We are all human and have flaws. Even if your physical appearance or social skills aren’t what you wish they were, that doesn’t have to stop you from exuding self-assurance. Here’s how to believe in yourself.
1. Recognize your talents and good qualities.
No matter how down you feel, try to pat yourself on the back a little and remember the things you excel at. Focusing on your better attributes will distract you from perceived flaws and boost your sense of worth. Think of your good qualities in looks, friendships, talents, and most of all, personality. Some of the flaws can look awkward, but be sure to embrace it. If you’re struggling to come up with good qualities, try these tips:
• Think back on compliments from other people. Maybe they’ve remarked on your smile, or your ability to stay cool and collected in stressful situations. Be sure to compliment them back.
• Remember past accomplishments. It can be something other people recognized, like being at the top of your class, or something only you know about, like a quiet act of service to make life easier for someone else. Realize how great this was and consider doing it again, maybe at a higher level.
• Think about the qualities you try to cultivate. No one’s perfect, but if you’re actively trying to be an honorable, good person, give yourself some credit for effort. The fact that you think about bettering yourself at all says that you’re humble and good-hearted, and those are positive attributes.
• Make a list. Write down everything you can think of, and refer back to it next time you’re feeling down. Add to it as you remember more things you can take pride in doing.
2. Remember that everyone struggles with confidence. Some people are good at hiding it, but nearly every person has struggled with his or her self-confidence at one point. You’re not alone.
• Try not to feel like all eyes are on you, all the time. Most people are probably too preoccupied with how they appear to be constantly judging you. Breathe a sigh of relief and recognize that you don’t have to be perfect all the time.
• Build your confidence by helping others. Take time to pay someone else a compliment, or do an unannounced good deed. You’ll brighten their day, and you’ll feel better about yourself.
• Stop comparing yourself with everyone else. Not everything is a competition, and viewing life that way will wear you out. You don’t have to be smartest, prettiest, most popular person in order to be happy. If you have a strong competitive streak that you can’t completely ignore, try competing with yourself instead and strive to keep getting better.
3. Accept compliments gracefully.
Don’t just roll your eyes and shrug it off — own it! Make eye contact, smile, and say “thank you.” Being nice about it when someone else wants to compliment you doesn’t compromise your humility; it shows that you’re polite and have a secure sense of self-worth.
Pay a compliment in return. If you’re still uncomfortable taking compliments, try giving one back after you’ve accepted. This can help you feel like the score is “even” and you haven’t been too prideful.
4. Don’t over-apologize.
Being able to say you’re sorry is a good trait (and something too many people struggle with). However, be careful to say it only when necessary. Apologizing when you’ve slighted or inconvenienced someone is polite. Apologizing when you haven’t done anything wrong, though, can make you feel subordinate and like you should be sorry. Before it slips out of your mouth, take a second to make sure this is a situation that actually needs an apology from you.
Use workarounds. You can express your sympathy or regret without actually apologizing. For instance, if you’re worried about inconveniencing someone, you could say “I hope this hasn’t been too much trouble” instead of automatically reverting to “I’m sorry.”
5. Look the part. Or, as the saying goes, “fake it ’til you make it.”
If you know that you look like a confident, capable person, eventually you’ll start to feel it, too. Try these tricks:
• Take care of yourself. Devote a little time each day to personal hygiene and making sure you’re presenting yourself well. Shower daily, brush and floss your teeth, and groom your skin and hair.
• Dress for confidence. You don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe to feel better in your clothes. Instead, simply try to wear something clean every day. Take it a step further by doing laundry often enough that you feel like you have a choice about what to wear in the morning, instead of settling for whatever isn’t dirty.
• Perfect your posture. How you carry yourself communicates a lot to other people, so make sure you’re telling them that you’re confident and in-charge. Keep your shoulders back, your spine straight, and your chin high. Walk with purpose instead of dragging your feet, and sit up straight.
• Smile and make eye contact. It’s a subtle change, but it can work wonders on how other people perceive you. Don’t be afraid to meet the gaze of someone else, and keep your grin in easy reach — both of these things can disarm most social situations and make everyone feel more comfortable.
6. Embrace your interests.
If there’s a sport or hobby you’ve always wanted to be good at, now’s the time! Improving your skills will reinforce that you are talented, and subsequently boost your confidence. Learn a musical instrument or a foreign language, take up an art-form like painting, start building projects — whatever it is that catches your interest.
• Don’t get discouraged if you’re not immediately awesome. Remember that learning is a process, and you’re in it for the small victories and the relaxing recreation time, not to be the best ever.
• Take up a hobby you can do with a group. Finding like-minded people who share your interests can be an easy way to make friends and build confidence. Look around your community for groups you can join, or find kinship with fellow hobbyists online.
7. See confidence as a process, not a singular achievement.
Having confidence isn’t a finish line you cross once, and the process won’t always move forward — there will be days when you feel like you’re starting from square one. Take a deep breath, remember the self-confidence hurdles you’ve already cleared, and resolve to keep going.