How to be more confident
Confidence is such an attractive quality, isn’t it? Confident people are a magnet to other people, and attract exciting opportunities.
As a coach I hear many people claim that a lack of confidence holds them back from living a fulfilled life and going after their dreams. Not only do they lack confidence, but they’re also full of stories to explain their lack of confidence.
I’ll be confident when…
Most of them see confidence as conditional. Their story says that confidence will happen to them when:
they know more about a subject
people have told them that they’re great/successful/beautiful
they’ve developed new skills
they’ve had more experience of this particular “thing”
they know everybody in the room
they know that the person they’re going on a first date with already wants to marry them…
While these conditions may seem rational, they create barriers to confidence that are insurmountable because we can - and will - always add to them. As we achieve our self-imposed conditions, we simply shift the goal post by adding more conditions. This pattern is especially true of those struggling with imposter syndrome.
Since our go-to solutions for gaining confidence are focused on meeting new conditions that require us to do more, have more, experience more, know more… it follows that confidence will probably never come.
Instead, we have to shift the context through which we create confidence.
I believe that confidence isn’t the by-product of meeting a set of conditions. Instead, I assert that confidence is a choice:
Instead of confidence happening to us, we can choose to be confident
Confidence is about being, not doing
Confidence is within us all, not reserved for the special few
Confident people are just great at choosing to be unconditionally confident.
In other words, success is not a condition for confidence; confidence is a condition for success. And confidence is, then, a choice.
Sounds easy right? Just make that choice.
Okay, I hear you. “That’s easy for you to say, Tracy. You’re so confident.” You’re right. Most of the time I am confident. Though I have shared my own battle with imposter syndrome. And for me, gaining confidence was a choice and is always a choice. And when I realised I could choose confidence, the universe seemed to lean into me with all kinds of exciting opportunities.
Tricks and techniques for being confident
So, how can we support ourselves in making the choice to be confident?
This is going to be different for everyone, and something for you to work on with your coach to find something that works for you. But, here are a few things that others have tried and tested that works for them:
Affirmations: statements that we repeat to ourselves, usually out loud - have a powerful impact for some. Jessica Dowches-Wheeler shares some examples of affirmations for confidence in her blog.
Physical reminders: a simple post-it note or lipstick on your bathroom mirror - that says something like “I choose confidence” - works wonders for others.
A powerful technique that really works for me is having a keyring with the words that represent my true being (zeal, leader, integrity, connection, mirth) on it - especially useful to remind me to choose wholehearted confidence when I walk into my office. I also have the words on my desk as a reminder through the day.
Taking a moment before you enter the room to tell yourself to choose confidence. This is my go-to approach. I just take a deep breath and tell myself to choose confidence.
In Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk, she shares the benefits of working with our body language - including power poses - to help us to choose confidence:
What are you willing to take on in your choice to be confident? This is one to practice and work on. The effect is an upward spiral. When you choose confidence, you become the magnet. Then the opportunities come your way. Then you get even more confident. It snowballs. It just takes that first choice.
So what’s stopping you?