How To Be Confident

We all have our insecurities, and wouldn’t it be nice to be able to buy some confidence? Imagine walking into a CVS and on display like packs of gum, you could choose your brand of confidence. Pretty soon, a slim pack of Chiclet-like morsels wouldn’t be enough. It would be sold in King-Size. And then eventually at Costco in bulk.

Everyone wants more confidence. How do we get more of that good stuff?

We are advised to boost ourselves up externally by:

  • paying attention to our appearance
  • winning awards (nothing increases confidence levels like having the approval of others)
  • having better posture (because we should fake it ‘till we make it)

We are advised to develop confidence internally by:

  • facing our fears
  • letting go of negative thoughts
  • increasing our abilities

That last bullet point is tricky. I have seen plenty of competent people who had absolutely no confidence. You can have loads of knowledge and skill around a certain subject, but simply be too shy to ever raise your hand. A straight back and a killer outfit isn’t going to take the wobble out of your voice as you try to transmit all that knowledge to others.

Competence does not equal Confidence.

On the flipside, confidence does not equal competence either! Some people are confident enough to be relaxed, even when they have absolutely no idea of what they are talking about. How do they do that? How can they smile when their teeth are crooked, they made straight C’s all their life, and aren’t concerned with being an expert in anything?

People like that don’t buy confidence candy. They buy Kit-Kats. Chocolate!

The secret is knowing that confidence isn’t something you HAVE. It is just a way of being. It is you, when you are completely yourself. You’re so confident in the shower, singing all the wrong notes! But maybe not so confident when a microphone is before you. People are judging you now. Listening. Watching.

Once you stop caring about how others are perceiving you, confidence shows up. How can you stop caring about how others are perceiving you?

FOCUS.

Don’t go into your head. Don’t imagine what the other person or people might be thinking of you. Just do whatever it is you’re doing, say whatever it is you’re saying. Stay present and your brain won’t even have time to wonder about how others may be judging you. It isn’t about them anyway. It’s about being you!

When I was a teenager, I was terribly shy. I hated talking to anyone and was especially fearful of the phone. When texting and email replaced phone calls, I rejoiced! I no longer had to worry about how I sounded, or if I was going to say the wrong thing. Communication could now be edited. This is probably why I loved dancing so much. Shyness didn’t transfer to the stage, because hours were spent in preparation. This is a classic example of how competency can increase the appearance of confidence. I was propped up by costumes, make-up, a stage crew, and muscle memory. Off the stage though, without knowing what to expect from life, I was a complete disaster. I hid behind my computer screen, and hid behind people. Eventually, I was hiding in the kitchen, telling myself that I was happier behind the scenes so I wouldn’t have to talk to people.

It was only when I opened my teahouse, that I started to enjoy talking to strangers. Not because I felt confident in my abilities and that I had all the answers. In fact, I was exhausted and felt completely up to my eyebrows in the wrong pool. There was no guidebook. No safety net. When answering questions I’d honestly confess, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” No one seemed to believe me though. They’d say, “But you’re doing it.”

You’d think as a food based business, I would have extreme anxiety about how others judge me and my products, the shop environment, the customer service. You would think a shy person would avoid entering this sort of arena at all costs. Looking back, I see how living unscripted allowed me to be me. There was so much to focus on that there was no room in my head to be distracted. No space to worry about crafting perfect answers to strangers’ questions. All I had to give them was…me, and they took that as confidence. Eventually, I did too.

Maybe you don’t have to stuff your schedule so full that you have no time to think about anything else. However, focusing on the present moment and just being yourself is a quick (and free!) way to boost your confidence. Don’t give yourself the headspace to wonder about what others may be thinking of you.

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