Karen Darrin

Many of my clients come to me with the desire for a new job, new leadership skills, recrafting their current job or needing to figure out how to get “unstuck” in their lives.  At the center of those tactical shifts is the prerequisite of having enough self-confidence to successfully navigate their change.

Nobody is born with limitless self-confidence. If someone seems to have incredible self-confidence, it’s because they have worked on building it for years. Self-confidence is something that you learn to build up because the challenging world of business, and life in general, can deflate it.

Here are 6 actions you can take, right now, to boost your self-confidence.

1.  Visualize yourself as you want to be

Visualization is the technique of seeing an image of yourself that you are proud of, in your own mind. When we struggle with low self-confidence, we have a poor perception of ourselves that is often inaccurate. Practice visualizing a fantastic version of yourself, achieving your goals.  Science has shown that imagining an activity stimulates the nervous system and activates many of the same neural pathways in the brain as actually experiencing the activity. Visualizing yourself overcoming a challenge can help you feel more comfortable, confident, and make the real challenge seem more familiar.

2.  Do one thing that scares you every day

The best way to overcome fear is to face it head-on. By doing something that scares you every day and gaining confidence from every experience, you will see your self-confidence soar. Listen to Jai Jiang’s TEDx talk on rejection (Jia Jiang TEDx). He sought out rejection for 100 days — from asking a stranger to borrow $100 to requesting a “burger refill” at a restaurant — Jiang desensitized himself to the pain and shame that rejection often brings and, in the process, discovered that simply asking for what you want can open up possibilities where you expect to find dead ends (Rejection Therapy).

3.  Question your inner critic

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” — Louise L. Hay

Some of the harshest comments that we get come from ourselves, via the “voice of the inner critic.” If you struggle with low self-confidence, there is a possibility that your inner critic has become overactive and inaccurate. If you think that you are a failure, ask yourself, “What evidence is there to support the thought that I am a failure?” and “What evidence is there that doesn’t support the thought that I am a failure?”

4.  Set yourself up to win

Too many people are discouraged about their abilities because they set themselves goals that are too difficult to achieve. Start by setting yourself small goals (“turtle steps”) that you can win easily.

Once you have built a stream of successes that make you feel good about yourself, you can then move on to harder goals. Make sure that you also keep a list of all your achievements, both large and small, to remind yourself of the times that you have done well. Start reflecting on your “did it” lists instead of “to do” lists.

5.  Stand tall

Amy Cuddy, a social psychology professor at Harvard Business School who has given one of the most popular TED talks ever, knows self-confidence. In her research, she’s discovered that positioning our bodies to occupy more space can elevate our testosterone levels and lower cortisol levels, a combination that raises self-confidence. Sit up straight in your chair: This alone will make you feel like you’re in command. Cuddy’s best known power pose is to stand with hands on hips, also called the Wonder Woman pose. Another power move: Sit, put your feet up on a desk or table, interlace your hands, and place them behind your head with elbows pointing out. Note: In order to get any benefit and gain more self-confidence, you must hold a pose for two minutes.

6.  Forgive yourself

Practice the Golden Rule in reverse, or, “Treat yourself the kind way you often treat others.”  Explore the work of Kristin Neff, PhD, a compassion expert. As she writes in her book Self-Compassion, “When our sense of self-worth stems from being a human being intrinsically worthy of respect—rather than being contingent on obtaining certain ideals—our sense of self-worth is much less easily shaken.”  Personally, I have eliminated the word “failure” from my vocabulary. I replace it with “feedback.”  By making this simple language change in my own self-talk, I have shifted my focus to a more positive angle about the event.  What did I learn?  What can I do differently next time?

By practicing these simple steps, you will feel a gradual surge in your confidence level. Remember how capable you are and you can figure things out. You’ve done it before and you will do it again. Don’t waste time lashing out at yourself over small slips. Learn from them. Stand tall and set yourself up for the next big win.

CALL TO ACTION:  Would you like to become more confident? Let’s brainstorm strategies together. Schedule a Free 30-min Consult or email me at karen@karendarrin.com.

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