Confidence, it’s the difference between missed opportunities and goals achieved, going out on a limb or playing it safe. Some people seem to be born with all the confidence in the world, others shrink at even the thought of trying to put themselves forward into it.
The good news is that confidence can be built. If you’re lacking confidence, there are 11 science-backed, ‘tried and true’ ways you can boost it.
Read on to become your own number one fan by super charging your self-esteem today.
1. Visualize Your Confidence
Visualization is a radically important tool for building confidence, because countless studies have reported that visualization can lead to improvements in physical and mental performance.
A key reason for this is that the brain doesn’t seem to differentiate between a real memory and an imagined experience.
In one landmark study that involved basketball players, the study participants were broken into three groups: A control group that did nothing, a group that practiced free throws daily, and a group that visualized practicing free throws daily. While the control group did not improve, the other two groups improved 24% (physical practice group) and 23% (visualization group), respectively.
It is an astounding finding that you can develop and reinforce real skills by visualizing yourself practicing them.
If you need further evidence, the physiologist Edmund Jacobson found that when he had subjects visualize specific athletic activities, there were subtle but real movements in their muscles that corresponded to the movements they would do if they were performing the real activity.
In another example, researchers found that weightlifters activated the same pathways in the brain when they were lifting simply by thinking through the lift.
Prior to this study, Guang Yue at the Cleveland Clinic discovered that imaginary exercise increased finger strength by up to 35 percent.
In short, mentally walking yourself through your day with confidence can help you actually be more confident in real life!
2. Fill Your Life With Motivation
Your mindset matters, it matters a lot. This is because results go where energy flows.
Without the right mindset, you will get distracted and your day will become about responding to other people’s needs, requests and demands for your time.
When you fill your life with motivation and clarity, you get to keep your focus on your goals. With progress toward your goals, you will naturally become more confident in your skills and capacities.
To keep yourself on track, write mantras on sticky notes and place them around your home and office. Make a Pinterest board with motivational memes about how powerful you are or create a Vision Board that you post to your wall.
Repeat affirmations to yourself. I do this daily, because the use of affirmations has changed my life.
Our brains can only process one conscious thought at a time, meaning that reading or saying positive thoughts that remind you of your own potential will push down conscious thoughts in the opposite direction.
3. Say ‘Yes’ More Often
People who lack confidence tend to say no a lot due to their fears, whether it’s interviewing for that promotion or taking up a new sport. Decide that your lack of confidence doesn’t get to drive anymore and has to take a backseat.
Start saying yes to more opportunities and you’ll quickly find yourself facing down those fears and gaining real confidence in the process.
Side benefit – you might actually get that job or have fun exploring new activities!
4. Create and Embody an Alter Ego
Have you ever heard of Sasha Fierce? Yup, that was Beyoncé’s alter ego that supported her switch from a gospel singing church girl into the fierce superstar she is today.
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Similarly, Kobe Bryant created an alter ego he called ‘Black Mamba’ to help him to get through the lowest point of his career, a time when he was being charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old girl.
The effectiveness of this strategy has been known by the world’s top performers for years. Across history, top-performing athletes, performers, and executives have utilized a heroic alter ego to help them perform in a peak state of confidence.
As described by Todd Herman, author of the Alter Ego Effect, when he met Bo Jackson, the professional football player:
“Bo explained that when he was young, he’d get into trouble because chaos caused by his anger issues. Then, he saw Friday the 13th and became fascinated by the cold, calculating nature of Jason Vorhees. In that moment, he resolved to stop being Bo Jackson, and start being Jason the moment he stepped on the field.”
If you want to gain confidence, then find, claim and develop your alter ego. If you’re anything like me, this might just change your life.
5. You Aren’t Nervous…You are Excited
Lack of confidence can create anxiety and a case of jittery nerves. Instead of letting your brain tell the story that it’s because you should be nervous or scared, play a trick on your brain and change the story to, “I’m excited!”
As a physiologic level, excitement is a state of physical arousal.
In this aroused state, your sympathetic nervous system takes over in order to prepare you for a “flight or fight response.” To best support you, your body will increase your heart rate, direct blood flow away from your digestive organs and into your muscles, dilate your pupils, and signal for the increased production of hormones.
All of these physiological responses are ways that your body is preparing you, assisting you and empowering you. So remember, you aren’t nervous, you’re simply prepared and in a peak state.
According to a study in 2014, people who told themselves out loud that their nervous apprehension was excitement actually became excited.
6. Create a Power Playlist
We all have songs that make us feel invincible, the ones that get us through hard workouts or that we blare at top volume on days we’re feeling good.
Create a playlist full of these powerful songs and hype yourself up every time you start to feel your confidence level waning.
Music has been scientifically proven to affect the human brain, with researchers reporting that music can reduce the perception of pain, lower stress, and improve memory.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out the Fearless Motivation station on Spotify. It’s my go-to station, because it combines powerful music with motivational speeches. Believe me, if you listen to it when you’re feeling down, you will instantly feel invincible!
7. Celebrate Wins
Whether it’s a job well done at work that gains recognition, a great workout, or even just having a great day – celebrate the wins.
It’s easy to focus on the things we could have done better or the goals we aimed for and missed. But confidence isn’t built on failures, it’s built on successes.
Get in the habit of celebrating every small win and positive step forward. As your mindset changes toward celebrating success, you’ll find you also believe more in your own abilities and worth.
Most importantly, celebrating wins puts your brain’s attention onto your successes, not your failures. This provides tangible evidence to your brain that you are a successful person.
As I say in one of the affirmations that I repeat daily, “Anything that I have done once, I can do again, bigger and better.”
By celebrating my wins, I know I can build on them and take them to epic new heights in the future.
8. Focus on Your Strengths
Along with focusing on wins, play to your strengths. Choose the skills and traits you possess that lead to success and lean into them. When you’re trying to build confidence and improve your self-esteem, easy and quick wins can help you quickly boost your belief in yourself and your motivation to keep going.
It’s like losing weight. If you have a hectic workload and not a lot of free time, trying to jump immediately into food prep and workouts will be time-consuming and set you up for failure. However, if you know you could easily cut out soda, you can score an immediate win.
A few weeks later when you’ve lost ten pounds, you’ll have more motivation to keep it going and confidence that you can succeed – meaning getting up a half-hour early to start working out won’t seem so daunting.
9. Posture Matters
The majority of us have poor posture – we slump when we sit and allow our shoulders to fall in when we stand. But sitting up straight can actually make you feel and perform better.
Studies show that good posture opens your lungs, allowing more oxygen to flow into your body.
Researchers also found that participants believed more in themselves and their abilities when sitting up straight, leading to better performance in their assigned tasks.
Other studies have suggested that people feel more confident and less stressed prior to interviews or difficult conversations when they strike power poses, which are positions in which you stand up tall, take up space, and keep open body language.
When in doubt, if you are standing up, pretend that there is a string attached to the top of your head that is pulling you up toward the sky. It will straighten up your back, lengthen your spine, and roll back your shoulders.
Finally, as the motivational speaker and high-performance coach Tony Robbins always says, “Motion creates emotion,” so remember to move your body in powerful ways. Jump. Stretch. Run. Pump your fists in the air.
As a scientist, I can tell you that biofeedback is powerful. Trust me, and give it a try.
Add a smile to your powerful posture, and you’ll feel on top of the world. The value of a smile is that it conveys feelings of happiness, positivity and confidence to you and to others who see you.
Did you know the simple act of smiling actually releases endorphins, one of your feel-good chemicals?
It’s also the start of a huge chemical loop – we smile, which releases endorphins, which makes us feel good, and makes us smile more!
And as a bonus, between smiling and feeling good, you’ll naturally feel more confident as well. So wear that smile proudly, and watch your confidence (and your smile) grow.
Finally, smiling has been documented as a trait of the alpha leaders within a social group, so add a big and bold smile to feel on top of the world.
11. Dress the Part
Have you ever heard the saying, “dress for the job you want”? Well, let’s change that to “dress for the confidence you want.”
Instead of downplaying your look and allowing yourself to continue to withdraw and hide, consider how you would look if you were the confident person you desired to be.
Now, how does that person dress? What do they act like?
Don’t wait until you feel you actually are that person to dress the part.
Interestingly, sociologists have found that people who are higher within a social hierarchy tend to wear brighter clothing and accessories, presumably because they can withstand the social pressure that it attracts.
This phenomenon is the human version of the peacock who grows a big and beautiful tail. While such a tail positions the peacock at greater risk of attack from predictors, it also attracts more attention from potential mates and demonstrates that it is healthy and strong to all members of its social group.
You can do this too. You can be unique. You can be extraordinary. And you can dress anyway that feels good to you at your core.
In short, dress the part and watch yourself grow into the person wearing those clothes in your vision.
Go Get Confidence in Yourself!
In a world telling us that we have to dress and behave and look certain ways to be worthy, having confidence in yourself isn’t easy. But you can do it, and I’m here to encourage you.
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