Confidence is something that everyone struggles with, whether we like to admit it or not. Every once in a while we hear that little voice in our head that whispers, “But what if you fail?” or “Come on… You know you won’t be able to do that as well as the next person”. I’ve experienced issues with confidence in many different areas of my life: sports competitions, school presentations, exams, Toastmasters, conferences with work, my physical appearance etc. I remember when I was in college I was preparing for a presentation that I had to give later that week. I barely slept the entire week before and eating wasn’t even an option. I practically begged my teacher to allow me to present solely to him between classes and when he said no I was holding back tears.
What if I screw up? What if I forget what I was going to say? What if everyone laughs at me or stares with blank faces because they’re confused or embarrassed for me?
I was shaking in his office while trying to think of another way to convince him to let me skip out of the in-class presentation. He looked at me with a confused expression and then he said something that stuck with me through my final year of college and into my professional career: “What are you so afraid of? Everyone else in that room is going to be scared too, but no one is here hoping to see you fail”.
That was when I realized it was all in my head. It was a lack of confidence in myself that made it so difficult for me to feel comfortable doing something as simple as speaking to a group of classmates that I spent the majority of my time with for the previous two years. It had nothing to do with the people around me and what they thought, because really I had no idea what they were thinking; that was the turning point for me.
Since that day, I’ve read tons of blog posts and articles on ways to boost my self-confidence. Not all of the tricks have worked for me, but I thought that today I would share four tips that I’ve implemented into my own life that have truly made a difference for me and my self-confidence:
- Practice makes perfect. A quote that I find goes well with this point is, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Although you aren’t able to practice everything that you may lack confidence in, when you are able to, DO IT. This is something that I struggle with because I am the master of procrastination, but that also comes with practice. The more you practice or rehearse whatever it is that that’s stressing you out, the more confident you will be when it comes time to present, act it out, speak etc. It’s hard to be confident when you feel as though you won’t do well at something.
- Surround yourself with positivity and think positively. Being around negativity can have major negative effects on your life and your confidence. If you’re constantly surrounded by family members, friends or co-workers that tear others (or you) down, have negative outlooks on life or enjoy making jokes at someone else’s expense, it’s time to separate yourself from them. I know, this is easier than it sounds; you can’t choose your family and you can’t choose your co-workers. But if you have the ability to choose whether or not you spend any additional time with them than is necessary, take advantage of it.If you find yourself in a situation that makes it difficult to think positively, force yourself to find a way to spin it into a positive. Again, this can be difficult, but it’s something that can be practiced and learned. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Eventually you will find yourself seeing every situation in a positive light!
- Take care of yourself. If you’re feeling down in the dumps on a particular day, take it upon yourself to change that. There have been days when I’ve gotten out of bed and I just know (or I think I know) that it’s going to be ‘one of those days’. What I find helps me, is if I take a long, hot shower, take my time doing my hair, and dress nicely. These all may seem obvious, but the better you look, the better you feel.
- Learn something new. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I LOVE learning new things. By saying this, I don’t just mean that I like learning how to play new sports or card games. I love reading articles and newsletters on topics that I’m not familiar with. It always seems like after I’ve read about something new, that topic then comes up in conversation. There’s no better feeling for me than being able to say, “Actually, I just read about that! This is what I learned…”
As someone who’s struggled with self-confidence in different areas of my life, I’m always interested in learning other ways to boost my self-confidence or “de-stress”. If there’s something you (the reader) would like to share that’s helped you with your self-confidence, please add it to the comments! I’d love to hear about it!