Google the phrase “how to become more confident” and you’ll find 9,370,000 answers. Clearly, people want to know how to become more confident versions of themselves — more assured, savvier, and more well-respected. It’s a good goal! And amongst those 9,370,000 articles, there are a variety of good tips. Stand up straight. Smile more. Get outside of your head.
But in my opinion, there’s really only one thing you need to do to become more self-confident. It’s not easy, but I promise you completely that it works. What is it?
To truly become more confident, you need to practice self-acceptance.
In my opinion, confidence is actually about self-acceptance. People who like themselves the way they are, and who know the person they are, are genuinely the most confident. They don’t have anything to prove. They’re not worried what people are thinking about them. Confident people – those that have accepted who they are — know that even if their idea fails, or if they embarrass themselves, the following things will happen: the world won’t end. Their friends will still like them. Their boss will have faith that their next idea will be worthwhile. And most importantly, they still believe in themselves.
So in the spirit of becoming more confident, and accepting yourself as you are, here are my six recommendations on how to practice self-acceptance.
#1: Delete Facebook from your phone or take a one-week break. I believe the famous quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” by Teddy Roosevelt, was only said by him after he developed a time traveling machine, secretly came to visit 2014, and saw how miserable people were being made by all of their friends’ posts about marriages, babies, successes, raises and more on Facebook. Constantly comparing what you have or haven’t done in life is one of the quickest paths AWAY from self-acceptance. Celebrate your own accomplishments and milestones for what they mean to you.
#2: Come to realize the sad but liberating truth: Nobody (except maybe your parents, and then, only maybe) actually gives a crap about you. I used to spend hours, if not entire days, freaking out internally that people were judging me on my looks, my weight, my outfit, that dumb thing I said in that meeting — you name it, I was certain that people were cataloging all of my actions in their head and secretly laughing about how dumb they were.
Well, that couldn’t be farther from reality. I think human beings are genuinely narcissistic, and in your journey to self-acceptance, you can use that fact to your advantage. Probably 99.99999% of the time, every other person on the planet is thinking about one thing: him or herself. You can face plant on the Metro platform (and I have) and 10 seconds later not one person will remember that it ever happened because they’re going to be caught back up in the drama of their own lives.
#3: Focus on your strengths. In my experience, people who are not confident are often worried that they’re not as good at one particular thing as somebody else. And you know what? They’re probably right. If you’re trying to be as good at something that somebody else is good at naturally, you’re never going to succeed. So don’t look to external cues for things you should be good at. Take a Strengthsfinder test, and accept what are your strengths and things you naturally excel at — and focus on developing those.
#4: Write out your strengths. In the vein of the above, take 10 minutes to do this exercise: write out five things you really, truly believe you’re good at. Not the things you want to be good at, but the things you have a natural inclination for. Pin them up at your desk. Practice getting even better at them, and owning them.
#5: Trust your gut. You have instincts for a reason. Learn to listen to them, and more importantly, to trust them. Listening more and more to your gut will help you eventually trust all of your reactions going forward — a big step in accepting who you are, how you think, and how you want to do things.
#6: Truly think about what the worst thing that could happen is. What if you suggest your risky idea in a meeting? Ask out that girl you see everyday on the bus? Try a new class at the gym that requires coordination when you’re pretty sure you have none? I can tell you: Your boss will laugh you out of the room then fire you in front of the entire company; the girl will punch you in the face and call the police; you’ll get a humiliating dressing down from the creepily fit gym instructor; and also probably the world will erupt into nuclear war and humanity will end.
LOL JK! Nothing will happen! If your idea sucks, your boss will just suggest moving on to the next one. The girl on the bus may politely reject you then go back to forgetting you existed (see tip #2). And the gym instructor won’t even notice that you have two left feet (just stand in the back, is my advice). But the best case scenario if you take those risks, realizing nothing truly catastrophic will actually happen? You’ll get promoted; you’ll meet the love of your life; and you may become the next Queen or King of Step Aerobics 2014.
This PsychCentral.com article has lots of other great tips on how to gain self-acceptance. I’d love to hear your contributions on self-acceptance and confidence and well — leave your tips for everybody in the comments!