At some point in your life, you've probably felt a lack of confidence. Perhaps it’s at that moment you keep quiet when you really want to speak up? Maybe it’s putting on that sparkly, crazy-colored outfit, then changing your mind and toning it down before you go out?
Or possibly it’s turning down that opportunity because you really don’t think you're up to it?
The truth is that confidence goes much deeper than these moments. Confidence is about how much we like ourselves. Lack of it not only leaves us feeling low, but stops us from being able to attract the things we really want in our lives. Without self-confidence we don’t really think we’re worth them.
I’ve gone from 280 pounds to 140 pounds, left a secure, comfortable marriage, broken out of the corporate world, moved countries and built my own business. Yet, I didn’t start with higher self-confidence than anyone else. My journey has been one of understanding what was stopping me value myself and taking steps to transform that. Here are my four top tips on how to boost your confidence, too:
1. Look inside.
The inner critic has a lot to answer for. The harsh voice that's convinced you're rubbish and will never amount to anything is like a forceful thumb holding you down — keeping you stuck in just the place you are.
And yet, you wouldn’t say half of the things you tell yourself to your best friend, would you?
Realize that this voice is not truth. You weren't born saying these things to yourself. You were born loving yourself and those around you unconditionally.
Take some time to understand where the negative phrases of your own inner critic came from. What attitude did your parents have toward you as a child? How were you spoken to at school? What’s happened in your life that's left its mark?
2. Redefine your self-image.
This is all about softening — learning to love and hold yourself as precious and appreciating the good in you. It can be challenging to do, especially if you’ve been berating yourself for years.
Try starting by thinking of someone who loves you and seeing yourself through their eyes: What do they love about you? If you’re not sure, ask them. Also, try getting hold of a picture of yourself as a small child and display it. When it catches your eye, consciously respect and appreciate the potential and love in that small, beautiful being.
3. Identify how you evaluate your worth.
How can your self-worth and confidence grow when you don’t know how you judge it, what you value? When you ascertain what you value, you know what to focus on in your life to increase your self-confidence.
A great way of doing this is to identify role-models and clarifying what traits it is in them that you admire. Is it their selflessness, their empathy, their creativity, their discipline, their passionate pursuit of what they love? When you’ve identified what it is you value from this, take a step towards that in your own life, no matter how small.
Confidence grows from action — small steps taken toward the things that you consider worthy, when accomplished, feed back to you, increasing your worth and giving you a natural springboard to do more.
4. Say no.
Holes in your confidence often create situations where you really want to say no, but actually end up saying yes: A favor for a friend that eats into your weekend, that extra report for your boss which means missing your swim class, the after-work drinks that you really don’t enjoy. Sound familiar?
Learning to say no is an absolutely vital step in raising your regard for yourself and your confidence.
The way to learn this is by doing! It’s only the act of saying no that will make you realize you can say it. The more you say those two letters, the more you build "no muscles," the easier it will be and your self-confidence will grow.