Welcome to self-confidence boot camp

P.S. It’s not the same as self-esteem.

Some people always seem calm, cool, and self-assured. Others perspire buckets, feel nervous, and are filled with self-doubt. Rest assured, we all face varying levels of self-confidence throughout our lives. And there are many ways to improve our confidence. Let’s start with the basics about what self-confidence is and isn’t.

Self-confidence and self-esteem are not the same. A New York Times piece points out the distinction between the two. Self-confidence is how you feel about your odds of success for doing a particular thing. Self-esteem is more about your belief in your overall worth.

An article by NBC News Health Editor Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, says knowing the difference between the two “can go a long way toward boosting a positive mental attitude.”

Self-confidence is outward facing, the ability to interact successfully with the world around you. It’s built over time; with a defined set of skills and achievements you can rely on.

Self-esteem is inward facing, an emotional and cognitive assessment of your own “worth,” of self-respect and how you value yourself. “I don’t feel good about myself,” is often a phrase used by people struggling with self-esteem.

It’s typically easier to build self-confidence than self-esteem, but the two are intertwined in different ways. For example, many people are very self-confident, but have low self-esteem.

Source: NBC News

Yes. It is entirely possible to have high self-esteem but feel unnerved about delivering a speech in front of 300 people.

How can we elevate our self-confidence?

According to Charlie Houpert, author of Charisma on Command, find ways to get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s how we grow. Here’s a good place to start: When you’re feeling less than confident, try doing something you’re unsure about. Accomplishing something you’re not comfortable with can boost your self-confidence and help you overcome what you fear. It also can lead to real benefits in your life.

“Internally, true self-confidence will lead to more positivity, happiness and resilience,” Houpert says. “Externally, high self-confidence will lead to taking more risks, which directly correlates with reaping more rewards.” Stepping outside your comfort zones, according to Houpert, is the point.

“Confidence is ultimately about being comfortable in a wide variety of situations that would make most people feel uncomfortable,” The New York Times quotes Houpert. “So, if you stretch your comfort zone every day, very quickly you’ll have a large comfort zone and be able to feel more comfortable even when outside of it.”
Not every challenge you give yourself will have a feel-good pay-off. As you get comfortable trying new things, you’ll likely notice your confidence building.

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne

The differences between internal and external self-confidence

Using popular cultural references in his work, Houpert walks us through a few scenes from the TV series, Mad Men (cue haunting theme music). In one YouTube episode he analyzes how the Don Draper character demonstrates internal and external self-confidence, both in his demeanor and dialogue. (If you watched the show, this is ironic because Don Draper also suffers from a crippling lack of self-esteem.) Here are some of Houpert’s observations and tips you can practice.

Relaxed body language. This conveys not only that Don is self-confident and comfortable, but that he is open to others and secure in himself. Tip: Start by noticing your own body language and whether you tend to project self-protective postures that may signal to others that you can’t be approached.

Sit and position the body asymmetrically. According to Houpert, Don’s physical ease would actually make others more comfortable. Tip: When sitting in a group, practice turning your body toward the group and placing an arm over the chair back, for example.

Adopt a posture of openness. At work and in his private life, Don moves freely through whatever space he inhabits. This signals a kind of effortlessness that puts people at ease. Tip: You can start by making sure your arms aren’t crossed when you are around others, and that you stand with your feet aligned with your shoulders.

Take a breather! According to Houpert, in periods of stress, Don is able to slow down his responses, allowing himself time to process his emotions, meter his reactions, and formulate a convincing response. It is a technique that both relaxes you and projects a feeling of authority. Houpert says this is especially beneficial in stressful situations because, “Time feels faster when you’re stressed. Most people rush and give themselves only 30 percent of the time they would give someone else to respond.” Tip: Take note of the speed with which you speak and respond to people.

Practice positive self-talk. Don Draper, according to Houpert, operates from the belief that, “No matter what, he will always be OK.” Houpert admits that not all of us are inclined to believe this about ourselves. “One of the fastest ways to build any belief is to live it.” Tip: Start by telling yourself something simple, “I’m a good person” is a good start.

Five ways your actions build self-confidence

Feeling sure of our ability to accomplish what we set out to do is the essence of self-confidence. Try practicing these basic confidence boosters from Forbes.

  1. Get Things Done. Confidence is built on accomplishment. If you achieve small and big goals, you’re going to feel much better about yourself.
  2. Do The Right Thing. Most confident people live by a value system and make their decisions based on that value system, even when it’s hard and not necessarily in their best interest, but in the interest of the greater good. Your actions and your decisions define your character.
  3. Exercise. Besides benefiting your health in general, exercising helps memory retention, improves focus, helps manage stress and prevents depression. This provides a solid foundation on which to build confidence.
  4. Follow Through. People respect people whose words and actions match. Action gives your words meaning, and it will help you pave a path to accomplishing your goals, strengthening your relationships and feeling proud of who you are.
  5. Do More of What Makes You Happy. Whatever it is you love, create space for it. You need time to enrich your life and recharge in order to be your best self.

Source: Forbes.com

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