You Can Be More Confident – Here’s How. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. I will share a guest post from Diana Robertson of Toastmasters International in today’s post. Sharing her own experience as a painfully shy and unconfident child and teenager into the confident public speaker and business owner of today. Diana will share four practical, actionable ways to become genuinely confident. How can you be more confident? This is something that many people struggle with, and yet there are ways to shift your thoughts and behaviour so that you can have the confidence you desire and use it to succeed in whatever areas of life are essential for you.
You Can Be More Confident – Here’s How
As a communication skills trainer, I help people become confident in speaking and portraying themselves. If anybody knows what it feels like to lack confidence, it’s me. During my school days in Russia, I was a shy, antisocial child who always sat in the back corner of the classroom and never raised her hand because she was afraid of what others might think of her.
What expectations did people have of me? Not succeeding as a speaker or an entrepreneur. Yet, that’s exactly who I’ve become.
Based on personal experience, here are four action steps you can take to become the unshakeably confident you:
Zone In On The Aspects Of Life Where You Are Already Confident
What are you already good at? The first and most crucial step towards building confidence is to be aware of what you have already been successfully doing in your life.
The answers may range from being a talented artist to be a good parent or friend. Feel free to note down any idea that comes to your mind because everything you are good at counts as a valid point.
This will reveal that confidence is not absolute because no person is fully confident about everything. We all feel optimistic about particular aspects we know we are good at. Equally, every one of us struggles with a specific area that needs improvement.
For example, I used to be extremely bad at speaking in public. In fact, on the occasion of my first presentation, I ended up forgetting my script despite spending days memorising it. I felt so terrible that my hands started to shake, which made my job even harder. As you can imagine, this experience shattered my confidence. But after a couple of days, instead of focusing on how bad I was overall, I focused only on how poor my speaking skill was in front of the public. Separating myself from my skill was crucial because it clarified what I could do about it. Next, I joined one of Toastmasters’ public speaking clubs, where I received the help and support I needed to become a confident presenter.
To summarise, once you start working on developing a new skill, your confidence will grow with it. Thus, you track what you’re good at and don’t let yourself identify your overall confidence with the areas you feel least sure about. Nobody is good at everything, whereas obtaining new knowledge and developing new skills is entirely under your control.
Use Positive Statements To Change Your Negative Thoughts
A great way to start reprogramming your mind is to repeat encouraging affirmations or statements before facing challenging situations. To find which affirmation will work best for you, go with the opposite of your negative thought. For example, if you think, “At work, I’m terrified of being called on to share my opinion on a Zoom meeting”, you can replace this statement with “, I’m so excited to share my opinion at the next meeting!”.
Do not expect to believe in what you are saying after making your affirmations a couple of times because you may have been trained to think negative thoughts for years. Give yourself time to practise your affirmations properly so that they sink in.
The affirmation that worked magic for me when I was learning to speak in front of a crowd was, “I’m excited to be called out onto the stage”. I kept on repeating it to myself as my turn approached. After six presentations, I started to get genuinely excited about my favour instead of being terrified about hearing my name.
This is very personal, though; if a specific affirmation doesn’t work, you may prefer using slightly softer opening statements. For example, instead of saying, “I’m great at sharing my opinion”, you can be more inclined to affirm “, I can be very good at sharing useful ideas”, What is most important is to create and repeat affirmations which make you feel better about yourself.
Make Use Of Some Life-Changing Questions
If affirmations still seem vain or shallow to you because they evoke contradicting thoughts and emotions, here is a more analytical way, gathered from my performance coaches. By answering the following questions, you will discover the hidden fears behind your lack of confidence and learn how to transform your destructive thought patterns into constructive ones.
Write down, record, or answer:
- How can I describe the exact negative thoughts on this subject in only one sentence?
- Is this thought 100% true? Is it a fact, or is it my assumption?
- What proves that this negative thought is entirely or partially false?
- If the event I most feared were to happen, how would it affect my life? What would I do (realistically and without exaggeration)?
- If my best friend had this exact thought, what would I tell them?
These questions helped me through tough times, such as the financial uncertainties during the pandemic. I hope they will be of use to you too.
Recognise And Celebrate Your Achievements Along The Way
When I turned 16, I organised my first-ever birthday party. I reserved a room for my friends in a new pizzeria and prepared a couple of games to lighten up the mood. The turnout was pretty good, but I felt terrible afterwards: people complained about the pizza options and found my games stupid. It was the first – but also the last – large birthday party I organised.
Sometimes, when we take on complex projects we’ve never done in the past, they don’t go according to plan. In such situations, it’s easy to forget that one unsuccessful event means little and that true success is achieved by taking small but consistent steps towards the goal. So, if you’ve just failed at something, remember; the key to becoming better at anything is to shift your focus onto your progress over more extended periods rather than holding on to the setbacks along the way.
By following this approach, you are attaching several small successful experiences to your journey, enabling you to notice your improvements. As a result, you are building a new neural pathway responsible for the positive events in the struggle area and transforming it into a typical room or even a power area. This is a part of the habit formation process in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
Back to my bitter event-organising experience: I lost the confidence to organise any events after that birthday, so I avoided doing so for years until one day, I was faced with a situation where I had no choice but to step up. It happened when the organisers of an event I was involved in were stuck in traffic. They asked me to start as the guests were already waiting and it was essential to start on time. I knew what needed doing, so I started the meeting without the main organisers. It may have come as a shock to me… but nothing terrible happened! The meeting didn’t go ideally, but it was still pretty good—small steps at a time. I learned how to organise successful events and organised all sorts of events and parties for hundreds of people.
In other words, regardless of what happens along your journey, your job is always to interpret your attempts as steps towards your success. They might be small ones, but they’re still there. Keep doing the same thing over and over until your brain is convinced that something good happens when you perform that stressful activity.
Always remember that you can build up your confidence over time. The tools we’ve highlighted here include separating your self-confidence from your areas of struggle, reminding yourself of every small success along your journey, questioning any negative thoughts you have and then substituting them with positive ones. Please put these actions into practice – it will be great to see what you achieve!
About The Author
Diana Robertson is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org.