Cultivating confidence in the face of a challenge is one of the most important things we can do to create a fit mind and body. Having confidence is like having a silent superpower that plays a key role in success. In fact, legendary psychologist Albert Bandura found that a person's view of their ability profoundly influenced their success and higher levels of self confidence are associated with superior performance.
So, if confidence critical to success, why don't we all have it in spades? Enter pesky culprits like perfectionism, fear, self-doubt, guilt, shame, and liming beliefs. These feelings are like kryptonite to confidence, they can hold us back and limit our thought patterns. However, research on brain plasticity shows that our brain physically changes in response to new experiences, thought patterns, and behaviours - which means that we can actually re-wire our brains to think differently and cultivate confidence.
Building confidence may sound easier said than done, and feeling confident might seem like a daunting task at times; however, the good news is that just like you can hit the gym to build strength, confidence is like a muscle - you can use it over and over again, and it will grow stronger and stronger. There are many proven ways to boost confidence:
Applaud your flaws: Confidence comes from loving yourself for who you are - and for who you are not. When you applaud your fears, quirks, and neuroses they suddenly become your assets. By celebrating your strengths and acknowledging and applauding your imperfections you can find ways to capitalize on what you are good at and delegate or get help in the areas where your weaknesses lie.
Own your feelings: No matter what the circumstance, it is important to not play hide and seek with your emotions. By taking ownership of how you feel (whether bad or good) you can take responsibility for your feelings and take action to move forward creating more of the emotions that boost your confidence and less of the ones that don't.
Learn to say "no" and "I don't know": Honesty is the best policy, and when it comes to confidence, it's important to be honest with yourself and know when to say "no" and "I don't know". It's important to acknowledge that we can't do and know everything, and having the courage to ask for help, admit when you don't know something, or seek answers from others can facilitate your learning. Confidence grows as you gain more knowledge and continue to learn.
Build a positive support network: Social persuasion is a powerful tool for combating self-doubt. It is important to remember that who you surround yourself with will either lift you up or drag you down - confidence comes from soaring with the eagles, not drudging in the weeds. Especially when your insecurities are much louder than your confidence, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you will encourage you to build your skills and abilities. When people you trust encourage you it helps affirm that you have what it takes to succeed. And, by that same token, you can lift yourself up by lifting others up. Helping others doesn't impede on your own accomplishments, rather it highlights them because when you help others succeed, it makes you feel good and confident in your abilities.
Practice makes permanent: Research has shown that successfully mastering a task strengthens your belief that you can achieve the same success in the future. This means that when you succeed at something once, you will feel more confident that you can do it again. As you move forward, choose to not let challenges along the way (they are normal) get you down for long, always keep your eye on the prize. Giving up on your goal because of a setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.
Mirror, mirror on the wall: In psychology, Mirror Theory describes how the qualities you see in others are reflecting back parts of you. Witnessing others succeed increases your belief that you too have the ability to succeed in a similar way.
Self care = self love = self confidence: Good self care is absolutely essential to displaying confidence. When you take time to care for and show your body love, you show yourself (and others) that your body deserves love. You set the precedent for how you expect your body to be treated.
Stand tall: Your posture follows you like a shadow. And if your shadow stands tall and strong, it brings with it an automatic feeling of confidence. When you shrink, draw your shoulders in, or slouch your body sends the message that you may be timid, shy, or self-doubting.
Face your fears: Fear is something we all experience and every situation in which you feel fear brings you a choice - and the difference between being a confident superhero and playing the victim is how you respond to that choice. The way you think and act teaches your body what to do with fear. In every experience in which you choose to stop, look fear in the face, and confront it head on you grow you confidence muscle.
Go your own way: Confident people don't wear, listen to, speak, or become anything they don't believe in. They are authentic and don't compare themselves to what others have said or done. They have the confidence to find what makes them happy because they are brave enough to look within. It is a short trip to feeling unhappy and inadequate if you compare yourself to others, and so to find your inner confidence it is important to focus on what is right for you and take pride in who you are.
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