Self-confidence and the ability to believe in yourself do not come easily, but certainly are attainable. I can tell you this from personal experience. As a matter of fact, I am a walking proof that no matter how little you think of yourself, if your motivation is strong enough, anything is possible.
In psychology, there is a never-ending debate on which affects us more, nature or nurture? On the one hand, we are born with a number of traits and behaviors that feel more natural to us, but on the other hand, we are heavily influenced by our surroundings. In the case of self-confidence and the ability to believe in yourself, both nature and nurture were against me.
As a little kid, I was extremely shy. I almost never got into fights or conflicts with other kids, and I tried to avoid difficult and awkward situations as much as I could. My parents had put me into playing ice hockey, but already a year later they gave up and changed my hobby. They told me it was pointless since I was too afraid to take away the puck from the members of the enemy team. It was too painful for them to watch.
Apart from my natural shyness, I was growing up with a bigger brother that was seven years older than me. You can probably guess that when we got into a fight, the damage wasn’t equally distributed. I was pretty much the only one to get hurt with a couple of exceptions, and that played a big role in forming my personality as well.
One thing also worth mentioning is that I grew up as a foreigner in a country. Because of that my circle of friends never got too big either. The people that I hung out with were usually a few years older than me and every once in a while they would break the law. Most of the time I avoided these situations, but being constantly left out just kept lowering my confidence and self-esteem.
Self-Confidence and learning to believe in yourself
With age, I understood how the lack of self-confidence was impacting my life. Even though I never thought of myself as an introvert, I really had no other option than to act like one. Whether it was sports class, a team project or simply doing something outside of my comfort zone, I would be too afraid to take on the responsibility. I had troubles raising my hand in class to say something out loud, too afraid of small talk, and I won’t even get into the whole getting to know girls subject.
At around the age of 17, the pain and anger at myself grew so strong that I couldn’t take it any longer. I forced myself to change. And while some changes came more naturally due to negative motivation growing so strong in me, others I had to read about and learn.
No matter what anyone says, it is possible!
I don’t want to bore you with my personal transformation story, simply because it’s too long. But I want you to understand that self-confidence and the ability to believe in yourself are not in your genes, or at least not only in your genes. Just like with any sport, language or instrument, it can be learned during the lifetime.
One of the biggest mistakes that I keep hearing people say is that they are too old to learn something new, or that they are too “different” to act in a certain way. Please understand that as soon as you say “I can’t” to yourself for whatever reason, you are instantly blocking that from your life. I can’t and therefore I won’t even try. NO! That is not true. You CAN and you absolutely MUST change if you know that it is going to make you better and happier!
I won’t brag that I have more willpower than anyone else. No, my willingness to change was caused by the combination of pain from others always walking all over me, and the inborn optimism that I can change if only I try hard enough. Therefore, I want to share with you some of the things that I did and still do, that have allowed me to become more social, relaxed and confident. Not only I am now able to feel good about myself in the presence of others, but my confidence allows me continuously take action in life, get outside of my comfort zone, and most importantly, yield the result that I am after.
6 actions towards growing your self-confidence
Like I said, self-confidence and the willingness to believe in yourself do not come easily, but are definitely possible if that becomes your life purpose. You know how sometimes you can decide that you will accomplish something no matter what? Well, this is how motivated you need to be to gain self-confidence. This must become your mission, something you work for on a daily basis, until you feel that you have improved. The great thing is that as soon as you improve, believing in yourself will get easy, it will make you feel better every single day, and it will continue improving even without your effort. It’s the snowball effect.
Self-confidence comes in two parts, the mind and the action. The mind and the willingness to change is where everything begins, the place where the seed is planted. But to help it grow, you will need to start taking massive action and changing certain aspects of your life. Too much to do? I said it wouldn’t be easy. But the good thing is that you don’t have to do it all at once. You can start changing your life in small steps that feel comfortable to you. Remember, this is all about you, and if this becomes painful, then you probably will give up. So do it at your own pace. Do the things that you can at first, and when they feel comfortable, get on to the more complicated areas of life. But by all means, don’t stop. Keep working on yourself every day, and with time, you will witness the little seed that you planted grow into a beautiful, filled with self-confidence, tree.
1. Being positive
If you want to learn to believe in yourself, you need to learn to be positive. You need to blindly believe that you will succeed and that it is only a matter of time. If you don’t learn to stay positive in the toughest of moments, it will always be a struggle. You need to eliminate the pointless resistance in your mind in the form of negativity and pessimism. Remember, if you learn to see life from the positive perspective, you have already made significant progress.
One golden rule to help you stay positive is to never look at the failures or things that went wrong. Whenever you feel that you are unsure and beginning to criticize yourself, immediately stop! Instead, look at things that you did right that day, the things that you succeeded at, and the things that you did today better than yesterday or last week.
We, humans, have a tendency to notice the “bad”, and to completely disregard the good. Your mission is now to disregard the bad, and to notice only the good. Focus on the bad or negative only when you need to analyze it in order to improve yourself. But even then, know that nothing is inherently bad. See it rather as useful feedback. People with a lot of self-confidence believe in themselves because they are always able to see a positive outcome to their actions. That is what you must do as well to recondition your mind.
2. Change the people around you
Here I don’t mean that you should change the way people behave around you. No, you should never do that and it won’t work. Instead, get rid of the people that are preventing you from growth.
I said in the beginning that one of the biggest factors that was affecting my self-confidence was the people around me. Most of my friends were older than me, and they didn’t have high ambitions. I knew that that wasn’t helping me.
As soon as I changed the people around me, I immediately saw progress. I had less negative influence, I no longer had people walking all over me, and as a result, I finally began to look at my future.
On the side note, I had a difficult time growing up with my parents and my brother. I was the black sheep of the family if you will. Once I finally felt that I have the energy and willingness to believe in myself and feel more confident, I no longer had to fight and argue to prove my point. I simply had the inner strength not to care what others thought of me or said to me. Only a year after becoming a vegetarian, I could finally relax, because the criticism that was coming my way no longer bothered me. I knew I was making the right decisions.
3. Imitate and learn from confident people to believe in yourself
In my blog, I have many times talked about the fact that in order to become successful and believe in yourself, you must imitate successful people. By imitating, I mean listening to what successful people say, and reading the books they write. By constantly feeding your brain with this material, you will slowly get accustomed to the idea that self-confidence and the ability to believe in yourself are what you should easily experience on a daily basis.
Another very important aspect to self-confidence is body language. Have you ever noticed how some people slouch when they sit or stand, and how they prefer to look down when they talk to others? These are some of the things that people with low self-confidence do. If you analyze how confident people act, you will notice how a lot of the time they stand straight with their chin up.
Our body language is the door to our emotional state that others can peak through. By giving out certain signs, we can attract or push others away from us. At the same time, our body language affects our emotions, and our emotions affect our body language. Go ahead, next time when you feel sad, just try smiling as widely as you can. You will notice that staying sad with a smile on your face is ridiculously difficult, and hilarious for others to look at! So, by controlling our body we are able to control our mind. That is, by the way, one of the core principals of Yoga.
If you want to learn more about body language, you can read this post: Understanding Body Language is Your Absolute Must
Exercise: find a person that you know is successful and has a lot self-confidence, analyze them, and copy their body language! It can simply be the way they sit or the way they move their hands when they talk. I, for example, have even copied the way others walk. Yep, the walk – confident and with wide steps, highly effective.
Want to learn how to believe in yourself? Start exercising. Sports and exercise reduce the levels of stress, boost your self-confidence, and generally make you feel good about yourself. Without regular exercise, confidence and the ability to believe in yourself come a lot harder. I discuss it in detail here.
People with a little amount of self-confidence don’t usually exercise a lot. If it’s a team sport, then there is too much interaction involved with others, which can be unpleasant. This was the case with me and ice hockey. On the other hand, doing sports on your own requires a lot of self-confidence and motivation too, which is why people avoid it.
Honestly, it can be any type of exercise. But if you are a male or a female that really wants to boost the self-confidence, pick a sport that releases a lot of testosterone, such as a type of martial arts, ice hockey, American football or anything related to weight-lifting. The more masculine hormone in your system, the easier it will be for you to believe in yourself, like for a Spartan from the movie 300! 🙂
5. The image
This could fall under the category of imitating successful people, but I prefer to put a separate emphasis on it.
To feel better about yourself and to believe in yourself, create an image that promotes this – be tidy. Clean up your home if it isn’t. Get rid of all the external distractors that are lying around. Try to always wear clean clothes and look neat. You don’t have to look like someone you don’t want to, but if you are able to look fresh and tidy to some extent at least, it will inevitably be noticed by others. You will see how people around will treat you differently, get attracted to you, and that will, of course, have a positive effect on how you treat yourself. Don’t underestimate the importance of this, and don’t forget to smile. A happy, confident person loves to smile.
6. Taking action
Last but not least is the ability to take action and to get outside of your comfort zone. This is the most difficult of all, but also the one that brings the most results. It’s simple – find something that scares you, and go for it. Make yourself perfect in it. If you’re scared of talking to a boy or girl, go and beat that fear by talking to them. If you’re scared of public speaking, volunteer for as many public speaking occasions as possible. If you’re scared of swimming and dancing, go and learn to swim and dance!
The more often you do things that are difficult for you, the more desensitized you will become towards them. There really isn’t anything more to this. Practice and experience are just part of the game.
Learning to believe in yourself is crucial to living a happy and a fulfilling life. Without it, you will always do the things that others want you to do, instead of the things that make you free.
Gaining self-confidence is not about doing something horribly painful or difficult. On the contrary, it is about doing something that feels right and something that you want to do, and not standing in your way of doing them. The limitations that some of us have to live with due to the lack of confidence are actually what make life difficult. Just think about being free and not being afraid to get outside of your comfort zone. Just think about all of the possibilities that will open up to you. When I finally was able to accumulate confidence in me, it felt like I began to live a completely different life.
It is so incredibly amazing to not care about what others think of you. To be able to try out new things, be confident about them, and not freak out about failures. It’s all in your hands, really. Aim big, but take one small step at a time, if you need to.
“Self-confidence is the most attractive quality a person can have. How can anyone see how great you are, if you can’t see it yourself?”
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P.S. If you feel that you need a more systematic and proven approach to helping you deal with the lack of self-confidence, you might want to check out the Shyness or Social Anxiety program. It was created by Sean Cooper, a victim of shyness and severe social anxiety in the past. Sean managed to overcome his problem and has successfully been helping thousands of others do the same. I haven’t gone through the program myself, but I have heard a lot of good about it.
Thank you and have a great day!