Do you ever struggle with feeling confident?
Not too long ago, a friend and I got into a discussion about that very topic, and it is something I’ve been pondering ever since.
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She shared that she had never really felt strong and self-assured, because growing up, she had never known that confidence was something that you should be striving for. In the world she grew up in, you were only either humble or conceited. In her world, there was no such thing as being confident. And so now, as an adult, she finds herself second-guessing every move.
But it’s not just my friend who struggles with feeling good about herself.
Honestly, I think confidence—and its counterpart, insecurity—is something that we all struggle with at some point or another. For many of us, it is a daily struggle. It’s all too easy to doubt ourselves or our worth, or to focus on the parts of ourselves we wish we could change, rather than feeling great about the areas where we are excelling.
Instead of throwing our shoulders back and holding our head high, we hunch down and shrink in, wishing we could disappear. Or, because we feel bad about ourselves, we become overly critical of the people around us.
Believe me, I get it.
It’s a struggle I face too, more often than I’d like to admit, especially in a job that requires me to present myself as a whole lot more confident than I actually am, whether it be connecting with people online, shooting video, media interviews, or speaking on stage.
But the one thing that helps me keep going, even when I’m feeling totally insecure and uncomfortable in my own skin, is a lesson I learned many years ago, while I was struggling with depression, a lesson drilled into me by my therapist.
You know what it was? Fake it ‘til you make it.
And while that might sound a little trite, it is in fact perhaps one of the most powerful lessons any of us can learn, because the truth is that how we act will determine how we feel.
If we wait until we feel good and confident and strong to start acting that way, we will be waiting a very long time. But acting confident, even when we are not, can actually help us feel that way.
So what are some ways we can “fake it,” in order to feel more confident right now? Here are a few of my own little tricks—they might just work for you too!
DO A POWER POSE
Last year I read the book Presence by Amy Cuddy, which explains in great detail how our body language affects our personalities and our confidence. (Watch the Ted Talk HERE.) Her research shows that the chemicals in our body—our levels of testosterone and cortisol—actually change based on how we sit or stand. It’s pretty fascinating (albeit controversial!)
But the really cool part about this is that she found that we can actually have far more control over how we feel, simply by changing the way we stand. Thus, if you want to feel more confident, spend a few minutes in a “power pose”—hands on your hips or spread wide above your head, with your legs apart as well. And whether it really is a change in our body chemistry or merely psychological, it’s pretty amazing how well this works!
DRESS YOUR BEST
Just like the way we stand can affect our confidence, the way we dress and present ourselves to the world can too. Think about it—don’t you always feel the most beautiful and confident when you are wearing your favorite, most flattering outfit, and you’ve taken the time to put on makeup and do your hair? Or maybe that’s just me!
If you work from home or in the home, it is especially hard sometimes to get up the motivation to get dressed and look our best. (After all, yoga pants are just soooooooo comfortable!) But the reality is that looking and feeling sloppy is a confidence killer. If you want to feel good, take the time to look good.
ASK ABOUT OTHERS
It’s hard not to feel awkward in social situations, especially when you are struggling with confidence, or if you tend to be a natural introvert. I can honestly tell you that nothing gives me more anxiety than having to make small talk with a room full of strangers! And yet, in my job, I find myself in that very situation a LOT!
So what’s a girl to do?
Well my solution is pretty simple—I just ask questions. And when I am focused on asking about other people, getting to know them and find out more about what makes them tick, I forget to focus on how nervous and insecure I feel. It works every time!
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
Along those same lines, Henry Ford pointed out that “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”
In other words? Sometimes you just have to fake it ‘til you make it, and be willing to do it scared.
I guarantee that the most successful, most amazing, and most confident people you know still struggle with those same feelings of self-doubt and insecurity that you and I feel. Because everyone feels that way sometimes.
The only difference is that they have learned how to pretend when they need to, and that ability to act confident even when they don’t feel it is what carries them through.
And you can do that too.
My challenge for you, if you’ve been struggling with insecurity and a lack of confidence, is to fake it until you make it. First, spend 2-3 minutes every morning doing a power pose, and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Second, take the time to look your best. Wear your nicest outfits, put on makeup, and do your hair. Take note also of how that makes you feel. And finally, in whatever social situation you find yourself in, make a point of asking others about themselves. Turn your focus inside out.
Think of it as a little experiment, then be sure to let me know how it goes—I’d love to cheer you on!