Perhaps one of the most sought-after traits for any individual in every demographic is to become more confident. Whether it’s in our relationships, careers or just walking into a room. The word floods our ears on a regular and when you're not hearing about it, you're probably seeing memes of how to build confidence on social media from every fitness instructor you follow, including myself ha! Having high self-esteem is an amazing quality but too much or too little of it can be detrimental to ourselves and the people around us because trust me, I’ve been the guy who’s walked into a room feeling unwelcomed and I’ve been the braggadocios douche who’s made others feel unwelcomed when they enter and trust me, the latter will always be a far bigger asshole. So before finding the middle ground, it’s important to understand what exactly confidence is, how to practice it daily so that it becomes second nature and knowing how to carry that natural swag in an inspirational way versus being a complete douchebag.
What is confidence?
Confidence comes from a Latin word fidere' which means "to trust" so without boring you to death in describing the 5 Merriam Webster Dictionary definitions, I’m going to keep it simple and select the one I thought was most clear and that is…
To trust yourself is to be confident and to be honest, I can assertively say that’s really all it is. If you trust yourself, whether it’s the way you look or wondering if you are good enough, you will always come out on top. That’s why someone like Lizzo, who faces constant criticism for her weight, can still look as sexy as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model, because it has nothing to do with weight and has everything to do with how you feel in your skin. Watch Lizzo’s Tik Tok video here to see what we mean.
How to Build Confidence
Increasing your self-esteem can come in a variety of ways but we’ll review some of our favorite ones below
1. Understand what you want and what can you do about it?
It’s important to understand what exactly you think it is that’s holding you back from getting what you want out of life. Maybe you want to be a famous singer, but being an introvert makes it challenging. Maybe you want to be a model but are told you’re not the “right look”. Plus size model and Co-founder of CURVYcon CeCe Olisa once stated in a Ted Talk how she never lacked confidence until she was told her weight would hold her back from being the performer she wanted to be. Reaching this heartbreaking moment inspired her to try and lose weight but when she couldn’t, her self-esteem sank lower and shallow directors still rejected her. Feeling absolutely no confidence, she began writing a blog about her experience and soon gained a following she could not believe with others around the world sharing their stories. CeCe didn’t have to lose weight to feel confident, she just needed to know she tried and her body was beautiful no matter what anybody said. Knowing when we have and don’t have control in particular situations is important because certainty alleviates stress. If there’s nothing you can do about it, the sooner you accept it, the more confident about its outcome you will be.
2. Listen and Ask Questions When You Don't Know.
Nothing says false confidence like having to constantly talk about how good you are at something. Sometimes individuals who have the least words to say end up knowing the most about a particular subject matter. That’s because confident people accept they don’t know everything and understand that everyone they meet will know something that they don’t. When we don't know or understand things, we can become fearful and sometimes in a public setting, our confidence can be shot under the impression we might say something stupid but remember confident people aren’t afraid to ask questions because they know that’s the only way they are going to learn. So instead of trying to prove people wrong, the self-assured individual waits until he or she has something to say that can enlighten and contribute to the conversation or better yet, learn from it!
3. Surround Yourself with What Makes You Feel Great
Everything from a dope playlist that promotes self love or hanging with your dog who unconditionally cares for you, this one is pretty simple. The human brain is conditioned to find fear and then decide whether to fight or flight. As we mentioned before, fear is when we don't understand something enough almost to a point where we think it can harm us. Negativity causes harm which is why we always notice it before positivity, we're constantly on the lookout for our hearts and minds. It can be pretty hard knowing someone out there doesn't like you. But the reasons they may not vibe with you may be the same reasons why elephants don't climb trees, it's just not in the cards. If you surround yourself with negativity, you're no better than the elephant trying to climb but if you focus more on the people who constantly uplift you, compliment you or remind you of all the great things about you, the elephant may still not be able to climb the tree, but you'll feel good as hell about it. That's because humans have the power to produce our own oxytocin, the warm, fuzzy, feel good chemical in our brain that elicits from good social interactions, hugs and all that alike.
4. Dress the Part, Look the Part, Be the Part!
We all have insecurities and I'm no exception, I’ve constantly struggled with self esteem since I was a kid based on how much money I had to my name and always thought having a lot would make me more confident. It didn't help that my classmates bullied me for having hand-me-downs or what they called "poor people" clothes. I even remember starving myself at lunch sometimes so I could save up enough money to buy new shoes. But to make a long story short, the accumulation of material things landed me in a pretty shallow group of friends; people who I knew were toxic because they would judge me or be embarrassed at me looking a certain way or if my clothes were off brand. So what did I do... Step 1 - asked what I wanted and realized there wasn't much I could do to change. I then stopped buying big name clothes and instead shopped at TJ Maxx and Ross buying $10 t shirts and $20 jeans. I never picked out the name, just what I liked and what made me feel good in the dressing room. Before I knew it, people were asking me where I got such cool shoes or whatever I was wearing, how much I spent on clothes, all the above. The only thing that changed was my perspective, instead of coming into the room feeling judged and vulnerable I was more like "This is my wardrobe, hear me roar!" Wearing what makes you feel great makes you want to sit a little taller, speak a little louder and laugh a little bit more. Even when the attire isn't on fire, remind yourself to keep the same posture, smile and swag as all these actions will help trigger your central nervous system to get that powerful, confident feeling.
5. Say Nice Things To Yourself
I know it sounds corny, but seriously before you go to bed and when you wake up - say nice things to yourself! Try and come up with 3 different things every time from your smile to your thoughtfulness because your mirror should never be an enemy. You can even start a log or journal and write down what you love about yourself each time so that you can stay consistent and see progress just like when you dress the part. As morbid as it can be, there will be times in our lives where we are completely alone, so it's important to know how to uplift ourselves when our cheer squad isn't around. Remind yourself of all the amazing things you've tried whether it was skydiving or sushi and how much you love open minded people. Tell yourself how you good you look after a crappy night of sleep, like a compliment you give to someone on the first date. The mirror is just a reminder that the world is you and your perception of the world is based on how you see yourself. As f***ed up as this world can be, if you are habitually looking at the good in yourself, you will effortlessly find it in others.
6. Learn and Do Things That Give You Confidence
Hobbies are great ways to build confidence and can really help you out in life when you feel stuck on a path. During quarantine I still have not mastered the art of self-confidence but I did learn to play the ukulele, cook and bake, improve my Spanish, learned to ride a motorcycle... The point is that I might not be able to chop it up with a bunch of grease monkeys about engines and all that, but I knowing I at least have some knowledge gives me more confidence to try and put myself in that setting. You may not be Emeril Lagasse but I bet you'd feel way better knowing you can cook your favorite meals all by yourself! Try and pick up a skill that makes you passionate, one that gives you butterflies or something that just makes you curious. No one, I repeat NO ONE ever regretted learning a new skill.
Your Experience is Not Arrogance
Another common thing that can hinder our own growth in confidence is not wanting to come off as arrogant or be accused of imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is basically when you hide your achievements or downplay them because you don't want to be accused of not feeling like you deserve to be where you are. Always remember that where you are, you deserve to be. Even if it's in a crappy place, that experience will give you confidence so long as you fight to overcome it. When you do, you will notice that you don't need to tell the world or want the validation because overcoming it will be good enough for you. When you realize you are good enough for yourself, you will never need the world to agree with you. Share your stories, be humble and live your truth.