Courage to Change: 6 Tips to Build Confidence
A central part of the “serenity prayer,” attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and made famous by the 12-step movement, is the request for “the courage to change the things I can.”
Your self-confidence is one of the things you can boost so that courage and change will follow.
Affirmations and positive thinking are important tools. But actions are as important in building the confidence you need to reach your full potential.
It takes both courage and confidence to do what you believe is right instead of worrying about what other people think of you. The courage to take risks and go beyond your comfort zone does not come easily.
To admit your mistakes instead of trying to cover them up, to accept compliments instead of dismissing them, and to let others compliment you rather than tooting your own horn are examples of confident behavior. Learning these behaviors and others will not only convey confidence to others, it will build confidence within you.
These six tips will help you build the confidence you need to change your life.
1. Think and Act Positively
A can-do attitude is more likely to lead to a positive outcome. Set your mind to look for the best instead of focusing on what could go wrong. Speak and think about yourself in a positive way. You are unique and valuable. Give yourself credit.
Visualize yourself completing tasks successfully.
Surround yourself with positive people and avoid the nay-sayers. Smiles and laughter are better ways to deal with life than frowns and head-shaking.
Keep a gratitude journal to remind you of all the great things in your life and in yourself. Learn to see mistakes and failure as learning experiences.
Convey Confidence with Your Body
Your body language tells others what to think of you. It also affects the way you think about yourself.
Act as though you are confident, even when you’re not. There’s truth in the song, “When you walk through a storm/Hold your head up high.” Square your shoulders. Straighten your spine. Look directly at the person you’re talking to.
Pay attention to how you dress. Looking better makes you feel better. Though we’re no longer stuck with the limits of a “dress for success” approach to life, we still need to look the part. Let your clothes express the confidence you may not yet feel. Soon you’ll be feeling more confident.
Take care of yourself too. Your grooming, hygiene, eating habits, exercise, and sleep patterns affect your confidence. Build it by giving yourself the care you need.
2. Speak with Confidence
Learn to speak assertively. Your voice and speech habits can support or undermine your confidence. Listen to good speakers and learn from them. A good speaker’s tone is steady, confident, rhythmic, and flowing.
To be taken seriously, you need to avoid “-ers” and “-ums.” Avoid high-pitched, nervous-sounding giggles. Also, use a steady tone and pauses for emphasis.
Eye contact with an audience or one-on-one shows your listeners that you are confident. Learning to speak confidently will help build your inner confidence as well.
3. Challenge Yourself
Get out of your comfort zone. Be realistic; if you’re afraid of heights, skydiving is probably not a good place to start. But a small challenge to one of your bugaboos can work wonders.
Are you shy in public, throw a party? If you think of yourself as clumsy, take a yoga class or join a dance group. If you’re all thumbs, build a birdhouse. Do something creative. Take an art class. Join a choir.
Do something you’ve been putting off. Try purging your files of unneeded papers or dispose of those boxes you still haven’t unpacked from your last move.
4. Prepare for Action
One of the best ways to build confidence is to succeed. Get in the habit of succeeding by setting small goals and then achieving them. Start small and grow from there.
Prepare yourself for more success by getting more training and knowledge. Learn everything you can about your industry, your job, your area of competency.
Break up huge, daunting tasks into bite-size pieces and attack them one at a time. Focus on what you can accomplish today. A page a day is a book in a year.
5. Reduce Stress by Doing Things You Enjoy
Do one fun thing at least once a day. Walk around the park. Spend time with people you love. Get a massage. Cook a gourmet meal. Watch the game.
Self-confidence requires balance. Feed your body, feed your soul. Stretching yourself is great. So is comforting yourself with the tried and true.
Finding the courage to change and building confidence are life-long commitments. Self-confidence won’t be built in a day but it’s worth the effort. Incorporating habits like thinking and acting positively, conveying confidence with your body, speaking assertively, and reducing stress is worth the effort. Challenging yourself routinely and intentionally, as well as preparing for action, will help you feel more capable and courageous. If you still feel the road to change is a bit intimidating, it may help to secure the support of a loved one or therapist who can help you take your first life-changing leap.