Wouldn’t it be great if there were some magic pill you could take that would instantly boost your self-confidence? You could just pop it in your mouth right before an interview, a big date, an important meeting, a critical test, an athletic event, or any other time when you really wish you were more confident.
Well, there may not be a magic pill that can increase your confidence, but there is something you can do that works just as well: Replace the habit of negative thinking with more positive, productive thinking.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” In other words, if you tell yourself you can’t do something because you’re not smart enough, or talented enough, or athletic enough, or attractive enough, or experienced enough, or whatever other negative things you tell yourself, you will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. You will have failed because you’d already concluded you would fail before you even started.
If you don’t feel very confident, spend a day or two paying attention to your thoughts. What is it you tell yourself all day long? When you are around other people, what is going through your mind? Are your thoughts positive or fear-based? Do you find you are critiquing yourself during conversations with thoughts like, “Why did I say that?” “Why is he looking at me like that?” Or “Why do I keep repeating myself?” If that sounds like the nature of your thoughts, you may have fallen into the habit of criticizing yourself, which makes you feel self-conscious and insecure. If those are the kind of thoughts running through your head all day; it’s no wonder you lack self-confidence!
Also pay attention to your thoughts when you’re alone. Are your thoughts more positive, less positive, or about the same as when you’re around others? If your thoughts are more positive, you may be more confident than you think and may just put too much emphasis on what others think. If that’s the case, even something as simple as practicing visualization, where you see yourself being as relaxed and confident around others as you are while you’re by yourself, could be all you need to do.
On the other hand, if your thoughts when you’re alone are just as negative, or even more negative, than when you’re around other people, you may need to work a little harder on the underlying beliefs that are leading to your lack of self-confidence and negative thoughts about yourself, other people, and your life.
Here are some tips to help you decrease your negative thoughts and increase your confidence:
1. Focus more on other people. When you lack confidence, you tend to obsess with thoughts about yourself. That can turn people off leading to their rejection of you, which further erodes your level of confidence. Instead, think about the other person or people you’re around. If you’re thinking positively about them, you’ll feel less self-conscious and will be able to interact more positively with them – which is a win-win situation all around.
2. Think in terms of gratitude. When you think about what you have to be grateful for, it puts you in a more positive frame of mind. Focusing on your past successes, your loved ones, your talents and strengths, and all the other good things in your life, raises your energy level and leads to much greater confidence than when you dwell on the negative.
3. Volunteer. Whenever you volunteer to help someone in need, whether it’s someone you know who’s going through a tough time or a complete stranger, it makes you feel better about yourself. When you know you’re doing something to contribute to the wellbeing of others, your confidence is given a boost. You feel good about yourself; and well you should!
4. Give yourself a break. Most people are much happier and certainly more confident when they lighten up on themselves. Really, who said you had to be perfect? If you develop a sense of humor about yourself, you won’t take yourself so seriously. When you’re more relaxed and less critical of yourself, you tend to do better in all situations. You take the pressure off yourself to “perform,” and you are more open to what’s going on around you. Chances are, if you ease up on yourself, you’ll automatically improve your abilities, which will lead to greater confidence.
5. Increase your self-awareness. As mentioned earlier, pay attention to your thoughts. When you become aware of where your thoughts are sabotaging your confidence, you can begin to change your thoughts. When you find yourself falling back into the habit of negative thinking, catch yourself doing it. Don’t be harsh with yourself; just use Ronald Reagan’s famous line on yourself. During political debates when his opponents would try to criticize him, he’d respond in a fatherly tone with, “Well, there you go again..” Say that to yourself when you start in on the negative thinking. Stop the negative thinking and replace it with more positive and productive thoughts.
The most important thing to remember is that your thoughts have a very real impact on your level of self-confidence. There are many things in this world you can’t control, but you always have control over your own thoughts. Use them wisely to begin creating a more confident, happy, and satisfied “you” today.