Feeling unconfident can affect our behaviours significantly and can encourage avoidant behaviours and reduce our ability to freely enjoy our experiences.
I’m generally not an advocate of quick fixes, mind tricks and short-cuts as they can often be short lived and can ultimately leave us feeling a bit deflated. However, some can help significantly especially to help to reduce social anxiety or manage difficult and awkward situations. The root to confidence and esteem lies in self-acceptance though; accepting all that you beautifully are, warts and all but for quick boosts, these might be of use….
Focus Your Attention Elsewhere. This isn’t always easy as when we’re anxious in a social situation we become overly self-conscious. This often means we’re worried about what others think of us and fear looking stupid or not good enough in some way which then creates feelings of anxiety. When this happens, our ability to be our free flowing natural self diminishes.
To overcome this, seek to focus your attention elsewhere. For example, make it your priority to look after some else by paying attention to their needs and ensuring they’re ok. You could also focus your attention elsewhere by actively listening to others.
Use the other person’s name. This is a simple hack that creates a sense of importance and power. When we hear our name, we turn our attention towards the speaker and we often feel that we are valued by that person. By using someone’s name it creates rapport and warmth and we feel a connection rather than just being nameless strangers. As with all of these tips, this is one to experiment with. This article explains a little more – The Power of Using Someone’s Name.
Use the power of silence. We can find silence uncomfortable and so often we feel the need to fill it. If we feel nervous, we often fill it with mindless humour or even worse, something stupid which in turn makes us feel even more anxious. In conversation, if we purposely choose to pause a little or choose not to fill the silence, you’re likely to find that the other person will. This helps us by reducing the need to fill the gap and the associated anxiety to fill it. This takes some pressure off us and increases confidence. It’s one to experiment with and it takes a bit of courage to do it for the first time.
Use your body. By creating a strong and firm posture, our mind then follows feeling the same sense of strength and resilience. Standing tall, moving your shoulders back and taking a deep breath alters how we feel. Try this right now and note to yourself how this feels.
Stand your ground. We often mistake defending ourselves as being aggressive or even attacking, whether verbally or physically. Standing our ground means that we uphold our rights and our opinions at times where others may be disagreeing with us. Accepting we can have our own thoughts and opinions and others have theirs is central to standing your ground. If we give in to others demands or let ourselves be walked over, we broadcast to the world that we can be mistreated and unfortunately, there’s a lot of people that will choose to take power from us. The opposite is also true, as we treat ourselves with love and respect, we show others that we feel we’re worth treating with love and respect and they act accordingly. In standing our ground, we can follow these steps –
Stay true to your values.
Speak in a calm and stern manner
Be aware of your body language – stand tall
Know you have the same right as others to be your own person.
Refuse to be a doormat or live as a victim.
Stand your ground even if it is met with disapproval.
Face your fears and step out of your comfort zone.
Adopt healthy boundaries. This is where you communicate what you will and won’t accept from others. This does cross over with ‘Standing Your Ground’ but includes additional actions such as choosing to not be in a situation or around certain people, especially when there’s an abuse of power. Valuing who you are and having compassion for yourself which means you put healthy boundaries in place and you hold them. This may mean that you address a fear of being disapproved of or rejected, however, if someone is going to mistreat you, do you really want them anywhere near you? When you put boundaries in place, most people will respect them. Those that don’t may be inconsiderate, abusive or narcissistic. This article – How to Set Healthy Boundaries may help.
Appear confident. It sounds soooo simple but it’s effective. Making use of your body language (see above) and slowing and directing your speech creates an appearance of confidence. We then begin to feel more confident as we feel in greater control. People react to people so appearing unconfident may mean others will be dismissive, interrupt us or not give us the respect we deserve.
Validate others. As humans we like and need validation from others. This is not just about mindlessly agreeing with someone. It’s about listening to others and accepting them as they are. We may disagree with their viewpoint but accepting others also helps us accept ourselves; to accept that we’re ok being ourselves as is everyone else. When we seek to validate others, we step out of our need for approval and our attention is focused on the other. This can help significantly if we’re feeling socially over-conscious in a situation.
I would invite you to experiment with one or 2 of these. When we experiment, it’s really helpful to reflect afterwards how we found it, how we felt about it and what we may do differently next time. Writing this, especially for those who keep a journal, can really help with this process. As always, comments and questions are invited and I hope your day treats You well.