We operate in a competitive world and it’s important to be able to step out of bed each morning feeling good about ourselves. Here are a few tips on how to tap into your confidence reserves.
Self confidence is a sense of believing in oneself. The American Psychological Association defines it as “trust in one’s abilities, capacities, and judgment”. My personal experience of confidence is that it fluctuates so that similar situations can affect me in very different ways. It's definitely contextual - certain people or situations can cause me to fiercely doubt myself whereas other circumstances make me feel superhuman.
Being less confident (as opposed to being less able!) impacts on the jobs we get, the salaries we are paid and, ultimately, the life we have. No order there is a strong link between low self esteem and mental health. It seems that 50% of our confidence is hard wired. In studies with baby monkeys, infants without the confidence gene that were raised by unsupportive mothers were less confident when they reached adulthood. Conversely, the infants with the confidence gene, faired well irrespective of the parenting experience they had. Interesting, but that only accounts for 50%.
For the remaining 50%, we can work on rewiring our brains so that we dial down the doubt, the negative self talk and let the world see our best, most radiant side. Here are a couple of things you can do to feel more confident.
Activity 1 - Three Good Things
A key to confidence is feeling good about ourselves. We need to see ourselves in a good light in order to project that positivity elsewhere. Barbara Fredrickson, psychology professor at the University of N. Carolina and author of Positivity, “positivity doesn't just change the contents of your mind...It widens the span of possibilities that you see.”
Over the course of a week, make a note each day of 3 things that you influenced to have positive outcome, like supporting a colleague when they asked for your help or donating money to charity. At the end of the week, look back over your notes and see how you feel. Repeat as necessary.
Activity 2 - Power posing
For a quick confidence boost, use Amy Cuddy’s power posing method which allows physical posturing to influence self perception. Essentially, if you can spend 2 minutes (this can be done in a bathroom cubicle, if necessary) standing in a “high-power” position (arms high and wide, legs wide, like a super-hero) for at least 2 minutes, you can temporarily change your body chemistry and actually feel more confident.
In another study, she identified the qualities that were most likely to lead to success in the Dragons Den as being “confidence, comfort level, and passionate enthusiasm”. In addition, she discovered that positive posturing (such as standing confidently) can impact on our memories about ourselves, which influences the way we see ourselves.
So time to remember how great you really are and all the good you bring to the world, stand tall and - when you need an extra boost - channel your super hero and get your confidence power!