This is a short article on how to be more confident in yourself. It describes the very best techniques for building confidence in any situation. It aims to be ‘all meat, no fat’ – so the general reader with short memories (like me) can properly internalise the techniques and use them in their day-to-day life without too much concentration.
Success in any area of life – whether dating, career, finances or sales, requires self-confidence. Even if you use only a few of these techniques you will find yourself less shy, more decisive and less stressed in difficult situations.
How To Be More Confident In Yourself:
These are exercises in the ‘confidence gym.’ Develop these habits in your quieter moments to enhance your self-esteem. You’ll be able to approach situations with more confidence when you’re ‘in the field.’
1. Positive Self-Talk
What is that your internal voice saying to you? Is it supportive and upbeat? Or are you constantly talking yourself down? Be a good coach to yourself – even if you don’t always feel like it. Your subconscious will thank you.
Science is only just discovering the effect of music on the brain. Related to the ‘positive self-talk’ technique –uplifting, inspiring music warms up the subconscious brain – putting you in a resourceful state to confidently face challenges – whether public speaking, talking to strangers or coming up with new ideas. I know of a guy who imagines the ‘Rocky III’ theme in his head whenever he approaches women!
3. Love your reflection
This is might be a little new-agey for some of you but I will say from experience it really does work. Look at yourself in a mirror – or close your eyes and imagine yourself looking in a mirror. Send the image strong feelings of love. Cynics – I dare you to try this technique – you will be astonished by the impact it has on your self-esteem and overall confidence.
4. Positive language
This is another one related to sending happy message to your subconscious. When making talking about your plans, always phrase things positively. Instead of ‘I hope I don’t fail at asking for that promotion’ say ‘I know I have a good chance at succeeding at getting that promotion.’ This embeds commands in your subconscious – teaching it to be more confident.
5. Model Don Draper
Or James Bond. Or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or George Clooney. Or any other celebrity or fictional character who you regard as confident. Think about how they look, how they stand. In a private moment – pretend you’re them – look at the world through their eyes – see what they see – feel what they feel. This ‘channelling’ of a confident person, whether real or fictional, will lend you their confidence. Try it and see.
6. Delete bad memories
Associated with having a positive attitude towards failure – all of us have emotionally painful memories – sapping our self-esteem and confidence. The NLP – influenced technique will help you get over the emotional hurt of these memories.
When you find the bad memory popping into your head, acknowledge it and do not try to suppress it. Note the form, rather than the content, of the memory – think of it as a picture in your head. Consider the colours, the sounds and any other sensory data. Now rob this memory of its power – drain the color, make the sounds quieter, minimise any and all sensual input. Make the picture of the memory smaller and smaller – perhaps imagine you are sitting in a movie theatre watching the memory and can barely see the screen.
The negative memory will be robbed of its emotional power. This cannot but help make you more confident.
These are techniques when your ‘boots are on the ground’; when you are about to enter into a situation, such as talking to a stranger or making a speech, which requires a confidence boost ‘on-the-spot.’
7. Augment reality
Afraid to approach that pretty girl? Just pretend you’re in a computer game. If you crash and burn you can always press restart and play better next time.
8. Eye contact
Listen to what Gillian Anderson, actress and former star of ‘The X-Files’ had to say about US President and notorious ladies’ man Bill Clinton:
“We all, mostly women, lined up. And when he gets to you, he takes your hand and makes eye contact. After he leaves and he moves on to the next person, he looks back at you and seals the deal. When I got home, I expected to have a message from him, and I didn’t. I bet women across America expect it too.”
The eyes truly are the windows to the soul. Don’t be afraid to look people you want to know in the eye.
When we feel challenged or threated we feel stressed. Our blood pressure rises, our muscles tense, breathing becomes more rapid, we may even start shaking. This goes back to ancestors who frequently faced life or death situations – it is the well know ‘fight-or-flight’ response. But many of the upsets we face in the modern world – meeting strangers, public speaking, having difficult conversations – are very unlikely to cause a violent death.
Push back against the lizard brain by flooding it with oxygen. Breathe in and out slowly four to six times – give about ten to fifteen seconds per breath. This little exercise activates the prefrontal cortex of the brain, shifting its gears from stress to self-control. A simple, but astoundingly powerful, technique.
10. Act drunk without being drunk
We all know drinking alcohol increases confidence. But we also know about the bad side effects – hangovers and vomiting in the short term, serious health problems and alcoholism in the long term. Why not get the benefits of drunkenness without the costs? James Altucher, successful entrepreneur and writer, slurs his voice whenever he needs to make a public speech. This sends messages to your subconscious (yes, that again) to relax, not feel threatened and ultimately feel more confident.
This is yet another one about sending messages to your subconscious. You might not feel that happy and confident at the moment. But try a Pan Am cheesy smile – it won’t hurt and your nervous system won’t know any different – you will feel at least a little happier. This will make you more confident when you face that next social challenge.
Laughter has been shown to reduce stress and physical pain via reduction of stress hormones like cortisol and the increase of endorphins. Next time you have a date or an important business meeting try watching your favourite sitcom or listening to a stand-up comedian just before you head off. You’ll feel happier, more relaxed and more confident.
Another NLP trick. Don’t slouch, stand tall and proud before you make that big speech or approach that attractive stranger. Your nervous system will register this as confidence.
14. Present moment
Samurai philosopher Yamamoto Tsunetomo wrote in his classic book “Hagakure”;
‘There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.’
Play the ‘inner game.’ Focus on the process, not the result. Whether its approaching women, or making sales calls, remain focused on what’s happening in the now – not what may or may happen in the future. The irony of this is that you will get better result you’re doing by not focusing on them – truly Zen huh? And more success will make you more confident.
15. Think small – micromanagement
Tim Ferriss has said ‘the most important actions are never comfortable. Fortunately it is possible to condition yourself to discomfort and overcome it.’ Scared of talking to women? Next time you see a pretty girl smile at her. Don’t do anything else. You might not be the next Casanova yet, but you’ve taken first step there. General shyness? Next time you buy something – have a thirty second conversation with the sales assistant. They’re paid to be nice to you remember? Dip your toe in the water before you’re ready to swim.
Think of your confidence with people like a novice weight-lifter – start small then gradually increase the intensity. Slowly but surely you’ll be comfortable with discomfort. Before you’ll know it you’ll be doing the social equivalent of bench-pressing two hundred kilos– asking girls out on dates, public speaking, being more assertive at work and so on.
16. Work in a bar
Or any other job that requires you to interact with a lot of people. As a busy bartender or waiter you won’t have time to feel self-conscious and shy – you’ll be forced out of your comfort zone and this will strengthen your confidence muscle. As CS Lewis said ‘It’s surprising what you can do when you have to.’
17. Remove negative people from your life
This might be a hard one for some of you. But really if you have a ‘friend’ who does nothing but talk you down it might be time to let him or her ‘fall off your Rolodex’.
18. See moral value in courage
Most of us like to think of ourselves as ethical people. Think about those situations where you lack confidence. Were people hurt by your failure to speak up about something that was wrong? Did that pretty girl that seemed to like you miss out on a great relationship because you were too scared to ask her out? Sometimes being shy can be selfish. Use your moral sense to motivate yourself to be courageous – and confidence.
19. Feedback not failure
It is a universal theme of success literature that there is no failure, only feedback. Remember what Thomas Edison said about his many failed experiments ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.’ The best learning opportunities are always provided by your mistakes. Reflect on why it went wrong, internalise your newfound wisdom, and move on. As Josh Foer, science writer and memory champion, has said ‘to improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.’
20. Think big – be ambitious
One boy had the following question in his mathematics test ‘A box of chocolates costs 2 dollars. How much do 5 boxes of chocolates cost?’ Another boy had this question ‘A private jet costs 2 million dollars. How much do 5 private jets cost?’ Which boy do you think will grow up to be more confident and successful? Dare to think big – it is surprising that the higher you aim the more likely you are to hit your target. As President Kennedy said ‘Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.’ Or as Prime Minister Disraeli said a century earlier ‘Life is too short to be small.’
Thanks very much for reading this post about how to be more confident in yourself. I hope it will prove to be helpful in building up your confidence.