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How to Gain Confidence: 5 Strategies That Actually Work

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how to gain confidence

I recently attended a senior executive meeting for an important budget discussion. I know, it doesn’t sound too exciting. But as I sat there with the brightest at my company, it got me thinking. How are these people different from the rest of us? That is, what’s the recipe that makes someone a CEO, while another remains a mid-level employee all their lives?

Naturally, all the people in the room were well-dressed, well-spoken, and well-educated in their respective fields. However, what truly made them stand out was their confidence. That inner feeling that they were exactly where they deserved to be in life, and that they had something of value to leave to the world.

So, what can we do to get on the other side where the grass is greener and the sun is warmer? The first thing to understand is that building confidence is a process, not a point in time. It’s an evolution. Or, even a better way to put it—it’s like going to the gym. If you want lasting results, you must sweat regularly. No one else can do the job for you.

Here are 5 confidence boosters that I’ve found to work—supported by research and tested by me in real life:

1. Mind Your Body

This one is largely intuitive. It’s hardly a great secret that “spreading large,” a firm handshake, or a stable eye contact are traits of an affirmative leader, and that sitting up straight and holding our head high can be instant confidence-boosters.

Body language matters. Psychologists place its importance between 70% and 90% of all our communication with the world. What’s more, people “thin-slice” us and can draw some pretty accurate conclusions about our personalities just by looking at us for a few seconds.

Given the lasting print of first impressions, we better make sure that we present a memorable image to the world. It’s within our power, so carry yourself with dignity. Choose every detail wisely.

“Deafness has left me acutely aware of both the duplicity that language is capable of and the many expressions the body cannot hide.” – Terry Galloway

2. The Hollywood Effect

If there is anything that Hollywood can teach us about confidence, it is  the art of “showing off.” That is, emphasize your strengths and talents whenever and wherever possible. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to have certain skills or mojos to start with, that will make you stand out in the first place. Clever branding and marketing can magnify these.

People who lack confidence usually have one thing in common — they try to avoid attracting attention to themselves. A bit of “bragging” will help position our personal brand in others’ orbits with positive and lasting effects.

Success is about two things — knowing your worth, but also helping the world discover how unique you are. No matter how many special talents we may possess, if no one knows about them, what good does it do? Mention your skills often. Be proud of them. Let them shine. However, don’t overdo it. Narcissists and extreme show-offs are not anyone’s favorite folks. So, shine bright, and let the world find you by following your light.

3. Survival of the Fittest

Darwin taught us many years ago that it’s not the strongest of the species that survive but the ones that can best adapt to their environments. It’s a desirable trait to nurture, especially in terms of self-esteem.

A large part of having healthy confidence lies in meeting our human need to belong, to connect with others, to fit in—be it in a group, on the sports team, or the work outing.

Becoming more likeable is often as simple as listening to people, taking interest in their stories and having a desire to help. And no, it’s not about acting fake. It simply means developing a better understanding of others, and trying to walk in their shoes. Small gestures result in great benefits, so learn to look at the world from different angles.

4. The Zen Factor

Meditation is quite important not only for our sanity but for our self-esteem too. Science tells us that there we receive approximately one billion stimuli in our brains every second. We filter out most but there are still around 100 sensations we keep for processing.

Naturally, with such an overflow of information, it’s no wonder we let self-doubts, indecisiveness and negative thinking sneak in. This is when we can resort to the Zen masters’ wisdom—that by learning to empty our cups of all anxiety and noise, we can see the world differently from the position of strength, heightened attentiveness, and a focus on living “in the now.”

Meditation also taps into the idea of self-reflection, of taking stock of what we did well and what we can do better next time around. 10 minutes a day is all the time we need to rewire our brain so that we can become the more positive, confident and relaxed version of ourselves. In the end, breathe in calmness, and breathe out worry.

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” – Mark Black

5. Expertise and Authority

The most natural way to emit confidence is when it’s done from the position of authority or as an expert. We all tend to pay close attention to such individuals and believe pretty much everything they say because they “know their stuff.”

Building in-depth knowledge will certainly gain us lots of brownie points with others; mainly, in the form of respect and appreciation. “Knowing our stuff” will also breed confidence as it makes us better prepared to face the world, to weather adversities, and to combat self-doubt. It is up to you to find your strengths and passions in order to become the best you can at what you do.

Going back to my executive meeting. Is it possible, I asked myself, for anyone really to become the next CEO of their company, or a famous writer, or even an astronaut, if that’s what they want in life?

Absolutely. Of course, you will probably need to build the knowledge and experience first. But above all,  you need to start believing in yourself, in your stars, and in your strengths.

When you lack confidence in yourself, what do you do to boost that missing confidence? Let us know in the comments below!

Evelyn Marinoff is a writer and an aspiring author. She holds a degree in Finance and Marketing,  works in client consulting, and spends her free time reading, writing and researching ideas in psychology, leadership, well-being and self-improvement. On her website evelynmarinoff.com, she writes tips and pieces on self-enhancement and confidence. You can also find her on Twitter at @Evelyn_Marinoff.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Vicki Noels-Cornish

    Jan 9, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    I make eye contact and sit up tall. I think posture says a lot so sitting up and looking people in the eye shows you are present and won’t be underestimated.

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Life

3 Simple Tips to Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence for Better Relationships

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Relationships are challenging. They make you examine yourself from all angles, and that can be triggering. For example, have you ever had a friend or significant other say something that sparked an argument instantly—only to find out you misheard what they said in the first place? (more…)

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If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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3 Inspiring Lessons We Can Learn From Jim Carrey About the Law of Attraction

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You’ve more than likely heard of Jim Carrey before. Over the years, he has starred in many popular films including The Truman Show, The Mask, and Bruce Almighty (just to name a few.)

But his personality goes a lot deeper than just his comedic persona and movie star charisma. In fact, Jim Carrey is probably one of the most philosophical individuals on the planet

Although he isn’t in the spotlight as much anymore, throughout the years, he has credited his success and fortunes by applying the Law of attraction into his life. What’s even more inspiring is that Jim Carrey, like you and I, came from humble beginnings. No silver spoon or easy ticket. In fact, his family was very poor throughout his childhood. So what made him so successful in attracting such an extravagant and self-fulfilling life?

Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Jim Carrey when it comes to manifesting your dreams into a reality:

1. You Have To Take Action

You can’t just visualize then go eat a sandwich”, Jim Carrey says. It goes without saying that the law of attraction does require action. You cannot simply rely on visualizing and expect to see results, especially when it comes to manifesting desires that other people would like to achieve also. E.g. Careers, scholarships, competitions, anything that involves another individual.

Visualization and positive thinking are crucial when it comes to using the law of attraction, but you have to meet the universe halfway with the steps you take as well. We are physical beings that require physical steps to get physical results. The real key is to make daily plans/goals in order to get you closer towards achieving your desires. So after that sandwich, make sure start taking action toward your dreams!

This could be working on your hobbies or passion, applying for that dream job or studying to get better grades. As long as you are moving toward your goals then there’s no reason why it can’t happen. So get out there and kick some butt.

2. Double Down On What You Love

My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

If this story of Jim Carrey’s father doesn’t pull on your heartstrings and inspire you at the same time, nothing else will! This is such an undeniable life lesson that everyone needs to learn. A lesson to take risks, push comfort zones and go all-in on what you love doing. So if your dreams, hobbies or goals seem far fetched to the majority, then you are already beating the other 99%.

Be that 1% that’s willing to dream big and rise above the norm. Unfortunately, in today’s society, our ancestral instincts still rule our everyday life. Fear is one of them and controls the majority of our population. It’s scary to push comfort zones and try something new, the thought of failure is often paralyzing to many. But my question to you is, will you look back one day and regret the chances you didn’t take?

3. Keep Your Eye On The Prize

As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass.” Holding onto every little detail when it comes to manifesting, can conjure up more harm than good. The reason is that the universe will deliver in ways you might not expect.

If you are too busy wondering when your desires will manifest, comparing yourself to others, or ignoring every sign that doesn’t look like your detailed plan you’ve written down, then you may be missing out on opportunities that are right in front of you! Your visualizations don’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s better to just let go altogether and focus on the result itself rather than dwelling on every little detail. This doesn’t mean to simply forget about what you want but instead having the confidence it will happen in time. 

An example of this is when Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for 30 million dollars. The only detail he knew was that he would earn it through his acting career, and he did indeed achieve this goal! So make sure to tell the universe what you want, but try not to hold onto every little detail!

Jim Carrey is just another person like you and me, with his own personal ups and downs in his road to success. He is someone to look up to when applying the law of attraction in your life too. It doesn’t matter if your goals or desires are different because the core foundation will always stay the same. You can and will do this if you think, feel and act as if it will happen!

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