Mental Hacks to Feel More Confident
Go ahead, brush your shoulders off 💁♀️
There’s so much talking about owning “it” (whatever “it” is), being a boss, and loving yourself no matter what size or shape you are. And that’s awesome. But the reality is that being confident all the time is easier said than done—and sometimes, people are their own worst enemies. So next time that little voice inside your head starts sowing seeds of self-doubt and insecurity, try these confidence-boosting tips from the pros.
1. Visualize Your Success
Before you enter any nerve-wracking situation, imagine it working out in your favor. “It's easy to think about all the bad things that could go wrong, so I trick my brain into thinking how it's going to go right,” says Vivian Chen, the CEO of Rise, a technology platform to connects female professionals with innovative companies. Don’t forget to remind yourself of how you’ve succeeded in the past and the people who have supported you. “It's silly, but I think it's kind of like the idea of the Patronus charm from Harry Potter, and my inner doubts are the dementors I'm trying to dispel.”
2. Own Your Expertise
Already quaking at the thought of selling yourself in a job interview or making a good first impression on your partner’s beloved grandmother? Don’t waste another second doubting yourself. “You’re being interviewed or you’re out on that date because someone wanted you—a person with your background, experience, intelligence, sense of humor, or any of many other traits you possess—sitting across from them,” says Trish McDermott, the co-founder of Panic Media Training. “All you really have to do is be yourself, share your ideas, and bring your curiosity, kindness, quirkiness or any other attribute that makes you who you are to the conversation.”
3. Find Your Power Pose
No, you don’t have to stand in front of a mirror emulating Wonder Woman pre-presentation. But you can use your body to psych up your mind. “To feel more confident, start by standing strong with the feet under the hips and the head floating tall. Then take a nice, deep breath to raise the sternum bone an inch or two,” says Alison Henderson, a body language expert at Moving Image Consulting. “The full breath makes you take up a bit more space, which conveys confidence to the mind, and the air in the lungs tells the brain you’re awake and ready to act.”
4. Take Action
As anyone who’s spent hours agonizing over meeting an online date in-person for the first time knows, a lack of confidence is usually driven by overthinking and self-doubt. “Action cures all!” says Declan Edwards, a co-founder of BU Coaching, an online company that teaches empowerment. “Before you get stuck in your own head, take immediate action—for example, if you're getting ready for a date, choose to focus on the action steps leading up to the date, like ironing your clothes or brushing your teeth, both of which are highly recommended before a date, anyway.”
5. Be Yourself
It sounds obvious, but when you’re in a stressful situation, it can be easy to start worrying about what you think other people want you to be. Instead, just be you, recommends Kyle Boen, the author of lifestyle blog StayFoxx. For example, if you’re nervous about meeting your partner’s family for the first time, just remind yourself that “there’s a reason your partner fell in love with you. Chances are their family is going to like you just as much as he or she does!” Boen says.
6. Practice Makes Perfect
“Confidence is a muscle that needs to be flexed,” says Mandie Brice, host of the Bold Moves podcast. “Just like in exercise, start small and build as your confidence gets stronger.” Maybe that’s as simple as starting a conversation in line at the coffee shop as practice for making small talk on your blind date. “Practice runs and dress rehearsals expand your comfort zone until being confident becomes second nature.”
7. Do 10 Pushups
Believe it or not, dropping to the ground before a big meeting can help get you in the zone. “The simple act of doing ten pushups gets adrenaline energy out of your muscles and gives you a boost of good endorphins,” says Natalie Wise, author of The SelfDiscipline Handbook: Simple Ways to Cultivate Self Discipline, Build Confidence, and Obtain Your Goals. “Push-ups have a natural way of making us feel strong, so this is a great way to quickly get a boost of confidence.” FYI: Five will work just as well if you’re worried about breaking a sweat.
8. Remember You’re Not Alone
You know how terrifying and isolating it can be to stand in front of a group to give a speech or presentation. But “remind yourself that the other people involved want you to succeed!” says Raffi Bilek, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center. “Nobody wants to be in the audience of a presenter who's fumbling the presentation, or on the other side of a dinner table with a date who's tonguetied. They want you to do a good job! They're on your side, not the opposition.” Think about how they're rooting for your success versus your failure, and you'll feel yourself relax.
This may not be advice you want to hear from some strange guy when you’re walking down the street, but smiling in an intimidating situation can make you feel more confident. “Body language impacts how others see you and it impacts how you feel about yourself,” says Ali Wenzke, author of the upcoming The Art of Happy Moving: How to Declutter, Pack and Start Over While Maintaining Your Sanity and Finding Happiness. “Smiling is the easiest thing you can do to seem confident and to actually feel confident. When you smile (even if it's a fake smile at first), you trick your body into feeling happier.” Fake it ‘til you make it!