“Be confident.” On one hand, this is good advice for any situation. But also, if you could be confident on command you would be all the time, right? People don’t lack confidence because they don’t want to be confident. For the most part, they lack confidence because they don’t know how to be. The good news, according to many leading psychologists and confidence experts, is that confidence is a skill. If you practice the right strategies, you can get better at it.
With National Self-Confidence Day coming up on March 26th, it’s a good time to talk about some of these strategies.
How about some mood music?
Confidence is a skill, but it’s also a feeling. And few things have the power to change how you’re feeling as quickly and effectively as music. Use that to your advantage. Think about different songs that affect you in different ways–songs that pump you up and songs that make you feel creative, songs that make you feel social and songs that make you feel focused–and how they could give you with the right kind of confidence for a certain situation. The next time you need some confidence to-go, you’ll have the perfect song at your fingertips.
You feel great when you’re wearing your favorite clothes
It’s an unfortunate reality that people we meet will judge us by our appearance, but we’re guilty of doing it to ourselves, too. If you’ve ever noticed that you’re nicer to yourself when you like how you look, that’s called the enclothed cognition effect. When you wear clothes that fit well, you feel comfortable, and that changes how you carry yourself. When your clothes reflect your personality, it contributes to feelings of acceptance, which makes a big difference in how you interact with people.
Practice positive self-awareness
The more you understand about yourself at your deepest core level, the easier it is to summon self-confidence. Think about what you believe in, and live your life based on those guidelines. Take pride in the things you’re good at and the friendships you’ve built—you’ve earned them, and nobody can take them away. Be honest with yourself—but not in a negative way. If you can master the fine balance between being realistic but not overly critical, you will have a strong foundation upon which self-confidence can be built.
Start small and work your way up
If you search “confidence boosters,” you’ll find hundreds of lists offering dozens of tips like “Smile” and “Get plenty of sleep” and “Drink lots of water,” which, sure, probably can’t hurt. What we mean here, however, is to set your sights on a large goal. Then, before you set out to slay the dragon, think about similar but smaller and easier tasks you can complete. Knocking out these tasks will give you practice and experience. The feeling of accomplishment in achieving the smaller goal will make you feel like the larger goal is also attainable.
Stop listening to the negative lies your brain is telling you
Negativity can be tempting. When you think something good might happen, it’s a huge letdown when it doesn’t. Whereas if you trick yourself into believing you absolutely cannot accomplish your goal, you have an easy excuse not to even try. When you think of it in these terms, it becomes painfully clear that negativity is nothing more than a defense mechanism. And this particular defense mechanism exists to protect you from disappointment, not to tell you the truth. When you’re being pessimistic, it’s easy to believe that you’re actually being realistic. It’s weird to think about: sometimes your brain doesn’t want what’s best for you. But it’s true.
We hope some of these ideas will help light a flame of confidence that will one day grow into an inferno. If not, remember that self-confidence comes from many different places and different strategies will work better for different people. If these ideas aren’t your kindling, keep looking! We promise it will be worth it.