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Our heads can do a big number on us. Sometimes, on the outside, it seems like everything’s going great — lots of friends, a job we love — but we’re still feeling badly about ourselves. Nothing seems to snap us out of it.
“Self-esteem … means how one values or regards themselves. Self-esteem is strengthened by our own accomplishments and achievements. A prerequisite for building a solid foundation is for the individual to establish their own autonomy and independence from their parents. Only after healthy separation is established can we truly begin to feel good about ourselves,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, a child, parenting, and relationship psychotherapist.
How we treat other people, establishing our own careers/income, and having warm, healthy relationships are all solid contributors to our evolving self-esteem. No wonder self-esteem has a direct affect on our confidence level.
But some of the messages in our society sabotage a person’s self-esteem. Think about the media’s portrayal of the “ideal woman” being thin and beautiful.
So, how can you break this rut and have the utmost confidence?
1. Practice, practice, practice.
There’s prolific research showing that practicing any skill builds confidence in performing it, says Joanie B. Connell, Ph.D., founder of Flexible Work Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in leadership assessment, development, and retention for all levels.
2. Prepare in advance.
Knowing the answers helps build confidence. “If you prepare in advance for a situation, you will feel a lot better about it going in,” says Connell.
3. Fix your posture.
Confidence can be very quickly boosted by changing our body language. When we curl up, hunch and essentially make ourselves look smaller, we send signals to our mind that we have “low power,” which gives out the stress hormone cortisol. Contrastly, when we assume postures of higher power — like the Wonder Woman pose — our bodies send signals to our mind that we have greater power. This releases testosterone, making us feel more dominant and assertive.
4. Really, truly love yourself.
“Liking yourself and appreciating your good qualities always leads to self-confidence. If you’re struggling with self-acceptance, and focusing on the positive is hard for you, reach out to your support system and ask them to help you have greater acceptance for yourself,” says Stacy Kaiser, Live Happy editor-at-large and licensed psychotherapist.
5. Stop wasting energy focusing on your weaknesses.
We all have good and bad parts of ourselves. But we should focus on only the good things.
“Focus on what it is that’s good about you. Are you a great communicator? A computer whiz? Someone who knows how to make people feel comfortable? Be aware of those assets and make an effort to use them on a regular basis,” says Kaiser.
6. Recall a moment when you felt really confident.
“Everyone has some point in their life when they felt confident or at their best. The trick is to remember that experience in your body and notice what happens. Any time you remember anything, your brain, and therefore your body, need to pull up the memory and give you a little bit of the experience of that memory. The longer you consider it, the more real it becomes,” says Devon White, a performance coach.
7. Smile. Duh.
It’s proven scientifically that people with a healthier smile have more confidence than someone with an unhealthy smile.
“Brush and floss your teeth daily. Brush twice a day and floss once a day, avoid sugar when possible and minimize it. Soda pop, energy drinks, and sticky candies are the worst for teeth, and visit your dentist and dental hygienist for regular dental checkups and cleanings. For the average patient, it’s every 6 months, and for the best prevention a cleaning every 4 months,” says Dr. Greg Cumberford, a dentist whose mobile dental bus provides providing free dental care to children in need.
8. Wear a scent that reminds you of a positive memory.
According to a study published in Psychology Today, “The wide spectrum of essential oils affect the brain directly both in the hippocampus, as well as in the amygdala which governs over emotions; thus inhaling oils can help us make pleasant associations that lead to ease of tension.”
Wellness curator Victorine Deych says that some of the oils most known to boost confidence include holy basil/tulsi, pink grapefruit, and sweet orange.
“When you smell something that triggers happiness waves in the brain, one will experience joy. The sense of smell is linked to the limbic node part of the brain’s emotional control center. Positive emotions are directly . to confidence,” says Deych.
9. Wear makeup.
Looking at women who wear cosmetics makes observers feel better and just may improve their health, says Sandy Dumont. In a study led by Patrick Poessel from Vanderbilt University, they analyzed the emotional and physical reactions of 60 women to a variety of images.
Half the women had a measurably improved immune response and a decrease in stress hormones after viewing the pictures of the women wearing makeup, an effect that Poessel says has occurred in other studies as well,” says Dumont.
10. Actually visualize yourself happy.
“Confidence through visualization techniques can help anyone achieve or accomplish many things in their life that they maybe felt were unattainable,” says Pattie Freeman, a certified hypnotherapist. Using visualization tools to make thoughts a reality is quite simple.
“The mind really doesn’t know the difference between reality and the imagination. Your subconscious mind will act on what it sees, feel and hears. It’s what you create within, regardless of whether those images reflect your current reality or not. If you’re consistent in what you visualize, you will achieve it,” says Freeman.