How To Gain Confidence When You Feel Insecure
Have you worried about how to gain confidence in your personal or professional life?
Here are a few scenarios you might relate to.
Carol could never seem to get a break.
In spite of being highly-educated and one of the most talented people in her office, she was bypassed for promotions and rarely asked to lead a presentation or pitch a client.
Not that she minded missing out on presentations and pitches — she never felt comfortable with public speaking.
It just didn't seem fair — she knew she was smart and capable, but Carol was stagnating while more junior people were zooming ahead. She spent hours going over it in her head and just ended up feeling worse about herself than ever.
Ryan is an attractive guy — great eyes, nice smile, successful at work, and really funny.
He has loads of friends — but no girlfriend. His buddies have set him up with some really nice women, but every time he takes someone out, he can see it in their faces right away. “He's too short.” At 5'9″, he's never felt women could see past his height. He rarely asks someone for a second date.
Jennifer is lonely.
She's a successful virtual assistant working from home, and after she's done for the day, she spends most of her time reading or watching TV.
Her roommate, Lisa, is friendly and funny and has a huge circle of friends. Jennifer longs to hang out with Lisa and her friends, and Lisa's invited her many times, but now she's stopped asking. Jennifer clams up every time they're out.
She has a lot to say, but her fear and embarrassment overwhelm her. She knows they're all judging her.
Carol, Ryan, and Jennifer all have a lot to offer. They have plenty of reason to be confident, but in critical areas of their lives, they don't feel confident at all. Their self-doubt has infected their entire outlook.
Carol thinks she'll never get ahead at work and her frustration makes her insecure and angry. Ryan is convinced his height makes him unappealing to women, and it's starting to impact his self-esteem. Jennifer believes she's destined to be shy and lonely forever, and she's starting to feel depressed.
All of them long for more, but they feel trapped by their beliefs and insecurities. Learning to improve your self-confidence will increase your capacity for success in all areas of your life.
How to gain confidence with these 10 strategies:
1. Know that confidence is a skill.
DNA does have something to do with confidence, but not everything. Self-Confidence is a skill you can learn, practice, and improve over time.
Brain science has proven repetitive thoughts and actions actually rewire neural pathways to foster measurable change. When you practice confident actions and thoughts repeatedly, you will eventually start building confidence.
Further, the more confident actions you perform, and the more successes you achieve as a result, the more confident you'll feel.
Just knowing this fact should give you a confidence boost. Just because you don't feel confident speaking, meeting women, or going to parties doesn't mean you will never feel confident doing these things.
2. Recognize that low confidence doesn't define you.
When you lack confidence in one part of your life, it can begin to feel like you're a loser. You paint your entire life with a broad brushstroke of insecurity and doubt.
The feelings of low self-confidence, even if they are grounded in some truth, don't define your entire life or your essential worth.
Everyone lacks confidence from time to time, and most people have pockets of insecurities that hold them back. You don't have to be perfect to be successful.
In fact, you can be confident in spite of your imperfections. Confidence is a state of mind that allows you to move past failures and flaws and to even learn from them.
3. Understand the root cause of low confidence.
Quite often a lack of confidence is situational. Something has happened in the past to undermine your confidence in the present.
If you flubbed a big speech, then it's natural to lack confidence in your next attempt. If your business tanked, it's hard to muster the courage to launch a new venture.
Other times, low confidence has longer, deeper roots or is connected to your personality. Your sister teased you incessantly about your height, so as you grew older you never felt tall enough to attract women. You're more of an introvert and was shy as a kid, so you've never felt comfortable in big groups.
By examining the reasons behind your self-confidence problems, you gain a certain control over them. When you recognize the root cause, it no longer holds the same power.
Simply because there's a source for your insecurities doesn't mean you must live with them forever.
4. Debunk your limiting beliefs.
Situational or long-term confidence problems train us to believe certain things about ourselves.
The strong negative feelings associated with failure, embarrassment, or shame, make us wary of stepping on a potential emotional land mine.
Why tempt fate if it's possible we might fall on our butts once again. We begin to embrace our limiting beliefs as reality.
These negative feelings are natural, but they aren't always truthful — and they're holding you back from your potential.
You may have flubbed a speech previously, but now you know what you did wrong, and you'll correct it. You are capable of speaking successfully.
Your sister may tease you about being short, but all women don't feel the same way. You might be an introvert, but you can act against your personality type and become comfortable talking with others.
Change and growth are always possible. You just need to change your mindset about your beliefs.
5. Acknowledge what you're missing.
Even though it might be painful, fully acknowledge how your lack of confidence is limiting you. Being honest with yourself about this can help you have the courage to move forward.
If you could speak confidently in meetings, you'd perform better at work and be considered for more challenging projects or promotions.
If you allow women a chance to get to know you, in spite of your height, you might meet the love of your life. If you make just a little more effort to make friends, you might have the social life you really want.
Envision the way your life could be if you didn't experience low confidence. Imagine all the ways you could be happier, more successful, more financially secure, or more fulfilled.
6. Focus on finding solutions.
Once you acknowledge what you are missing without confidence, focus on specific confidence building activities steps you can take to improve yourself.
Rather than dwelling on the negative, take control of the problem by motivating yourself and focus on how to get more confident.
Brainstorm ideas for ways you can improve your feelings of self-assurance. Talk to a friend or counselor to get a different perspective on your insecurities and how you can address them.
Believe that change is possible and that you have what it takes to improve.
7. Take small steps.
If you accept the premise that change is possible, that you can learn the skills of self-confidence, then begin taking small steps to reinforce your confidence.
Expose yourself in manageable increments to the thing you fear. Determine actions you can take in the next few weeks related to the area where you want to improve your self-confidence.
Of course, you'll feel insecure and uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice these actions, the easier it will become.
For example, if you have a fear of speaking in groups of new people, practice saying small things to strangers you encounter in day-to-day life, like the grocery clerk or bank teller.
Do this for a while, and then increase the challenge by asking to join a small dinner party or going to a group event and talking with a few new people.
The key here is regular practice in settings with low risk. Then increase the difficulty of the challenges you give yourself. You will probably have a few bumps in the road or times you turn tail and run.
Don't beat yourself up over these, or use them as an excuse to give up. Just try again, and you'll discover how to feel confident with time and practice.
8. Practice gratitude.
Sometimes when we are so focused on our problems and challenges, we forget about all of the good things we have. Weak confidence can make you feel like your entire life is defined by your insecurities.
Studies have confirmed that an active gratitude practice can make you happier and help you put your self-confidence problem into perspective.
One of the best ways to practice gratitude is through gratitude journaling. Every day, write about something in your life for which you are grateful. Also, write about the qualities and gifts you possess that you are thankful for.
When you spotlight the positive aspects of your life, the areas of low confidence won't seem so daunting.
When you are fit and healthy, you naturally feel more confident. Exercise empowers you. It makes you look better and feel better. It pulls you out of lethargy and boosts your energy.
Low confidence can drain you and make you feel depressed. Exercise is the perfect antidote to these feelings. If you don't exercise much, start by taking a short walk during the day. Add a bit of strength training with hand weights or by doing some push-ups.
Slowly increase the amount of exercise you do daily and try to increase the intensity as you become more fit.
10. Use visualization to support your efforts.
Visualization is a mental technique that athletes, professionals, and anyone seeking a particular outcome use to support their efforts in reaching the outcome.
With visualization, you mentally envision all of the steps you will take to succeed and then envision yourself reaching the end goal. This exercise doesn't just make you feel better. It creates results.
As I say in my book, 10-Minute Mindfulness, “Visualization has been shown to impact motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory, priming your brain for success in whatever you want to accomplish.”
Spend time each day visualizing positive outcomes and the steps you'll take to achieve them. See yourself confidently taking action and getting things done.
If you want to gain confidence, start by believing it's possible. It is. It's a skill that doesn't require a degree or any special talent. It just requires practice, determination, and some patience.
Don't allow a lack of confidence to prevent you from living the quality of life you're truly capable of enjoying. Strong confidence is simply a state of mind, a feeling you have the power to change.