May 14, 2014 Lecia Bushak
If you’ve ever acted on the saying “fake it till you make it,” you probably recognize the benefits of playing it cool and confident whether at work, at trying new things, or in social settings.
Confidence can make or break a lot of things. People who are sure of themselves tend to do better at interviews, on dates, and in accomplishing tasks. In our extrovert-centric society, confidence can get you a job, a girlfriend, and the courage to say no to people or situations that are toxic to you. Confidence is knowing yourself and taking care of yourself, too. Unfortunately, this societal view of exuberant confidence — where people who talk a lot are considered more competent than people who actually know more and do better — can be good in some ways, and harmful for introverts.
But it’s always a fine balance. While being sure of yourself is important, it’s not exactly great to be overly-confident, either, especially if you lack competence. Exuding an overabundance of confidence can be seen as arrogant, or having the assumption that you are better than you really are. Finding a balance — being aware of your weaknesses but also your strengths — is the best way to roll. Self-assess to the reality in the middle. Know that quiet competence is often more important than blatant confidence. And if you’re currently feeling like you’re worthless, read the below tips that can assist you in boosting your sense of self-worth so that you can start gaining that much-needed competence.
Exercise goes a long way for a lot of aspects of life, from health and stress reduction to even confidence. When you work out, your brain releases feel-good hormones that give you that “runner’s high,” a natural feeling of accomplishment, happiness, and relaxation. After a good run, your body feels happy tired, your stomach ever so slightly more toned, and you’ve set the pace for a productive day. Exercising consistently will do wonders for both your mind and body. Being fit and feeling attractive can a huge self-esteem boost.
This may seem rather shallow, but grooming is an important part of our biology as mammals and social beings. Taking care of yourself — including little things like keeping your nails trim, flossing your teeth, and showering — can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself. Finding new clothes to wear in fresh combinations, or going out and buying a few new outfits, can give your self-confidence the small boost it needs to get going. Are you having a bad day, procrastinating, and feeling gross? Take a shower. Being clean is a refreshing feeling, and will give you the kick you need to start getting things done.
Getting involved with other people will help bring you out of your negative head space. If you’re finding yourself experiencing anxiety about your life’s problems, spend some time helping others with their own. Assisting someone in need boosts happiness and self-worth; even if you don’t have your life in order, you can feel like you are being helpful and productive to someone else.
Squash Negative Thoughts Like Bugs
It’s often easy to get into negative self-talk mode: Why haven’t you done this yet? When will you find a better job? Why are you still single or still with this loser? What’s wrong with you? Once these thoughts start popping up, squash them like bugs, then replace them with more positive ones.
On that note, resilience is an important part of staying confident. Don’t beat yourself up when you get rejected by a job, love interest, or when you fail. Life doesn’t always turn out to be what we think it will, and being prepared for this — as well as being able to adapt — is called resilience. Stronger resilience naturally boosts your confidence, since you won’t be too hard on yourself. “When life doesn’t quite turn out the way you expect it will or want it to, give yourself a little wiggle room,” Sara Elliott writes on How Stuff Works. “The more you reward yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new instead of bashing yourself for a less-than-stellar performance, the easier it will be to tackle the next challenge with confidence.”
Practice Until You’re Competent
Learning a new skill or language can help boost your confidence, especially if it’s outside of work. While “faking it till you make it” can work in some situations, know that you actually have to put in the time and hard work to gain a skill or get better at something. Once you’ve put in your hours, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you can play a full song on the piano or that you’ve written your first good essay after all the crap.
But remember this all involves little steps. “If you want to be a more competent writer, for example, don’t try to tackle the entire profession of writing all at once,” Leo Babauta writes on zenhabits. Instead, take baby steps: write a little bit every day. “Journal, blog, write short stories, do some freelance writing. The more you’ll write, the better you’ll be.” Practicing even a little bit every day will increase your competence, and the better you get at something, the stronger your confidence will be.
Happy body language can make you feel better about yourself. In a study completed by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, researchers found that manifesting fake “high-power poses” reduced cortisol, or the stress hormone, and boosted testosterone and self-confidence. Smiling, standing up straight with your shoulders back and chin up, and manifesting more “open” and relaxed poses will actually help you feel more confident.