Learning how to be confident is a major reason cited many of our clients who visit our Chicago counseling offices for individual therapy. In truth, the desire to be more confident comes up a lot during sessions, particularly among younger people. This makes sense when you consider that counseling, at its core, is all about helping individuals feel better about how they view themselves.
So how does your desire to be more confident translate into actually being more confident? What can you do to strengthen your self-concept? This brief article will offer 7 concrete steps for you to consider as part of your own journey towards building greater confidence. Several points will be introduced from the field of psychology, designed to generate deeper though and reflection. Resources are also suggested to assist you with your confidence goals.
Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!
Before moving forward, it is important to communicate the following truth. In order to change your self-view, there must be recognition of your current behaviors that are undesirable and likely, self-limiting. Change cannot happen unless you are willing to look honestly inward, devoid of toxic judgment.
Once you are able to do this, you can then go about the business of creating positive change. This will require a strong ability to self-reflect and take an honest inventory of what you think about yourself.
An excellent to do this is through mindfulness. What’s that you say? Mindful-what? Simply put, mindfulness is using all of your senses to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, perceptions and surroundings. Pretty simple, huh? FYI: we have covered the topic of mindful living in many instances on this blog so be sure to skim through some of our related articles. OK – now that we have that out of the way!
OK – on to the 7 steps!
1. Learn to say no
Saying no is one of the most powerful ways you can build greater confidence. If you are like most people who struggle with self-esteem, you likely are a “people pleaser” and pretty much say “yes” to whatever requests come your way. You may even do this at a cost to your own self-care and well-being. Culturally, we have been inculcated into believing that “saying no” somehow means we are being rude. It’s complete non-sense but that’s what’s out there.
In order for you to feel better about yourself, you need to get comfortable with saying NO and saying yes to YOU. Be sure to read our power of no worksheet as a tool for creating change in this area.
2. Use more “I” statements
Changing your level of confidence means changing how you think about yourself and how you communicate with others. Specifically, this involves the use of “I” statements. This means gradually getting more comfortable with talking about your feelings and purging yourself of fears of narcissism. Part of the reason low self-esteem happens may be because you have suppressed your feelings to the point that you have tricked yourself into believing your opinions don’t count. This is common among people who have experienced some form of abuse or trauma.
Over the course of time, this can lead to feelings of sadness. These feelings can manifest psychologically and physically. By using the word “I” when you think about yourself, journal or speak with others, you are placing greater emphasis on what you think and feel. Over the course of time, this can help to banish irrational thoughts of worthlessness and mitigate problems involving intrusive thoughts.
3. Use eye contact
If you are hoping to learn more about how to be confident, it is vital that you assess your body language. This is particularly true when it comes to interacting with others. Lack of eye contact can be perceived in a number of ways, including shyness, dishonesty or insecurity.
One way to help boost your ability to make eye contact and hold it during a conversation is to do some mirror work. Yep – this means exactly what you likely think it means. In other words, stand in front of the mirror and have a faux conversation with yourself and have the goal of establishing eye contact. This is a technique often used in reshaping thoughts about body image. You may feel silly when you first do it but over the course of time, your confidence will improve. Isn’t that why you are here anyway?
As mentioned in the previous step, awareness of body language is an important part of building confidence. If you walk around slouched over with shoulders hung low and chin down, you may be sending the message that you are submissive. It may also suggest you struggle with self-esteem or suffer from depression.
By becoming more aware of your body language and posturing yourself in an upright way – with shoulders up and chin high, you are physically sending the message to your body and to others that you think more of yourself.
5. Practice peaceful disagreement
If you struggle with confidence, you may have trouble disagreeing with others. In fact, many people who have issues with confidence are conflict avoidant. There is, however, a middle ground. You can peacefully and disrespectfully disagree with another person’s point of view without an abrasive outcome. A simple way to go about this is to practice making statements such as, “I see your point but I have a different take on the situation” or “We have different viewpoints but I am glad we are exploring the topic”. By giving voice to how you truly feel about a particular situation, you are boosting your self-esteem and enhancing your individuality.
6. Stop learned helplessness
Many who are searching for the answer on how to be more confident fall into the trap of learned helplessness. This essentially means that you believe you have no control over a given situation and therefore are a victim of circumstance. While it is absolutely true there are some things in life that are beyond your control, this is not the case in most situations.
It is for this reason you will want to become very mindful of your internal dialogue and be on the watch for self-defeating statements such as “I can’t”. Here, we are talking about chucking that negative tape you have been playing and replacing it with something more productive and healthy.
7. Start your day with confidence
The final step towards increasing your confidence is to be mindful of how you start your day. This may require some adjustments on your part in order for this tip to become a reality. Specifically, you are encouraged to become more mindful of the very first thoughts you have in the morning.
If these thoughts are negative, replace them with something more positive. Build upon your positive thoughts and ritualize your morning with tangible, concrete behaviors that encourage confidence. Examples include mindful meditation and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
How to Be Confident Resources
The process of building confidence takes time. Obviously, reading this article isn’t going to “fix” you or act as some kind of a magic wand. This article is however, a beginning. You are encouraged to learn all you can about confidence building and involve yourself with activities that help to promote greater confidence.
A great book to consider on this topic is How to Self-Build Confidence for Dummies by Kate Burton. Don’t let the title fool you – inside, you will find page after page of insight with activities that are designed to help you grow your self-esteem. This is a book that we highly recommend to clients.
How to Be Confident Video
In addition to the book recommendation, we also encourage you to watch this short video on how to be confident, presented by Sharon Melnick. Here, you will learn some practical tips that may help spark new thinking and behaviors.
Many people struggle with confidence. This is particularly true if you have come from an abusive background or where you simply weren’t properly encouraged by caretakers. Talk-therapy can absolutely offer powerful benefits, provided you truly believe you are worthy of happiness.
We hope you found the information presented here to be useful. Thanks for visiting 2nd Story Counseling!