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Self-confidence gives you the courage to take sensible risks and to pursue stretching targets. Exactly what is required to build and grow a business. It also makes building and managing teams simpler as a confident approach naturally inspires confidence in others.
Everyone struggles with self-confidence at some point, even people who are naturally blessed with plenty of it. So if you are struggling with your confidence remember that you are not unusual.
The good news is that self-confidence is like a muscle. It can be built up through deliberate training and practice. Whether you’re suffering a temporary slump, or self-confidence is something that you’ve always struggled with, let's look at 6 ways to boost yours.
1. Cut Out Negative Self-Talk
Stop being so hard on yourself. We’re far more critical of ourselves than we ever would be of a friend. Next time you face a problem break this pattern. Rather than dwelling on the things that you didn’t get right, focus on solutions to the problem and avoid negative self-talk. It won’t help to solve the problem and will only drain your confidence and energy.
A simple way to do this is to think of the advice you would give to a good friend in a similar situation.
2. “Fake It Until You Make It”
Research has shown that by acting more confidently you can actually make yourself feel more confident. The body can control the mind. So making some simple changes to your body language can help improve your confidence.
- Smile more often. It will show that you are relaxed and at ease and make you instantly more approachable to others.
- Improve your posture. Your posture affects your hormones, and they affect your mood. Avoid slouching, slumping or ‘closed’ body language which appears defensive. If you are standing, stand tall with your shoulders back. If you are sitting, sit up straight. Remember that confident body language is open and expansive.
- Dress well. How you dress has been shown to affect how you think so make sure that the clothes you wear make you feel confident. Dressing well is as much about how you see yourself as it is about how you want the outside world to see you. If you look good, you’ll feel good and that will come across to others.
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3. Practice Being Uncomfortable
The more you put yourself into unfamiliar and difficult situations, the better you will get at handling and overcoming them. Over time you will become comfortable dealing with problematic situations. Most importantly you will learn that you are able to get overcome problems, and so feel much more confident about tackling a problem or something uncomfortable next time you face one.
As with all practice give yourself time to improve and gradually build up the challenges that you take on. You can’t expect to be an expert straight away that takes time.
4. Stop Comparing
Comparing yourself to others is a sure fire recipe for misery and lack of confidence. There will always be someone who is more successful or richer.
Humans naturally compare themselves to others so how do you control this natural impulse? The key is to acknowledge that comparing isn’t useful or constructive.
In our hearts, we all know that the stories we hear have been ‘airbrushed’ to remove any blemishes. However, against that, we compare the worst of what we know about ourselves and let’s be honest here, given our natural tendency to be hard on ourselves it is always the worst of what we know about ourselves. It’s not surprising that we never measure up, and we never will, but this doesn’t stop us being hard on ourselves.
Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, catch yourself and remind yourself that you don’t play this is a game anymore because it’s a game that you can’t win. Instead take the time to think about all of the things that you are doing to live as full and joyful a life as you possibly can.
5. Avoid procrastination. Take a small step.
Procrastination hurts your confidence, and can become a vicious circle. Avoiding things that you know need to be dealt with will naturally lead to negative self-talk and low confidence. This will make tackling the issue seem even more difficult, leading you to put off addressing it and perpetuating the cycle.
To build your confidence you need to take action. How do you do that if you’re struggling?
Take a small step towards a small goal today. This focuses your mind on the positive (what you want and why you want it), and away from the negative (risks and possible problems), and it breaks the cycle. It shows that you can get past your worries and take action and will give you a boost.
If you’ve a big challenge looming, it is probably best to tackle a smaller one first. This will build your confidence for tackling the big one.
RELATED: 8 Ways to Stop Procrastination
6. Avoid Perfectionism & Celebrate Your Wins
Take time to celebrate your successes, big and small. Reminding yourself of the progress that you have made and the problems that you’ve overcome is fun and will naturally give you a boost. Many people rush from project to project without ever pausing to enjoy their success.
This is particularly useful for perfectionists who tend to dwell on the small things that went wrong, completely ignoring all the big things that went well.
RELATED: Is Perfectionism Holding You Back?
Ben Richardson is a director of Acuity Training, a business offering personal development and IT training in the UK. He has recently published a guide to assertiveness for freelancers.