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20 Confidence-Boosting Tricks You’ll Love

20 Confidence-Boosting Tricks You’ll Love

If you’re self-assured, believe whole-heartedly in your abilities, know your judgements to be sound, and feel prepared for any of life’s challenges, congratulations! You are one flawlessly confident individual.

Odds are, though, you have self-doubt, guilt, or shame in your perceived inadequacies tumbling around your brain. Don’t worry—you’re human. These things happen.

And this list of confidence-boosting tips and tricks will help inspire you to pursue a more complete, more confident you.

1. Try Out Power Poses

Our body language speaks volumes about how we feel about ourselves and our abilities. You’ve likely heard many ways body language influences others—closed arms signals others to stay away, for instance. Taking this research one step further is Harvard Professor Dr. Amy Cuddy whose research into “Power Poses” in the business world applies to many life situations. High-power posing is about “opening up,” taking up as much space as possible, while low-power poses require taking up as little space as possible (fetal position, hands in pockets, etc.).  Her research found that after 2 minutes of high-power posing, testosterone levels increase and cortisol levels—the stress hormone—sharply falls. For a quick boost of testosterone to gear yourself up for many situations where confidence is key, practice some high-power poses.

2. Take Risks

If you don’t give yourself new challenges to tackle or jump on opportunities to grow, you’re liable to get stuck in a self-defeating low confidence rut. Take the initiative to take risks. Even small everyday risks (let me take a new route to work) can have a cumulative effect on your overall level of confidence. You have to be willing to risk failure and systematically ignore the mantra that failure means you are worthless. In truth, failure is a sign of incremental growth. Accept this, and you’ll no longer be self-conscious about admitting failure—you’ll actively seek it out, one risk at a time. That’s some serious confidence!

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3. Exercise

exercise

    By now you’re probably sick of hearing how vital to our mental health exercise is. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s as close as we’re likely to get, especially where confidence is concerned. Our self-image is intimately linked with our sense of self-confidence. Research shows that light exercise of any kind boosts self-image, and boosts it more than in people who rigorously work out 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. This result holds true for older people, as well. Killer workout routines aren’t the deciding factor, here; the key to a confident body image, and more confidence, in general, lies in frequent, low-intensity workouts.

    4. Dress Well and Groom

    Another surefire way to boost your self-image (ergo self-confidence) is to treat your body like a temple. Exercise is important, as is eating right, but our outermost layers—grooming, clothes, self-presentation—can really make a difference, too. Make a routine out of healthy grooming habits. Brush your teeth, comb your hair. Look your best to feel your best. The goal is to present your best at-a-glance side, and this starts with the simple habit of cleanliness and dressing well.

    5. Be Resilient

    Everyone is familiar with big disappointments or situations that drag their confidence to new lows. One way to swim against the depths of low confidence is to activate your resilience. Resilience is the innate human quality of rebounding from tough, even devastating life events, and being flexible enough to adapt and not let our short-term failures leech our confidence dry. The best ways to be resilient include setting realistic expectations for yourself, rewarding yourself for jobs well done, and being curious and self-compassionate enough to examine your failures without being overly critical. Practice is key; the more resilient you are, the more confident you will be when life throws you a curve ball.

    6. Be Optimistic

    Pessimism—thinking that the worst is always in store—plays the role of the thug in our mental lives. Both pessimism and optimism are both free outlooks to use, but only the latter is linked to self-confidence benefits. Thing is, it’s very hard to think the best of yourself, or even recognize when you accomplish something big, if you keep your nose to the ground instead of to the sky. Being optimistic doesn’t mean you have to be naïve, but adopting a mindset that says “I feel I’m good enough to do this” scrubs your self-perception clean, makes success sweeter, and failure more manageable.

    7. Prepare

    Much of our stress and anxiety comes from feeling or being underprepared. These feelings cling to our sense of self-confidence like vampire bats, sucking our resolve dry. Better to be prepared, then! Preparation and forethought are natural antidotes to the worst thoughts fear, stress, and anxiety can muster. Even better, no matter what your personal style, there are always ways to cut down the time it takes to do necessary things. It may seem like preparation takes too much time—but being prepared actually increases the time you can put toward building your confidence, instead of being stressed you still have so much to do.

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    8. Use Positive Affirmations

    That little voice in your head? The one telling you what a lousy person you are? Guess what? Using positive affirmations gives you the discipline to fire the negative man in your head and get a new mental coach. The things we say to ourselves before, during, and after a goal or event have wide-reaching influence over how we think about ourselves and behave. Practice giving yourself affirmative feedback, even if (and especially if) you fail. Make your affirmations unique to you and take time out of your day to focus on them. They’ll seep into your unconscious with routine use and become automatic sound bites in your life. Follow this link to get some affirmation ideas.

    9. Set and Achieve Small Goals

    Often people setting out on the road to enhance their confidence feel overwhelmed. It seems like too many factors are involved, that there are too many things to consider and spend time and energy managing. Luckily, you can always break down these mental mountains into smaller hills of success. Make a list of short- and long-term confidence goals you want to achieve. Actively think about how success at this or that goal, or failure at other goals, still helps you in the long run. Be sure to set goals that are meaningful, not the ones you feel you have to meet to appease some imaginary audience. Make your goals personal, bite-sized, and realistic—you’ll dedicate yourself to them more and not be so distraught if things shouldn’t work out the first time.

    10. Know Your Values and Live By Them

    Do you know what you stand for? Knowing what your values are, and sharing those values with other people, is an underlying method to use to live with confidence. At any moment you can ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing/thinking in line with what I believe? How I want to behave?” Your values help you plot out what is most important in your life; things not on your value list can be easily deflected from awareness. Though this tip takes quite a bit of introspection, the greater your conviction in what your guiding principles are, the tougher your skin becomes to outside forces and opinions set to squash you under inadequacy. Know who you are, strive to be that person every day, and watch your confidence soar.

    11. Smile

    smile

      The simple smile has a wealth of research to back up its effectiveness as a confidence-boosting tool. People take more notice of you, and think more positively of you, when you smile. And since smiling in groups is “contagious,” each social encounter you enter with a smile increases your odds of feeling positive about yourself and your abilities. You feel emotionally and psychologically better after a good smile. Plus, laughter and smiling have health benefits—upticks of testosterone and lowered blood-pressure to name a few. Even “fake smiles” put us in a better frame of mind. Don’t underestimate the power that smiles have on your own sense of confidence and worth.

      12. Know What You Can/Cannot Control

      Not everything that happens to you is directly under your control. Pretending that external factors are all knowable, or that there is always something you can personally do to turn a situation around, can be self-destructive. Self-blame is a confidence killer, so it’s best to pay attention to and accept situations outside of your direct influence. The less guilt you feel about not reacting in such-and-such a way to a situation that’s indifferent to our actions, the more self-confident you’ll become. Know what’s under your responsibility and what is beyond your grasp. Your self-confidence will thank you later.

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      13. Try Mindfulness Exercises

      mindfulness

        It’s easy to let our insecurities wash over us. We only have so much attention to spend, and if we don’t spend it wisely—worrying about missed opportunities, blaming ourselves for not being “good enough”—we have nothing left to contribute toward positively increasing our confidence. Mindfulness is a hyper-focused mental state wherein you focus solely on the present moment. Practicing mindfulness techniques, even for as little as 10 minutes a day, is a way to safely confront lingering feelings of fear, doubt, or low self-worth. Through mindfulness exercises, you’ll learn how to gently allow these emotions and feelings to enter your awareness, and without judgement let them pass you by. You’ll also learn how not to get bogged down by the negative records that skip in your head, which clears your mental schedule for more important exercises—like building self-confidence!

        14. De-Stress

        A relaxed mind is a mind best armed to defend itself against the demons of thought that strip confidence of its wings. When you’re stressed, your inherent negativity bias is on overload. Things you used to do with confidence and ease suddenly turn into immovable objects. Stressed minds aren’t just pessimistic—they systematically peel back the layers of your self-worth and agency to do what you dream of doing. Regular de-stressing sessions are a must for anyone in need of a confidence boost. Your mind, body, and sense of confidence all work their best on foundations of unstressed belief.

        15. Work on Your Posture

        We’ve talked about Power Poses, but even something as rudimentary as your posture has a rippling effect on your self-confidence. Most people think their thoughts of confidence and worth come from inside their own minds; really, the way we carry ourselves (literally) informs our self-perceptions. When you pay attention to your standing and sitting postures, you tend to believe in your opinions more, whether positive or negative. Slouchers are indifferent about their opinions and beliefs, which is not a conducive attitude toward setting confidence goals. If you want to experience greater confidence in your own thoughts, simply adopt a confident can-do posture to create a mini-feedback loop of positivity.

        16. Find Your Confidence Idol

        We humans are visual creatures. When we watch someone perform in a way that speaks to us, we have the ability to not only learn from their examples, but actually behave like them and see how it feels. You may lack the confidence to follow through to their abilities now, but just as even fake smiles prime our minds for positivity, “faking” a higher form of confidence can seed the idea that, actually, yeah, I can do this! Look over the aspects of your life in which you’d like to be more confident, find a mentor or coach to model, and you’ll instill the small, powerful idea that someday you can do the same thing.

        17. Do What You Enjoy

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        fun

          This advice can seem pat or cliché, but when it comes to confidence, we all do our best and want to succeed at the thing we love most. Pursuing the things that inspire us leads us to meet like-minded people who encourage our development, keeps our minds goal-directed and excited to work, and gives us the exact right amount of success-to-challenge ratio researchers call “flow.” When we find our niches, we have ample opportunities to increase our self-confidence doing, discussing, and sharing the things that drive us wild.

          18. Have a Great Support Network

          Let’s face it: that confidence-building trail can seem long, arduous, and lonely. That’s why the greater your support network, the more likely you are to succeed in your goals. Find people who you feel comfortable sharing your journey of growth with. Ask them to help keep you accountable. Let them join you on some of your confidence-building exercises, and seek outside advice or join groups of people all trying to do the same thing. Connection is key to maintaining any gains in confidence.

          19. Get Creative

          The act of creation—whether writing a story, dancing the tango, playing the clarinet, or making epic meals—is the act of confidence. Despite the widespread stereotype that only “certain people” are creative, research shows that humans use creativity like a Swiss Army Knife. What’s more, gaining confidence in creative endeavours has the potential to spill confidence over into other areas of life. If you haven’t doodled in a while or tried to do a handstand since middle school, remember that achieving even a minor creative act can act as a catalyst, and give you confidence, to try other important things.

          20. Don’t Be Overconfident

          Oh, the irony! While many of these tips advocate “Fake It Till You Make It” behaviours, you should know that there is a cap to this mantra. In your quest to gain true confidence, remember that overconfidence can be your undoing. Overconfidence comes on the scene when we believe we have more accurate information about ourselves, other people, or the ability to do important things or make important decisions, than we really do. At some point—the point of no return—your overconfidence will unravel. You’ll start a negative spiral of shame, guilt, and doubt (justifiably so) that can then infect your mind, deterring you from ever trying to put the time and work into building confidence again. Don’t be an Achilles; use these confidence-boosting tips, as well as this handy infographic, to gain confidence the honest (and long-lasting) way.

          Photo credit: cyclist, smile, mindfulness, vegetables.

          Featured photo credit: www.myalexu.us via myalexu.us

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          Published on June 30, 2020

          What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

          What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

          Many conversations are being held nowadays regarding unconscious bias, but what does it really mean and how can it affect your life and the people around you? With many types of biases, it can get quite confusing. In this article, we’ll touch on cognitive bias, and then zero in on unconscious bias. Both types of biases have an immediate impact on your life because they relate to how you and others think about yourself and other people.

          If you want to protect your relationships and make good decisions about other people, you need to know what these biases mean[1]. Once we have clarity about that, we can explore in more depth unconscious bias and how to address it[2].

          Cognitive Bias

          Let’s start with cognitive bias[3], a predictable pattern of mental errors that result in us misperceiving reality and, as a result, deviating away from the most likely way of reaching our goals[4].

          These mental blind spots impact all areas of our life, from health to relationships and even shopping, as a study recently revealed[5]. In other words, from the perspective of what is best for us as individuals, falling for a cognitive bias always harms us by lowering our probability of getting what we want.

          Cognitive biases have to do with judgment, not mood. Ironically, cognitive biases — such as the optimism bias and overconfidence effect — more often lead to positive moods. Of course, the consequence of falling into cognitive biases, once discovered, usually leaves us in a bad mood due to the disastrous results of these dangerous judgment errors.

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          Unconscious Bias

          Unconscious bias is different from cognitive bias. Also known as implicit bias, it refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and so on[6]. Despite cognitive biases sometimes leading to discriminatory thinking and feeling patterns, these are two separate and distinct concepts.

          Cognitive biases are common across humankind and relate to the particular wiring of our brains, while unconscious bias relates to perceptions between different groups and are specific for the society in which we live. For example, I bet you don’t care or even think about whether someone is a noble or a commoner, yet that distinction was fundamentally important a few centuries ago across Europe. To take another example, most people in the US don’t have strong feelings about Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims, yet this distinction is incredibly meaningful in many parts of the world.

          Unconscious Bias and Discriminatory Behavior

          Organizations often bring me in as a speaker on diversity and inclusion to address potential unconscious discriminatory behavior. When I share in speeches that black Americans suffer from police harassment and violence at a much higher rate than white people, some participants (usually white) occasionally try to defend the police by claiming that black people are more violent and likely to break the law than whites. They thus attribute police harassment to the internal characteristics of black people (implying that it is deserved), and not to the external context of police behavior.

          In reality – as I point out in my response to these folks – research shows that black people are harassed and harmed by police at a much higher rate for the same kind of activity. A white person walking by a cop, for example, is statistically much less likely to be stopped and frisked than a black one[7].

          At the other end of things, a white person resisting arrest is much less likely to be violently beaten than a black one. In other words, statistics show that the higher rate of harassment and violence against black Americans by police is due to the prejudice of the police officers, at least to a large extent[8].

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          However, I am careful to clarify that this discrimination is not necessarily intentional. Sometimes, it indeed is deliberate, with white police officers consciously believing that black Americans deserve much more scrutiny than whites. At other times, the discriminatory behavior results from unconscious, implicit thought processes that the police officer would not consciously endorse[9].

          After becoming aware that unconscious bias does exist, the next step would be learning how to recognize it in order to reduce it. I’ve outlined three crucial points to keep in mind below while further exploring the unconscious prejudice discussed above.

          How to Reduce Unconscious Bias

          Remember these three important points if you want to work on reducing your unconscious bias.

          1. Unconscious Bias is a Systemic Issue

          When we understand that unconscious bias is ultimately a systemic issue, we understand that internal cultures need to be checked and addressed first.

          Interestingly, research shows that many black police officers have an unconscious prejudice against other black people, perceiving them in a more negative light than white people when evaluating potential suspects. This unconscious bias carried by many — not all — black police officers helps show that such prejudices come – at least to a significant extent – from internal cultures within police departments, rather than pre-existing racist attitudes present before someone joins a police department.

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          Such cultures are perpetuated by internal norms, policies, and training procedures, and any police department wishing to address unconscious bias needs to address internal culture first and foremost, rather than attributing racism to individual officers.

          In other words, instead of saying it’s a few bad apples in a barrel of overall good ones, the key is recognizing that unconscious bias is a systemic issue, and the structure and joints of the barrel needs to be fixed[10].

          2. There Is No Shame in Unconscious Bias

          Another crucial thing that needs to be highlighted is that there is no shame or blame in unconscious bias as it’s not stemming from any fault in the individual. This no-shame approach decreases the fight, freeze, or flight defensive response among reluctant audiences, helping them hear and accept the issue.

          Unconscious bias is prevalent and often doesn’t match our conscious values. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs and prejudices stemming from our tendency to categorize people into social groups. This developed naturally as a way for our ancestors to quickly size up a possible threat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate well in modern life.

          3. It Takes a Sustained Effort to Prevent and Protect Against Unconscious Bias

          After being presented with additional statistics and discussion of unconscious bias, the issue is generally settled. Still, from their subsequent behavior it’s clear that some of these audience members don’t immediately internalize this evidence. It’s much more comforting for their gut reactions to believe that police officers are right and anyone targeted by police deserves it; in turn, they are highly reluctant to accept the need to focus more efforts and energy on protecting black Americans from police violence due to the structural challenges facing these groups.

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          The issue of unconscious bias doesn’t match their intuitions, so they reject this concept, despite extensive and strong evidence for its pervasive role in policing. It takes a series of subsequent follow-up conversations and interventions to move the needle. A single training is almost never sufficient, both in my experience and according to research[11].

          Conclusion

          The examples and points raised illustrate broader patterns you need to follow to recognize unconscious bias. Only by doing so will you be able to determine if, and what type of, intervention is needed to address it.

          Unfortunately, our gut reactions lead us to make poor judgment choices when we simply follow our intuitions. Unconscious biases are systemic and need to be addressed in order to make the best decisions[12].

          We need to learn about the kind of problems that result from unconscious bias. Then, you need to develop the right mental habits to help you make the best choices[13]. A one-time training is insufficient for doing so. It takes a long-term commitment and constant discipline and efforts to overcome unconscious bias, so get started now.

          More Tips on Overcoming Unconscious Bias

          Featured photo credit: M.T ElGassier via unsplash.com

          Reference

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