Every day, people come to me asking how they can become more confident. Many of them appear successful and happy on the surface but are actually suffering from debilitating self-doubt and insecurities.
These people often pass up important positive risks because they are waiting to feel more secure. The irony is that waiting for confidence is like watching Olympic ice-skating on TV 10 hours a day and hoping it teaches you how to skate. When it comes to confidence, taking even the tiniest steps consistently is the key.
So what is the secret to a secure sense of self—a self not diminished in the face of challenge or criticism? How can we achieve an inner resilience that allows us to move forward toward our dreams and encourages others to do the same? After exploring this topic through thousands of client sessions and my own personal growth, I have found that these five steps ultimately lead to genuine, stable self-confidence.
1. Keep your word.
Sounds so simple right? Just do what you say you will do. The word confidence comes from the Latin word confidere, meaning "to have full trust or resilience." When we keep even our smallest of agreements, we build a solid core of character. Every time we tell ourselves or someone else we will do something and we do not do it, we chip away at our self-trust. Every time we keep our word even with something as small as "I will floss daily" or "I will get up every morning at 6:30 a.m. to meditate," we actually craft a foundation of inner sturdiness.
2. Sit and stand up straight.
Slouching not only causes health problems like neck and back pain, it also decreases your self-assurance. Great posture, on the other hand, conveys a positive attitude and signals to others that you are someone who deserves respect. Research shows that keeping your spine erect and your head up high actually sends a signal to your brain saying you are convinced of what you say and believe. The "Wonder Woman pose" ( or "Superman pose") has been shown to convey immediate physiological benefit to both the stance taker and the effectiveness of their message.
3. Keep your conversations positive.
I have never met a confident person who complains all the time. When we focus on what is working instead of dwelling on what's not, we become more assertive and action-oriented. If we surround ourselves with people who are "Can do!" instead of "Cannot!" we are frequently bolstered to reach higher instead of lower. Additionally, when we meet adversity or different points of view with "Yes and..." instead of "Yes but...," we also develop inner conviction muscles that are not thwarted by needing to be right. We learn to celebrate challenge and diversity because it makes us stronger listeners and creative thinkers. We do not shrink from disagreement or cynicism; we actually become more open and committed to finding a way to gain allies for our goals and understand the needs of our detractors.
4. Treat everyone well, always.
Keeping your mouth shut from disparaging others is so important. Treating others well means we don't need to waste any time wondering if the anger we're dishing out will soon be boomeranging back to us. If we refrain from stepping on anyone else on our quest to build confidence, we do not have to keep suspiciously looking over our shoulders.
Think about it: People who exude abundance do not spend time putting down others. They are the ones discussing great ideas and creative projects instead. They are people who support and encourage the best in everyone around them. If they do have grievances with others, they are direct and sincere about them and look to repair ruptures instead of collecting evidence or followers to bolster their opinions.
5. Get healthier every day.
The cost of not working out, not eating well, not resting enough, or overdoing any substance is the loss of our vitality and our faith in our capacities. But I hate the expression "stay in shape." Anyone who has spent any time aging knows that there is no dwelling in the same physical condition on a day-to-day basis. People who we want to emulate are consistently upping their self-care game.
When we seek to be healthier every day and we fulfill our stated health goals and routines, we forge our bodies and minds into the most spry and lively versions they can be. We feel better, we are better, and we can do things better. I have known people with great bodily limitations due to disease or injury that are arrestingly vital through persistence and determination. It is not what feats you can do with your body that telegraphs your outer confidence to people. It is what you do with what physical abilities you have, or do not have, that shows people your true merit.