„No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.“ ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Everybody wants to have self-confidence. Companies want self-confident people. Women want self-confident men and vice versa. Self-Confidence gives you the ability to show your full potential and to be what you want to be. It is a core part of personal development.
I would even say it’s like a little framework for personal growth since everything we think and do influences our self-confidence. Then, like a feedback loop, self-confidence influences our actions, actions lead to results which again influence our self-confidence.
What is Self-Confidence?
Self-Confidence is a state of mind. It is our own attitude towards ourselves, our belief in what we are capable of. It is our perceived certainty that we have what it takes. We express it in our body-language, in what we say, in how we say it and how we handle any given situation. Self-Confidence is also closely linked to Self-Esteem, which is our self-image and determines how much we value ourselves. Improving self-confidence usually improves our self-image as well, which is true for personal development in general.
But how can we build up our own self-confidence?
Especially if there is this feeling of being inferior or “not enough”, which can really hinder us from bringing the best to the table. Is it something we are born with or can we learn it, even when adult? How can we build up self-confident states, so that we are full of confidence, radiating it with every cell of our body?
Long-Term Self-Confidence vs. “Tricks”
With self-confidence I mean mostly long-term confidence in yourself. The knowing that you are more than enough, for yourself and for others, no matter what happens. The idea that you are capable of achieving what you set your mind to. When something goes wrong or despite your best efforts you make a mistake, you know that this is part of the game-plan. You will learn from that and make it better next time. It is something that sustains over time, not a temporal push-up that could be reached with several tricks.
Those tricks, like wearing the right clothes, walking tall or using a lot of affirmations (“I’m a self-confidence in person”) have their place. This „Fake it till you make it“ approach can help, especially when we start out building self-confidence.
But those are not enough and essentially not what I would call “real” self-confidence, the general confidence in your abilities and possibilities, regardless of a certain situation.
You develop real self-confidence by knowing and applying yourself. It comes from making you do difficult things. That means accumulating meaningful Accomplishments. And from following your heart and being 100% true to your inner self. That means having Integrity as one of your highest values and never compromise on it.
Here are my best advices to build real and lasting self-confidence:
1. Get Competent
Get competent at something you like, anything you have a real passion for. It helps if it’s also interesting for other people, since then you could get their appreciation on top. Essentially you will be self-confident when you are competent in your field and subsequently have successes. Those accomplishments are one of the main sources to naturally build up self-confidence. So one of the best ways to build self-confidence is to put your mind into a topic that you really like and get good at it. You will have fun while doing it and you will be proud of yourself. Feeling really proud of yourself is the best indicator that you are on the right track. Because only you know your own standards and when you fulfill them, you get this feeling of sincere proud. That gives you self-confidence.
Of course this self-confidence will first be attached to the topic and not yet on a general level. Don’t make the mistake of becoming a geek who thinks this one topic he mastered is all there is. But use this good feeling that comes from being competent as a model to broaden your self-confidence to other areas of your life.
2. Challenge Yourself
To be really proud of yourself and build self-confidence you need to challenge yourself from time to time. That means to get out of the comfort-zone. The comfort-zone is a dangerous thing. It’s the big enemy of any accomplishment and eventually leads to underachievement and failure. The comfort-zone starts feeling easy and comforting, and usually when we are somewhat satisfied with the status-quo. But it doesn’t last long and soon complacency creeps in. Then follows boredom and then frustration and unhappiness with yourself, which lowers self-confidence. Avoid the comfort-zone by challenging yourself to higher standards. Don’t live by standards of other people, you are the only one that knows what is good enough for you. Take the risks involved to get to the next level by trusting that if you give all you can only something good can be the result. Again, if you are really proud of yourself you know you are on the right track.To challenge yourself, start by setting goals for what you really would like to have.
3. Confront Your Fears
Fear is the great enemy of self-confidence. It is the main reason why we are undermining and sabotaging our very best intentions. Confronting fears means also having and developing courage. Taking courage to look at your fears builds that courage-muscle. Fear is showing in different manifestations, not necessarily in a dramatic way. Often it we see it in our own rationalizations, when we talk us out of what is good for us. Another way fear shows its ugly face is by procrastination. “I do it later” or “I have no time” or “I just have to finish watching this funny Video first”… instead doing what is best for us. Confronting fears has a tremendous power to build up self-confidence. For me it often helps to produce more clarity, especially to break phases of procrastination. Setting a clear goal for myself and then setting focus on that task alone breaks the habit of procrastination out of fear of failure.
4. Train Your Mind
Being good at something makes us self-confident. What could be better than being good with your own mind. Being intelligent, being knowledgeable, being able to understand things easily all improves self-confidence regarding your own mind. Needless to say, a strong mind is a great requisite for success.
How to do it? Read! Read books or hear audiobooks about topics you are interested, good literature or blogs about Personal Development ;-) Corny but it’s true: play games like chess or learn the guitar. Learn meditation. Above all, follow your purpose and your heart, this will challenge your mind for sure.
5. Use Your Physical Body
The way you use your body speaks loud and clear. Body language is a strong communicator of your state of self-confidence. Is your posture straight and tall? Are you holding you head up? Are you using the space around you? Are you smiling? Are you comfortable?
But it also works the other way around. If you want to feel more self-confidence use your physical body to influence your mind! Set up a friendly smile. Stand tall. Be energetic. Make eye contact. Speak clearly.
6. Focus on What’s Right
Focus on what you do good and on what you want. Mostly unconsciously it happens that we have negative thoughts about ourself or the situation we find ourselves in. Instead focus on your past successes, your personal strengths, focus on what is right, instead of the negative in your life and then build on that. It shows what you can do, instead of what you can’t. Focus on opportunities instead of problems. It’s encouraging and creates a path for your self-confidence to thrive. One way is again to have clear written goals which will focus your attention on that what you want.
7. Know Yourself: Build Self-Awareness
To know yourself means building your self-awareness and creating more inner space. The very best way to know yourself is self-reflection. Give yourself time to discover your motives, fears, change limiting beliefs. Start a personal journal. It helps you to get competence in a very important area: yourself. In other words, you feel more in control of yourself: more conscious of what is happening inside you and you can choose consciously how to respond in any given situation. You know you can trust yourself, you are in control, and that is part of being self-confident. Knowing yourself, in the way I see it, includes staying 100% true to yourself. You do not compromise on your inner values. You will stay true to what you know to be right. This is building character and having integrity. To have Self-Confidence on the outside, we need integrity on the inside. Remain true to yourself.