Confidence and healthy self-esteem make it easier to navigate life, be it in the workplace or interpersonal relationships. Here are eight ways you can build lasting confidence and a more positive outlook.
What does working towards lasting confidence look like? A lot of the articles you’ll find about boosting your confidence tend to focus on how you look. They give tips about finding the most comfortable clothing that makes you feel powerful and successful. You learn that the right makeup or the right hairdo may provide you the confidence you need to find the perfect career or the perfect mate.
Sure, flattering clothes and a sharp haircut are always lovely, but there are some more profound things you can do that will offering a longer lasting boost to your confidence because you’re not just changing something superficial about yourself; you’re changing the way you think about yourself and the world around you.
The following ideas will help you incorporate some of these long-lasting changes into your life.
When you spend more of your time focusing on the positive things in your life, you’ll adopt a more positive outlook. The people out there with the most confidence and charisma are the ones exuding positivity. Positive thinking offers a plethora of health benefits, too, like reduced stress, so you’re getting a double benefit out of the experience.
There are many ways to increase your positive outlook, but it always starts from within. Start each morning by saying something nice to yourself. Once you’ve worked on yourself, spread that positivity to other people, too. This can be as simple as paying someone an honest compliment or doing a good deed (which will help you feel better about yourself and what you’re doing with your life).
Tame Your Inner Critic
Speaking of being kind to yourself, if you’re letting your inner critic have its say, that may be part of the issue with your confidence. The inner critic is that little (or sometimes big) voice inside your head that tells you negative things. Maybe it says you’re fat or lazy, or perhaps it tells you you’re stupid and will never amount to anything.
Taming your inner critic begins with figuring out where these ideas about yourself came from in the first place. It may be the voice of someone from your past. You might hear the messages in your voice, but they are often things that someone else said to you once upon a time. The critical thing to remember is that other people’s perceptions of you are a reflection of themselves and have nothing to do with who you are.
When the inner critic voices its negative opinion of you, find a positive retort. When the voice says you’re a quitter, remind it of all of the things you’re still doing even though you’re struggling through them.
Another way to be more positive and work on silencing your inner critic is to use affirmations daily. An affirmation is a positive statement you say out loud or to yourself to promote a sense of wellbeing. These statements should always begin with “I am,” as if what you’re saying is a fact, even if it isn’t yet. An example is, “I am confident, and my positivity spreads to others!” You can make a statement that works for you.
Say your affirmation, or multiple affirmations, daily. Write them down and post copies on the refrigerator and on the wall in the bathroom, where you’ll see them and be reminded to recite them.
Positive thinking and affirmations both help you begin in your practice of gratitude, but there are more things you can do to exude appreciation and increase your confidence. The more things you’re grateful for, the more things will come into your life to be thankful for.
Gratitude is easy to practice. Start a gratitude journal. Some people like to be private about it and keep notes just for themselves, but some people use social media like Facebook to share what they are thankful for. Once a day, make a list of all of the things you’re grateful for (or that you should be grateful for, in case you’re having a bad day and not feeling very thankful). From simple to complex, you may be grateful for a number of things—running water, a good job, medical insurance, good health, heating or air conditioning, friends, family, the laughter of children, or, if you’re having a particularly rough day, just the fact that you woke up in the morning and have a crack at a fresh start.
Visualization is the act of seeing something as if it has already happened. Visualize yourself as a confident person and see yourself doing what it is that is making your confidence shaky.
Visualization is like meditation, in which you quiet your mind and focus on a specific outcome. Before you go do that thing you need confidence for, take a moment to close your eyes and picture yourself in the moment. Let’s say, for example, that you’re anxious about a date. See yourself confidently meeting your date. Visualize the date going well, and even ending well. Take this visualized experience with you on the date and stay positive even if things don’t go as planned.
Become an Expert in Something
You’ll have more confidence in the things you do if you feel like you know what you’re doing. This means you need to study and practice.
Confidence on the job (whether you work for someone else or yourself) comes from training, research, and knowledge. Confidence on a date comes from knowing yourself and knowing what you want.
When you know your subject matter, it gets easier to speak more fluently about it. You’ll be able to talk slower and be understood by whoever is listening.
Becoming an expert means learning all you can learn about your particular subject matter. Take online classes to get better at your job or to learn new skills, go on more than one date to get a feel of the current dating scene, do some research on the subject you’re interested in, or otherwise work on gathering knowledge and expertise.
A messy house or office, unfinished projects, and too much on your to-do list are all things that may shake your confidence. You may not think that keeping a neat and clean workspace has that much to do with self-esteem, but once you start working with a tidier workspace, you’ll notice the difference. When you’re organized, you don’t waste time looking for things, and you’re less likely to miss deadlines for paperwork, work goals, and other essential items. It’s far more confidence building to be the kind of person who gets important tasks done early than to feel crushed by deadlines and perpetually handing things in late.
Finish up any lingering tasks on your to-do list. Start creating achievable goals, which will help build your confidence. Each goal you complete on time or ahead of time will give you a much-needed boost.
Find Your People
Lastly, other people may build up or tear down your confidence. The key is to find the right group of people that lift you and boost your self-confidence.
Who are the people you should surround yourself with? Those who are positive and giving, but honest and willing to push you when you need it. Look for friends that have similar interests as you, which will provide you with something to bond over and even shared goals to work towards. If you’re trying to get healthier, for instance, finding a group of friends that meet up to hike or go kayaking every weekend will give you something positive to do and people to do it with.