I am not a confident person. At all.
But some people might disagree. Some of my past actions make it look like I can do quite a few things that might usually take some generous amount of confidence and courage. Your own worst critic is yourself. Over time I’ve learned how to practice confidence and like anything else you put time and effort into, you do get better. One of the ways to do that is by looking back at all the times you’ve done something that took confidence, even if you didn’t feel it. You see, you can’t always rely on what you feel in the moment. You may have confidence but not even know it. But looking back at what you did will show that in fact you did.
So I encourage you to practice confidence and develop it like any other muscle so that when the time comes when you need it most, you don’t have to worry because you know you’ve prepared and are ready whether you feel confident or not.
1. Improve your self-talk
How you speak to yourself is so much more important than how others do. Every day, whether you realize it or not, you tell yourself truths (or lies) about the world and your place in it. This is all based off of your experiences, what you were taught by parents, teachers, and peers. And it basically shapes how you react and interpret the world around you. It’s sometimes hard to identify negative self-talk (the lies) let alone get rid of it. So instead, start adding positive self-talk to push all the bad stuff out. Do things like reminding yourself every morning why you are beautiful and what you are good at. Then, whenever you realize you’re telling yourself something negative, immediately stop and replace it with the opposite; something positive.
2. Push your comfort zone boundaries
None of us like doing this. We like our comfort zone. It’s nice and cozy. We’re safe there. But this is where we grow stagnate. Pushing the limits of your comfort zone opens you up to countless new opportunities. You don’t have to even do something outrageously uncomfortable. Just keep taking small steps in the direction of where you want to be. Don’t say yes to everything, but say yes to some things that scare you just a little bit. Let yourself grow in these times. This is good for your psychological and emotional health.
3. Develop your strengths
Everybody is different in what they’re good at. We all have different weaknesses too. It’s well worth the time and effort to identify your strengths and to some extent, your weaknesses. I spend a good hour with my clients helping them uncover their own strengths. Once we have a good list, I have them print it out bullet-point style and post it on their wall where they’ll see it every day. I have them remind themselves as they approach every day to focus on what they’re good at. Seek out situations that they would be able to use their strengths, and also allow other people to use their own strengths by avoiding situations they might not be as naturally inclined towards. As you start developing the things you’re naturally good at, you will start succeeding more often and thus your confidence will build on a firm foundation of your strengths.
4. Get feedback whenever possible
Most people want to shy away from critique. It’s not fun to be told where you need to improve. Unless you fully understand the benefit of it. It’s almost impossible to determine your own areas of improvement or success all by yourself. You cannot see everything. And plus, you may have a distorted view depending on the quality of your self-talk. Find people in your life you can trust to be honest and respectful of you. Ask the hard questions with an attitude of self-improvement. Be ready to take what they say no matter how hard it is to hear and apply it. On the other hand, if you’re uncomfortable with compliments, that’s a problem as well. Ask this person who is being honest and respectful to tell you what you’re good at as well. Ask them to genuinely compliment you. Take this to heart and celebrate it. Always be looking for feedback. It doesn’t always come from people. Be aware of how you can increase your knowledge about your person and life.
5. Change your definition of failure
“If your goal is to gain knowledge, perspective, and experience, then failure is not an option.” But what is failure except not fulfilling your expectations? And why is that bad? You’re never going to have all of your expectations fulfilled. I’m not a pessimist though. I think having expectations is okay. But the key is to change the meaning of what happens when they don’t happen. If you start looking at life from this shifted perspective of failure as a learning opportunity, it completely changes what you’re willing to do in order to succeed. And of course wouldn’t you have more confidence if you couldn’t fail?
These 5 ways to practice confidence take time. And you won’t ever notice a sudden change in confidence. But I guarantee that if you do these things, you will look back one day and realize you are more confident than you ever were.
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