Her heart was pounding.
A dozen pairs of eyes were staring her way.
The only thing between her and complete nakedness was a thin robe. And she was about to drop the robe, step up on a platform, and stand before all of these people without a stitch of clothing.
The instructor looked at her, letting her know the time had come. She took a deep breath and let the robe fall to the floor. She'd never felt so exposed, so vulnerable.
After a few minutes of staring over the heads of everyone in the room, she dared to look at a few faces. They were intently focused on sketching her, their faces composed in intense concentration. They weren't judging her. They were viewing her body as something beautiful, something to be rendered on paper with emotion and grace. She was art.
She began to relax. Over the next hour, she not only felt confident standing naked before these artists — she felt empowered. Not so much because she was showing off her body, but because she dared to do something she feared so deeply. If she could do this, she could do anything.
Imagine that feeling — having the self-confidence to fearlessly do anything you set your mind to. Imagine being able to drop your metaphorical robe and master the thing that scares you.
Most confident people weren't born that way. Like everyone, they've had their share of fears and insecurities. But confident people haven't allowed those fears and insecurities to control their destinies. They've learned to be proactive in changing the thoughts, behaviors, and decisions that keep them stuck in a compromised and contained life.
Here are twenty things confident people never do:
1. Tell themselves stories
Confident people don't lie to themselves. They don't believe the negative thoughts like, “I'm too old,” or “I'm not smart enough,” or “I'm not attractive enough.” They don't hide behind denial or limiting beliefs so they have an excuse to remain stuck in the status quo. They are real with themselves, even when the truth seems daunting.
2. Avoid speaking up
They have ideas and beliefs and can freely share them in personal and business settings. They have personal boundaries and can kindly communicate them to people who try to step past those boundaries. They don't clam up for fear of saying the wrong thing, stepping on toes, or looking foolish. They've learned how to communicate with confidence in an emotionally mature way.
3. Let failure hold them back
Confident people understand failure is necessary for success. They know failure holds many lessons that can be used for the next attempt. Of course they feel the sting of failure and must take time to grieve it, but they are able to move past it and try again — as many times as necessary. Failure isn't an excuse to quit.
4. Please others to win approval
They don't compromise their own desires, goals, or needs in order to make others like them or approve of them. They don't succumb to the “need to please.” They can tolerate the discomfort of disappointing others or not fitting in when it's in their own best interest or allows them to be authentic.
5. Over-focus on appearance
When you're self-confident, you have a healthy relationship with your appearance. You improve the things you can, put your best foot forward, and strive to be healthy and well-groomed. And then you accept yourself as you are. You understand appearance does not define you or reflect your ability to be successful. Confident people have enough self-respect to stay fit and eat healthy foods because they know their bodies deserve to be cared for properly.
6. Have poor body language
They don't avoid eye contact. They don't keep their arms crossed or heads down. They don't forget to smile frequently or offer a firm handshake. They've learned that even when they aren't feeling confident, their body language can help turn that around. They know by practicing confident body language, they are sending positive messages to their brains to reinforce the feelings confidence. And other people will view them as confident, which further empowers them.
7. Put others down to feel good
They don't need to undermine other people or make negative comments about their success or wealth in order to build themselves up. They are genuinely happy for the successes of others and allow themselves to feel inspired by those successes. They don't assume successful people have something special others don't have. They look to other happy, successful people for ideas and motivation to create this same success occur in their lives.
8. Try to hide their mistakes
People with self-confidence know that mistakes are inevitable, and they are quick to own up to them. They apologize when necessary and do what needs to be done to fix the situation. They don't cast blame elsewhere or try to pretend the mistake wasn't really a mistake. They take full responsibility for their actions and decisions.
9. Settle for mediocre
Self-assured people have a vision for what they want, and they go for it. They don't hold back and allow their fears to keep them from trying. They push themselves to go above and beyond. They set the bar high for themselves and demand excellence. They know they are as deserving of the best in work and life as anyone else.
10. Avoid connecting with others
Staying isolated and disconnected is a sign of low self-confidence. You don't want to put yourself out there in front of others because you don't want them to see you fail, look foolish, or pass judgement on you. With self-confidence, you don't avoid connecting with others. You seek it out. You see the value in having a community of people with whom you share ideas, friendships, partnerships, and inspiration. You reach out and intentionally make these connections.
11. Resist learning new things
Those with confidence want to be life-long learners. Even when they are experts in their fields, they have a learner's mindset, knowing there is so much more in life to achieve and so many ways to grow. They aren't entrenched in old ways of doing things or old beliefs about what is right or best. They look for ways to stretch themselves through new endeavors.
12. Focus more on weaknesses than strengths
Many people think they should put more time into strengthening their weaknesses. Those with confidence understand that success comes with continuing to improve upon your strengths. They are able to accept their own weaknesses gracefully, and put more time and effort into endeavors where they know they'll have more likelihood of success. They maximize their time and energy this way and don't feel bad about it.
13. Compromise their values
Having defined core values gives you foundational principles for anything you pursue in life. Living in alignment with these values ensures you will never compromise yourself or what you hold dear. With confidence, you use these values as you make decisions in your life and work, even if it means giving up something desirable in the short term.
14. Avoid seeking help when they need it
When you are confident, you don't feel “lesser than” when you need help or support. You recognize that asking for help is a sign of strength and self-worth, not weakness. When you have a problem you can't figure out or you're dealing with unexpected painful emotions, you don't hesitate to reach out to a friend or professional.
15. Ignore their own judgement
Self-confident people don't assume other people have all the answers or know best. They value their own good judgement and listen to their own intuition. They recognize they have the ability to come up with the answers for most situations on their own. They can seek input and guidance, but also can feel comfortable making a final decision when the time comes.
16. Neglect their own skills
So much of low self-confidence comes from not having the skills or training needed for great success. Those with confidence see clearly what they need to do to improve their chances of success, and they are willing to commit the time and energy into improving their skills, advancing their training, or getting more education in order to be more confident in their abilities.
17. Try to change their personality
You can be an introvert or an extravert and still be confident. You can be a left-brained or a right-brained thinker and still be confident. Confident people understand that self-assurance comes from feeling good about who you are and what you can achieve by being completely authentic. They don't try to be someone they're not. Self-acceptance is a vital element of self-confidence.
18. Look to their love relationship to fulfill them
People with low self-confidence often have poor relationships since they feel needy and insecure. Because they aren't confident in themselves, they hope they'll be fulfilled by getting constant reassurance and attention from their partner. But people who are self-assured understand they need to love and respect themselves in order to have a strong and healthy love relationship. They are willing to learn the skills of emotional intelligence and healthy communication and conflict resolution.
19. Over-complicate their lives
Often when we're lacking confidence, we create an “adrenaline fueled” lifestyle in order to avoid facing our insecurities or act on our deepest desires. Confident people know what they want in each area of their lives and find a way to balance and prioritize. They are comfortable making hard decisions and saying no to some things in life in order to experience the best of what they want the most.
20. Assume they are done improving their confidence
Living with confidence requires a lifetime commitment to practicing the skills of confidence. Those who understand this realize there will be times in life when their strength will be tested, when they will falter and fail. But they have an arsenal of skills to draw from in order to boost their own confidence when they are down. They recognize the tremendous value of these skills because they know how powerful self-confidence is and how profoundly it has upgraded their life.
Do you see yourself in any of the behaviors confident people never do? If so, remember self-confidence is a skill you can learn, just like any other skill. You don't have to accept low self-confidence as your life sentence. You can feel empowered and proud of who you are and what you can achieve. Drop the robe of fear, self-doubt, and inaction, and do something that will upgrade every aspect of your life — rebuild your confidence.
Photo: Rex Features