�Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.�
Sometimes a lack of self-confidence stems merely from a lack of experience. You may not feel so confident about taking the SAT test or acting in a stage play if you've never done it before. These feelings will change as you grow and experience more things in your life.
Sometimes, however, a lack of self-confidence can stem from feelings of insecurity. Sometimes we have bad feelings about ourselves and we bury them deep inside. When we do this, we tend not to assert ourselves and take chances because we fear our "secrets" will be revealed.
If your lack of self-confidence stems from bad feelings you harbor about yourself, you are also experiencing something perfectly normal and common. But it's a normal feeling that you can and should change!
Identify the Cause for Your Lack of Self-Confidence
If you have a fear that people will see your perceived shortcoming, you will find it difficult to assert yourself. Your shortcoming or vulnerability may have to do with your looks, your size, your perceived intelligence, your past, or your family experience.
In building self-confidence, your first goal is to develop a realistic understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. You�ll have to take a difficult first step and look inside yourself to discover where and why you feel vulnerable.
Face Your Fear Head-On
To get started on your self-exploration, go to a quiet and comfortable place and think about the things that make you feel bad about yourself. These things could stem from your complexion, weight, a bad habit, a family secret, abusive behavior in your family, or a feeling of guilt over something you�ve done. It can be painful to think about the root of your bad feelings, but it is healthy to root out something that is hidden deep inside and to work through it.
Once you have identified the things you feel bad or secretive about, you�ll need to determine what you can do to change them. Should you change your eating habits? Exercise? Read a self-help book? Any action you take�even the act of thinking about your problem�is a step toward getting it out in the open and eventually healing.
Once you have a full understanding of your problem, your fear decreases. When the fear goes away, the hesitation goes away and you can and will start asserting yourself more.
Celebrate Your Strengths
It's not enough to identify your weaknesses or your problem areas. You also have great aspects about yourself that you need to explore! You can start doing this by making a big list of things you have accomplished and the things you do well. Have you ever taken the time to explore your strengths?
You were born with some natural talent, whether you have discovered it or not. Do you always make people laugh? Are you artistic? Can you organize things? Do you navigate well? Do you remember names?
All of these traits are things that can become very valuable as you get older. They are skills that are absolutely essential in community organizations, in church, in college, and on the job. If you can do any of them well, you have traits to cherish!
Once you have taken the two steps above, identifying your vulnerability and identifying your greatness, you will start feeling an increase in your confidence. You decrease your anxiety by facing your fears, and you start liking yourself better by celebrating your natural strengths.
Change Your Behavior
Behavioral psychologists say that we can change our feelings by changing our behavior. For instance, some studies have shown that we become happier if we walk around with a smile on our faces.
You can speed up your path to increased self-confidence by changing your behavior.
� Try smiling more. This will help you fight off feelings of negativity.
� Compliment others on their strengths. You�ll find that other people will return the favor and compliment you back.
We all like to hear good things about ourselves!
� Exercise and get enough sleep. Both of these behavioral traits improve our moods. You�ll feel better inside and outside and look better
� Take time every night to plan for the next day. By planning ahead we avoid mistakes that make us feel bad about ourselves.
Think through the next day to avoid minor malfunctions that could embarrass you.
Use a Third Person Approach
There is an interesting study that shows that there may be a trick to meeting our behavioral goals more quickly. The trick? Think about yourself in the third person as you evaluate your progress.
The study measured the progress in two groups of people who were attempting to make a positive change in their lives. The people who participated in this study were divided into two groups. One group was encouraged to think in the first person. The second group was encouraged to think of their progress from an outsider�s point of view.
Interestingly, the participants who thought about themselves from an outsider�s perspective enjoyed a faster path to improvement.
As you go through the process of improving your self-image and increasing your self-confidence, try to think of yourself as a separate person. Picture yourself as a stranger who is on a path toward positive change. Be sure to celebrate this person�s accomplishments!
10 Secrets for Instant Self-Confidence
The one-second tip for when you�re feeling nervous and unconfident is simply to smile! You don�t just smile because you are happy and confident � you can smile to make yourself feel better. The act of smiling is so strongly associated with positive feelings that it�s almost impossible to feel bad while smiling.
Smiling is much more then just a facial expression. The simple act of smiling releases feel-good endorphins, improves circulation to the face, makes you feel good about yourself in general and can definitely increase your self confidence. � you will also appear more confident to others while you�re smiling.
2. Make eye contact
As well as smiling, meet the eyes of other people in the room. Give them your smile; you�ll almost certainly get one back, and being smiled at is a great self-confidence boost. Like smiling, eye contact shows people that you�re confident. Staring at your shoes or at the table reinforces your feelings of self-doubt and shyness.
This tip is particularly useful for work-related situations � make eye contact with interviewers, or with the audience for your presentation:
Eye contact helps take the fear away from the speaker by getting the audience closer to him. Stress is mainly a result of being with the unknown and uncontrollable. Eye contact gives the speaker a picture of the reality that is the audience. It also helps in getting the attention of the audience.
3. Change your inner voice
Most of us have a critical inner voice that tells us we�re stupid, not good enough, that we�re too fat, thin, loud, quiet� Being able to change that inner voice is key to feeling self-confident on the inside, which will help you project your confidence to the world. Make your inner voice a supportive friend who knows you fully but also recognizes your talents and gifts, and wants you to make the best of yourself.
You still want to be able to hear the message, so don�t make it so chilled and laid back that you never take any notice of it. You can even choose 2, 3 or as many voices as you want for different occasions. Your voice should always support you, always be helpful, never aggressive and it never puts you down.
4. Forget other people�s standards
Whatever the situation that�s causing you a crisis of self-confidence, you can help yourself immeasurably by holding yourself to your own standards alone. Other people have different values from you, and however hard you try, you�ll never please everyone all of the time. Don�t worry that people will think you�re too overweight, underweight, too feckless, too boring, too frugal, too frivolous � hold yourself to your standards, not some imagined standards belonging to others. And remember that commonly-held values and standards vary from society to society: you don�t have to accept them just because the people around you do.
People�s values define what they want personally, but morals define what the society around those people want for them. Certain behaviors are considered to be desirable by a given society, while others are considered to be undesirable. For the most part, however, morals are not written in stone, or proclaimed by God above, but instead reflect local sensibilities. Different societies have different ideas about what is acceptable and not acceptable.
5. Make the most of your appearance
Even if you�ve only got a minute or two, duck into the bathroom to make sure you�re looking your best. Brushing your hair, giving your face a good wash, retouching your makeup, straightening your collar, checking you�ve not got a bit of parsley stuck between your teeth � all of these can make the difference between feeling confident in your physical appearance and feeling anxious about an imagined flaw.
Perfect your physical appearance: There�s no denying that one�s grooming plays a crucial role in building confidence. Although we know what�s on the inside is what truly counts, your physical appearance will be the first to create an impression.
6. Pray or meditate briefly
If you believe in a higher power, whether God, or another spiritual force, it can be a real boost to self-confidence to say a silent prayer. (You could also meditate instead of praying.) This helps you to take a step back from your immediate situation, to see the wider picture and to seek help from something or someone greater than yourself. This is a Christian prayer, but you could write something similar that fits your own religious beliefs or spiritual tradition:
Dear God, thank you that you love and accept me as I am � please help me to do the same � and help me to grow to become the person you want me to be so that my God-confidence and self-confidence will increase greatly�all for the glory of your name and not mine. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Amen.
If something unexpected happens, it�s easy to let it knock your fledgling self-confidence. Perhaps you spill your drink on someone, you arrive late for the big meeting because of traffic problems, or someone who you wanted to speak to gives you a cold brush-off. Try to �reframe� the situation; put it in the best possible light: often, events are only negative because of the meaning we attach to them.
8. Find the next step
Keep your self-confidence up by taking gradual steps forwards, rather than freezing when faced with what seems like a giant leap. If you�re not sure what to do, look for one simple step that you can take to make progress. That might mean making eye contact at a party, introducing yourself to a stranger, breaking the ice in a meeting, or asking a question of your interviewers that shows your knowledge of their industry and company.
Start taking action even if you don�t have a clear idea of what needs to be done. Start moving towards your goal. Make corrections later.
9. Speak slowly
An easy tip for both seeming and being more self-confidence is to speak slowly. If you gabble, you�ll end up feeling worse as you know you�re being unclear to your audience or to the person you�re in a conversation with. Speaking slowly gives you the chance to think about what you�re going to say next. If you�re giving a talk or presentation, pause at the end of phrases and sentences to help your audience take in what you�ve said.
A person in authority, with authority, speaks slowly. It shows confidence. A person who feels that he isn�t worth listening to will speak quickly, because he doesn�t want to keep others waiting on something not worthy of listening to.
10. Contribute something
Have you ever sat through an entire class at college or meeting at work without saying a word? Have you had an evening out where friends chatted happily while you sat and stared silently at your drink? Chances are, you weren�t feeling very self-confident at the time � and you probably felt even worse afterwards. Whatever the situation you�re in, make an effort to contribute. Even if you don�t think you have much to say, your thoughts and perspective are valuable to those around you.
By making an effort to speak up at least once in every group discussion, you�ll become a better public speaker, more confident in your own thoughts, and recognized as a leader by your peers.