Confidence is normally a challenging part of life to develop, especially if you’ve grown up to be shy or not in the company of a lot of people. However, if you’re at a time in your life when you think confidence is something you have to work towards – say, if you’ve come across a job opportunity or a promotion that needs you to do presentations, speeches, and talks – then you’re likely going to need a quick rundown on how to start developing your confidence for the better. However, confidence is more than just knowing how to “strut your stuff,” or “wearing the right clothes.” The first step towards confidence is maintaining a mental image of your confidence – and in this article are key tips on how to mentally become a more confident you.
According to Psychology Today, “confidence” is the term used to describe one’s ability to believe in one’s capability to succeed. This might explain why some people appear overconfident to the point of “seeming” to be arrogant, and why sometimes some people seem “afraid” to make a move to accomplish something. For most people, it might be apt to just project the “right” amount of self-confidence to show credibility and have a good first impression. Some people are able to use their confidence to such an extent that they can deal with pressure much more efficiently, and they can continuously find ways to face professional and personal challenges as they go along. Confidence can do a lot for a person when used efficiently, but it’s not exactly something that is easy to develop. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Visualize what “confidence” means: This might be a bit philosophical, but try to “define” what for you is a “confident” person. This can be someone that is able to meet people in public places, or someone who can talk in public. Imagine this image in your head, and imagine yourself as that person. Visualizing yourself as a confident person is the best first way to start your way to become a more confident person. Self-perception plays a key role in defining how you see yourself and how you act around others.
- Affirm that you are capable of confidence: Self-affirmation is an extremely powerful tool that allows you to assert your place in the world and act upon your beliefs. People tend to behave in the way they perceive themselves, which means how you see yourself plays an important role in your overall development. Likewise, if the way you perceive yourself is that of a confident person, you’re likely going to act like a confident person as well. Affirm that you are capable of doing so by maintaining a positive self-image for yourself. If you find this a bit difficult to do, try affirming yourself with questions instead of direct statements. Ask “Why do I like talking with people” instead of “I like talking with people,” and your mind will most likely start projecting that self-image to you.
- Conquer your fears, one step at a time: Another thing that can help improve your confidence is to slowly conquer things that are making you anxious or afraid. This doesn’t mean go through lengths that can expose you to danger, but rather slowly expose yourself to things that you think make you scared and slowly assess why you’re scared of them in the first place. A lot of people tend to be afraid of things they don’t understand – so in your case, if you feel as though you’re afraid of something, try understanding why you’re afraid of that certain phenomenon, believe you can overcome it, and slowly work towards actually overcoming it.
- Confront your inner critic: We all have this “inner critic” inside of us that constantly makes us doubt ourselves. Sometimes, this critic can work with us by making us improve ourselves when doing various activities. However, sometimes, this same critic makes us lose our self-confidence by becoming too active to the point of inaccuracy. Don’t hesitate to question your inner critic and start to approve of what you’re doing instead of constantly criticising yourself. Sometimes this sudden shift of perspective may help your inner critic ease into a position of confidence as well. If you’re having a hard time dealing with your inner critic, perhaps psychologists like TG Psychology may be able to help you.
- Set yourself for victory: A lot of people are afraid of “losing” or failing to meet their objectives, which is why they may tend to think they’re going to fail in the first place. Projecting an image of victory can be difficult, so instead of doing this for a huge goal, try encouraging yourself to accomplish small tasks first and ease yourself into affirming your victory as you go for bigger objectives. Accomplishing these things can get you in a “hype” that can start to improve your self-image, which can give you that extra boost to perform for your big objectives.
- Remember, the goal is to learn: Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of developing self-confidence is acceptance of loss. After all, isn’t loss an indication that we’ve failed our objective? Not necessarily – especially since “objective” is the operative word in this situation. If you lost when your objective is to win, then you’ve obviously not met your objective. If you put your objective elsewhere, however, then you may have a completely different scenario. If you’re finding it challenging to affirm yourself to victory, perhaps try affirming yourself towards learning. Try to make every challenge a learning experience, and put your objective towards learning something about the challenge or improving yourself on a certain aspect of your skill set. Doing this can at least motivate you to do your best in a challenge without focusing on victory, and you will win all the time.
The Bottomline: Confidence Starts In The Mind
If there’s anything this article can teach you about confidence, it’s that confidence really starts and grows with the proper mind-setting. Mentally creating an image of self-confidence and acting upon that image can help establish yourself as a more confident person, with other aspects such as speech, fashion, or behavior going to appear slowly after. Remember, confidence isn’t a one-time, big-time thing and is something that is actually slowly developed. As such, it’s important to start small, and start inside, before you blossom into a more confident individual.
Todd is the Director and Principal Psychologist at TG Psychology, in Penrith, NSW. He has over 14 years of experience working with adults and young people in both public health and private practice settings. He has treated people from diverse cultural backgrounds, with a variety of emotional health and behavioural issues, including: depression, anxiety, relationship issues, anger, addictions, trauma and grief. He has also facilitated a number of group programs, treating a wide range of issues: from quitting cannabis, to social skills training, self-esteem development and deliberate self-harm behaviours.