Look, here’s the truth: you’re awesome. You just are. You’ve got strengths, talents, abilities, and experiences that help make the world a better place. You do that thing you do in a way that no one else can, and it’s seriously amazing. But perhaps there are some situations in which you find it difficult to tune into your indisputable awesomeness. Even if you have a deep sense of self-assurance, maybe there are times when you can’t quite seem to turn it on.
Confidence is tricky that way. It’s this slippery thing that we don’t always seem to have a proper grasp on. Sometimes we’ve got it, and sometimes we don’t. For example, maybe you are the type of person that feels comfortable while talking with a small group of friends, but you feel like a nervous wreck at a large party filled with people you don’t know. Perhaps you are confident of your knowledge in a particular subject, but you feel utterly incapacitated when you have to share your ideas with an audience. When I came over to the UK 21 years ago, whilst being a naturally confident person, I would lose all my self-confidence each time I had to speak as I was conscious of my French accent and mannerism. I would want to hide in a mouse hole if people asked me to repeat as I would be convinced that I had an appalling accent and that my English was poor.
We all have specific areas of our lives that seem to rattle our sense of self. While it often seems like the world is divided into two groups – those with confidence and those without – the fact is that there are individuals who are simply more practiced at the art of projecting confidence. It’s a skill, one that you can develop. And the great thing about practicing this skill is that it actually leads to a deeper sense of belief in yourself. Think of your confidence as a muscle you can strengthen, and one that deserves to be strengthened because, again, you’re awesome.
So why not apply the 5 simple steps below and notice the difference! Do not wait to feel confident to be confident, first show the world you are confident and the feeling will follow!
WORK YOUR STRENGTHS
A sure-fire way to lose your confidence is by attempting to be someone that you are not. Perhaps you admire someone else’s demeanour – the way they carry themselves or the manner in which they communicate – so you decide to try it out for yourself. The problem with this is that it can often feel a lot like lying. Instead of borrowing someone else’s personality, focus on what’s great about yours. To use myself as an example: I am a good storyteller, but I’m not so much of a facts-and-figures kind of girl. When I’m trying to communicate my thoughts in a confident way, I often tell a story. If I were to pull out charts and scientific data, I would just feel like a fish out of water.
BE MINDFUL OF YOUR BODY LANGUAGE AND POSTURE
This is the big one, right? We all have certain “tells” that indicate that we are nervous. Perhaps your hands get a bit too expressive, your eyes dart around the room, or you cross your arms. These habits are unconscious, and we do them as a means of soothing our own discomfort. While it can be helpful to tune into what our specific tendencies are, it’s likely that this awareness might cause even more anxiety. Instead, if you find yourself feeling tense, focus on just two things: your posture and your breathing. By simply putting your shoulders back and breathing deeply, you immediately assume a more confident stance. In doing this, you will start to relax, and you may find that you have less of a need for those self-soothing physical habits.
Instead of stressing over how to explain what you are all about to someone new, simply turn the tables by asking questions. People love talking about themselves. It’s true. And when someone gets the sense that you are genuinely interested in their life, it endears you to them. Plus, it takes the pressure off of you. Suddenly, you’re the interviewer and they are the subject. But don’t think of people as subjects. That’s just mean.
Much of our anxiety is a result of a lack of preparation. This is especially true in matters of public speaking. If you haven’t taken the necessary steps to ready yourself, even if you are knowledgeable, it’s likely that nervousness will creep up. Physiologically, when you are unprepared, your sympathetic nervous system takes over. And in case you’re not caught up on your psych terms, your sympathetic nervous system is your fight-or-flight response. It’s that rush of adrenaline that happens in situations that feel life threatening. We can all agree that this is a terrible condition under which to give a speech or talk about something you care about, so, do your homework! Know your stuff. Practice. Over-practice. Do whatever you can to avoid that feeling of impending doom.
ASSUME THE BEST
The worst thing you can do is go into a situation expecting failure. Our expectations are powerful, so much so that they can actually have an effect on the outcome of a given situation. If you expect that you will be nervous or uncomfortable, it’s possible that you are just setting yourself up to be exactly that. Instead, assume the best. Assume things will go brilliantly. Assume that you will say all the right things and that the people you are around think you are awesome. And honestly, they probably do. Because you are. Have I told you that already?
On Sunday 4th February 2018, I achieved my biggest goal: completing the Watford Half Marathon. This gave me an amazing confidence boost as this could only be achieved through pure determination and self-belief. The feeling as I crossed the finish line is beyond words!!! What is your big goal for 2018?