Posted by: wordsmithsuk | August 5, 2013

Confidence tricks

Here are a few thoughts about how to become more confident, inspired by discussions in the many assertiveness workshops that I have led over the years.Woman on steps

Confidence is an emotional state of ease and well-being. You are confident if you feel you will be OK in any situation and you don’t have any doubts about your ability to achieve what you want. But is confidence a mysterious gift that is granted to the elite few who are lucky enough to receive a certain kind of parenting or education? Actually, no. Confidence is a mixture of skills, behaviours and attitudes that we can all develop and put into any situation. The trick is to become more aware of our natural strengths and qualities and how we can apply them in the face of life’s challenges. Remember – we are often our own worst enemy, putting artificial restrictions on ourselves and on our ability to succeed.

Courage or confidence?

In seeking to develop self-assurance and self-belief, it’s useful to distinguish between courage and confidence. Courage is the ability to take on difficult tasks and challenges, to act in the face of fear or risk. It seems to develop like a muscle in the body – the more you use it the stronger it gets. Many people argue that the way to develop courage is to ‘step outside the comfort zone’. This means gently pushing back the boundaries of what you feel you can do, stepping into the unfamiliar territory and staying there for a while till you feel comfortable again. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you make yourself do something which has always terrified you in the past. While it is possible to demonstrate courage without ever feeling very confident, confidence tends to generate courage. In that sense it is a bit of a ‘trick’ – a way of making yourself perform beyond your current boundaries.

How to develop more confidence

Confident people don’t feel negative, critical or guilty about who they are. Their self-esteem does not depend on others’ opinions of them. It helps to identify all your good points and all the things you have done that you are proud of. Read through your list and recognise it to be true. Developing your confidence involves building on all these positive achievements in everything that you undertake. You can try one or more of a number of ways of developing this elusive quality:

  • Act as if: one of the easiest tricks is simply to ‘fake it till you make it’. If you can convince yourself that you are self-assured, if you say it often enough and banish any negative thoughts, you will soon adopt the behaviours and skills of a confident person. Before you know it, your self image will catch up with your actions, and you will no longer have to pretend.
  • Relax: perhaps the single most important ingredient ofuccess is to stay physically relaxed. This means taking steps to release tension from your body. In the long term you may find it useful to take up a hobby like yoga or pilates. In the short term it’s worth experimenting to find a breathing exercise, an affirmation or a visualisation that will help you to remain relaxed and in control.
  • Give yourself a makeover: there is a very strong link between feeling confident and looking good, but nobody is quite sure which comes first. You can transform your image and build your confidence by consciously planning how you would like to appear to others and how you would like them to respond to you. Ask a friend what impression you make with your appearance and then work to alter those outward signals until you become what you would like to be

Confidence is a vital ingredient of success and well-being. It will invariably enhance your your performance, no matter what your career or area of interest. Confident people see difficult tasks as challenges and persevere when things go wrong. If you project self-assurance, others will have confidence in you and their response will further increase your confidence in yourself.

What are your thoughts? What is your experience? I’d love to hear from you



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