Updated: Jul 30
Some people can walk into a room and something just draws you to them. It's their energy and it's their confidence too. You may or may not want to command a room but you do want to be confident and that is something you can develop.
It starts by being aware of the stories that you tell yourself i.e. "Why should I try if things will not change". Through your awareness, you can see the impact that your self-talk has on your action or inaction. As you work to remedy your mindset old fixed beliefs become less prominent or dissolve.
Developing A Confident Mindset
Confidence is internal and healthy self-confidence encourages you to show up fully for different situations and know you are ok with the outcome. A lack of confidence can show up as a fixed mindset on a set of beliefs that may or may not be true that keep you from achieving what you want because you don't believe in your abilities.
You can develop confidence through mindfulness activities that strengthen your perception along with exposure to new and challenging situations. Exposure to new experiences restructures brain signals, forms new habits, and over time changes your core beliefs about what you can and cannot do.
Building confidence takes effort much like lifting weights to build your strength. So through repetition of reaffirming beliefs along with being open to experience you transcend limitations and as a result, improve confidence in your abilities.
While you work on building your confidence here are a few ways to assert yourself and appear more confident while you build it.
1. Body Language
When your posture is together you look more confident. Think of someone you know with a hunched back/ shoulders and how they appear to look weighed down. These days even children have poor posture due to their heavy use of phones and electronics. That has nothing to do with confidence but an erect spine and strong shoulders pull the energy back up.
Also, when talking to others, closed arms appear as if you're not interested. Body facing towards them shows that you are invested in what they have to say but watch the feet too. A foot pointing away is like you're ready to exit the conversation [or maybe they are]. And take up more space in general. The smaller you appear to shrink yourself the less confident you appear. Of course, you want to gauge the situation with the last example because time and place matter too.
2. Use Your Hands
If you have ever watched a Ted Talk or two, the videos with the most views had presenters that were very expensive with their hands. You may not be interested in giving a Ted Talk but consider how you receive information when someone uses their hands to communicate as opposed to when they don't. There is no right or wrong way but one resonates more. Go with the delivery method that helps you communicate with confidence.
3. Know Your 'Tells'
Nervousness can show up in the form of nervous ticks, clammy hands, barely opening your mouth when you speak, inaudible voice or dropped volume, filler sounds such as sighs, throat clearing, or repetitive sayings.
Repetitive behaviors are self-soothing behaviors we are not aware of. One way to be more aware of your communication style is to record yourself to see where you can make changes.
4. Eye Contact
Making eye contact is important too. Some cultures consider direct eye contact as disrespect. In other cultures, not making eye contact is a form of dishonesty or disloyalty. It could also stem from experiences in childhood where you learned it wasn't safe to make eye contact or assert yourself too much. At this stage of your life, I encourage you to practice maintaining appropriate eye contact.
A lack of eye contact is not isolated to specific events. It may be that eye contact while communicating or during conflict is uncomfortable. Or perhaps eye gazing during intimacy is something you want but are not yet ready to do.
Eye contact is a beautiful way to connect. There is nothing more pure than seeing someone and letting yourself be seen. Discover where this stems from then take steps in doing the opposite with practice.
5. Acknowledge Where You Are
And areas you want to grow. I have a sticky note on my laptop to remind me to slow down when I give a presentation. It reminds me to dial it back and articulate. I have it because when I get anxious I tend to speak faster. I don't make myself feel bad about it- I acknowledge it and slow down the moment I become aware.
You can acknowledge where you are and make adjustments when necessary. Do it as nonchalantly as you can. Or you can announce it so you can stop thinking about it. For example: 'Ok I'm not used to public speaking yet, if you hear me stumble a little please give me a moment. I have some useful information for you all today so bear with me....'
Try it for yourself. People will be patient when they see you working it out. And chances are you will not stumble over your words, stutter, speak fast, fidget, or whatever the 'thing' was because you lessened the effect just by expressing.
6. Take Risks
If you lack confidence you will avoid risks too. If you never step out of your comfort zone how will you know what you're capable of? When you face challenges with a positive mindset your resilience and self-confidence improve. You can figure out where you have been holding yourself back. Commit to seeing things differently with practice one day at a time.
7. Get A Mentor
There is support for everything these days. You can get training or shadow a mentor that has been where you are. A mentor can lend their expertise in helping you bridge the gap between your current mindset and how to expand your consciousness. Sometimes changing your environment and/ or having role models as proof that 'you can do anything' ignites a spark within.
You could still have nerves or anxiety playing out in the background because maybe that's the energy you came to work with. However, you can learn how to work through it.
Look at the work of other leaders, influencers, artists, motivational speakers, etc, that inspire you. We can take note of what they did and had to overcome to be where they are now. We see the finished product and who they are now but they have a story and have gone through tests that we could learn from.
Les Brown, a motivational speaker who has been speaking on many platforms for years shared that he still gets nervous before a speech. He still gets on the stage and delivers a powerful message which is an example of feeling fear and still showing up.
Marcus Garvey is another example. According to him, his first speech didn't go so well. He believed in himself and his purpose so much that he didn't let it define him. Can you imagine if he decided not to believe in himself?
When you trust yourself you will do what you set out to do because you can and you will.