Do you struggle with confidence in yourself? Many of us do, and that’s not inherently a terrible thing. The side effects, however, can be quite tarnishing.
Have you ever been around someone who is constantly pessimistic, always blames others for their actions, or is always cutting people down through vitriolic speech? These are all signs of someone who is not confident in themselves, which leads to some pretty unfortunate characteristics and qualities.
I tried to take a bit of a nuanced approach with this, meaning I don’t just want to look at the surface reasons behind lack of confidence, but rather dive deep into understanding the root causes. In roughly 1,000 words, I’ve tried my best to give you 5 ways to become more confident:
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
If you want to become more confident, then things are going to have to change. Those “things” will be different for different people, but this is point #1 because you must be willing to change before you can adopt other ideas.
You have to have the inner desire to become a better version of yourself. You have to accept the fact that you have everything you need inside of you to be more confident, but also accept that you may have to be uncomfortable for a while in order to try new things, learn, and grow.
Being uncomfortable is a stimulus for growth! Check out one of my favorite illustrations on this topic by Abraham Twerski.
- Reflect on criticism, whether it’s constructive or not
There are few things which hurt the ego worse than being criticized, especially when it doesn’t come in the form of a loving, constructive conversation. Whenever we are met with harsh criticism, our immediate instinct is to go on the defensive, and completely dismiss what the other person is saying.
While it is probably true that anyone who yells at you for your shortcomings has issues of their own, I have learned that reflecting on these criticisms, regardless of their tone, helps me in the long run. I say this because you can always find a little truth in what an angry person says about you, whether that be about YOU or THEM.
Let’s say a friend walks up to you and calls you an “idiot”, saying that you never listen to anything they have to say. Right from the beginning, it’s very easy to jump right back and call them an idiot, too. However, it’s much better for you to reflect on the statement.
First reflection: Is it true? Do I actually tend to not listen to what this friend says? If true, then imagine how worthless that makes them feel. Empathize!
Deeper reflection: If you believe that statement to be completely false, then why did said friend feel that strongly about the subject? Could it be that, even though you are listening, your body language tells a different story? Your friend doesn’t think you care, and that feeling is very real to them.
See how that works? Working on yourself gives you confidence.
- Get your body and mind “in shape”
It is not surprising to think that many people lack confidence because they are overweight or don’t feel as intelligent as their peers. As you’ve read before, I was roughly 50 lbs. overweight in college, and it absolutely caused me to lack confidence in the physical sense.
If you want a fool-proof way to boost your confidence, get in the gym and start eating better! Your body will look better, but more importantly, you will also feel much better. Consistent exercise will help you get in shape, but many of us underestimate how many positive side effects it has on our mind.
Heidi Godman, the Executive Editor for the Harvard Health Letter, wrote about some of the benefits regular exercise has on our brain.
- Allow facts to shape your opinions, not vice versa
Continuing with the idea that our mental health has a huge impact on our confidence, we should also always strive to have our opinions backed by data, not have data backed by our own opinions.
Raise your hand if you know someone who holds their opinion above obvious fact or reason? I’d imagine that almost 100% of us could raise our hand because unfortunately, it is just so common. What’s even less fortunate is that sometimes the people with the least amount of facts or evidence can be the loudest and show the most confidence (or ‘unfounded confidence’, that is).
If you want to immediately boost your confidence (and at the same time have a good understanding of how little we actually know), start consuming various styles of content which better inform you on topics you don’t understand. The beautiful thing is that confidence doesn’t just come from the actual knowledge you are gaining, but rather the process of attaining it. The more we learn, the more we realize how much we don’t know (I’ll credit Einstein for that one). Confidence doesn’t mean knowing everything, it means understanding that we know almost nothing, and yet having positive and pure intentions as we seek knowledge and growth.
- Eliminate negative people from your life
Read this section twice. Live it, breathe it, meditate on it, and repeat. Fact: If you want to maximize the amount of confidence in your life, then you MUST eliminate negative people. Seriously, drop them. Don’t stop being nice to them, you should be nice to everyone. But getting food or drinks with them? Nope, you should pass.
Negativity breeds negativity, and a negative outlook on life pretty much makes it impossible for you to gain confidence. When everything is always “no” rather than “yes”, you never have the opportunity to grow as a person. You need to be saying “yes” far more often than “no” when you’re trying new things and expanding your horizons, and that’s going to be quite challenging when Negative Nancy is breathing her momentum-killing words into your ears.
We all struggle with confidence for different reasons- maybe it’s because of your unfortunate childhood or home life, maybe it’s because you don’t think you’re ‘good enough’, or maybe you’ve just been feeling down recently. Whatever it is, understand that it is completely fine to think about these things. Acquiring confidence takes time, and you’re going to make progress by getting used to being uncomfortable, trying new things, self-education, and eliminating those unnecessary negative people from your life.