Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” I agree – but I also make the argument that this is the recipe for confidence too.
Confidence is not about becoming someone you are not. You do not need to be more outgoing to be confident. You do not need to learn how to speak in public. You do not need to get rid of any complexities that make you, you. You simply need to know what you are good at, establish your value, and make daily contributions. Unshakable confidence is about embracing WHO YOU ARE. It is shifting the focus from “I’m not this, I’m not that, I wish I could be this, I wish I could be that.” To “I am in control of myself, who I am, and how I live my life. I am deciding to value my true self.” The more you have embraced your true self the more effortlessly confident you become.
Once you have mastered embracing your truest form, doors of opportunity appear everywhere. Life can be lived with less fear and more joy. This is my unconventional yet effective pathway to get to unshakable confidence.
1. MAKE GENUINE CONTRIBUTIONS
Experiment with the way you are contributing to the different areas of your life. Are you making a difference at work? Do you leave people feeling better than when you met them? Are you contributing to a cause larger than yourself? Do you participate in connecting with your community? Do you make someone’s life easier? Are you helpful to your coworkers?
I fully believe in the link between meaningful contributions and confidence. I think it is difficult (if not impossible) to have low self-confidence when the work you are doing is valuable and the contributions you are making are meaningful.
Do not overwhelm yourself thinking this needs to be career oriented, or life-changing to “count”. Simply open your eyes. Look around your house, your job, your community. Are there ways you can help your spouse? Streamline and improve a work process? Get involved with your city? Identify where you can contribute and do it in a meaningful way.
2. REMEMBER YOU ARE IN CONTROL
“The more you love your decisions the less you need others to love them.”
Did you do something slightly unconventional recently? And now it has you feeling a bit in the spotlight? There are people who have negative reactions to anything outside the norm. But remember this: there are centuries of people throughout history who strayed from ‘normal’ -doing things others thought was crazy – usually only because it was new or different. Without these people we would not have Apple, we would not have made strides toward equal rights, we would not have cake on a stick.
Innovation comes from those who are bold enough to blaze trails and test waters.
So be different. Embrace your unique perspectives and approaches. Those are valuable. Think about your very best friend or your spouse. Do you love them because they are just like everyone else? NO. You love them for the ways they are different from everyone else. Learn to give yourself that same courtesy. Love yourself for the ways you are different.
And finally, remember this: no one is noticing. Especially successful people! Successful people are working on their own lives! So you got married earlier than everyone. Or you’re not even close to marriage. So you graduated from college and you work in a restaurant. So you took 8 years to graduate college. So you had kids before your friends did. So you left your hometown and never want to return. So you never left your hometown. It doesn’t matter.
It is your life. You get to decide what you are doing with it. You are in control. So if you are truly, in your heart, okay with your decisions – you do not need others to be okay with them. Other people’s reactions to your decisions are not of your concern. Your concern is you.
Have your own best interest in mind, and trust that you know what that is better than anyone else.
3. STOP JUDGING OTHERS HARSHLY
When you judge others harshly your psyche gets in the poor habit of thinking that others are judging you that harshly. Spending time looking at other people’s lives and having negative thoughts about them, really only affirm negative thoughts in your own life. Think about it. Unless you’re one ballsy being – they will never know what you think about them. So having those negative thoughts only does damage to YOU. Stop it.
Be kind in your thoughts about others, and it will help you be kind in your thoughts about yourself.
4. ACCEPT YOUR “FLAWS”
Once you accept your flaws no one can hold them against you. You do not need to be in a constant battle with yourself.
There are some things that are out of our control. Often times when we think of our flaws, we identify a number of physical attributes. We resent the body type we have or the nose we were born with, or the hair type we have. I beg you to not even consider these things as “flaws” in the first place but if you MUST – then learn to accept them. Then move past them.
These are not limitations. These are not things that make you lesser than another human. These are attributes – a layer of you. A layer of you that does not in any way define who you are.
As C.S. Lewis said, “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
Forget about your weaknesses, focus on your strengths. The beauty of this is, that once you have accepted what you define as your shortcomings, you can move past them. You can put all of your energy into improving yourself – instead of wasting your energy demeaning yourself.
5. GET RID OF THE TOXIC ONES – SEEK OUT THE UPLIFTING ONES
Sometimes lack of confidence can come from surrounding yourself with the wrong people. “People either inspire you or drain you – pick them wisely.” Make an effort to examine some of your closest relationships with friends and family. Do you have someone who constantly undermines you? Makes you feel bad about yourself? They have to go.
“There is a special place in hell for women who do not support other women.” Truly successful people are the ones who are reaching out their hands to help others up the ladder. If you are around people who do not support or encourage you, I ask you to think about that relationship carefully.
You can be doing your best work at improving your self-confidence but keeping people like this around will have you in the dance of “two steps forward, one step back.” Refer to my article on You Are Who You Surround Yourself With for more on this concept.
6. EXERCISE THE BODY AND MIND
We all know the vast benefits of physical exercise. Increased confidence is one of them – and not because of the improved physique. Studies show the endorphins you get from working out boost confidence. Be sure to make time for movement in your life. Those happy feeling endorphins will help you love yourself a little bit more each time you hit the gym, walk the dog, ski in the mountain fresh air, or go on a run.
That said, do not neglect to exercise your mind – “learning is a lifelong journey” – just because you are out of school does not mean you are “done” learning. We are never done learning. Read books, articles, watch TED Talks, go to cooking classes, take skiing lessons, find your groove. Find your way to expand your mind and skills – this is imperative to your confidence.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear, while action breeds confidence and courage.
When we are inactive in taking charge of our own lives – we are more apt to feel worthless, unnecessary, or unloved. Take action, hotshot.
7. AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: CONFIDENCE COMES FROM THE INSIDE
You will notice I have not listed “get a facial” or “go on a shopping spree” or “lose ten pounds.” I fully endorse treatin yo self and getting fit but when it comes to confidence: it will only be truly impervious if it shines from the inside. Alternatives that are related to your outer appearance will not leave you with genuine confidence. They might leave you with a quick boost. But this article is about creating the type of confidence that doesn’t fade. The type of confidence that carries you through. The type of confidence that harsh words and difficult times cannot deflate.
Leave this post feeling empowered that your decisions are exactly that, yours. You are a unique individual with strengths and attributes that others admire – but more importantly, strengths and attributes that you need to appreciate and admire yourself. REALIZE that you are valuable and irreplaceable and the best way to get through this life is with confidence. The alternative is painful and tedious.
“No one else is you – and that is your power.” – Dave Grohl