7 Keys to Killer Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is one of those intangible qualities that has a huge influence on the quality of your life.
It directly affects how people treat you, how many opportunities come your way in life, how happy you are, how great you dare to become in your lifetime, and even how successful your life is as a whole.
Anyone who suffers from a lack of self-confidence will know how debilitating and miserable it can be.
The good news is that self-confidence isn’t something that you need to be born with, or something that has to come naturally to you. In other words, it’s not something that’s reserved for a lucky few.
Some people may need to work at it harder than others, but everyone can be self-confident if they really wish to.
Below are 7 powerful keys to help you develop killer self-confidence:
1. Remember that perfection doesn’t exist
It’s human nature to compare yourself to others, and therefore judge yourself against others. The problem is that when you do that, it’s impossible to make a fair comparison.
That game is always loaded in favor of other people.
That’s because you’re always painfully aware of each and every one of your own shortcomings, but often only a few of everyone else’s, if any. So you’re always going to come off looking inferior to them through your own eyes.
If you’re someone who struggles with self-confidence, then your shortcomings are at the center of your focus. So they’re a big deal to you.
Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.
Everyone else, on the other hand, is going to look perfect.
And you’d give anything to be just like them. Right?
Well, let me give you a little dose of reality . . . .
Everyone you come across in your life, and I mean everyone . . . no matter how confident they appear, how graceful, how “together” they have their life . . . has insecurities, doubts and fears. Just like you.
They go through times when they doubt themselves, when they question their own value and whether they can succeed at something. Or even deserve to succeed at something. Just like you.
They have things about themselves they wish they could change, and they see other people they wish they could be more like. Just like you.
And they put their pants on one leg at a time. Just like you.
The bottom line is, more often than not when you’re comparing yourself to someone else in some aspect of life, you’re actually far better than you think, and others are worse than you think.
Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.
So don’t fool yourself into thinking everyone else is perfect. It’s not so. They might be better than you at dealing with or hiding their fears and doubts, but they’re there.
If you really want to be more like them, then focus on your positives and your achievements, not on your shortcomings. Sure, there will always be room for improvements in you, but that’s the case for everyone.
So don’t sweat it.
2. Embrace Pain
A pretty common piece of advice that we often hear for dealing with a lack of self-confidence is to “face your fears”.
Sure, facing your fears will condition you to dealing with them and hopefully overcoming them eventually, but unfortunately it can also backfire as well.
If you’ve ever put yourself in a situation where you needed to face your fears, only to fall flat on your face, you’ll know what a blow that can be to your self-confidence. An experience like that can actually reinforce your self-doubts. Not exactly the desired outcome, right?
So does that mean it’s actually bad advice?
No, not at all.
It’s just that simply facing your fears isn’t enough. You also have to embrace the pain that comes with facing your fears.
It’s natural to fear failure, rejection, ridicule, and so on. So naturally it’s going to hurt to risk experiencing these things. And it hurts even more to actually experience them.
But you know what?
That hurt is making you a stronger, better person. And that is what you should be focusing on.
Without pain, there would be no suffering, without suffering we would never learn from our mistakes. To make it right, pain and suffering is the key to all windows, without it, there is no way of life.
Don’t ever go into a situation worrying about what others will think about you. Or whether they’ll judge you. Or whether they’ll laugh at you. Or whatever else.
It’s not about them.
It’s about you.
You’re what’s important.
Look at every tough situation as an opportunity to grow. Regardless of the outcome.
Sure, succeeding would be nice, but it’s not everything. Usually, it isn’t even the most important thing. Keep your eye on the big picture, which is you growing as a person.
When you feel the fear, smile and be excited about it. Because that fear is the anticipation of pain. And pain is your teacher.
So embrace it and welcome it. It’s about to improve you in some way.
When you look at any situation from that perspective, you’ll realize that in reality, it’s impossible to fail.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.
3. Follow the 7 P’s
What are the 7 P’s?
The 7 P’s represent the expression, “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”
It’s a military adage, I believe. And it’s pretty self-explanatory, right?
The simple fact is that the better prepared you are to face a situation, the more confident you’re going to be. And, most likely, the more successful.
Regardless of what that situation may be therefore, whether it’s a job interview, a social engagement, a public presentation, a contest, or anything else, it’s important to be well-prepared for your level of confidence to be as high as possible.
There are two ways in which being well-prepared boosts your confidence.
Firstly, it removes as much of the unknown as possible.
By making the situation and/or the environment as familiar to you as possible, fear of the unknown, which can be a very powerful and crippling fear, is largely neutralized.
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
And secondly, it essentially turns the situation into one that you’ve dealt with before. And if you’ve done it before, you can do it again, right?
So if you want to be as confident as possible in some situation, do a few trial runs with people you’re comfortable with. Get as familiar with it as you can. Practice, train, research, study, rehearse. Do whatever you need to do to face the situation with your mind as doubt-free as possible.
Because you’re trying to overcome a lack of confidence, you need to prepare more thoroughly than other people do. That’s just part of the game.
Another great technique to use is visualization. Take some time each day to mentally see yourself in the situation and succeeding at it with flying colors. See and feel in your mind what the whole experience looks and feels like.
Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.
Your brain actually can’t tell the difference between a memory that actually took place and one that was imagined very vividly. So visualization is actually a powerful method of practicing something without actually doing it. Not only that, it also programs your subconscious mind with instructions to help you succeed at your goal.
It’s not a great idea to use visualization as your only form of practice or preparation however, but just a component of it. Without actual practice it’s very easy to overlook important details about the situation that won’t find themselves into your visualization sessions, and that you therefore won’t be prepared for.
One final point. Whenever you come through a tough situation, whether or not it went well for you, always take the time to reflect on what you could have done better. That will add to the quality of your preparation for next time.
The more challenging situations you come through successfully, the more positive reinforcement you will get about yourself and the higher your self-confidence will grow as a whole.
4. Critique yourself, don’t define yourself
Self-critique is an important part of self-improvement, so it’s something that’s very healthy for your development. After all, you can’t improve something that you don’t recognize as needing to be improved, right?
But there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
Let’s look at the wrong way first.
What you should never do is to define yourself or put labels on yourself, especially using broad, non-actionable generalizations. For example, telling yourself things like “I’m shy”, “I’m awkward”, “I’m not very clever”, “I can’t do that job”, and so on, is self-defeating and not actionable.
Statements like these only serve to reinforce negative beliefs about yourself, eroding your self-confidence and making it more difficult to change yourself for the better. They don’t give you any specific information that you can use to improve as a person.
Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.
Imagine telling your doctor that you feel sick. That’s a very general statement. How easy would it be for him to help you with just that information alone? Pretty tough, right? Which is why he would ask you lots of questions, to get more information and narrow down the source of your problem.
It’s the same with critiquing yourself. To be of any help to you, it needs to be specific so that you can directly target the source of the problem.
For example, “I go blank in job interviews”, or “I get nervous in job interviews” are constructive critiques. They’re specific, they’re something that you can act upon to rectify, and they don’t define you as a person. Practice your interview technique, perhaps enlisting the help of a friend who works in a management role, and pretty soon your problem will be solved.
Critiquing yourself in the right way allows you to improve yourself and is therefore empowering. Defining yourself in terms of your shortcomings, on the other hand, is disempowering as it reinforces negative impressions of yourself.
5. Expect success
More often than not, our thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies.
How can that be?
Well, in a previous point I talked about the power of visualization for programming your subconscious mind to achieve a certain goal for you.
When you expect a negative outcome from a given situation, or worry about a negative outcome, you’re essentially visualizing failure. After all, worrying is nothing more than the anticipation of the pain of failure.
So by allowing yourself to adopt that mindset, you’re actually programming your mind to fail.
This is why, for pessimistic people who usually focus on negative outcomes, so often that’s exactly what they get. Optimistic people, on the other hand, are naturally positive and always seem to have things go their way.
Some people are under the mistaken belief that optimistic people are only optimistic because they’re naturally lucky. But actually, it’s the other way around.
But there’s even more to it than that.
Another major problem with being pessimistic is that it deflates your self-confidence. Not to mention making you constantly miserable. Let’s face it, it’s hard to have confidence when you’re expecting the worst outcome all the time. When you’re expecting to continually fail and fall flat on your face.
For the sake of your self-confidence therefore, and for a successful life, it’s important to focus on and expect success in every challenging situation you come across. You have nothing to lose by doing it and everything to gain.
A word of warning, though.
Expecting success doesn’t mean not putting any effort into it. It doesn’t mean just operating on blind faith that everything is going to turn out perfectly just for you. You still need to prepare (remember the 7 P’s?) and earn it.
The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.
Self-confidence and success don’t just fall into your lap.
The highest level of confidence will be achieved when you know you’ve done everything you can to prepare for a tough situation and planned for all eventualities, and then face it with the full expectation of crushing it.
Expect the best, prepare for the worst.
And by adopting this approach to your whole life your self-confidence will eventually skyrocket.
6. Be cruel to be kind
One of the biggest obstacles you’ll ever face to achieving a happy and fulfilling life is fear. Many people are ruled by fear, and they spend most of their life avoiding it.
They avoid anything that’s risky, painful, difficult, uncomfortable, or challenging.
They play it safe.
The only problem is, where there are no risks, there are no rewards. So there’s no living.
The more you base decisions on fear, by avoiding it whenever possible, the weaker you become. And the less confident you become. The less able you become to face difficult situations.
So don’t avoid them.
In fact, you should do the exact opposite.
Actively seek out situations that scare you. Be cruel to yourself to be kind. Because you’ll find that these situations will be highly rewarding.
All the things that I have done in my life that I am proud of are all things on the threshold of which I felt immense fear.
Sometimes it’s not so easy to do this, though. Fear just takes over you and cripples you.
That’s why the best strategy is to drop yourself into a situation that you won’t need to face for a while, but that you won’t be able to back out of once the time comes. This makes it much easier as you generally don’t fear things so much that aren’t of immediate concern.
Book yourself for a public speaking engagement a few weeks from now, where people are going to hold you accountable, for example. Anything that you find particularly scary or uncomfortable, do it. And find a way to arrange it so that you can’t get out of it when crunch time comes around.
There is no greater confidence booster than making yourself accustomed to dealing with fear.
7. Communicate self-confidence
It’s a commonly-known fact that your mindset and attitude reveal themselves in the way you communicate to others.
It’s not difficult, for example, to pick out the confident people at a social gathering from the shy, introverted types. They will generally speak louder, be brighter and more animated, use different tonality in their voice, different language, and even different body language.
What isn’t so well-known however, is that the way you communicate actually influences your mindset and your attitude. So it’s like a feedback loop of sorts.
If you communicate self-confidence therefore, it actually helps to increase your self-confidence.
How do you do that?
First of all, always keep your language positive, especially when talking about yourself.
The language you use is closely tied together with your thoughts. You can’t be thinking something positive while you’re saying something negative, right?
Your thoughts are picked up on by your subconscious mind, and from those, it forms beliefs about you and the world in general. Use negative language on a regular basis and you’ll form strong negative beliefs.
If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.
Obviously, that’s not something you want.
Even if you’re feeling negative about some aspect of yourself, never allow yourself to verbalize it. Because if you do, you cause your self-confidence to get eaten away a tiny little bit. Make it a habit and those tiny bits really start to add up.
Secondly, make a conscious effort to portray self-confidence in your posture and body language, even if you don’t necessarily feel that way. Keep your head high, smile, and look people in the eye. Don’t walk around as though you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Just walking around like this will instantly make you feel different. You’ll actually feel more confident and sure of yourself.
But there’s one more major benefit of communicating confidence.
What else is noticeable about confident people at a social gathering? Yep, they always have a crowd around them. Why is that?
Because confidence is interesting and attractive.
When you communicate confidence other people will actually start treating you more like a confident person. They will find you more interesting and their very behavior towards you will serve as valuable positive feedback.
And that in itself will be a direct, major boost to your self-confidence.