looking just above the eyes. It sounds bizarre but, look at their eyebrows. The best part about this is that they won’t even notice the difference and you remain composed and confident.
Remember, when shaking someone’s hand, make sure it’s firm and you give them eye contact at the same time.
Block Out the Negative Thoughts
I want you to start by making this simple change, start your morning off by telling yourself what you’re happy about today. You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with confidence building?” A lot! Positivity plays a huge part in what you think of yourself and how you project yourself.
Did you know that as humans, we have from 12,000 to 60,000 different thoughts per day, that’s a lot going on in just one place! As much as 98% of those thoughts are the same as the previous day. So, what if yesterday you were thinking extremely negatively? All you are doing is carrying that baggage into the next day, where you’re meant to be moving forward. Around 80% of our thoughts per day are negative, we really need to change this! Luckily, you can!
If you’re tired at work, don’t think about it or even say it! Flick the switch to positive thoughts. Try saying or thinking “I’m so grateful for the job and opportunities I have been given”. We all know how hard this is, but training your brain takes time. By doing this, you regain power in your life, you feel more grateful and you feel more confident.
When someone greets you in the morning, asking how you are today, you may answer “Not too bad” or “I’m fine”. The minute you do this, you send a signal to your brain, confirming you do not feel your best today. Try saying “I’m very well, thank you” or “I feel great today”, send those positive signals to your brain and ‘fake it till you make it’.
Take baby steps towards a more confident you. Instead of just saying “Hello”, why don’t you ask how the cashier is today? You never know, this could be the first person that’s made an effort to ask them, you could really brighten up their day. Try talking to people you don’t know and build your confidence.
Food for Thought
Take a piece of paper, once a day and write down three things you are grateful for in your life. They can be anything. Your self-worth will be much clearer when you can truly appreciate what you have around you.
You may not be the richest person, have the fastest car or the biggest house but everything you currently have around you is always the most important thing to be grateful for.
Would you sell your eyes for 20 million? Of course not, you could buy the big house but you wouldn’t be able see it. Would you sell your sense of smell for 10 million? Sure, you could dine in the fanciest of restaurants but you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the pleasures brought to you because you cannot taste it.
Always remain grateful for what you already have in your life and work towards your goals appreciating what’s helped you get there.
Before you head to that big meeting, or that pressuring presentation. Refer back to your sheet of paper or do this in your head, this will change your way of thinking, completely. You may not notice the connection between confidence and gratitude, but it’s there.
Don’t see this as a challenge, or something that has to be done straight away. Building confidence takes time, so start by implementing these small strategies into your daily life.
It’s always good to remember that everyone without exception, has their own fears, weaknesses and doubts. Don’t overestimate others and underestimate yourself, you are unique and have the power to change your mindset.