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Confidence – Change Your Life And Possibly The World

Written by: Amy Kimberly Marshall, Executive Contributor in collaboration with Lucinda Atwood, MA.

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Imagine being able to improve your life and career… maybe even the world. How, you ask? You won’t need superheroes or superpowers, just confidence. Confidence changes lives and can change the world. Self-confidence empowers us to believe in ourselves, speak up to injustice, and act for positive change. Confidence helps us face challenges and create impact.

3 asian chinese beautiful businesswoman looking at camera smiling with confidence

Confidence impacts our careers, relationships, overall health, and state of mind – and most of us need more of it. Good news – this article will help you start developing confidence, and it’s easier than you might think.


What is Confidence?


Self-confidence is an attitude. It’s a belief in yourself, a knowing, a trust in your own abilities. Evidence-based research indicates that confidence is an essential element of internal wellbeing and happiness - fundamental for a fulfilled life.


Self-confidence is the sense that you can learn and master anything. Taking risks – trying something new – is a great way to learn and grow. However, growth and knowledge are typically achieved only if we are confident. When we lack self-confidence, we don’t envision the goals we could reach, the satisfaction we could feel, or the success we could experience.


What would your life look like if you had more confidence? Imagine believing that you’re worthy and appreciated, that your work is valuable, and your thoughts and emotions are valid. Imagine knowing that you can accomplish what you want and that you are lovable and loved.

What if you’d had more confidence years ago, when you were just starting out? Would you have been more proactive; taken more chances?


Have you ever avoided taking action because you were afraid you might fail? How often might you have triumphed if you’d decided to give it a try? When you choose not to act, there’s no chance of achievement. Doing nothing guarantees failure, but taking action opens the door to success. When you choose to try, you create the possibility of success. Even if you don’t initially reach the full goal, you might achieve some of it.


Michael Jordan famously said, “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

FACT: Confidence is more predictive of success than ability

Why Confidence is Important for Mental Health


There are scientifically proven links between self-esteem and mental and emotional wellbeing.

Low self-esteem and lack of confidence often contribute to mental health issues and poor quality of life. Low self-confidence may be correlated to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, phobias and substance abuse. People who lack self-confidence may suffer from social anxiety and have difficulty communicating and expressing themselves assertively.


Tips for Confidence


First, you need to know the secret to confidence: it self-generates. The more confidence you exhibit, the more successes you tend to experience, which builds more confidence. Confidence is the primary ingredient in building confidence. But where do you find the initial confidence to build on? These tips are built on evidence-based research and lived experience. We’re confident they’ll help you become a confident, competent leader.


Act Confident


Research shows that we tend to believe confident statements, agree with confident people, and think highly of confident body language. The best way to feel confident is by acting confident. You don’t have to believe it yet, just act like you do. When you practice confident body language it’s as if your brain says, “oh I guess we’re confident now” and supports that message.


How do we “act confident”? It begins with the use of confident body language:

  • Straighten up – don’t hunch or curl your shoulders.

  • Chin up

  • Eyes up. Avoid looking down which can make you seem nervous or uncertain.

  • Make direct eye contact occasionally to emphasize a specific point. It empowers you and what you’re saying.

  • Use assertive gestures but don’t flail!

  • Smile. Smiling can evoke a sense of assurance.

  • Pause occasionally – you’re in no rush, you’re in command of your messaging.

  • Nod your head a little as you speak, signalling agreement with what you’re saying.

  • Speak up but remain in control! Speak a little louder, and a little slower which demonstrates assertiveness.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Taking up space shows you believe you’re worthy of doing so.

There is a lot to remember so don’t try to make all these changes at once! Practice one skill at a time until it feels comfortable and comes naturally, then move on to the next.


Speak Concisely


Use pauses, speak a bit slower. Allow silences and let other people break them. Speak succinctly – don’t repeat yourself or overexplain. Invite others to speak; throw the conversational ball in their court by asking questions.


Be Clear


Speak from your listener’s point of view: what do they need to know, and how can you say it in a way they can easily understand and accept? What do they need to hear first and what supporting details can you provide later? How much information can people take in at once? (Hint, it’s less than you think.)


Vary Your Voice


Modulate your voice to add interest and engage listeners. Speaking quietly draws listeners in. Speaking a bit slower emphasizes your words; speaking faster forces them to pay attention. And tell, don’t ask – don’t let your voice rise at the end of statements, the way it does when asking a question.


Claim Your Power and Own What You’re Saying


Don’t negate or disempower your statements with phrases like “This may be a bad idea, but…” “I may be wrong, but…” “This is just my opinion…” When you preface your contribution with disempowering words, your listeners won’t respect them – or you. Say it authentically and confidently. You’re smart, you’re wise, (after all, you are reading Brainz Magazine!). Your ideas are valid and useful. Share them in good faith and give others a chance to appreciate them.


Stop Letting People Interrupt


When people interrupt, either call them out calmly – “excuse me, you interrupted” – and continue what you were saying, or simply stop speaking and look at them. You can also say “I’d like this to be a respectful environment, which includes not interrupting”.


Ask Questions, Lots of Questions


Ask, don’t tell. For example, if you disagree with a proposed action, ask about the projected results rather than stating your expectations of failure. This lets people arrive at their own conclusions instead of being able to label you difficult, negative or argumentative. Also, asking good questions can make people think of you as more intelligent.


Be Grateful


Scientific research continues to prove that gratitude is one of the keys to happiness and an optimistic mind-set. Set aside time each day to remind yourself of three things you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be big or expansive; mindfulness can include small and simple things.


Think Small


When tasks feel daunting you can battle overwhelming feelings by breaking tasks down into manageable steps and taking it one step at a time. Sometimes even the tiniest action can set you in motion.


The Dangers of Overthinking and Not Embracing Confidence


Fear, uncertainty, and discomfort are signs of growth and progress. Embracing those feelings and recognizing their presence helps you stay resilient and build more confidence.


Neuroplasticity


Neuroplasticity is the rewiring of our brains – what wires together, fires together. The more you think about something, the stronger the connection to it in your brain. Overthinking is dangerous. It’s human nature to excessively ruminate and dwell on problems rather than solutions – focusing on why we did something, how poorly we did it, and what everyone else was thinking.


We need to get out of our heads if we want to build confidence and take action. This is where neuroplasticity comes in. It involves fairly simple brain training and methods of thinking that encourage resilience or confident thinking. These methods of thinking can carve new brain pathways and become part of our hard wiring. Plasticity is the cornerstone of the idea that confidence is a choice we can all make because there is power in positive thinking and science that supports it.


Challenge Unhealthy Thinking


It’s not the lack of ability and competence that stops us from taking action, but the skewed perception of our abilities. When our self-talk turns negative and we begin ruminating, we have the power to stop it – to break the pattern.


You can break the habit of negative automatic thoughts by using logic and replacing your thoughts with positive alternative points of view. You can also remind yourself of previous achievements and successes, things you’ve done well.

You can consciously use thought exercises to rewire the brain and break the negative feedback loop. With consistency and self-awareness, you can become a keen observer of the relationship between your thoughts, your emotions, and your behaviors. There is a link between thoughts, actions, and behaviors. Our attention is a powerful force.


The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest economic recession in nearly a century, threatening health, disrupting economic activity, and detrimentally impacting psychological wellbeing. Anxiety, depression, isolation, relationship problems, PTSD, addiction, loss of self-esteem, suicide, and many other mental health issues are on the rise. Seeking professional help from mental health professionals can provide resources and support that can help you combat overthinking and increase your confidence. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a common therapeutic technique, helps create new thought patterns and positive behavioral changes.


Confidence comes from stepping out of your comfort zone and working towards goals that are authentic to your own values and needs. You can learn to prioritize your values and self-care while minimizing people-pleasing tendencies. You can find your power. When confidence reflects our authentic self, we are powerful.


Think Less. Take Action. Be Authentic

Lucinda Atwood, MA.

Lucinda Atwood, MA, is a master teacher, author and coach who's created and delivered thousands of successful programs. A communications expert with over 20 years of professional experience, she currently provides communication and confidence skill building training and coaching. Lucinda has written textbooks on professional practices, presenting and public speaking, and is currently working on one about professional communications. Her other publications include a guide to abundance and finances for women, and several manuals on teaching, communication, and public speaking.




Visit my website for more info!


 

Amy Kimberly Marshall, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Amy Kimberly Marshall is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Industrial-Organizational Consultant, (PhD(c), RCC, MC, BA). She utilizes a holistic therapeutic approach to counselling with a primary focus on a mind-body relational perspective. Amy works collaboratively with people to guide them as they build a stronger foundation with their emotional, physical, and psychological selves. Amy Kimberly Marshall is currently completing a PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and provides professional coaching and strategic consultancy. Professional coaching enhances workplace performance, motivation, goal achievement, and personal development. Amy is very passionate about her work and believes that every individual is unique and change is always possible.

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