From Our Readers
March 20, 2014 6:00 am

Confidence really is everything! Having confidence allows us to take chances, venture into the unknown, meet new people, form healthy relationships, live independently and have faith in ourselves. Yet a growing number of people are reporting that they lack confidence. There are many explanations and contributing factors to this but there is some good news: it’s not that difficult to build confidence, although it is time-consuming.

First things first, building confidence requires changes to the way you think and behave and these are changes that you have to commit to for life. Just like it takes time to learn to ride a bike, it takes time for your confidence to grow… but it’s a project that is definitely worth taking on! Having confidence will have a significant effect on your life and make you happier in general, so why not start today? You owe it to yourself!

Step 1: Change the way you think!

The way you think after having failed at something or having done something embarrassing is a result of trained behaviour. Confident people fail and walk out of bathrooms with their dresses tucked into their underwear just like less-confident people do, but when Ms. Confident has a set back like this, she thinks, “That was embarrassing! Oh well, that’s life!” and she chalks it up as being a funny story. Similarly, when Ms. Confident fails to get the job she wanted or that super fit guy turns her down, she once again chalks it up as a life experience and moves on, she doesn’t blame herself or spend night after night replaying the situation in her head.

Under-confident people have a tendency to think negatively and typically blame themselves for things that were out of their control. When something embarrassing happens to them, they may imagine what others might say or think about it. They may wonder why these things only happen to them and work themselves up to the point that they’re making forts under their beds and refusing to leave until the world has forgotten all about it! This type of thinking and over-analysing is a result of negative thinking and just like Ms. Confident’s attitude above, it’s a trained behaviour. Luckily, trained behaviours can be forgotten and replaced with different ones, so don’t fear!

Changing the way you think isn’t particularly hard to do, but it is rather time consuming and it’s something that you have to commit to doing from here on out. For negative thinkers, their automatic reaction to something will be to think negatively about themselves/the situation. Sound familiar? The trick is to realise when you’re doing this and then to stop yourself and replace the thought with a positive one. Negative thoughts are very easy to detect –  it’s anything condemning such as “You’re so [enter personal insult]”… and these sorts of thoughts just aren’t called for in everyday life. Replace these thoughts with ones similar to Ms. Confident above. You can acknowledge disappointment and embarrassment, but the key is not to dwell on it. If you find yourself struggling with this, then occupy your mind with something else, whether it be a book, a film, work or reciting the times table!

Step 2: Don’t idolise other people.

People lacking in confidence often think that their flaws and downfalls are far worse than anyone else’s. This is because they have a tendency to look at others through rose-tinted glasses. They create an image of a person as being perfect and they then place themselves far below this perfect person and unfortunately, this then lowers the individual’s confidence even further!

Being able to spot the good in others is a very valuable quality to have and something you ought to hold on to, but spotting the good in others is different from idolising others. Idolising someone not only jeopardises your own confidence, but also your own potential, for if you place someone on a pedestal, you are giving yourself an excuse not to achieve what they have achieved. Following step one will allow you to recognise the good in yourself over time and until then, it’s important that you stop yourself from idolising others, otherwise your hindering your own progress. It can be good practise to have in mind one or two good qualities that you admire about yourself (your ability to see the good in others, perhaps) and simply repeat “I am good at seeing the good in others” over and over in order to deflect your attention from that friend/colleague/celeb that you’re idolising.

Step 3: Stay true to yourself!

I know that it seems overused, but the reason people say this over and over is because it’s just so true! It doesn’t matter what you like (provided it’s legal, of course!), it’s who you are and that’s okay! You don’t have to fit into a stereotype – it’s okay if you prefer sweats to dresses and if you like heavy metal rather than pop; it’s alright to be interested in steam engine trains or time travel! At the end of the day, it really just doesn’t matter! You won’t be happy with yourself until you accept yourself. If you have some trouble with this then write down all of your likes and dislikes, your strange quirks and favourite movies and there you have it! Everyone has quirks and interests that seem strange to others, so don’t be too concerned about your own. You are perfectly fine!

Remember not to worry if come tomorrow, you’re still shy and lacking in confidence. It takes time and it’s best to start now than wait another day. So be patient – it will be worth it in the end! Take care! 🙂

Christine is from Scotland. She has a degree in philosophy and has borderline obsessions with time travel and Leonardo DiCaprio! She is also part of the minority that doesn’t have Twitter but she does have good old Facebook.

Featured image via ShutterStock

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