Confidence is a muscle. If you don’t use it, you lose it. And for so many of us, our confidence (or lack of, I should say) is unlearned.
Ever notice how young kids are so unapologetically confident in the most hilarious ways?
I remember stopping a full family party and forcing everyone to gather in a circle so I could perform my favourite song or dance.
Fast forward to my first speaking engagement, and I can barely breathe backstage waiting to go out! 😰
Why is that? Because as we grow up, confidence becomes less ‘cool’. Particularly as women, we learn to be bashful.
Self deprecating. Shy and coy.
We slowly unlearn that natural ability to put ourselves out there. We weaken that confidence muscle to the point where, as adults, we look back and no longer recognise that vibrant, unapologetic little human that we once were.
If this story resonates with you, then let me share 5 ways to build self confidence in yourself, whatever stage of life you’re at! These steps have helped me tap back into that performer I always have been, deep down.
Put your ego aside
So much of our self-consciousness is tied to ego.
“What will people think?”
“They’re staring at me”
“They’re gonna think I’m stupid”.
It’s a human survival instinct to crave that acceptance, and it’s our ego’s job to keep us ‘hyper-aware’ of ourselves and our actions. But remind yourself of this fact…just as you are so wrapped up in how you are perceived, what people think of you – so is everyone else on this planet. So it simply cannot be the case that everyone is thinking of you, noticing your actions, judging you. Because they’re judging themselves in the exact same way!
I’m sure you’ve heard the advice for gym-goers to not be self-conscious. Why? Because every single other person in that gym is focused on themselves. How they look. Their performance. How much they’re sweating/lifting/panting. It’s human nature, and if you can move through your day with a constant reminder of this, you can start to give yourself a break from constant self-consciousness (or at least stop considering what other people think, even for a second!)
Whether you want to give yourself a pep talk in the moment, have a sticky note on your mirror to remind yourself in the morning or an alarm on your phone to remind you, “Nobody cares!” As harsh as that sounds, it really, really helps.
Create your reality
Ask yourself this question…
“What would the bravest version of me do, think and be?”
The answer to that question is powerful. In that answer lies a roadmap that you can choose to take to rewire your thought patterns and consciously create the life you want to live, and the person you want to be. Sound good?
Let’s do it! Answer the following prompts:
- What does that person believe to be true about themselves? Use “I am” statements – e.g. “I am more than good enough, I can achieve anything I set my mind to, I am confident and ready for any challenge”.
- How would that person act in this situation? This applies to a specific scenario you want to feel confident in – e.g. A presentation at work. “I walk in that room with my head held high, because I know I am qualified to be there and I know my stuff. I smile and make eye contact with people in the room, and speak assertively with my chin up. I take my time and breathe through any nerves.” It can really help to close your eyes and visualise that happening. Visualisation is a powerful tool to create your reality before it’s even occurred! Try it next time you have a big presentation or something else you’re nervous about.
- What action can I take today to embody that person? The answer to this could be something as simple as your favourite lipstick or walking with your shoulders back and chin up. Or, it could be a bigger action, like sending that application or complimenting a stranger on their outfit! You can also check in with this question throughout the day – “What would the bravest version of me do in this moment?” Which can really help your decision making with confidence and clarity.
See yourself how others see you
We’ve all wished this for our loved ones havent we?
“I wish they could see themselves how I see them. I wish they could see how fun, caring, kind, hilarious they really are.”
A powerful exercise to help you get there is to ask 3-5 of your closest people to write down why they admire you. Reach out to them and ask for 5-10 personality traits, quirks or other aspects of you that make them admire, respect and adore you. You will be blown away at what comes back.
This exercise can be quite confronting. You might be shocked at their answers, or you might struggle to believe what they’ve shared is true. But the fact is, that is how you are walking around on this planet being perceived. And this is a strong reminder of how much of a positive impact you have on those closest to you.
What you’ll also notice, is the same repeat traits or phrases coming back. Do you know what that is? Evidence. Backing up the truth of who you are. If you walk around every day thinking you’re a horrible person, but 5 people who know you the most in the world say you’re caring, it’s very difficult to argue against that. And that can really challenge and upheave those negative beliefs you have about yourself.
The best friend/inner child perspective
Next time you find yourself beating yourself up over something, making a negative comment about yourself or otherwise feeling really low in your self-worth and confidence, picture this.
I give you a pair of rose-tinted glasses. When you put those glasses on, you see this situation in a whole different perspective. In fact, you see this situation from the perspective of your best friend, child or a younger version of you going through it.
With that new perspective in mind, what would you say instead? How would you act instead?
Write down your response in your notes app on the go, or with pen and paper. Read it back to yourself and notice how differently you feel. Maybe it makes you emotional. Maybe it’s reassuring. Maybe it calms you down. Just noticed how ultra-critical you are of yourself, and how gentle and understanding you are of someone who deserves your deep care and attention.
Repeat this exercise on a regular basis, and you should start to see improvement in that inner critic dying down, making way for a softer, kinder approach. In the beginning, it might help to close your eyes and visualise the exact situation happening to your younger self, OR a loved one coming to you to share that situation (“Oh no you’ll never guess what just happened! I was late for this meeting and then…etc.”) before you write down your response.
Keep your promises to yourself
This is a tough love tip, but hear me out because this realisation changed my life.
People who are confident keep the promises they make to themselves.
If they say they’re gonna apply for that job, they do.
If they say they want to get fitter, they book that gym class (and turn up!)
If they say they’re going to start meditating, they follow through and stay accountable.
The hardest thing about this tip is it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to not go to the gym one day. But to your self-worth, it is a big deal! Because what you’re doing on a consistent basis (say, if you skip 10 out of your 30 workouts a month) is you’re sending a message to yourself that you’re not worthy of showing up for. What you want, doesn’t matter.
“I’ll come through for you if I feel like it on the day.”
Imagine if we had that attitude towards a date with a friend? Or a spouse? We would be kicked to the curb and blocked on Instagram, and rightly so! So why treat yourself in the same way?
If you want to cultivate self confidence, you need to start with self respect. And that begins with keeping the promises you make to yourself
Side note – this also ties in with perfectionism. Which is a whole other post topic! But if you’re a perfectionist, you’ll deliberately set the bar so high that it’s impossible for you to keep that promise to yourself. Therefore rescinding any effort on your part and guaranteeing that you’re gonna feel crap about yourself
So there we have it, 5 tips to build self confidence in your life. I hope these prompts and exercises serve you and your personal growth, and as with anything – it’s a daily practice.
Some days will be easier than others, some days you’ll feel ready to grow that confidence muscles, some days you’ll want to hide. What matters is repetition and consistency.
Keep those promises to yourself and come back to these exercises. Stick them on your fridge or set an alarm on your phone if it helps. 🙂 Good luck!
PS – Are we connected on Insta? If not, head over there and say hi! @kat_horrocks