Most people have a little voice in their heads that occasionally whispers some very critical things in their ears – things that drain self-esteem and flush confidence down the toilet. If your inner jerk is being more vocal than usual, and you find yourself in need of a confidence boost, here are five things you can start doing today that will get you into a better mindset.
Learn to Accept a Compliment
Sometimes, the first step to building confidence is to get out of your own way. If someone thinks you are awesome in some way, resist the urge to tell them all the ways in which you are not. To deny a compliment is very destructive in terms of both your relationship with that person and your own self-confidence. Denying someone’s compliment basically tells them that you think they have bad taste!
Regardless of where you are in terms of confidence if someone else tries to pull you up, thank them! It’s not yet necessary that you believe them as long as you do not actively dissuade them from complimenting you. If you are in the process of building confidence, become a compliment collector. Write them down somewhere and look at them when you start to feel down. If other people think you’re great, why question their taste?
Keep Your Friends Close
As far as confidence-building techniques go, this one takes some effort, but the eventual payoff can be huge. It doesn’t matter if you only have two friends in the world and one of them is the mailman – nurture these relationships if you want to improve your confidence. If you have a voice in your head that constantly affirms negative things about you, a friend is the best antidote that there is. A friend will pick you up when you’re down, and their expectation that you do the same for them will actually go even further to build your self-confidence. Knowing that someone else values you and your thoughts about them is incredible proof that you are a worthwhile and valuable person and that the negative things you tell yourself are probably wrong. Maintaining friendships is a great way to build confidence.
Make Use of Positive Affirmations
When I was in college, I had a friend named Larry who constantly talked himself down. He thought he was ugly and short and unattractive that anyone who hung out with him was doing him a huge favor because he was so generally hideous. None of these things were true, of course, and one day I made a little sign on a Post-It note and stuck it to the mirror in his dorm room. It said something like, “Hey, sexy! Look at you today! Has the world ever seen such a handsome, charismatic, debonair man? I don’t think so. Time to go out and do some damage!” Larry loved this. It made him feel amazing every time he looked in the mirror and built his confidence in ways that stayed with him for the rest of his life. As it turned out, making the ritual of looking in the mirror into one of confidence-building rather than depression was just the thing Larry needed to get a little confidence boost. Write your five favorite things about your appearance on a Post-it note and attach it to your mirror. Look at that and remember the good things if you want to build confidence.
Flesh Out Your Fantasies
Of all the confidence-building activities out there, this one is the most fun. If you want to increase your confidence, one way to begin is by filling in all the details on your favorite fantasies. I’m not talking about one-off sexual fantasies or dreams of being James Bond. I mean your dreams about what you want in life. If you set up these dreams and fantasies as things that will remain forever unfulfilled, they probably will be. To build your confidence rather than destroy it, turn these dreams into productive exercises. Think about your life and what you want it to look like, feel like, taste like, smell like, etc. Don’t imagine piles of money—imagine how it will feel when you’re on your sailboat in the French Riviera. Or make use of a website like Pinterest that allows you to collect and categorize photographs, recipes, etc and get to work on fleshing out those fantasies until they’re so real you can taste them. Then build your confidence by getting to work on making that life your own.
Find Something to Take Care of
One of the best ways to build confidence is to be solely responsible for the life of something else. I’m not telling you to run out and make babies, but if your confidence has taken a hit lately and you want to nurture it, consider some kind of pet or houseplant. If you’re not ready for the responsibility of a puppy, how about a hermit crab or a goldfish? The point is that giving yourself a reason to get out of bed in the morning is a potent confidence builder, especially if you’ve recently gone through a rough patch. If you don’t, who will feed your fish or hermit crab or water your plants? Knowing that there is a little patch of life outside of yourself over which you have sole responsibility will build your confidence in ways you never imagined. Particularly if you live alone and don’t have many opportunities for other confidence-building activities in your life, finding something to take care of can be very effective.