“Just be confident, and you will make your mark.” Growing up as an under-confident kid, this is what my teachers, family, and friends always told me. I remember wishing all my life to find that magic pill to make me confident enough to speak up in a classroom or stand on stage with thousands of eyes on me without feeling sick or stammering.
Society offers several superficial tips to become more confident through magazines, blogs, or even everyday conversation. Dress to impress. Just be yourself. Fake it till you make it. Or use it or lose it.
But the truth is confidence starts from within. There is no magic pill for it.
What Is Confidence?
Confidence can mean different things to different people, according to well-known social psychologist Albert Bandura. Broadly, it is the belief in oneself, one’s ability, skills, experience, and one’s influence on events in life.
Confidence is not a static measure. You could feel confident about performing some tasks and not others. But just like other skills, it’s a skill you can develop and hone with practice. It is about really knowing yourself, accepting who you are, and then working hard to improve yourself. It’s also about creating your presence and being comfortable in your skin.
Confidence is an integral part of emotional intelligence, which is the ability to recognize and regulate your emotions. People who are high on self-confidence are more self-assured and able to step out of their comfort zones and embrace new challenges.
The journey to building confidence is never straight; you will face many hurdles. Your confidence will wax and wane. But it’s important to carry on.
Why Should You Build Your Confidence?
Firstly, building confidence motivates you to act on a task. When you are confident in your ability to successfully do something, you are more likely to see it through. Confidence is critical for success at work.
Secondly, confidence helps overcome self-doubt and stress. Believing in yourself and your abilities boosts your self-esteem and makes you confident in achieving your goals.
Thirdly, when you have confidence in your abilities, other people trust you and follow you.
How Do You Build Confidence?
Social psychologist Albert Bandura believes confidence is a product of four main ingredients: past performance accomplishments, verbal persuasion, vicarious experience/modeling, and physical/emotional states.
Here are some tips to build your confidence:
Confidence is built on accomplishment
It’s on you to take action and get things done. Whether you're trying to get promoted at work, make a successful pitch, get a better job, get accepted to your dream college, eat healthier, or lose 5 kgs, the only way to know if you're making progress is to monitor it.
As you see real-time progress, you become motivated and confident about achieving your goals. Any milestones or successes help you feel more confident in yourself. They don’t have to be major events. Something simple like being praised for doing a good job boosts confidence. Recalling such memories can help you feel more confident and serve as a reminder of your abilities.
Counter your negative inner voice through verbal persuasion
Your performance or your ability to complete tasks using your knowledge, skills, and abilities is sometimes affected by Internal Interferences such as fears and self-doubt. Your inner voice then tells you, “I am a failure” or “I will never succeed”. You can overcome this critical inner voice through verbal persuasion to boost your confidence. Here’s how you can do it.
Counter judgment with compassion: Be kind to yourself and use positive statements and positive thoughts whenever negative feelings creep in. For example, “It’s okay I failed; I can get support from my professor and do better next time” or “I am proud of my first attempt, I tried something new and did my best.” Encourage yourself to improve your confidence.
Reframe setbacks as learning opportunities: Don’t be afraid to fail or be wrong. Reframe failures to serve as opportunities for learning and development.
Channel your heroes
Like any other ability, you can learn confidence by observing others. Watching others with confident character traits such as a captivating voice or positive body language can inspire you and give you confidence. So, think of someone you admire who radiates a quiet sense of confidence, and think about what they would do or say in a given situation. Channel their confidence and emulate their character traits.
Tackle your emotions
Tackling emotions is never easy. When you are faced with setbacks and challenges, look within and gather the courage to keep going. Confidence does not come without taking risks. Be fearless. Do not fear failing.
Stand up for yourself and don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want. Even when it feels like the odds are against you, don’t give in to the temptation of giving up. Keep going, and tell yourself as well as others that they are wrong.
The CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live, Tony Schwartz, says the best way to improve in something is to invest energy in it and practice. If you are unsure about your ability—for example, in speaking in front of a large audience— start by trying out the skills in a safe setting.
So go ahead, take a leap in your journey to develop confidence. As author Daniel Maher says, with time, experience, and practice, “confidence is courage at ease”.
Explore blogs in our Harappa Diaries section to learn about emotional intelligence, examples of emotional intelligence, and emotional intelligence skills in our Harappa Diaries section and take charge of your growth.
Nainika Seth is an Associate with the Learning Impact Team at Harappa Education. She is a postgraduate in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Loughborough University, United Kingdom. She enjoys baking and photography.
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