What comes to mind when we talk about confidence? Most likely it is how people behave. Confident people are comfortable with themselves, can deal with any social situation, and seem to be always in control.
But this is only one part of being confident. Most of what makes up confidence is what confidence allows you to achieve. It’s about achieving your goals no matter how scared or anxious you may feel. Confident people know how to put up with these feelings and deal with their situation regardless.
Imagine you are asked to give a presentation at short notice in your work place. You’ll be in the position where colleagues may criticize you just because you are put forward and bosses may ask you questions you can’t answer. But you decide to do it anyway, as taking this risk may further your career.
Maybe you have played with the idea of leaving your corporate life and pursuing your dream: become an entrepreneur, and transform your hobby into a business. There are many fears to overcome, fear of failure, criticism, not being good enough, lack of experience, and giving up comfortable, financially secure lifestyle.
Becoming confident is about learning to manage those feelings in order to achieve your long-term goals. It is your conscious choice, being confident doesn’t come with genes, gender, being tall or short, or being young or old. You can learn it like driving a car or playing tennis.
Boost confidence through body language
Confident people seem to appear “bigger than life”, which is reflected through their body language. Numerous studies have shown that body language is more important in how we perceive others than the words spoken. You wouldn’t believe a person saying “I can do it” whilst they are in a closed stance (such as with arms folded), and looking down at the floor. More likely you would trust a person who doesn’t say a word, but keeps eye-contact and maintains an open stance.
You can take control over your body language and send the nonverbal messages you want to communicate. It’s not faking, because actually it can help you to rewire your own beliefs and thoughts about yourself.
Psychologist at Harvard Business School, Amy Cuddy, ran an experiment in which people were directed to adopt either high-power or low-power poses for 2 minutes. The results were shocking: high-power posers showed an 8% increase in testosterone, low-power posers had a 10% decrease in the hormone. “Our nonverbal signals govern how we think and feel about ourselves. Our bodies change our minds,” says Cuddy.
Cuddy presented the results of the experiment two years ago in her famous TED Talk which has over 18 million views. People around the world have come back to her with their success stories: a girl in Bangladesh learned to overcome the cultural norms of femininity and take more space; a clinical psychologist in Johannesburg, South Africa uses power posing in her therapy; a high school teacher in the U.S. coaches his volleyball team to power pose to win their match; a homeless man in California has harnessed his self-worth through his body language.
Confidence is not a static measure, our confidence to perform roles and tasks can increase and decrease; some days we may feel more confident than others. So it’s important to take daily care of your confidence as you take care of your bodily hygiene.
Here are 5 exercises that won’t take more than 5 minutes, daily. You can do the whole routine, or one of the exercises before facing any challenging situation, for example before a job interview or public speaking.
- Power Posing
You can use any universal expression of power – chest lifted, head held high, arms either up or propped on the hips. By holding an open, expansive “power pose” for as little as two minutes, you can actually change your body chemistry and become more confident.
- Eye Contact
Practice eye contact with yourself, and remember to make warm and friendly eye contact with every person you are going to talk to today.
Warm up your smiling muscles by doing it consciously. Remember, that keeping smile on your face will exude positivity while also sending a signal that you are approachable.
- Positive Affirmation
Repeat positive affirmation(s) at the moment you need. If possible, then in a loud and clear voice: I am confident! I am motivated! I am smart! I am irresistibly charming!
- Breathing Exercise
Do a simple breathing exercise to relax your whole body, breathing in count 2 and breathing out count 6. When a person is relaxed, they breathe through their nose in a slow, even and gentle way. Deliberately copying a relaxed breathing pattern calms the nervous system.
Now give yourself a friendly pat on the shoulder – you are ready to face the world (and yourself) with confidence.