Growing up shy, I felt like confidence was something I desperately needed but would never have. I saw how confidence helped other people navigate life better. Everything from walking down the hall to talking to teachers just seemed to go so much better for my peers with confidence. But try as I might I could never get myself to act or feel confident.
For a long time I had given up and decided it just simply wasn’t in the cards for me. But as I got older and started to venture into the real world I slowly began to realize that most people don’t naturally have confidence. Confidence is something they decide they’re going to have, and then they go out and get some. So I finally decided, why can’t I do that too? So here are some ways I’ve taught myself to trick my self into self-confident thinking:
Engaging in scary (but safe) activities
I truly believe engaging in activities that seem intimidating to you is the best way to burn away self-doubt. (Within reason, of course1) Once you’ve sung in front of a crowd or tried roller derby, making a presentation for school or work seems like a piece of cake. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone (in healthy ways) teaches you of what you are truly capable of. Even if you fail or it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, taking the risk is enough to remind you that you are capable of so much more than you ever thought you were. So think to yourself, what scares you? Then whatever that thing is, go out and try it. I guarantee you’ll start to feel so much better afterwards.
When you feel that first trickle of self-doubt, ignore it instead of engaging it
By paying attention to the way my brain works, I’ve learned that the second I let bad self-doubting thoughts in, they will snowball if I let them take hold. The more I let them take hold, the more they turn from a perceived problem to a real problem, since I don’t perform as well when I’m doubting myself. I might have been doing just fine before I starting have the self-doubting thoughts, but doubting myself is enough of a wrench to slow me down without any other problems.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messed up on in life or on the job, and the cause was simply not trusting myself to get the task done correctly. So now when I feel that first tickle of self-doubt I squash it right away since I know I can’t allow myself to get caught up in it.
Fake it till you make it—it really works
You hear this phrase thrown around a lot, and before it clicks it can be infuriating. I remember hearing it prior to truly understanding it’s meaning and hating it so much since it seemed like such superficial advice. But over time I realized what it really means is just approach every situation like you know what you’re doing even when you don’t feel like you do.
It sounds silly, but if you seem like you know what you’re doing, other people will believe you do. And when they believe you do, you’ll believe it more yourself. And once you start to believe it, that ‘fake’ confidence will turn into real confidence.
Talk to your friends about self-doubt
I’m guilty of this on occasion, but sometimes I’ll look at my friends and be blown away that such smart, cool, together people want to talk to me. Everyone seems to be so on point with their careers, their creative endeavors, and somehow also have time to eat healthy, exercise, and write grandma a thank you note? Sometimes I feel like I just fall short. But I know that’s not the full truth, because most of the time people are trying to project their most successful, together self.
If you talk to your friends honestly about feelings of self-doubt or imposter syndrome I guarantee everyone around you will admit to having had the same thoughts you’re having right now at some point. Talking to them will remind you that everyone feels this way and there’s nothing wrong with you. Remembering everyone feels a little unconfident at times will remind you that it isn’t unusual to struggle sometimes, and it doesn’t reflect badly on you. In fact, it means you’re normal.