Surprisingly easy tips for combatting negative thoughts and raising your self-esteem...
When was the last time you turned down an invitation to avoid socializing with people you’ve never met ? Or enviously listened to someone get up on stage and talk in front of people wondering why you can’t do the same?
According to a recent UK business survey, the biggest obstacle to women’s career success was not their gender, but their lack of self-belief. Another poll claimed that 75% of us lack the confidence to have sex whilst sober. This is not great. But here is the upside: our own negative mindsets are a surprisingly easy hurdle to leap over.
1. Stand up straighter
The first step to presenting a confident front to your colleagues is to focus on the inside of your body. Before entering a room full of people, or even stepping out into a busy area, take a moment to pause, pull your shoulders back, and draw yourself up to your full height. This allows your ‘confidence core’ to stretch to full size, and you’ll be amazed by how much more confident it will make you appear.
2. Ask open questions
Hate having to talk about yourself, or worry about awkward silences? Try taking control of the conversation by having a couple of open-ended questions to ask. You’ll still have to talk about yourself eventually, but this will buy you some time to work out what you’re going to say – and chances are, you’ll be able to pick out an interesting talking point from the answer that the other person gives, keeping the conversation flowing and making you feel more at ease.
The other benefit of this is that it encourages you to strike up a conversation in the first place – something that requires confidence in itself. Next time you go to a work event or party, try setting yourself a target for the number of new people you are going to approach and engage in conversation at any given event.
3. Identify the negative, and attack it
This involves identifying any situation which is typically likely to prompt a negative response in your head, and also the kinds of negative thoughts that spring up, from ‘Everyone is staring at you’ to ‘You can’t do that’, or ‘That’s a really stupid idea’.
The trick here is to be aware of these thoughts when they come up, and to choose a strong and authoritative ‘leader voice’ to bat them away with something positive. Think of the voice of someone from your past who could always get you to achieve things – be it a teacher, a parent, a close family friend etc. You should use your leader voice to argue back against all those negative thoughts, and expel them from your mind.
4. Forget perfection
As phrased by American author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield: ‘You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going’. The more time you spend agonizing over getting every detail just right, the further away you will get from getting anything constructive done, and the worse you will feel.
Things can always be reworked later to try and make them better, but whatever it is, always try to see the bigger picture, and to keep working on it before you go back and start reworking the beginning. Whether it is working towards a deadline, planning an event or gathering, or even just trying to impress someone new, chances are if you see it through until the end in one go, the end result will turn out a lot better than you hoped, and expel a lot of those niggling doubts that you had at the start.
5. Regularly step outside your comfort zone
This doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. We’re not talking getting a tattoo, or jumping out of an aeroplane. It can even be something as small as making a bold fashion choice or donning a colour that you wouldn’t normally go for. Just do something that people wouldn’t normally expect of you – and, much more importantly, that you wouldn’t normally expect of yourself. ‘Even doing something small every day will lead you to something bigger – you will grow and will begin to feel unstoppable,’ says transformational coach Nancie Vito.
Your ‘unusual’ action will also most likely invite compliments or positive comments from those around you, making you feel more confident on more than one level.
6. See friends regularly and reconnect with an old friend
Even if you do lack confidence generally, usually the people you feel most laid-back and confident around are your close friends. Make the most of this feeling by speaking to them regularly. They are the people who know you best, and know how to make you feel at your best, so confidence around your friends is basically effortless.
And why not try getting back in touch with an old friend you have fallen out of touch with? Again, might seem frightening, but it will almost always turn out for the better. After all, you two were close once, so chances are you’ll soon fall back into step with one another – and you’ll get a confident boost from taking the first step.
7. Set goals
Make a list of things that you need to achieve week-by-week, and tick each thing off once you’ve completed it. It’s a sure-fire way to make you feel more accomplished and better about your capabilities.
Simultaneously, make a broader list of things that you want to achieve – whether a holiday destination or language course. You’ll feel even more accomplished if you can tick off those big things that you want to do, rather than need to do.
8. And finally… smile!
Just like standing up straighter, wearing a composed, friendly smile is something you can do to outwardly project an aura of confidence, and to make people feel more relaxed and able to approach you. Research also suggests that flashing a smile helps to reduce stress and lift your mood.