Self-confidence is a tricky concept. At times it can be rattled; at times shaken; and it can take a very long time to build it in the first place. I've wrestled with building it my entire life, having held onto far too many stories that worked to convince me otherwise. There are ways, however, to build self-confidence, and set you up for success.
As I mentioned, I've struggled with self-confidence for the majority of my life. I had myself convinced that I wasn't cool enough, smart enough, funny enough, talented enough -- basically that I wasn't enough in general, and it really crippled my confidence. I saw the world through the eyes of someone who didn't believe in themselves and their abilities, and guess what? I subconsciously created situations where these beliefs were confirmed. I'd flub my words and embarrass myself; I'd act awkward in social situations; I'd stop myself from even trying, because I didn't believe I'd succeed. It's really sad how our brains would rather be right than happy, and my brain was focused on proving me right about all the wrong things.
We don't have to remain stuck this way, though, and this example leads me into the very first way we can start to shake ourselves free of the negative shackles, and begin building self-confidence:
Change your mindset
When all you're focused on is the negative, that's what you'll see and create in your life. It may not be easy challenging your mind and looking at things with a positive spin, but big changes are seldom easy. Instead of being critical of your talents, look at where you excel. And don't compare yourself to others whilst doing this! Comparison is the thief of joy, and it really doesn't matter if Tommy or Sue paint "better" than you. If you paint well, then rejoice in your ability, and strive to become even better. What you focus on, and the lens you view yourself through, will radically alter the direction your self-confidence takes.
Change your body language
Ok, it may seem like an odd way to boost self-confidence, but it's a proven tactic! Standing akimbo (think power-pose like Superman) for even 30 seconds neurologically boosts your confidence. When we're not confident, we're slouched, sunken, and small. By making ourselves large and in charge, we're telling our brain that we're ready to conquer the world! Now, it may not be realistic to wander around like that all day (but how fun would that be??), but focusing on maintaining a solid posture -- shoulders back, chest out, head up -- will definitely have an impact over a prolonged period of time.
Many of the confidence issues people run into are rooted in preparedness. Very few of us can truly "wing it" when it comes to speeches, presentations, or just life in general. Taken to an extreme, planning can certainly become detrimental. However, putting thought into, and learning what you can about, what's coming up for you is really prudent action. You'll feel much more confident when you know what you're doing, and why, so there's much less of a chance you'll be left discouraged and disempowered. The key here is to not get stuck in the preparing stage, using it as an excuse to avoid action!
Recognize that failure is not the end
Too often, when someone is met with failure, they treat themselves horribly. Negative feelings and self-talk run rampant, and self-confidence is eroded quickly. We've looked at the concept of failure before, and it's important to remember that failure is not the end. It doesn't mean that you're incapable or talent-less. All it means is that you've discovered one way that doesn't get you to your goal. Failure is an integral part of success because of this fact. Each failure is a learning opportunity, and if you've managed to change your mindset from our first point, you'll look at failure as a way to improve. Doesn't mean you have to be happy about failing, but rather that get angry with yourself, use that energy as fuel for a determination-fire that will see you succeed the next time!
These tips are but a few of the ways that we can work to build our self-confidence. I've put them all into practice, and can tell you with confidence that they have a tremendous positive impact. Remember to have patience with yourself, just as when you are learning any skill. It will take time to build your confidence -- or get it back if you've lost it -- but know that you have the capacity to do so. Believe you are confident, and take action to bring that belief to fruition. You all deserve to be confident and empowered, and it is my hope that all of you discover it within yourself!
** View the video for this post HERE **