So I’ve been really deliberating upon how to develop your sense of confidence lately. During my search, I had redefined my question into how to develop your sense of self ownership; but before I explore that, I would like to share with you how I have found to make yourself feel more confident.
Throughout your life, you will experience many, many ups and downs. You will walk with the spirits of Napoleon and Genghis riding on your shoulders, conquering everything in your way; and you will drudge along, feeling no more useful than pond scum. A vastly important thing to remember is that everyone else will have those very same ups and downs. When you go out to the mall or to work or school; many of the people you see are feeling just as down as you have been in the past. The thing is, nobody enjoys being around people who are down all of the time; and so those people at work put a mask of happiness on. The people who would have been at the mall stayed home; you just don’t see them. It is imperative that you realise that the happy 1920’s lifestyle that everybody propagates is simply a façade. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling badly every once in a while. Such is the human condition.
The most effective process I have found to increase my self-esteem is to practise proper posture. You are your body. Many people think that as humans, we are above the physical, and as a result they cut themselves off at their neck. Nonverbal communications experts say that your body will absolutely affect your mind, and vice versa. When analysing the confident times I have had in my life, I noticed that I always stood taller and broader. In a TEDtalk by Amy Cuddy I learned that by holding a power posture for only two minutes, your body will begin to produce more testosterone, which is the confidence hormone. Acquiring the habit of good posture is something that will take time, so don’t worry about how it feels uncomfortable at first, and most importantly don’t beat yourself up over forgetting to sit straight every thirty seconds. I began by just sitting up when I happened to remember. After time, you will remember more and more to the point that it feels more natural to sit up than to slouch. For other times, I have learned that confident postures have a lot to do with opening up your airway. It’s all about opening up your chest and lifting your head. When walking, I imagine that I’m wearing a cape, and I have to pull my shoulders back and down in order to let it flow in the wind behind me. A general rule to remember when practising posture, though, is simply to take up space. By positioning yourself confidently, your mind will follow.
Another important step to confidence is one that you’ve heard a million times, but it’s still just as important. Maintaining a state of physical health is imperative to living a happy life, let alone a confident one. It follows the same reasoning as the last point; your body will affect your mind. Please keep in mind that I’m not saying that you should drop everything and get to the gym, but to adopt a healthier lifestyle one small step at a time. One of the small tips I’ve picked up on my journey to fitness is to increase your water intake. Most people, if tested randomly, would be found to be dehydrated. I have found that if I just sip water throughout the day instead of drinking only when I am thirsty, it becomes very easy for me to stay hydrated. If you follow this step while simultaneously reducing your sugery drink intake, you should be feeling remarkably better within just a few weeks. Another fun piece of advice that my mentor and the primary author here at Logic Central, Christopher Gorog, gave me is to pay attention to when you get thirsty during a meal. When your mouth stops producing saliva is when your body is telling you that your stomach is full. If you stop eating when you find yourself reaching for your water and wait just a little bit, you will most often find that you are content. If not, feel free to eat a bit more, but this new mindfulness should help you find it much easier to control your portions. The last bit of that is to not worry about not finishing a meal. I know when I was little I was trained to eat every little bit of food on my plate. I wasn’t allowed to get up until I had completely finished my meal. This has become one of the most devastating habits our parents have given us to date. When you are finished with your meal, feel free to just put the remainder in a plastic container and save it for another time.
The single action that I have found to make me feel amazing every single time is to go do that which makes your heart beat a thousand miles a minute. Do that which terrifies you. Go stand up on a table in the middle of a crowd and make an impromptu speech about why Sharp Cheddar is better than Gouda cheese. Walk up to somebody that put a lot of effort into looking good that day and tell them that you see it. Tell them that you think that they look good and that you appreciate the way they matched their shoes to their shirt. Go to a big parking lot with friends, open up your car doors, turn up the radio and then jam. Have a spontaneous dance party simply because you can. Find the thing that makes you feel alive. These small things, these seemingly crazy adventures; looking back on these times are what continually give me happy feelings and the confidence to own my next adventure.
Moving away from the physical and towards the mental, I have found that going around with a mindset of apathy and curiosity has massively improved my confidence. It’s a matter of following whatever adventure your curiosity takes you on without regards towards what others might think. The best example that I can use to describe this concept is from the movie Office Space. That attitude that the main character acquires when he finally snaps and quits caring about a thing in life, and just begins to do whatever he wants.
Another thing is to place yourself into an overall pattern of growth. Few things have made me more proud of myself than to look back just a little bit and see improvement. These improvements need not be great, but consistent. Just incorporating one good habit into your life at a time will grow to become a massive confidence boost.
One of the first things I ever did to become more confident was to emulate my heroes. Way back in eighth grade, I was in one of those times in which I felt lower than pond scum. My parents had just gotten divorced the summer before, and to cope I withdrew completely into my own world in my head and in those of my books. That year, I had changed schools and I knew absolutely nobody. In order to figure out how to talk to people and make friends I just decided to do what one of the characters in the book series I was reading, Richard Rahl, would do. Every time I was talking to the new-to-me kids at school, I would just ask myself, “What would Richard say?” This worked for me as a sort of fake it ‘til you make it technique. Or as I like to say, project it until you perfect it. Following the actions of Richard gave me a sort of template to follow until I became used to speaking and acting with a bit of confidence of my own. Once I had one hero’s patterns down, I would begin adding the behaviors that I really liked of my other heroes to my repertoire. My list of heroes for every topic grew, and grew until I had a specific hero for every single characteristic that I wanted to have. It is my ultimate goal to become the sum of my heroes one day. To take all of the good parts of the best people I know, real and imaginary, and incorporate them into one super-hero…… Me.
Another chunk of golden wisdom I have collected is focused on changing that criticising voice inside your head. Too often I am the biggest detractor of my own accomplishments. That voice you hear when everyone else is telling you that you have done a good job, yet you still beat yourself up, saying you could have done better. Silence that voice. At least, mute it for a while. There is no reason not to take pride in your accomplishments. You have done something, be proud! Having the good sense to know that you have room to improve is one thing, but straight up self-judgement is completely unnecessary. Your subconscious has a sort of momentum effect in which the more you think well of yourself, the better you will think. And conversely, as I have mentioned in my last article about defeating depression, the more that you think negatively about yourself, the worse you will think. You should try to remember that your subconscious, due to the effect of priming, is very influential in the actual results of your actions. It takes on this sort of self-fulfilling prophecy effect in which what you think will happen, will absolutely happen. I am reminded of an old saying of Henry Ford’s that goes, “Whether you think you can or you can’t; you’re right.” With that, I offer that you become your own pep talker. Nobody else will always be there to pick you up when you fall down, and so be that person for yourself. For fun, I often think of the person running my thoughts, or my subconscious, as a different person than the one running my body. I’ll find my inner voice talking to me like a warm guiding coach, ultimately forgiving and kind. During a workout, I talk to myself saying, “Come on Brandon, two more reps, we can do it.” The exact same way I would to a friend that I’m coaching. Let yourself be your biggest motivator, instead of your biggest de-motivator.
The final piece of wisdom I have to share with you is that there are no hidden rules that demand you take each step along the journey of life, and there is no order to step in. My wonderful and wise friend Nipuna Herath once told me, “We are all human beings right? So if someone can do something, and you say you can’t, it’s a lie. It is better to trust in yourself than in others.” In this moment, you can choose to feel however you want. You don’t have to pay attention to how you’ve felt in the last five minutes, or how you think others would have you feel. Choose to feel good. Feel happy. Feel confident. Love yourself, because you are worth loving. In this moment, allow yourself to be confident. Most often, you are the only person holding you back. Instead of letting your mind control you, choose to control your mind.
I hope these nuggets of wisdom I have collected are able to help you as much as they have me. If any of these bits connect something in your mind and you have an ah hah moment, or if you have any wisdom of your own to share; please, comment on either this page or our facebook page and help us teach people to be better. I hope you have enjoyed this and that you look forward to an upcoming article about owning oneself.
-Live not with the focus of having fun, but making fun; and happiness will follow.