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11 Powerful Ways to Uplift Your Self-Confidence

Self-confident people are admired by others, and yet many of us struggle with staying confident in a negative world. Unlike those who succumb to disparagement, self-confident persons confront their fears and rejections straightaway.  They tend to be risk takers. They understand that no matter what obstacles may arise, they have the ability to overcome them. Self-confident people tend to think with a positive, can-do attitude even when confronted with unexpected challenges.

Now, who wouldn’t want that kind of self-confidence each day? If you don’t fit that description, the good news is you can learn to be self-confident.  Self-confidence can be developed through learning and practice – just like any other skill.  Once you master the skills of self-confidence, your life will invariably get better.

It can all be summed-up in this one important question: If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else be expected to believe in you either?

If, like most people, you struggle at times with the how-tos of believing in yourself, this article presents some proven ways to make that happen. Take them seriously through a commitment to practice these tips routinely, starting now. At first you might need to ‘fake it until you make it” – through a forced appearance of self-confidence, but through daily discipline you will become the image of self-confidence that you admire in others.

In a nutshell, self-confidence is mostly exhibited in body posture, how you speak, the words you use, and your overall behavior. It’s standing up to what you believe is right, taking risks, owning-up to your failures, being gracious in accepting praise as well as criticism, remaining positive and optimistic, and admitting your mistakes with a forward-thinking attitude.

You start developing confidence when you believe in your ability to achieve goals that are important to you, with the conviction that if you work diligently toward those goals, you will succeed. Invariably, challenges will arise. However, your confidence building happens when you understand that you can overcome these difficulties, that you can handle anything that comes your way, and that you have a right to a fulfilling and successful life.

Approval from others may not be within your control, but self-confidence comes from a belief that your best is enough, that you are capable of doing what needs to be done, and that you can master any task if you dedicate yourself to it. One of the best ways to accomplish this attitude is to take notice of your past achievements as evidence of your future potential. Notice what strengths you and others have observed about you that led to your successes.

Set yourself up for success by establishing goals that are optimally suited to your strengths—start small and work-up from there—and celebrate your successes along the way. Be cognizant of what actions, thoughts, and influences went into your achievement of these goals, and fix those pictures into a positive mental image of what you can achieve.

Here’s a list of techniques that can make this happen:

1. Take a self-confidence inventory.

You can’t repair something you don’t know is broken. To build self-confidence you have to spend a fair amount of time identifying irrational thoughts from reality.

To simply generalize and say, “I’m really terrible at this” or “I’m a bad person” is to essentially tell yourself a lie – you’re better than that. The solution to self-doubt isn’t to wallow in your failures, but to acknowledge them and move on.

So get a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle of it. On the right-hand side, write: “Strengths” and on the left-hand side write: “Weaknesses.” List five (5) of each.  Ask others whom you trust for feedback if you’d like.

When finished this serves as your Self-Esteem Inventory. It lets you know all the things you already tell yourself.  Some of the weaknesses you may be able to change, if only you work on them one at a time, over the course of a month or even a year.  You can always build on your strengths as well.  Remember, nobody changes things overnight – so don’t become frustrated if this takes a while.

2. Deny those negative tendencies and focus on the positives by making some changes.

It may be time to make some difficult decisions by distancing yourself from those situations and persons that demean you and strip your confidence.  Even temporary breaks from these disparaging persons and energy draining situations can make a big difference.  Then start focusing on the positives in your life.  And instead of just identifying the problems, spend most of your time on the solutions and what your life will look like having eliminated these problems.

As foreign as this may be to you, find a friend or family member and ask them “What do you like about me?” “What are my strengths?” Most value other people’s opinions more than our own. We tend to dwell on things we’ve not done well, and we are equally prone to overlook what we’ve done well. Hearing from another person about our strengths and positive qualities helps to build a more positive image of ourselves.

3.  Create a strong image through confident body language and presentation.

We are more likely to be persuaded by someone who appears self-confident, stands straight, holds her chin up, speaks crisply, who answers questions without any hint of doubt, and who is forthright in admitting she doesn’t have an answer.  Your posture, like smiling, slow speaking,  and eye contact goes a long way. Even the basic move of pulling your shoulders back gives others the impression that you are a confident person. And smiling not only makes you feel better, but it also makes others feel more at ease being around you.

As to appearance, when you look better you typically feel better.  A nicely groomed person who dresses well will cause others to perceive that person as successful and self-confident.  That may seem superficial, but it’s none-the-less true.  If you choose clothing and accessories that fit you well, suit your industry and lifestyle, are comfortable and make you feel good, this will automatically boost your confidence. And don’t be afraid to let your personality shine in your accessories. A colorful tie or bold jewelry can be a focal point and a good conversation starter.

4.  Speak assertively.

Notice how great speakers deliver speeches. They speak confidently and in a rhythmic and steady tone. Instead of the “ums” and “ahs” that interrupt flow, they use pauses to emphasize ideas.

Good speakers use an assertive but not aggressive style. As one of these speakers you’ll want to avoid sounding high-pitched or jittery.  Fidgeting and nervous chatter or silly giggles can weaken an otherwise strong presentation.  People tend to hear what we sound like more than what we say.  In other words, a confident speaker who says little resonates better than an unsure speaker who says much.

5.   Never throw in the towel

Confident persons rarely give-in. Neither should we accept failure as an option. There is a solution to just about everything. Indeed persevering through great adversity serves as a huge confidence booster.

As someone once said, never throw in the towel, but instead use it to wipe off the sweat.  Then keep going.  Speaking of his grueling practice schedule after failing to qualify for the varsity basketball team in high school, Michael Jordan said, “I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels to sweat.”  No matter how many times you fall, the key is to get up again.

 6. Get rid of those doubting thoughts.

Low self-confidence is often caused by those negative thoughts that routinely loop within our minds. If you are constantly criticizing yourself and saying you’re not attractive enough or good enough, you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. So the next time you hear that looping negativity within your mind, overlay those thoughts with positive affirmations and accept those as your reality.

Place these affirmations on your computer screen, write them down and store them in your wallet – so that each day you look at your affirmations and say something like “I’m successful,” “No one and nothing can keep me down,” and “I am destined to succeed.”

  7. Consider what you’ve already achieved as validation that you can do it again.

Think about the five best things you’ve achieved in life, and then spend a few minutes each day remembering these.   Also consider what your friends and family members say are your strengths.  Display items that remind you of your achievements, or of the special times and people in your life.  Your past successes are proof of your inevitable future successes.

On the flip side, learn to handle failure. Accept that mistakes happen especially when you’re trying something new. If you can get into the habit of treating mistakes as learning experiences, you will develop the mindset of getting stronger, better.

Try this – make three lists:  one of your strengths, one of your achievements, and one of the things that you admire about yourself. Try to get a friend or relative to help you with these lists. Keep these lists in a safe place and read them regularly.

8. Set easily achievable goals; and once these are reached, establish harder goals and so forth.

Confidence arrives from successful goal achievements, but sometimes our goals are unrealistic, or even too easy.  Establish goals that exploit your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.  They should be attainable with a little stretch to keep you feeling challenged.  Make sure your first step is small, and then increase the level of difficulty each time you achieve a goal.  Get into the habit of achieving your goals, and then make sure to celebrate them!

Your place of confidence exists at the end of a road we call – goal achieved!  Make a habit of lining your pathway in life with attainable, challenging, and worthy goals.

   9. Maintain balance in your self-perception.

It’s important to not be overly confident just as it’s important not to underestimate yourself.    If you are under-confident, you’ll avoid taking risks and stretching your abilities. And if you’re over-confident, you may take on too much risk, stretching yourself too far which leads to burn-out or failure.

Overly optimistic persons sometimes don’t try hard enough to succeed because they fail to comprehend the challenges around them.  True self-confidence is rooted in reality and in your authentic ability. Self-confident people take on informed risks while stretching themselves – but not beyond their own abilities.

  10.  Accumulate the knowledge you need to succeed

Once you’ve identified your stretch goals, identify the skills you’ll need to achieve them.  Look for training or a course that fully equips you to achieve what you want to achieve.  If it involves a degree or certificate to qualify you for a job, then make it happen. Learn everything you can about your industry, your subject matter, your goals and what drives you towards success.

Then find someone who possesses the expertise to teach you how to apply your knowledge practically.  Mentors serve this role magnificently.  If you don’t have one, get one.  They can be found at work, online, or in your community.

11.  Help someone.

One of the most important steps to finding self-confidence is to give of yourself to others. Serving another person almost always results in the healthy realization that you are important in this world, that you have something to offer, and that the world is better because of your presence. See a need around you? Whether it be a need for time, resources or a listening ear, meet it now. Indeed, the life you change just may be your own.

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In summary, two main things contribute to self-confidence: self-sufficiency and self-esteem. Don’t be overconfident or under-confident. Be honest and simply fill in your knowledge and skill gaps, and build upon your strengths. The more you gradually stretch yourself, the more self-confidence you will build. Self-confidence is a process of setting realistic and increasingly challenging goals that leave a trail of achievements along the way.  It’s acquired by doing, learning, accomplishing, and persisting.

Your self-confidence is just that – yours.  No one can give it to you but yourself, and no one but you can take it away.

– Randy Kay is a CEO of TenorCorp/PACEsetters, a strategic and talent development firm. Prior to this he has overseen training and development for top performing companies, been a biotech CEO, Board Member for over 20 organizations, executive for Fortune 100 companies, and has published four books and several articles in business magazines such as Switch & Shift and Forbes as well as conducted interviews through numerous networks. Do you want to grow and develop your career and life? Contact Randy Kay directly or discover more at www.pacesetters.training

“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” —Thomas Carlyle

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” —Helen Keller