Article authored by Dr. Dave Hale
One of the most powerful assets in your mental arsenal is to increase your confidence – to feel good about yourself so that you can attract the things you want and so that you can give off an aura of being in charge and being passionate about what you’re saying.
But if you’re naturally someone who struggles with self-confidence, how can you simply ‘switch off’ that self-doubt and become more confident?
Confidence is what turns thought into action – which is kind of what we’re all about.
Understand What Confidence Is
Confidence is a very broad term that gets thrown about a lot with careless abandon. This is a bit damaging because we tend to think of it as a single term that encompasses so much about who we are. We either have ‘good confidence’ or we have ‘bad confidence.’
In reality though, confidence is much more contextual than that. You can be confident in one domain and you can lack confidence in another. Maybe you think you’re ugly but you know you’re a fantastic writer – does that make you confident or unconfident?
So, you can make yourself confident simply by focusing more on the things you’re good at in order to spend more time ‘at the top of your game.’ At the same time though, you should also make sure you remember that your ability can improve in most areas. If you think you’re ‘bad’ at something, then remember that you’ll get better with practice and that everyone is bad
to begin with. We’ve seen how neuronal connections strengthen as they fire, and this is one way you can become great at any given sport or activity over time.
What about your looks? Well, you can improve those in a lot of ways too. But it’s also useful to remember that everyone is different and that beauty is a very subjective matter. If you focus on your good qualities and own what you’ve got, you’ll be attractive to a lot of people.
As mentioned, it’s useful to learn and to develop the things you’re not good at. This is why the hypothesis testing to become socially bulletproof is so useful – you’re exercising your social skills, just like you exercise a muscle.
As you get better in these areas, you’ll find that your confidence naturally improves because you have more strings to your bow and fewer areas that you consider to be flaws. But more important than this even is the psychology of simply trying new things and taking on new challenges. Each little ‘win’ will flood your brain with positive hormones and reward you and that will make you more inclined to try again. Try learning small things like juggling or learning to count in another language, each time you have a little victory it will improve your confidence and help you become better at taking on newer challenges.
Meanwhile, the failures you encounter will help to make you more accustomed to sometimes picking yourself back up and less sensitized to the feeling of failing at something. Again, this builds confidence.
If you’re looking to increase social confidence and self-worth, one of the very best things to do is to throw yourself into a challenging and outward facing job. You’ll then have no choice but to make calls, greet clients and learn new things and each time you do, your esteem will improve.
Invest in You
Invest in yourself. If you treat yourself well for long enough, you will feel as though you deserve to be treated well. What’s more, wearing nice clothes, maintaining good health and having a great home all help to build that internal picture of who you are and give you more self-esteem. It’s not a waste of time and money to buy a good suit – it’s an investment.
Power poses are positions you hold that have been shown to boost testosterone and thereby confidence. Try standing up and holding your arms over your head in a ‘V’ shape as though you had just crossed the finish line in a race. This is a universal stance that symbolizes success, and it can really help to increase your drive and determination.
And Lastly, before trying something new, visualize yourself succeeding. This can help you to activate brain areas as though you really had succeeded and that will help to quash any doubt and boost your confidence. You can enhance this further by listening to some empowering music and reminding yourself that it’s a challenge and not an obstacle.
Better yet, if you keep practicing this, it can eventually become habit – meaning that you’ll automatically visualize yourself succeeding in future when taking on any new challenge!
Watch the above video on your phone or computer. Listen to the words and feel the music. Put yourself in the place of those running. Remember a sporting competition when everything went as perfectly as it could. Remember how you felt with every movement and how you felt when crossing the finish line. Do this for 2 – 3 times per day for 3 or 4 days. This will be long enough for you to recall your high performance competitive moments when listening only to the audio portion of the video.
Starting the 5th day, at least 2 - 3 times a day, starting in the morning and up to right before your sport training, bring up the video, pop in some ear buds, and play the video while keeping your eyes closed. Listen to the music and the words. Visualize those optimum performance moments when you felt unbeatable. Feel the music. Visualize your arms pumping like the arms between train locomotive wheels. Feel the power. Visualize the finish line and moving down the road or track like the fastest rocket in the world. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line and raising your arms in victory.
***The key to visualization exercises is to practice them often as in 2 to 3 times per day. On race days, do this before starting your race prep warmup to get yourself in your zone. After doing this several times, you will be able to instantly recall those feelings of being pulled and shot like a rocket out of the blocks and running to victory.
Believe in your training. As long as you know that your training, nutrition and all parts of race prep are as good as you can get them, you will push yourself to a PR race performance.