A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
This is most certainly not a guide or me trying to preach. Let us put the topic of eating disorders to one side. Confidence is something that I’m sure a lot of us feel like we need to have some more of.
I for one really lacked confidence growing up. With a history of bullying and feeling like I stuck out like a sore thumb as a child, a lot of the negative self-talk really got to me growing up and stuck with me for years. So to combat this, it took me a while to try and look and feel more confident.
I’ve put together a list of three simple things you should try and implement in your life. These tips require practice, however, give them a few weeks and after some consistent implementation, you will feel different in yourself. I really hope some of these tips can help you.
Sit Up Straight!
As a child, I was often told by relatives to sit up straight and walk with a straight back as I would always slouch and walk as if there were heavyweights on my upper body pulling me down. It was just my way of not drawing any attention to myself. You could say I was almost guarding myself against the world.
I became more mindful of my posture and the way I would slump on a chair or bench in social settings. When I walked I would always slump my shoulders so I would not draw attention to myself.
Practising good posture really helped me with my confidence. Sometimes confidence starts from the outside in. Standing with your shoulders back, chin raised to mid-level and sitting up straight can not only help you feel more powerful, but it can also help a lot with first impressions.
Ever heard the saying, “fake it till you make it”? Well, when it comes to feeling more confident, it actually works! When you feel uncomfortable and shy in situations, try standing up straight. You will feel a minor difference however, when it comes to first impressions it can make you appear to look really assertive and confident in yourself – a bit like having a confident handshake in an interview.
This is actually supported by scientific research. In an interesting study by Peper et al. (2018), it was found that students that slouched whilst completing maths sums rated them significantly more difficult than those sitting in an upright position. This was further explained to have occurred as a result of a “defence reaction” where students slouched in response to the distress caused by the task and so were physically protecting themselves by sitting in a slouched position.
You’re probably wondering how this is relevant to real life. Well, the same scientists also found that students that slouched in the study, also experienced a reduction in cortical stimulation and difficulty in abstract thought. So not only does slouching reduce brain signalling, but it also hinders your ability to think abstractly. They suggested that sitting in a more upright position makes it easier for the brain to access positive and empowering thoughts and affirmations, therefore, making you feel more empowered and, you guessed it, confident!
I hated confrontational situations as a child. Being unable to stick up for myself left me verbally paralysed until I really started working in the real world where I was faced with having to speak up or really suffer.
I could often feel that instead of standing up for myself, I would lose the ability to speak. I would shut down and would want to retreat as quickly as possible. So I had always learned that it was best to avoid and ignore uncomfortable situations rather than address them head-on. (Maybe it was a coping mechanism as a second-generation immigrant, to be grateful of every opportunity as we were lucky to be living in the West, and so not kick a fuss over ‘petty things’. But hey, that’s a discussion for another topic).
But the world does not work like that. Not being able to speak up can leave you far behind. Some of us are afraid of requesting better pay from our employers because, as a nation, we hate talking about money. We hate feeling uncomfortable.
“So slowly I took steps. One uncomfortable situation at a time.”
I feel like developing the confidence to speak up can only develop through practice, developing resilience and feeling less overwhelmed by uncomfortable situations. It came to a point for me where I was so tired of not standing up for myself and just ignoring things; I would feel a thousand times worse by not addressing issues. I was fed up of feeling like a doormat. So slowly I took steps. One uncomfortable situation at a time.
I would speak up in class if I was unsure of a question. I would try to push myself into social situations where I did not know anyone e.g. charity fundraisers and volunteering. If a colleague was bothering me at work, I would stand my ground and address the issue in a non-threatening way. I would offer suggestions in staff meetings and speak louder and clearer when teaching students whilst being observed instead of mumbling. I mean it sounds cheesy but these small steps really helped me improve my ability to speak up.
So push yourself out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to speak up in staff meetings. Ask for that pay rise. If you are in school, put your hand up often to have your say. Take part in healthy discussions or join a debating society. Surround yourself with people who speak their mind. Take small steps every day.
I thought maybe this tip would apply to those just with eating disorders and/or body dysmorphia. But according to a 2015 YouGov poll, it turns out that about a third of us Brits are not happy with the way our bodies look.
When you stand in front of the mirror, how likely are you to pick out the positives that you may see in yourself? Highly unlikely right? You look in a mirror to find out whether or not you look out of place, again, looking in the mirror only to find faults. Maybe your hairline is receding, maybe you’ve developed some acne, maybe you’ve discovered a grey hair. Finding faults in our reflection is something we have been conditioned to do from a young age. We may have seen our parents, relatives or even friends feeling unsatisfied with their mirror reflections and lamenting over their perceived imperfections.
Altering this behaviour takes time but it is hard. It is a behavioural and cognitive response which runs on autopilot. Without realising you put yourself down several times during the day.
“So how can I change this?” I hear you ask.
Well start with the following:
- Become more aware of the comments you make of yourself in your mind whenever you see a reflection/image of yourself.
- For every negative comment, find something that you are grateful for. e.g. I hate the colour of my teeth. But I am grateful for having them.
- Get rid of any pocket-sized mirrors. I found that keeping a mirror in my handbag was not helping when it came to my insecurities. Not having a mirror close really helped me not fixate on my appearance.
This post was not written as the answer to confidence issues. These are just a few helpful tips I found to help me boost my confidence. We all have days where we don’t feel so confident. And that is okay! But start by making small changes to the internal monologue you have with yourself and start living!
I hope this post helped you out. If you feel like it benefited you then please scroll down and hit the + sign to subscribe to my blog. Please share this page with someone who you feel needs a pick me up. Who knows, you might be the reason why they feel more confident in themselves.