Wondering how to improve your self-confidence? Feel like you can’t ever “measure up”? We all have those days when we just can’t seem to do anything right. The little voice in our head keeps running through the list of all the things we “can’t” do, and our successes seem very far away (if we can even come up with any!) Everywhere you look you see people who have it “all together” – the house, the car, the looks, the job, the relationship – and you just don’t see it happening for you.
You find yourself thinking “If I could only... (feel better about myself; take a risk; make a change, etc.) then I would be able to… (get the job; get the guy/girl; be happy)”. You CAN. And the best news is, it’s not that hard. Although it’s a complex concept, with lots of moving parts, self-confidence is within your reach.
Here are the 6 vital action steps for you to take:
- Value your strengths.
A lack of self-confidence starts with the idea that you somehow “aren’t good enough”. You believe you don’t have the options, or the opportunities, that other’s do, and you’ve convinced yourself you won’t succeed. STOP. You are a fabulous person, and you have a unique combination of strengths. Yes, you do have them – honest! Not sure what they are? Try this free resource– the Values in Action (VIA) character strengths inventory https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register or this low cost choice - the Reflected Best Self Exercise http://positiveorgs.bus.umich.edu/cpo-tools/reflected-best-self-exercise-2nd-edition as a way to identify your personal cornucopia of strengths.
- Act on your strengths.
Of course, you have to identify them first. Did you check out the resources above? Make sure you do. Now that you have an idea of your areas of strength, find ways to do more of them. Maybe humor is one of yours. How can you bring more laughter, playfulness and humor into your life? Try noticing when you really feel your sense of humor is engaged, and then brainstorm new opportunities or venues to use humor. Perhaps one of your strengths is persistence. Make a list of all the times you have shown persistence, and then develop a plan to address those areas you haven’t tackled yet. You are now demonstrating that you value those strengths.
- Practice gratitude.
This is extremely important to improved self-confidence. When you recognize all of the things that are positive and that you appreciate, your sense of the world begins to shift. More importantly, your perspective on yourself begins to change. Gratitude is a really powerful tool. Research in positive psychology has demonstrated the enormous impact gratitude has on improving happiness. And more happiness leads to greater self-confidence (makes sense, right?)
- Be of service to others.
Service to others – no matter how you do it – results in us feeling better. When we are able to assist or support someone else, regardless of whether it’s a monetary donation or physical action, we feel better. Feeling better about ourselves leads to…yup, increased self-confidence. You know those times when a friend really needed your help and you were there? Or something awful happened in the world and you just had to get involved? Those are the activities that make a difference in how we feel and how we see the world. So amp it up. Find a charity, a cause, a friend, and be of service. That lasagna you have in the freezer and shared with your neighbor who just lost a job is helping you while it’s helping them!
- Utilize self-compassion.
Remember the first thing we talked about? The endless re-runs inside your head of all the ways you don’t feel good about yourself? Self-compassion is the key to addressing this issue. We are good at having compassion for others, but we often struggle with giving ourselves the same consideration. You deserve self-compassion as much as everyone else does. Dr. Kristin Neff has studied self-compassion and she breaks it down to three variables: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. Wondering about your level of self-compassion? Test it here on Dr. Neff’s website - http://self-compassion.org/test-how-self-compassionate-you-are/
- Embrace your passions.
By now, this should be evident, but just in case… Do what you love! Whatever it is that sparks your passion – do MORE. By engaging in the things that we love and feel strongly about, we are improving our self-confidence automatically (as well as having a great time!) Baseball? Go see a game, or volunteer to umpire (that’s probably hitting service to others, as well). Reading? Make a standing date with yourself to go to Barnes & Noble or the local library and enjoy.
If you follow these 6 steps, you will absolutely increase your self-confidence – and feel like the truly awesome person you are!!