13 Ways to Improve Your Self-Confidence

Assembly (006) © by Arbron

The theme for the past two weeks has been self-confidence and today I have made a list of all the articles I wrote about this. Each item on the list below is linked to the corresponding article. If you want to build your self-esteem instead, then take a look at my series about self-esteem.

  1. Radiate confidence. 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.
  2. Accomplish something. Sitting around thinking only makes things worse; over analysing will create fear and you will miss all the action; you will also miss the opportunity to accomplish something.
  3. Achieve mastery. How is it possible for a person with low self-confidence to achieve mastery? I can see the contradiction because lack of self-confidence is the belief that you do not have the abilities to achieve mastery.
  4. Define yourself. 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?
  5. Confront your fears. 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.
  6. Exercise. Doing sports and exercise indirectly improves your self-confidence because being physical active has a wide range of advantages: It keeps you both mental and physical fit.
  7. Recall past successes. 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.
  8. Keep cool. I am cool! I can say that for sure and so should you. I was not able to say so 15 years ago but today I can. I have had experiences where I needed to keep cool.
  9. Stop Worrying. Worry is a negative way of thinking that will bring you to a dead end. There are two kinds of worries and that some people prefer to distinguish the two by calling one for worries and the other for concerns.
  10. Be specific. 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.
  11. You get what you ask for. Have you noticed what happens when you walk into a shop? A sales assistant will greet you and ask if you need help finding what you need.
  12. Positive language. I know I have said it many times and I will continue repeating because it is very important: You need to have a positive focus
  13. Visualise. You have probably experienced the feeling of picturing yourself in a desired situation. It is almost is if you were there.

How to Improve Self-Confidence: Positive Language

Yellowed pages from a dictionary © by Horia Varlan

I do not want to screw up! I hope it is not going to rain today. Why do I always stand in the slow line? I do not want cold coffee today etc. I know I have said it many times and I will continue repeating because it is very important: You need to have a positive focus; you have to focus on what you want, not what you do not want; you have to focus on what can do, not on what you cannot do.

I want …

I can …

You can get a positive focus by using your language. E.g. start all sentences with a positive word like: I want, I can or start with adjectives like: Great, fantastic, nice, cool, lovely etc. Example: Great cup of coffee you made today; fantastic job I did on the computer. If you are about to say something negative like – f… it is going to rain today! Then rephrase and say – I want to see the sun today!

In the negative case you would focus on every minute it rains but in the positive case you would focus on the sunny periods of the day. That will make you more happy and energetic.

Use the language

We use the language to construct the reality we live in. Niels Bohr said that we will always have a need to describe our findings and we can only do that within the limitations of our language. He also said that the truth depends on the eyes that see. Thus, you have the opportunity to choose your reality and present it with you language. You have to communicate your confidence and success in language and action.

Now, use your language to cause action; use it to make life go in the direction you want it to go; use it to strengthen your self-confidence and to make people acknowledge your actions and your success. Fantasy outshines reality and that is why you should take the opportunity to communicate your reality about yourself before other people make up another reality.

Let me give you an example: If you say to people that you are very bad at playing cards then how do you think the chances are that anyone will invite you to play? If you say that you love playing cards and that you would like to get better at it, then people are more likely to invite you.

How to Improve Self-Confidence: You Get What You Ask For

Be specific about what you want © Erik Back 2011

Have you noticed what happens when you walk into a shop? A sales assistant will greet you and ask if you need help finding what you need. If a sales assistant does not approach you, you will seek one yourself. When you get the attention of a sales assistant you will ask: “Do you have that green thing I have been looking for?” The sales assistant confirms and goes to fetch the green thing you have been looking for. You are very excited and pay on the spot.

This is a simple case, but imagine what would have happened if you were not specific about the colour? Would you get a blue one or a red one? If you ended up buying a red one then you would be unhappy because you really wanted at green one, but you did not ask for it! The secret about how shops work is to ask for something and a sales assistant will provide it for you.

Life is the same; if you are unhappy about your life because you never seem to get what you what, then it is because you forgot to ask for it. So, ask for what you want; be specific and express yourself in positive terms. First of all you have to make clear to yourself what your needs are and what you really want to achieve in life. Because if you do not know then who does?

Next step is to use positive terms and trust that you will get what you ask for. Mind that when an opportunity presents itself it may not look like you expected it to look. If you have a negative focus you risk getting what you do not want. E.g. if bad drivers in the traffic annoy me, and I keep complaining about it, then all I will meet in traffic is bad drivers. Why? Because that is where my focus is and I miss to see the opportunities I get to avoid bad drivers, like driving another route, leaving home 15 minutes earlier etc.

Another example: Your family asks you what you wish for Christmas and you say that you would like a book. You point out that you do not want anything by author XX and especially not by YY because he is really bad. At Christmas you get a book by author XX or no book at all. Why? Because it is difficult for your family to remember if you liked this author or not and since they do not have other specifics to choose from you get something you do not want.

You have to be very specific about what you want and you have to communicate that in you speech, body language and attitude.

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.

A Setback Is an Opportunity for Comeback

Never give up!

It is an undisputable fact that you will experience adversity in life. You cannot have success all the time, but you can feel overall successful. Sometimes things take another turn than you expected and you will have to redefine your world and criteria of success.

I recently experienced a big setback where two of my central cooperative agreements were changed; actually one of them was denounced; I received a notice of termination yesterday. The consequences are that my basic income next year will be halved.

What would you do in such a situation? I was sad and went home moping and complained my misfortune to my girlfriend. After a good hour of self-pity I went swimming. When feeling down exercise is a good cure that helps clearing the mind. I beat my own record in butterfly and swam 125 meters in a row. When I came back home I was able to think clear again and I sat down to regain the perspective and figure out what to do.

The important thing is to keep going and not give up. The rules of the game have changed and if I want to win that game I have to learn the new rules and conditions and see the opportunities they present. I am not going to quit now; I am determined to turn this to my advantage!

This morning it turns out that there is a possibility for making a new and different kind of cooperation that might be good in the long term. I have already made the first moves to a favourable agreement. The world does not stop and life goes on; so I will find a positive focus and ask myself what my options are and start exploring the new path that suddenly revealed itself to me.