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8 Ways to Appear Confident Even When You Don’t Feel It

8 Ways to Appear Confident Even When You Don’t Feel It

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Good luck!

Featured photo credit: Cute Baby Penguin/Memory Catcher via media.lifehack.org

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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