If you find yourself feeling like you’re “in a rut” and not appreciating yourself as much as you should, there are simple changes you can make to improve self-confidence and take charge of your life again. Confidence affects every area of life, from relationships to the workplace. And improving your self-confidence will always have a beneficial effect on both your relationships with others and your ability to handle the little ups and downs that life can throw at us from time to time.
As a personal development coach, I have worked with many individuals to increase self-esteem and self-acceptance. The following 10 tips have proven time and again to improve self-confidence for a wide variety of people.
1. Clothes Make the Man and Woman. Yes, it’s an old cliché’, but that doesn’t make it any less true. When we dress confidently, we feel confident. Try this experiment: for one week, dress like the person you want to be, NOT the person you think you are. This one is simple to change can dramatically improve self-confidence.
2. Stop Trying so Hard. Improving confidence should not be about struggling. Give up trying to be a perfectionist, and give yourself permission to be a human being who will naturally make mistakes sometimes. A sure-fire way to feel inferior is to set the bar too high in every area of your life. Cut yourself some slack — you deserve it.
3. Focus Your Attention Outward. Lack of confidence often causes people to focus an inordinate amount of attention inward, on the “self.” Make it a point to focus more attention on others than you do on yourself. Remember, confident people focus outward — insecure people focus inward.
4. Avoid Energy Vampires. All of us know someone who seems to “suck the energy” out of a room just by entering. Give yourself permission to minimize contact with these people. Don’t hate them or judge them in any way. Just recognize that they do not improve the quality of your life, and minimize your connection with them.
5. Take a Chance. Try something new and different that you may have been apprehensive about in the past. Enrol in an adult education class, or join a book club, gym, bowling league or other social pastime. Shake up your life a little bit. The change will do you good, and your self-confidence will improve.
6. Be a Giver. There is an old proverb that says “you only get what you give.” With that in mind, start giving what you want to receive in life. Make other people feel as confident and worthwhile as you can. By helping to build up confident feelings in others, you are sure to get back the same thing. Call it karma or what ever you like — it always works.
7. Practice Forgiveness. Many people are very hard on themselves because, deep down, they have not forgiven themselves for something in their past. If you’re clinging to some failure or transgression from the past, recognize that you are doing it and then forgive yourself completely for whatever it was. Likewise, if there is someone else in your life you need to forgive, make it a point to do so. NOT for their sake — but for yours. When we forgive, we purify our heart and start anew.
8. Affirmations: Ask Yourself the Right Questions. Some people repeat affirmations such as “I am self confident,” which is fine, but you can improve your affirmation results by using leading questions such as, “why am I so confident?” The subconscious mind operates in a very simple manner. When you ask it a question like this, it will immediately go to work looking for the answer, and it will report back to you all of the ways you already are confident.
9. “Model” Other Confident People. One way to improve self-confidence is to model the behaviour of people whom you consider to be supremely confident. If you can befriend a very confident person, that’s great. But if not, just find an actor or other celebrity who is confidence personified, and study their behaviour. Do this several times a week, and some of their confident mannerisms are bound to rub off on you.
10. Practice Gratitude. A grateful mind is a peaceful mind, and a peaceful mind radiates confidence. Practice making a daily gratitude list, and particularly focus on different aspects of yourself that you appreciate. Maybe you are a great swimmer, or good at math, or really strong, or a good dancer, or have an unusual sense of humour, or are good at design, or a great singer, or a really good friend, or any number of other positive attributes. Look for what is great about you, and then be grateful you have those qualities. Appreciating your good qualities will improve self-confidence, and help you develop the kind of positive self-image that is crucial to success in life.