Self-confidence, or the lack thereof, has spawned a new breed of self-help coaches and books that tout themselves as being the only solution you need to feel better about yourself. While there’s no harm in picking up a book or seeking professional help to feel more poised, the fact is that how people perceive you has a lot to do with how you perceive yourself. If you don’t feel worthy, you’ll end up reflecting this very attitude in company, even if on an unconscious level.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can consciously boost your self-confidence and reach your fullest potential. However, a distinction needs to be made when it comes to short-term and long-term confidence. For instance, you can always pep yourself up with some feel-good music, movies, and books to feel better at a given moment. Other measures like following a balanced diet, adopting a good posture, dressing well, and even going for a run can lift your spirits and have a positive effect on how you view yourself.
Taking care of your physical appearance is a must, because you’re already half way there if you are in charge of your body instead of the other way round. This has less to do with things like weight and looks and more to do with feeling energised and empowered. When you look presentable, you feel presentable too, and that influences the way you carry yourself when you’re around people.
Feeling self-assured in the long-term requires you to do a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of yourself and acknowledge the bad along with the good. You need to work through your limits, not within them. While doing so can be difficult, it certainly isn’t impossible. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
1. Deal with performance anxiety: Most of us suffer from performance anxiety of some sort. Some of us shudder at the mere thought of public speaking, while others can’t bring themselves to even workout in a gym due to the fear of ‘people watching’. The negative attention we dread either exists only in our minds, or surfaces because of an unpleasant past incident. Regardless of the cause, we need to realize that people’s opinions of us are secondary in the larger scheme of things. It is a waste of time, energy, and even life to let people’s views of you, whether real or speculative, govern the way you feel about yourself. Think, act, and treat each moment in the spotlight like no one’s watching you. It can be intimidating at first, but the moment you cross the mental barrier will be one of the most liberating experiences in your life.
2. Grab the bull by the horns: Being fatalistic and leaving everything to chance can make you feel dejected when certain things don’t work your way. Proactivity has a lot more to do with self-confidence than we believe. When you live in the present and convince yourself that you are in charge of your own destiny, feeling upbeat becomes a natural state of being even in the face of a few setbacks. Lighten up and go for the whole hog if you are truly passionate about something.
3. Say goodbye to the fear of failure: The fear of failure is the biggest culprit when it comes to lack of faith in oneself. It also doesn’t help that we live in a dog-eat-dog world where success is viewed as the be-all and end-all of life. Failure, however, is one of the most important lessons any human being can learn. Only failure can teach you to become more resilient; after all, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Instead of asking “why me?” ask yourself “why not?” Use failure as a learning experience instead of subjugating yourself to it.
4. You aren’t the sum of your insecurities: Everyone has their share of insecurities- yes, even the confident ones. It can be anything from having acne and being overweight to stammering and having unmanageable hair. Whatever it is, you need to remember that no one is perfect. The ones who seem like they have it all also experience their share of anxieties even if they don’t talk about it. Identify your strong suits and use them to your advantage instead of obsessing over the drawbacks. You may not be a looker, but you may have a great sense of humour. You may not be an intellectual, but you may be a people person. The key is to express gratitude for what you have instead of berating yourself for the things you lack.
5. Make sure your goals are realistic: The pursuit of perfection pushes many people into being hard on themselves. Setting lofty goals makes for a pretty idealistic picture, but that’s the last thing you need if you want to work on your self-confidence. Your self-esteem will take a hard blow if you keep having unrealistic expectations of yourself. Make sure your objectives can be met within a set timeframe so that you feel motivated to take the bigger challenges head on.
6. Do away with negative people: Many individuals suffer from poor self-esteem because there are certain people in their lives who make them feel inadequate in some way or encourage a poor self-image. If you have someone like this in your life, talk to him/her about it and be calmly assertive while relaying your point across. This approach often works, but if it doesn’t, associate less with the person or cut him/her off completely. Spend your time with supportive people who don’t enjoy beating you down in any way.
Indulging in a hobby and pursuing your interests can also have a positive impact on your self-confidence. Start working on the things you have been putting away for later, such as painting, music classes, learning a new language, etc., and channel your energies into doing something that makes you happy.
Last, but not least, ensure that you get enough sleep every day to wake up rejuvenated and be ready to take each day as it comes.
Visual Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar