Understand Other People

Better communication through a better understanding of behavior

Ten Ways to Bolster Your Self-Confidence

Hint: sit up straight to read these!

Sitting up straight gives you more confidence in your own thoughts, according to a study at Ohio State University. Researchers found, in 2009, that people who were told to sit up straight were more likely to believe thoughts they wrote down while in that posture when asked about whether they were qualified for a particular job. When they slumped over, they did not have as much confidence in what was written.

It appears, according to Richard Petty, co-author of the study, that body posture affects not only what others may think of us, but also how we think about ourselves!

When I was doing my Blogtalk radio show, I used the moniker The Confidence Coach and it has stuck with me. Giving people ideas to bolster confidence and feel positive is so important and yet, as this study uncovered, there are many things we do throughout the day – mostly unknowingly – that impact our confidence. How many of us slump over a computer? Or slump when we walk, not realizing that we are giving a hit to our own self-confidence?

Besides physically sitting up straighter (do it now!), what else can we do to mentally sit up straighter? Here are ten ideas to try:

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  1. Change your self-talk. How many times throughout the day do you talk to yourself about how stupid you are, or what you should have done, or why you can’t do what you want to do? Become aware of your self-talk. When you catch yourself saying negative things about you, to you, reframe it: “That might not have been one of my best decisions, but at least I learned from it!”
  2. Make a list every day of what you have done well that day. Keep a journal to note your strengths or contributions to others, or to the work you were responsible for. You can keep a running list and continue to add to it, or keep a new list each day. Review the list whenever you have moments of doubt.
  3. Know your stuff. Are you in a new job? Trying a new hobby, or new relationship? We can feel unconfident because we don’t know what we are doing. Take the time to learn. Ask questions. Read informational literature. Learn what you can – about the job, the person or the task. You won’t be good at it right away, but take a keen interest in learning about it.
  4. Make a “Thank you” list. What do you have in your life that you can be thankful for? Force yourself to list at least ten things. Struggling to find things for the list? Are you breathing? Can you read? Do you have at least one friend? Blessings are all around us if we just look for them.
  5. Have a plan. What do you need to do? When do you need to do it? Create a plan with who, what, when, and how. Break down the steps you need to take so you can do something toward your goals every day. It’s a confidence builder to check things off of our lists!
  6. Clean up an area of your home or office. For many of us, living in a mess drains our confidence and our energy. Clean up your space so that you know where things are and can find them easily. If it is defeating to think about how much you need to clean, just take one area or one shelf and do the work there. Clear away the mess in small increments but keep working toward it a bit at a time.
  7. Learn to listen. It’s amazing how, when our confidence falters, we become so “me” focused – oftentimes to the exclusion of realizing there is anyone else around. Practice active listening and reflective listening with the people in your life. Show a sincere interest in what they have to say.
  8. Find people who don’t have what you have, or can’t do what you do. There are few things that will bolster our confidence more quickly than helping someone less fortunate. Nursing homes, animal shelters, homeless shelters and food banks are all great places to offer your skills and talents, and to realize how fortunate you are.
  9. Read about people who have accomplished great things. Pick up a copy of “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. It chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and explains his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. Most of us will never have to go through what Viktor did, but we can apply the principles to our everyday lives.
  10. Get outside. Walk a dog. Go to the park. Even in winter months, getting fresh air is uplifting for most of us, but certainly in the other three seasons soak up as much outside time as you can. Take a brisk walk – move your legs, if you are able. If you are not, sit on a park bench and watch children play.

If your confidence needs a recharge, try any one or more of these things and see if you can reset your confidence in a higher gear.

Beverly D. Flaxington teaches at Suffolk University.

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