If you don’t believe that confidence comes with you as part of your natural inborn “package,” go to a nearby playground and watch the two and three year old children at play. Watch for just 10 minutes. I then challenge you to find a single child who isn’t playing full out. Each is being outrageously authentic and “real,” confident in himself or herself. No one is indulging in self-judgment and self-recrimination. They are not only not self-conscious… they are simply and quite naturally uber confident in their abilities to play whatever it is they are playing.
Think about it… you never hear a two year old say, after falling for the 100th time in a single day, “Well, that’s it for me. I am giving up walking. Look at me! I am no good at it! I just keep falling down. That must mean I’m not meant to walk.” Instead, what you see is the child picking himself or herself up time after time after time and forging ahead with all of the confidence inherent in the, “I’ve got this,” attitude.
So, what happens to us from the time we are two and three when we believe that we can do anything and the world is our oyster, to believing that we are limited and that other people have something that we don’t have but secretly wish we did? What occurs that takes away our belief in our ability to tackle any goal with the confidence that we can achieve it?
Generally speaking, there is an event that occurs for each of us around the age of three. We do something that an adult—someone we love and respect—offers a stern rebuke or disapproval of, and it stops us in our tracks. Up until that moment we thought we were perfect! Now, quite suddenly, someone we trust has told us that we are not. We internalize the message, and from that moment on, that negative message about ourselves becomes part of who we believe we are.
The messages don’t have to be overt, although sometimes they are. You may have actually heard someone tell you that you are ugly, fat, skinny, stupid… and those messages were hurtful and long lasting. Subliminal messages are just as powerful, however. If you are a female who grew up in a particular era, perhaps you picked up on the message that “girls aren’t good at math.” The messages that are gender specific are prolific in our society. “Big boys don’t cry,” and “Boys will be boys.” Does any of this sound familiar?
Middle school is another watershed era in which we learn to define ourselves. We frequently drag the negative self-image that we had of ourselves when we were awkwardly navigating puberty into adulthood where it has no place.
5 Tips For Boosting Your Confidence
So, when you are worried about not exuding the confidence you wish you could whether it is on a date, in a job interview, or making an important presentation in front of your colleagues, here are a few suggestions that may help to boost your confidence:
1. REMEMBER, EVERYONE HAS THEIR MOMENTS OF DOUBT.
Remember, regardless of how others may act or how you may perceive them, everyone has their moments of doubt. No one is confident in their abilities all of the time. Everyone suffers from self-doubt and worry some of the time. They just may be better at “faking it” than you are. Which leads to…
2. DRESS THE PART TO DEMONSTRATE SELF-CONFIDENCE.
If you want to appear confident, then be mindful of just that… how you appear. If you dress down for work, you will perhaps fit in if it is a casual atmosphere, but you won’t be ranked high on the “confidence meter.” A good rule of thumb to consider is the advice to dress for the job you want instead of the job you have. Appearances matter. People are sizing you up all of the time, and if you dress for success, you will more likely display confidence whether you feel it all of the time or not.
3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE AND POSITIVE MESSAGES.
I have a magnet on my refrigerator with the question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” But that is just one question to consider. I love a song by Jana Stanfield entitled, “If I Were Brave.” One part of the song goes:
What if we were all meant to do what we secretly dream?
What would you ask if you knew you could have anything?
Sometimes, the only thing holding us back is our own self-doubt. Wouldn’t it be freeing if you knew the only thing keeping you from feeling as confident as you would like is, well… YOU?
4. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
You are uniquely YOU. We too often question ourselves because we sense we don’t fit some sort of frame that everyone else seems to fit even though that is a false perception. We listen to what others tell us instead of listening to our inner wisdom. Stop looking outside yourself for validation. This is YOUR life, and you are only making yourself more miserable when you doubt yourself just because you are not like someone else.
5. USE MANTRAS.
They work. My personal favorite is “I am perfect, whole, and complete, just as I am.” You can purchase cards with affirmations that you can post around your house or your office until thinking more positively becomes more of a habit. Download articles and read books with positive messages that will lift you up. The resources are there… you just have to avail yourself of them.
There are many other ways you can boost your confidence. These are just a few suggestions.
The best advice is to just be easier on yourself. In spite of outer appearances to the contrary, life is NOT a competition. You have one life to live. How liberating is it to realize that you get to make the rules for how you live your own life!
Take the time to shut out the noise that rules social convention. At the end of the day, when you are coming up on the final minutes of your life, you could wind up regretting all of the time spent worrying about what others thought of you. At the end of the day, I believe, the only opinion worthy of your consideration about what kind of person you are is YOUR opinion.
Live with integrity. Be true to yourself. Be kind to others. Share. Those are the true marks of a life well lived. Live with those, and you will not only feel more confidence, you will live more freely, authentically and happily.
Until next time.
This article was previously offered in the December 5, 2014 issue of Careerealism.com.
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