How to Improve Self-Confidence: Be Specific

Cash Register © by Steve Snodgrass

You can have high self-confidence in one area but low in another; you have to be specific about the area of life you are working on an improved self-confidence. E.g. you are a great cook but you feel completely incompetent handling power tools.

Sometimes the need for being good in a specific area can lower your self-confidence. If you think you a bad at counting then you will feel stressed if your job is to operate the cash register at a café. The pressure to perform well will feel worse because know you have to do it. Maybe you end up quitting your job. But instead of quitting you should face your fear and define what it is.

Be specific about what the problem really is. My experience is that we usually do a great job in areas we are dedicated to and enthusiastic about. Find your enthusiasm and believe that you can count as well as anybody else. Every time you fail and give wrong change, it is just an option more to learn.

Now define your fears; you are afraid of doing a poor job and getting fired; you are afraid your colleagues will laugh at you incompetence; you are afraid the customers will mock you and complaint to your boss. Pick a problem and face that fear – challenge it and see what happens, hope for failure in order to learn at get better.

Let us choose the mocking customer fear. Challenge your fear by giving wrong change on purpose and see what happens. Did the customer mock you? I bet he did not. Usually the customer will point out the mistake and help you. My experience is that even if you give too much change the customer will return the change in excess; and if he does not, then that will tell more about him than about you.

Also have in mind that you can improve self-confidence in one area indirectly by improving self-confidence in other areas. You can use this strategy if it is particularly difficult to approach a specific area.

How to Improve Self-Confidence: Recall Past Successes

Eggs © by Matt Browne

A bad experience leaves a greater impression than does a good experience. As a rule of thumb you need 10 good experiences to cancel out the impression of a bad experience; I learned this in marketing at business school and although I miss some hard proof that this rule of thumb applies then I am sure that there is a grain of truth in it.

If you fail doing something then you need to make up for the bad experience to maintain motivation and self-confidence. Besides taking a positive view and put focus on the things that you have learned in the process, you can choose to recall all the successes you had with this in the past. E.g. you failed making soft-boiled eggs; instead of getting annoyed you can stop for a moment and recall all the success you have had from the past boiling eggs. If you never succeeded making soft-boiled eggs, then recall some other related successes.

Recall your past successes and you set your bad experience in perspective. You are only human and you are bound to fail eventually, especially if you want success. If you do not fail then you do not live! Your past successes will make you realise that your failure is unimportant by and large. E.g. I know that I am good at cooking and if I fail making soft-boiled eggs and blame myself being a bad cook, I need to look back and focus on my successes. Then I will realise that I am a general success cooking. When I analyse the process that led to failure I might discover that the reason for failure was that I was on the phone while cooking. My failure was not due to bad skills but to inattention.

  1. Recall a success.
  2. Think about the positive experience in that connection.
  3. Focus on what you did well in the process that led to failure an discover what you can do different next time.

How to Improve Self-Confidence: Confront Your Fears

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling © by

Nothing is more stimulating for your self-confidence than accomplishing something you dread. E.g. go parachuting; confronting a tiger; getting stuck in quicksand or jumping a cleft. Well, actually it does not have to be that extreme, but the feeling of accomplishing something really dreadful is unbelievable and you will feel invincible.

The feeling can be intoxicating and you want more. Fear is a fantastic feeling and it is an important part of our natural defence. Fear releases adrenaline and activates your fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline creates instant action and motion; thus, fear is energy; fear is motivation to action. Enjoy it, because the feeling of overcoming fear is fantastic.

Some people seem to go fearless through life getting all what they want. But know that every day of their life they face fears! The difference is that they have found a way to deal with fear. The problem is not fear itself, the problem is that you doubt whether you will win the fight. Instead you choose flight and that choice will only increase your doubt and the fear becomes worse; you will end up in constant fear and anxiety.

You need to trust yourself and your abilities to fight whatever you have to confront. Trust that you can escape the tiger; trust that the parachute will bring you safe to the ground; trust that you can do whatever it takes to take action and move on in life. If you always choose to flee then you will never get what you want. Life is difficult for all of us, but you need to face it or it will become even more difficult.

Start confronting fears; do not listen to doubt; bite your teeth and leap into fight. Maybe you get a few scratches in the fight but you will win if you believe in yourself and trust that you can do it.

Fighting fear is never fun while fighting; the feeling of invincibility comes after the fight. That is the feeling that will prepare you for the next fight. If you have some fights waiting that seem overwhelming then take some other fights and accumulate strength for the really big fight. None of your fears are impossible to overcome, you just have to believe and find the strength to leap into the fight instead of flight.

How to Improve Self-Confidence: Define yourself

Who Am I Abi © by ϟnapshot 19

Do not let an event or other people define who you are! If I tell you to give me a list of ten words that describe you best, would you be able to make that list? You should be able to make such a list in less than one minute and if you cannot do it, then you need to spend some time with yourself and discover whom you are.

Who are you? Well, the answer to that question is up to you really; if you do not tell the world who you are, then people will start doing it for you and they will define you from their own point of view. E.g. you take part in a course and after a few weeks, in a break, a small group is sitting talking over a cup of coffee in the schools canteen. They talk about this and that and of course about their classmates. Someone mentions your name and another one asks – who? – Well, you know, the quiet one who does not want to join us for coffee. – Oh, her!

You kept quiet and you probably think these people do not want you to join them; but they do want you to, you just have to show that you want to. In this case you choose to withdraw and the group defines you on your actions.

I am a curious person and I always have a lot of ideas; some are good and some are not. When I was a student I was usually the quiet one and people only judged me on my questions and my homework. I had a thesis supervisor who was married to another teacher at the school. One day I had a question concerning my thesis and I decided to call my supervisor; it was his wife who answered the phone. I presented myself and asked her if I could talk to my supervisor; she confirmed and called her husband. The problem was that she forgot to put me on hold, so I could hear what she said; and this is what she said to him: – John, it’s for you, … it’s that strange one.

I was hurt! Imagine how it felt like when I discovered that I appeared so strange that out of 200 students I was referred to as the strange one! Although it is almost 17 years ago I still feel bad about it. I did not use my supervisor again, but today I have learned something very important: People will define me on my actions and it is very important that I communicate to people who I am.

How to Improve Self-Confidence: Radiate Confidence

Cascade © by dvs

I will start this series about self-confidence by giving you some specific actions you can take to improve your self-confidence instantly. Mind that radiating self-confidence does not mean that you are self-confident but people will perceive you as such. It is a way to help you feel more confident.

Other people’s judgement will help you feel more confident. What you send out is what you will get back. If you have a negative attitude, people will seem rude and negative, but if you have a positive attitude people will seem friendly and helpful. Thus, by radiating self-confidence people will strengthen your belief in your own abilities.

Ask yourself how you would like to be perceived by you social environment. Be true to yourself and be realistic, because you will only be able to radiate you true self. You cannot choose another personality. Now make yourself visible and let people see who you are and let them help you fortify your belief in yourself.

E.g. if I want to be really good at making scrambled eggs and I am afraid of failing and keep out of the kitchen and never take part in any kind of cooking, then it will be hard for people to perceive me as a good scrambled eggs cook. What I have to do to get closer to my goal is to look for situations that are close to my goal and to communicate my ambitions. I could start buying loads of eggs and books about scrambled eggs and tell my friends about my ambitions. I can dress like a scrambled eggs cook and use symbols that associate with scrambled eggs.

The confirmation and acknowledgement you harvest from your environment will strengthen your belief that you can do this. Here are a few things you can do to let your environment help you being more self-confident:

  1. Dress sharp. Show people that you care about how you dress. Do not buy expensive clothes but think about colour combinations and make sure your clothes are clean and presentable.
  2. Walk faster. Keeping a good pace makes people think: – This person knows where he his going!
  3. Good posture. Keep your head up, straighten you back and keep your shoulders back.
  4. Motivate. Give yourself a motivational speech every day.
  5. Be grateful. Say thank you and remind yourself of all your past achievements and successes.
  6. Smile!
  7. Compliment other people. If you bring out the best in other people, they will bring out the best in you.
  8. Be visible. Sit in front and stay in the centre. Walk in the middle of the street.
  9. Look up! – And in the eyes of others.
  10. Speak up. At least once in a discussion or social gathering.
  11. Work out. Keep a fit body that will help you keep a good posture.
  12. Contribute. Give what you have to give and do not worry if it is perfect. E.g. you receive a drawing from a child; the drawing is hideous but you are grateful because of the act of giving. People will receive what you have to give if the act of giving is genuine.