I tap my feet, looking nervously around the hotel reception.
It’s my first day in Bangkok, at the beginning of a lengthy solo trip through Asia and Australia. There are a couple of travellers milling around, but I’m feeling way too self-conscious to chat to them.
Just as I’m gathering up the courage to go over and introduce myself, they walk out of the reception and into the balmy Thai air.
I feel a wave of relief, swiftly followed by mental self-flagellation.
Gaaaah, why am I such a complete and total wuss? I don’t want to spend my whole trip alone. What if I never find anyone else to talk to? I’m such an idiot…
What I needed at that moment (and in many, many other moments like it) was a serious dose of self-confidence.
Where does confidence come from?
As someone who’s suffered from crippling low self-esteem, I can tell you where self-confidence definitely doesn’t come from.
We won’t find it by:
- Not speaking up
- Doing things to make people like you
- Trying to look (or be) “perfect”
- Dismissing compliments and accomplishments
- Living your life for other people
I lived the first 25 years of my life trying to be someone other people would like.
But I didn’t like myself very much.
I’ve since spent years transforming my mindset – pushing my boundaries, working to understand who I am, valuing my worth, and simply being myself.
This is where authentic self-confidence comes from.
The keys to killer self confidence
Ultimately, self-confidence comes down to our beliefs.
This includes self-efficacy (our sense of independence, reliability, and adaptability) and self-esteem (our overall opinion of ourselves).
As Jay Shetty says, it’s about ‘how we feel about ourselves when we’re alone’; not what others believe about us, or how society might label us.
For example, I struggle with the belief that “I don’t fit in”.
Because of this, I often feel like I don’t really belong anywhere. I tell myself that nobody truly understands me. And I sometimes feel totally alone in the world.
This is because the external world mirrors our internal experience.
If we believe that the world is a friendly place, it will be; we’ll actively seek out kindness, and brush off negativity.
Equally, if we believe it’s a dangerous place, our experiences will likely reflect and reinforce this belief.
7 secrets to self-confidence
Luckily, our beliefs can be rewired – and these 7 practices can help us feel way more self-confident.
1. Say what you mean
Throughout the day, practice pausing to notice what feelings are alive in you, and give yourself permission to be really honest when you speak. This is hard… but so, so worth it.
The result? Total congruency between what’s going on in your head and what’s coming out of your mouth. Plus, no more feeling icky after saying something that’s totally inauthentic (or a complete lie!).
2. Tell yourself nice things
Practice looking in the mirror and telling yourself you’re awesome, you love yourself, you accept yourself, your body looks rockin’, and so on.
This might feel silly at first – and I felt like a total fool the first few times – but the more I did it, I noticed my negative self-talk (e.g. focusing what’s ‘wrong’ with me every time I look in the mirror) melt away, and transform into deep self-love.
3. Live by your values
Figure out what’s important to you, what glorious vision of your life you’re working to create, and what kind of person you want to be. Then ask yourself how you could live in alignment with this right now.
Let go of the need for the stars to align and everything to be perfect before you allow yourself to live a life which feels true to you.
4. Nourish your mind, body, and soul
Treat yourself like royalty. Remember that you deserve to receive; especially if you’re someone who always wants to give to others (uh, guilty). You deserve the same treatment – don’t leave yourself out.
Nourish your body with healthy foods, nourish your mind with new ideas, and nourish your soul with plenty of self-care. If you don’t know how, commit to learning how.
5. Remember the good stuff
Keep a working list of accomplishments, testimonials, and/or compliments (even the small ones). I call this my ‘hype file’ – it’s packed full of client testimonials, student reviews, compliments from strangers, and a list of my achievements.
Review it regularly to remind yourself how awesome you are. Keeping a record of these also trains our brain to look out for more of them, which combats our natural negativity bias.
6. Let go of what others think
People will ALWAYS judge us, no matter what we do. In order to build solid self confidence (and stay sane), we have to let go of the unhelpful opinions of people who aren’t important or relevant to us.
My current rule is that if a person isn’t living the kind of life I want to live, their ‘advice’ doesn’t really matter – especially if I haven’t asked for it.
7. Honour your truth
Take time out every day to look inwards and ask, “what’s true for me right now?” (hint: meditation and journaling are great tools for this).
It’s difficult to peel away the layers of other people’s expectations, but once we do, we start to tap into what we really want – allowing ourselves to be guided by our inner GPS system.
Bottom line here?
Building deep, lasting, and authentic-self confidence is a daily practice.
If we remind ourselves to live in alignment with who we really are, our natural awesomeness will eventually shine through with total ease.