Confidence is a muscle. The biggest misconception about confidence is that it’s innate or inherited; you have it, or you don’t. The truth is, you are responsible for building your confidence- no one will do it for you. Of course, parents, friends, community, culture, and others may help or hinder the process, but ultimately, it’s up to you. You have YOU, and you alone. Below are some quick, effective ways to start building confidence and strengthening that muscle. And, the BEST part? You can start now.
Choose 3 people whose opinion you trust & interview them.
Confidence comes from knowing oneself. Although we might have a vague idea of who we are and how we come across to others, very few of us really know the impression we make and the impact we have. It is NOT narcissistic to ask people to reflect on how they perceive you.
Action: Choose a friend who is comfortable telling the truth. Be prepared to have your mind blown. Have them ask you questions like, “If you had to use five words to describe me, what would they be?”, or “What is something difficult about my personality? How does it impact you?”.
Follow through on your word.
Every time you procrastinate, blow something off, or show up late, you are diminishing your confidence. Confidence comes from self-trust and self-reliance. You’re also limiting your opportunities. Think about it: if you had a friend who didn’t follow through on promises made, frequently blew off plans, or was always late, would you recommend them for an awesome job at a friend’s company? No, would you recommend they date your friend? No! It would be way too risky.
Action: If this is you, ask yourself what opportunities you might be missing out on and what would be possible if you started to follow through. Keep a calendar and plan ahead. Make your ICal interactive, fun to look at, and easy to use. Even if it’s something small, like remembering to pack your charger before a flight, PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR. The more you account for on your calendar, the less you have to account for in your mind!
Always leave a 15-minute cushion for transportation, wrapping up meetings, or taking a break. Every time you pay a bill, show up to dinner, or remember to pick up your dry cleaning on time, PRAISE YOURSELF. These are amazing moments for confidence building that should not be overlooked. Be someone who is known for their accountability, and people will trust you with amazing things.
Honest (but hard) conversations
This may seem counterintuitive, but planning, executing, and surviving hard conversations not only improves the quality of your relationships, it also strengthens the habit of using your own voice. When we hide our feelings, experiences, and opinions from others, we are giving ourselves the message that what we have to say isn’t valuable. This actually breaks down confidence over time because you are essentially saying to yourself, “I don’t matter”. Eventually, you will hear it so much that it will start to be true.
Action: There are probably a ton of hard conversations that you are avoiding, whether they be with your partner, friend, parent, sibling, boss, whomever. Hard, but honest conversations are the only way to give any relationship a real shot. It is your opportunity to deepen your understanding of the other person and deepen their understanding of you. I will have a separate post on “Honest Conversations” but in the meantime, the most important steps are to: a) set up the conversation in advance, b) address your fears about having the conversation, c) own your part in the issue, d) let the other person know the impact they had on you, and e) end the conversation by asking what can be done going forward to prevent the issue from coming up again.
This is a concept I learned in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. While the book is a little bit out there, this particular concept was a game changer for me and my clients swear it works instantly from the perspective of confidence strengthening.
Many of us avoid the opportunity to be alone, but it is important to connect with yourself without the distraction of others. Intentionally create space to allow independence to grow and to become comfortable hearing your own voice and thinking your own thoughts.
Action: Once a week, plan a date with yourself. Don’t bring a friend or your partner. Just bring YOURSELF. During your date with yourself, don’t check your phone, Instagram, nothing. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure it is interesting or inspiring to you. If a weekly date is too much, start with one and then plan another for a later time. Remember to put effort, love, and thought into these dates. You are courting yourself!
As obvious as this may seem, one of the best ways to help you connect to your own value is to help someone. Of course, it helps you feel like a better human, but more importantly, it helps you connect to others without expectation of something in return. Giving feels good. It gives you the power to make someone’s day better. You are making a positive contribution to someone’s quality of life. THAT is real confidence.
Action: You can literally help someone at any moment. One time, an elderly man was struggling to pick up his dog’s poop. I stopped and offered to help and he was very grateful. At the same time, I felt like I had made someone’s day better. I was basically flying and it set the tone for my day: “TODAY I am going to change lives!”. Try it yourself. Volunteer, babysit for a friend, be a good listener, call someone who is going through a rough time. Then praise yourself for making someone’s life easier. If you are a parent, stop and remind yourself how much you are giving and the opportunities you are givingyour children. Acknowledge how valuable that makes you and be in the moment.
What helps YOU build confidence? Did I miss anything? Comment below for feedback, questions, or suggestions.