You know those moments, the ones where you’re doing something important and maybe even head-over-heels exciting…and on the inside you’re kinda, well, terrified? In those moments most of us would absolutely love to appear confident, even when we don’t feel it. Because the moments that terrify us are usually the ones that have to do with things that are very important to us.
Appearing confident has a lot to do with tricks and tools to help you be confident and build confidence. Here are 8 ways to appear confident even when you don’t feel it
1. Stop imagining what other people are thinking
We call the part of us that’s keen to impress people our social self. It’s the part of you that loves to work with other people, have other people think well of you, and can be used very effectively to collaborate on important things.
But if your social self gets out of balance, it’ll start to do things like convince you that the most important thing is to think about is what other people are thinking. Wrong! The most important thing when you want to appear confident is to NOT think about what other people are thinking. This doesn’t mean we’re not attuned to their responses; it means we’re in a state of deeper presence that helps us communicate in a way that they’ll respond well to.
2. Don’t listen to your inner lizard
We all have an inner lizard – comprised of almond-shaped nuclei called amygdala in the temporal region of the brain. These little guys are pretty much in charge of fear- and negativity-based thinking. When we’re stressed – which we are to a certain extent when not feeling confident – stress hormones activate the amygdala and our fear- and negativity-based thinking. Try this: imagine your biggest worries come out of the mouth of…a lizard. Did you laugh at how silly that seems? Good. Wouldn’t you love to laugh at those thoughts?
3. Affirm that you can trust yourself
How? Author Daniel Pink says studies show that posing the challenge as a question and then answering “yes” leads to a greater sense of our own abilities than simply telling ourselves we can. I asked myself “Can I trust myself?” and I answered “Yes.” Pink also recommends listing three reasons why, f.e. “I’ve done things like this in the past, I’m dependable, and other people have told me they trust me.”
4. Look for evidence
Dr. Martha Beck, an Oprah-contributing life coach, says our brain seems to be hard-wired to respond to the number three. If we think of three times we’ve done something, we begin to think of ourselves as someone who does that thing.
5. Don’t compile evidence that people can tell you’re not confident
If you’re like me, then you have a hunch that instead of looking for evidence that proves people are responding well to you, you tend to instead to see evidence of people not responding well to you. And you’re not alone. Many of us first begin to look for proof that our fears are true, instead of looking for evidence that proves they’re not. So don’t do this; look for evidence that people are responding well to you.
6. Know that lack of confidence is just part of the process
Tell me if I’m wrong, but I have a hunch you’ve had other times when you felt nervous about doing something or being under-skilled. And I bet you became more confident over time. The lack of confidence is just part of what happens at the beginning.
7. Remember this: it’s just a feeling-state
Tomorrow, or even later today, you’ll feel differently. This will pass and you’ll be onto something else. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor talks about how the chemical response of most feeling-states actually only lasts about 90 seconds. After that, the chemicals are flushed through. It’s our thoughts that keep us in a state or response any longer than that. The big takeaway? Let the response be there, feel it move through your body, and then stop thinking about it.
8. See it as a sign that you’re doing something great
Nervousness or lack of confidence often means you’re growing and challenging your own fears. And no matter how small the action may seem, challenging our fears is a great thing.
Most of all, confidence is a practice. Lucky for us, the brain isn’t fused into place; it’s malleable and changeable. New neural pathways can be created, and our reactions can become conscious responses, helping us to live the life we want to live.
Featured photo credit: Cute Baby Penguin/Memory Catcher via media.lifehack.org