Do This One Thing and Watch Your Confidence Grow
Self-confidence is one of those things you have to find and feel deep within you. So how do you find and feel it inside if you’re not confident to begin with? You pretend. Think of it like acting. If you don’t like people looking at you when you present, pretend you don’t care. Act like presenting is your dream activity!! If your confidence takes a blow because all your friends drive better cars than you do, pretend. Act like you love your fabulous Fiat.
Stay with me on this point. It’s not about attending endless presentation courses or buying a better car. In other words, it’s not about the things you think you need to be confident, like a well-trained, polished presenting style or a cool car. You’ll only ever be confident with those things if you learn to be confident without them. The secret to total self-confidence starts with pretence. You fake it. That’s when the magic starts to happen.
What if I’m not naturally confident?
It doesn’t matter. The end result is the same whether you fake being confident or are naturally confident. What is important to know is this. If you show natural confidence when you’re young, people lift you up. They respond to what they see. They will either enable you up or ignore you. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, you’re ignoring yourself and people will follow your example and ignore you. Pretend you’re confident and people will enable you in the same way as if it were real. Address people in a way that makes them see you. Pretending to be confident is so useful because it forces people to treat you the way you want, to enable you and lift you up.
What if I’ve lost my confidence?
The thing about confidence is that it’s wafer thin. Consider the singer who performs to a packed house in the wrong key, losing the nerve to stand before an audience for the foreseeable future. How about the batsman who loses confidence after three ducks or the premier footballer who misses the penalty shoot-out decider and needs help from a psychologist before taking to the field again. Confidence it seems can turn on a knife-edge.
How about in our everyday life? Can you think of instances when you lost confidence? Driving again after a traffic accident, speaking in front of an audience after a presentation went awry, looking after a neighbour’s child after she fell and scuffed her knee in your care. The good news is that you can find and feel confidence within you even after you’ve lost it. It can be built (and rebuilt if you’ve fallen off the knife edge) and the secret lies in faking it!
How do I act confident if I don’t feel it?
Do you mean how do you learn to be confident without the things you identify as being crucial for your confidence like the right car, style, accent, a silver spoon? It’s not about the things you think you need. Remember you’ll only ever be confident with those things if you learn to be confident without them. Confidence isn’t about stuff. It’s about influence and the power to influence. It’s entirely possible to develop self-confidence even if you’re not feeling it. Stay with the pretending theme (pretending is the necessary first step to total self-confidence) and add to it a healthy dose of hard fact as follows:
- You’re not important to others
Harsh but fair. Everyone else is hurtling through life at same intensity/velocity as you are. They’re all constantly having thoughts and (like you) the thoughts are about themselves. Whatever you think about yourself and think that others are thinking about you, it’s likely not happening. They’re not thinking about you. If they are it’s fleeting and disinterested.
If you feel socially awkward or uncomfortable walking across that vestibule or talking to your boss, just pretend you’re confident and, I promise you this, others will see you that way. You’re making life easy for them. They’re very busy thinking about themselves, too busy to waste time categorising you so give them the category: confident. You’ve made life easy for them – they can fit you into a box, you’ve done the job for them. Now for the magic: watch how they respond to you! They see you as confident, so you get the respect that confident people are readily given…. The process begins. And you become confident in this process. Read on. I said it was magical.
2. Confidence is visual – use these visual cues
Hold your chin up! Take strides not steps! Don’t check if you’re being looked at or straighten your clothes for the fifth time (if you’re checking your trousers, your chin is down – hold it up and look around you!). If you want to be noticed, make eye contact (not in a weird way) and acknowledge the look with a small smile. Do smile at people – not inanely but give a friendly grin and make eye contact. Find your style! It’s true that clothes don’t maketh man but confidence is visual! With that in mind, find clothes that you like, that suit you and make you happy. If you feel amazing, people will sense that and respond to you accordingly.
There isn’t a sign that you can hold up announcing “I’m confident” for all the world to see so do it visually. Cock your head and smile at the frosty receptionist, walk with purpose towards the sullen cashier and acknowledge that it’s late and hopefully they can go home soon but until then might they possibly help you with a small problem. It’s not rocket science. You come across as confident and positive and in the process they’ll feel better about their life as they hurtle around the planet and will respond positively to the confident, empathic person in front of them.
Stand tall, look people in the eye, give them the respect and attention that you want them to give you. Show by example how you expect them to treat you even if some people want you to feel less. There are unhappy people out there who want everyone to feel less. Recognise it. Accept it. Don’t change your behaviour for them.
So you pretend confidence to become confident, to begin to convince yourself that you are in control. That moment when you convince yourself is when all the keys begin turning at once. That’s the moment the magic happens. People see you. They open up to you and look up to you and you see in that moment how you have influenced the situation. Crucially, the way others treat you isn’t what makes you confident. What makes you confident is the realisation that the power is in your hands to get treated how you want. You can achieve what you want and get what you want by your behaviour. This is the secret of total self-confidence and the route to get there is to pretend.
Of course everyone has days when they feel awful, small, valueless. On those days don’t panic and think you’ve lost your confidence irrevocably. Like the singer and the sportsperson, you know your confidence will come back because you have the power. The temporary fix is the pretend part (playing the role of a confident person, acting confident), the long-term fix and the secret of total self-confidence is in finding and acknowledging the power you have to influence others.