Most of us lack confidence sometimes – if not most of the time. There are always situations in which we feel afraid, nervous or inadequate. If you’re wondering how to gain confidence that some people seem to have, rest assured – it’s possible, and it is a learned skill that you can start applying even before you finish reading this article!
“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.”
– Helen Keller
1. Fake it ‘til you make it. Some situations are tailor-made for diving in and playing the part until you build confidence in yourself and in your abilities and capabilities. Approach every situation with the knowledge that everyone is just as scared as you are. Some are great at hiding their insecurity while others hang out by the buffet table and hardly say a word, but guaranteed, everyone’s thoughts are centered around “What these people think about me? What if they don’t like me?” The truth is, we don’t spend as much mental effort on each other as we do on ourselves. Walk in with your head held high; make eye contact; smile; and engage another fearful soul in conversation.
Pull yourself up, smile, and present an attitude of confidence. Immerse yourself in the situation and be fully present. You can’t think about how scared you are if you’re in the moment and focused on what you’re doing. You may start off faking confidence, but it will come quickly as you get over your initial uneasiness.
2. Mental rehearsal, visualization and self-talk are three powerful tools that will help you build confidence. Use the Silva Method visualization and self-reprogramming exercises to visualize any situation in the most positive, light-hearted and fun light possible – and program yourself to handle the situation confidently. Mentally practice your behavior in any situation that concerns you, until you know exactly how you will respond no matter how things unfold. Be consistent with this practice and you’ll be able to take on anything!
3. Do something. Don’t just sit there and think about messing up.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
Choose one of your goals and break it down into its smallest components; and then systematically take action on the smallest possible tasks you can do RIGHT NOW. You’ll get your momentum rolling and you will feel like you’re accomplishing something. That builds confidence! The best part? You feel confident because you’re doing something, even if you feel you can’t do it all right now!
There’s nothing wrong with failing or being wrong. If you are afraid of failing, think about failure as a great teacher and a step FORWARD. Go in and give it all you’ve got.
4. Laugh about it. You create all of your negative feelings and thoughts!! The situation is not doing that for you! You are the one creating the doom-and-gloom scenarios in your mind! So lighten up, see how silly your mind is for coming up with such nonsense, and look at the situation as totally benign, or as a fun adventure. This takes practice! The Silva Method self-development exercises will help. You will learn to relax into the alpha brainwave state whenever you need to, and change the way you perceive and approach any situation.
5. Be present. Take your thoughts out of the future where unpleasant, uncomfortable and scary things *might* happen. In the now, you’ll have little emotional resistance to doing what you have to do – you’re not thinking about what might go wrong; instead, your attention is on what you are doing.
6. Prepare yourself – lay the groundwork – learn your skills, acquire your knowledge, give it your absolute best effort, and forget about the possible outcome. Mental rehearsal can carry you when you repeat an action or thought enough times that it becomes automatic (daily, for 1-2 months).
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
6. Act. At some point, visualizing, self-talk and planning have to stop and you have to DO. How can you make yourself DO, when you’d rather hide?
- Be fascinated and curious. When you were a small child, you were constantly curious. You had to be, in order to learn about the world. So treat every experience like an experiment. What would happen if… (you talked to that person; you smiled instead of screamed; you said what was on your mind; you chose to see the situation from their perspective…)? Curiosity opens you up to saying “yes” to new experiences.
- Create the habit of immediately taking the first step. You’ll gain courage AFTER you take action. To help you get the self-discipline needed to take the first step, create the habit of taking that first step. Everything after that is much easier. You can always take small incremental steps even when you are totally overwhelmed and terrified by the big picture.
Taking action gives you courage because you become desensitized to the situation. After a while, it becomes normal, not something new and alarming. The thing you feared will often become anticlimactic and silly – and you’ll say to yourself, “What was I thinking, to be so scared of THAT?” You may even get angry with how you so desperately tried to avoid this thing in the first place!
“I quit being afraid when my first venture failed and the sky didn’t fall down.” – Allen H. Neuharth
“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” – Peter T. Mcintyre
Ultimately, you become wiser, stronger and more confident when you fail, get up and try again.
7. Smile. The act of smiling lifts your mood and makes you feel like you can do… anything.
8. Follow the leader and always say YES to adventure. Chances are, someone has gone where you want to go so learn from them, and do what they did right.
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