Mandy has been working in the mental health field for more than eight years and has worked with a diverse group of clients. These range ...Read More
How do you gain confidence? Many people seem to think confidence is something that you find. An elusive substance that you can obtain through certain activities. Common examples I come across:
I will have more confidence when:
- I have lost weight
- When I leave my partner
- When I find a partner
- When I get that promotion at work
- When I have a certain amount of money in the bank
- When others respect me as they should
All of the above examples suggest that confidence arrives once certain external circumstances are in place. What many people don’t realise is that confidence is a mindset. It has everything to do with attitude and very little to do with what you have externally in life. What a wonderful thought – to know that confidence is there for you if you choose. It isn’t something that is difficult to find. It all depends on the thoughts you choose.
Ways to gain confidence
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1) Understand that the confident person within you is inside you waiting to get out. All the tools for confidence are already there, waiting to be activated.
2) We keep our confident self hidden when we choose thoughts that don’t work for us. When we tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough or we wallow in negativity and allow fearful thinking to overwhelm us. Don’t listen to that thinking. It will be there and will appear intrusively into your mind whilst you go about your day but don’t give it attention. Choose thoughts that empower you. Use affirmations if necessary to get the habit underway. (Write affirmations on post-its and put them in places where you regularly see them). Say things to yourself like:
- Everything is well in my world. I am loveable and worthy of good things.
- No one else defines me. They may have opinions of me but my opinion of me counts the most.
- I am unique, comparing myself to others is a nonsense task.
- I live according to positive values and send out goodwill to the world and to myself.
- Fear is not an option. Fear will never be powerful enough to stop me from living a better life.
- I am perfect as I am. I can always improve if I want to but I accept and love who I am right now.
3) Remember that there is no universally accepted criteria for what you need to be or have to be allowed to be confident. You give yourself permission to like yourself, be your number one fan and make the most of you. There is no “book of life” with rules that explain how we should situate ourselves in society (eg. above the person who drives the clapped out Ford but below the person who zooms about in the Porsche). How we see ourselves is a result of conditioning by our parents, authority figures at school, other kids and society in general. Have you taken in values set up by others? What if you believed a thought that people who ride penny-farthings have the most confidence in life? See how easy it is to decide for yourself? You can set your own ‘rules’.
4) Push through fear. It is more difficult to feel confident when we continually stay in our comfort zone. Help yourself to gain confidence more quickly by exploring the world. This teaches you that you can handle yourself. It also puts fearful thinking it its place. Even if coming out of your comfort zone does not go quite as well as you had hoped, you would still have challenged the fearful outcomes you had imagined and will learn that you can handle life. Self efficacy will grow tremendously. Get out there.
5) Focus on your strengths and minimise your weaknesses. I am not saying ignore your imperfections, just accept that no one is perfect. Instead, concentrate on what you do love about yourself and regularly reward yourself for past successes. Remind yourself of all the trials you have overcome and all the emotional difficulties you have managed to deal with in your life. You’ve made it this far – a few scars along the way…but you’re still okay, right here – right now.
6) Live in the present as much as possible. When we dwell on the past we can end up feeling resentful and powerless. Learn the lessons and move on. When we look to the future too much, we wish our lives away and we aren’t really ‘present’ in our current life. The future will unfold through the actions we take in the present moment. It’s okay to have long term goals and have a general future direction, but once that is in place, come back to the present and enjoy the moments as they pass. That’s when you feel that fleeting happy feeling – when you are engaging all of your senses in the current moment. Gain confidence by loving life right now. You could have more, you could have less..it’s all okay as it is.
7) Find purpose in life. When we give back and feel we are making a positive impact, not just for ourselves but for others too, it brings a sense of fulfilment that is hard to beat. It is no longer all about us but also about sharing what we know with others. Adding value to the world instantly increases our self esteem and is an easy way to gain confidence.
8) Gratitude is another way to gain confidence. When we engage is positive thinking and look for what is going well for us it becomes much easier to experience confidence. Confidence does not exist in a vacuum, we can help it along by priming ourselves with a positive outlook. Make a list today of all the things that you feel grateful for.
9) Be flexible and adaptable. Rigid thinking leads to a lot of inner conflict. The more black-and-white we are about the world, the more easily our ‘rules’ are broken, causing upset and distress. An example of a rigid belief/thought: If someone does not call me straight back they must be ignoring me.
This rule will be broken often and will cause the holder of this belief to feel very unpopular. Instead, be flexible and look for alternative explanations. The more flexible and adaptable we are, the less likely our confidence is to take a hard knock.
Confidence is yours for the taking. It isn’t the exclusive preserve of the wealthy and successful. Many of my wealthy, successful clients have no confidence at all so that puts paid to that theory. Confidence is attractive and you don’t need a certificate of competence to have it. You can choose to like yourself as you are, hold your head high and put your shoulders back. Let the confident you emerge, it is ready, willing and waiting.