No one was born confident.
We all grew up fragile, not knowing how to stand, let alone stand tall. No one cared about self-confidence. When we needed anything, we just cried.
Then we grew up.
The more aware we became of our surroundings, the more conscious we got about the things we did and how people perceived us.
We moved from the bliss of ignorance to the mind-wrecking task of dealing with human nature.
And one of the first things that overwhelm us when we start dealing with people is that we become overly conscious about people’s perception of us.
Why? Because, unlike kids, we now have a reputation to protect.
Why You Should Learn to Be More Confident
Reputation is everything in life. People are constantly evaluating you the moment they set their eyes on you.
And once they sense that you lack confidence, they assume there’s something you’re hiding.
“Maybe you don’t think you’re good enough.” Hence, building a solid sense of who you are is vital because:
- It makes people think highly of you: No one likes the timid. What we love is seeing people express themselves like they are afraid of nothing. Displaying self-assurance sends the signal to people that you know yourself, which makes you elicit respect.
- It helps you have better relationships with others: People like to stick around those who appear like they know what their life is about. We are also drawn to those who already manifest the traits we already want, subconsciously hoping that their energy will rub off on us.
- You have better conversations with people: Those who are bad at conversations are often people who have low confidence in themselves. Their low self-assurance makes them overly concerned about how people perceive them in conversations. But when you have self-confidence, what people think of you matters less.
- You’re more likely to succeed in life: We all go through hurdles before achieving success. There’s rejection, betrayal, envy, repeated failure, etc. It takes a lot of trust in one’s abilities to be able to surmount these obstacles.
The good news is, everyone with a solid sense of self built it over time. And as such, anyone can do the same with the right system and behavior.
With this in mind, let’s look at 5 things you can do to increase your confidence in yourself and boost your self-esteem as well.
Stop Compromising Yourself
Picture this: You are in a situation, and you know exactly what the right thing to do is, you know you should do it, but you don’t.
We find ourselves in this dilemma all the time.
Most of the advice we read on self-confidence on the internet always says things like, “stand up straight, make eye contact, or seat with your shoulders back.” Though all these are helpful, they fail to address an underlying problem.
Often, what makes people fold and unable to make eye contact when they seat is because, on a subconscious level, they want to hide.
They’ve lost their integrity and their trust in themselves. Brian Tracey put it perfectly in his book, The Power of Self-Confidence,
“The foundation of self-confidence, the basis of boldness and assertion, is a deep inner trust based on living a life of perfect integrity and disciplining yourself to live consistent with your highest values in every situation.”
Look at it this way:
We all grew up with values and moral codes. When we feel we are living by these values, our lives feel meaningful. We feel good about ourselves, and this reflects in our personalities.
But if on other hand, you compromise yourself, breaking the very rules that give your life meaning, you fall into chaos.
Though this is easier said than done, it’s the hard truth:
Stop doing the things you know you shouldn’t do, build your integrity and watch your self-esteem soar.
Create A Healthy Perception Of Yourself
Comparing yourself to others is never fair to you.
First of all, no two persons can ever be in the same circumstances. As far as being you is concerned, you are doing the best job.
In the world we live in today, the most apparent things we see about people are usually either unreal or heightened.
Unlike many years back, we can now see what the richest pop star is having for dinner, or the price for the ring used for a royal wedding.
The result of this is that we have a bunch of people who feel terrible about their lives.
Why? We compare our “behind the scenes” with everyone else’s “highlight reels.”
Research conducted in 2018 on the impact of social comparison found that people who always evaluated themselves based on how others lived their lives were more likely to be envious.1
And the more envious they became, the more terrible they felt about themselves.
Understand that what people present to you is often far from the reality they experience.
If you want to be more confident, compare yourself to who you used to be, not where someone else is now.
Only you understand the battles you’ve fought to get here.
Create Value In Yourself
When you observe world-class athletes, heavyweight champions, bestselling authors, award-winning actors, grammy-winning pop stars, etc., you’ll quickly see they all have one thing in common:
Their charming and confident personalities.
Some call it ego. You can call what you want. But here’s the thing: It’s impossible not to feel good about yourself when your impact is felt by millions of people.
People who have something valuable to offer will naturally feel good about their lives.
Why? Creating value gives you a sense of meaning. The Psychologist Karen Reivich put it perfectly in her book, The Resilience Factor,
“You will feel good about yourself when you do well in the world. That is healthy self-esteem,”
The thing is, creating value requires you to first be good at something. It is that process of learning, failing, rising, trying again, standing up to those who don’t believe in you, etc., that transforms you.
The pain of mastering a skill will shape you and change how you see yourself.
When you offer value to those around you, it is undeniable evidence that you matter.
You and those around you will see the value in you and respect you more.
Hang Around The Right People
According to a 2019 research by the American Psychological Association, the quality and nature of our social relationships have a huge effect on how we perceive ourselves.2
Toxic friends can take a toll on us emotionally. They know how to exploit our weaknesses in subtle ways to feel good about themselves.
The thing is, we are constantly evaluating how people (especially our close circle of friends) see us.
Though most of us think we don’t give a sh*t about how everyone sees us, that’s impractical.
We are all receiving and processing feedback on people’s perception of us whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Hence, for the sake of our emotional health and mental balance, we must keep the right company.
Hang around those who will empathize with you on your bad days, not those who will quickly see an opportunity to poke holes in your mental well-being.
Use Cognitive & Emotional Reappraisal
Every situation we find ourselves in life has an emotional impact on us to varying degrees.
The idea behind reappraisal is that we carefully interpret our experiences to ourselves in a way that is healthy for our cognitive functioning.
Now, this isn’t about lying to yourself about the meaning or impact of your experiences. Rather, it is about not making your mind a place for worst-case scenarios.
The thing is, we tend to work against ourselves when interpreting the events that occurred to us. And what we often forget is that it’s our interpretation of events that matter, not the event itself.
Always interpreting your experiences in an emotionally harmful way can take a toll on your self-esteem and self-confidence.
This is perhaps why research done on the effect of emotional reappraisal found that those who reappraised often had better social functioning and more emotional balance. 3
“Way your hopes carefully,” Seneca once said, “and whenever all the elements are in doubt, choose in your favor.”
Knowing how to be more confident often rests on how good we feel about ourselves on the inside.
Those who are proud of how they are living their lives will naturally sit in a relaxed manner and make good eye contact when in conversations.
In other words, self-confidence isn’t an act. It’s simply a manifestation of a life you’re proud of.