A few years ago, I didn’t used to be the most confident girl; I was a tubby schoolgirl, who wore glasses and liked comic books all my life. This definitely didn’t bode well for hanging out in the playground with girls and it certainly didn’t bode well for hanging out with the guys either. It was only when I hit university that I realised something had to change, I had to try and espouse confidence (even if I didn’t necessarily believe it at the time). This is how I know you can do anything.
As it’s coming up to summer, the time of year when everyone can feel pretty damn good about themselves, with back-to-back BBQs, endless weddings and holidays to look forward to, I thought I’d share my tips for getting, keeping and making confidence work for you. I guess, you’re either thinking one of two things right now; 1. I already have it or 2. That’s never going to be me, either way maybe this blog can be handy in some way.
It’s commonly recognised that confident people take risks and try their hardest whatever the circumstances, that’s not to say that non-confident people don’t try hard – it’s more that they would rather stay within their own comfort zones. Ironically, the only way to grow your own confidence, I’ve found, is to push your own limits every so often. University was the start of this for me.
But first, let’s get one thing straight – Confidence is NOT being self-obsessed, arrogant, harsh, unkind, pushy, aggressive, manipulative, boasting and just generally bragging, this is what people over-compensating for their own insecurities are, creating a protective facade. Confidence IS speaking up for yourself not bottling up, getting noticed rather than being invisible, saying it straight when you’d normally leave hints, being able to sell your best qualities, not saying ‘sorry’ if you’ve not done something wrong, being decisive and not over-analysing yourself.
At least, this is what I believe.
So, here’s my six steps for boosting your confidence:
1. Don’t blame others for your inadequacies, you are in control of your own destiny, don’t let others have that control. Shyness and low self-esteem are optional, not fixed settings that you have to adhere to. I used to imagine these people as a rubbish, old cardigan that I could take off now and then, until it became normal to wear that beautiful summer dress underneath every day.
2. There are five factors that I think lend themselves to low self-confidence; harsh self-judgement, excessive expectations, fear and anxiety, lack of skills and inadequate experience. Each of these can be combatted with a little work and practice. For instance, I have social anxiety issues, so I forced myself to talk to people when I first started university in seminars, I even did that in my first week at work. I work on my skills and experience every day in the fields I’m interested in too. When you start working on these, you soon realise that your self-judging and fear begin to fall away.
3. The actions of confidence comes first, the feelings of confidence come later. This one’s fairly basic, the more you do those ‘confident’ actions and practice them, the more the feelings will grow. This doesn’t mean being ‘fake with yourself’, always be true to yourself but it does mean if you’re having a crappy, anxious day, then acknowledge that crappy, anxious day.
4. Be prepared that when you start practicing these positive actions, that this often increases negative self-talk. When you’ve been in the same cycle since you were a child, as I was, it’s hard to break. I often ended up and still do, sometimes, debating with myself. Instead of letting those demons take me down, I consider and acknowledge them but then I get on with the task in hand. This has led to me being more task-orientated but I’ve learnt a lot and have never been happier. It’s these debates and how you deal with them that lead to long-term success. If you can do it, then you’re on the yellow brick road to the Emerald City of Confidence (sorry, not sorry).
5. As I said in my previous post, people aren’t judging you 24/7, they are just as busy as you. They, to be frank, are not interested in you all the time. As soon as I started telling myself this, it made day-to-day a hell of a lot easier. I was no longer paranoid to walk down a high street, scared that people were staring at me for my quirky dress sense or dodgy fringe, now I walk with my head held high. Also, it’s never a good idea to try and read other people’s minds – it’s never what you expect!
6. Remember that this confidence malarky isn’t a race, it takes time. It’s taken me a good five years to feel like I’m worth a damn but I’d never look back now. Take each day as it comes, make small goals. Mine used to be just going to lunch with people from work. Each time reflect on it, how it went and how you felt then be gentle and encourage yourself.
What do you think about ‘confidence’? Would you consider yourself to be confident?