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How to have more confidence and security in yourself

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Do you lack confidence in yourself?

Does your fear of failure make you miss opportunities again and again?

I know well what it feels like. Lack of confidence is a terrible traveling companion. It paralyzes you. It causes you to not even try to fight for what you want, and ends up locking you in a tiny comfort zone.

During a stage of my life I also lived like this, avoiding any situation in which I could fail.

I was so afraid of failure that I missed several opportunities to study abroad. I gave up on my research career, even pretending to be sick so I wouldn’t have to face challenges like public speaking.

Not to mention all the sentimental opportunities that I missed.

Fortunately, all that has been forgotten. Yes, I still feel insecure, but after years studying the science of emotions, I know what to do. And I’m going to tell you everything here.

In this article I will first reveal the golden rule of confidence , and then I will show you ten techniques that have been scientifically proven to increase your confidence when you need it most.

I hope you find them as useful as me!

The golden rule of trust

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail, eighteen of which in the terrible Robben Island prison.

As a black political prisoner, he received the most degrading treatment possible. He spent the day breaking rocks in full sun, with little food and constant beatings. To make matters worse, during his imprisonment he also contracted tuberculosis.

However, Mandela did not collapse. Every morning he would go down to the patio and walk around proudly showing off his wounds, imparting courage and hope to the inmates. It became her inspiration.

How is it possible that he felt so confident in conditions capable of breaking any man to pieces?

The answer is that he was not confident .

As he later confessed, Mandela was hiding his fears. He lived in fear, and he certainly never felt sure of himself .

But Mandela was clear about one thing: if he waited in his cell until he was confident enough, he would never have gone down to the courtyard to inspire the prisoners.

This is one of the great lies that we have believed. We think that it is necessary to feel prepared and confident before facing a challenge . But Mandela did not wait to feel confident: he acted despite not being sure, and that’s why he managed to win.

The real problem is not that you don’t feel confident before doing something; the problem is that you think you have to feel confident to do it . But you don’t need to feel anything to do it. Your actions can be independent of your emotions, as Mandela did.

So the golden rule of trust is that you shouldn’t wait to feel confident.

Don’t wait to feel prepared before starting your own business or giving your first public talk, because you’ll be waiting your whole life. Act without confidence, and confidence will come later.

I’m not proposing to do anything that you haven’t done before. If you learned to ride a bike, I imagine that at first you would be afraid of falling. But you didn’t wait to overcome that fear and feel totally safe before getting on the bike: you got on it and little by little you were feeling more confident.

advice
You will never feel ready to face a challenge, so don’t wait to feel confident. Take action, because feelings of trust only come after acts.

How to trust yourself more: 10 scientific keys

In addition to the golden rule of confidence, the following techniques have been shown in several scientific studies to increase your confidence when you need it most.

Some are simpler than others, but in any case they are invaluable tools to make you feel more secure in any situation. Use them wisely.

1. Stop chasing trust

Before we start, I would like to remind you of something fundamental, but that we often forget:

It is impossible to always feel confident.

Our confidence level fluctuates. The same person can feel very confident when finding their dream job, and totally depressed if they are fired. And it is normal.

Nobody escapes from this. Even successful people like Hollywood actresses have confessed to feeling like a failure on countless occasions!

So don’t try to always be confident and sure of yourself. It’s been scientifically proven that the more you chase it, the more insecure and sad you’ll feel .

For this purpose it is known as the law of invested effort , and it is that many people have such a great need to always feel good that it adds pressure and ends up depressing.

advice
Assume that you will live difficult times like everyone else. Accepting it will make suffering hurt less than if you rebelled against it.

2. Start small

Bednar and Peterson , two self-esteem psychologists, observed a strange phenomenon in their patients.

They found that their self-esteem did not depend on the result of their actions. When one of them didn’t show up for an exam he had been preparing for, he felt much worse than if he tried and failed.

In other words, pride in having tried overshadowed disappointment at not having passed.

This is the true virtuous circle of trust : your confidence increases when you simply act . And acting is what allows you to feel more confident.

Remember: the origin of trust is to start acting, no matter how small the first step.

advice

Make a small decision that does not involve a big commitment, but that brings you a little closer to something that you have been wanting to do for a long time.

For example, if you want to improve your ability to speak in public, you can sign up for a course. But you don’t have to go yet! Simply signing up will boost your self-esteem and make the challenge of going to class seem more affordable.

3. Find reasons to trust you

Many people have a habit of belittling your achievements.

This is known as the  impostor syndrome . They attribute their successes to luck, and they convince themselves that they are a fraud and do not deserve what they have achieved.

If you think this is your case, you should be more aware of your achievements and the personal qualities that have made them possible. That will help you value yourself more.

To do this,  make a list of 3 successes that you have achieved in your life , whether in the workplace, academic or personal, and identify the quality you needed to achieve each of them.

If, for example, you finished a degree while working, that surely means that you are determined and persevering, right? Well don’t forget it.

advice

Identify what values ​​and qualities have allowed you to achieve your successes, because those are the reasons that will help you overcome the impostor syndrome and trust more in your abilities.

If you need help identifying them, you can consult this complete list of values .

4. Remember your values

According to some currents of positive thought, our mind is capable of creating the reality that we tell it.

Supposedly, by repeating mantras such as “I am strong and I have nothing to fear” or “I am someone extraordinary” , our mind will internalize it and we will gain the confidence to achieve everything we set out to do.

The idea is beautiful and you want to believe it. But it is false .

A study wanted to prove once and for all the effectiveness of this type of positive affirmation. And the result was that those participants with low self-esteem who used them not only failed to increase it, but also felt worse.

The reason these messages don’t work is because the brain is not naive . If we tell ourselves that we are or wonderful, our mind immediately asks a question: what reason do I have to believe that?

And if you can’t find the answer, you won’t believe it .

These types of affirmations only work when you know that what you are saying to yourself is true .

And there is no truth more indisputable than your values.

This is what they found in a study conducted at the University of California . Participants had to improvise a speech in front of a jury, and at the end they were ordered to start a countdown in thirteen intervals starting with the number 2083!

At the end of the study, their level of cortisol, a hormone that increases in situations of anxiety, was measured. But there was a small detail: before the experiment a group of participants had written a reflection on one of their personal values .

This group had significantly lower cortisol levels than the rest of the participants. The pressure affected them much less.

advice
From now on, before facing a challenge, think about your values ​​and remember why they are important to you. Your confidence will increase and you will reduce your anxiety.

5. Forget about setting goals

On May 10, 1996, eight climbers were frozen to death while attempting to descend the summit of Everest, trapped by a massive snowstorm.

The explanation of Dr. Kayes, an expert in behavior of organizations who was in the area that day, is that the climbers were dragged to their death because of their obsession with their objective.

The goal of crowning Everest had become part of his identity. They could not imagine themselves aborting the mission a few meters from the top, so they ignored all the danger signs advising them to return immediately and move on.

Goals have a very dark side. Although in recent years the belief has become popular that setting goals is the secret to success, the reality is that setting goals is a serious problem if you are not able to accept that you can fail .

That’s why it’s better to be guided by something different that should be familiar to you by now: your values .

Your values ​​define the principles on which you want to live. And also you will hardly fail in them . If you wanted to climb Everest but were guided by the courage of perseverance, you could be proud of yourself for trying even if you never reached the top.

By using your values ​​to focus on the process, you will avoid worrying about those goals on which you make your happiness depend.

advice
Use your values ​​as a guide instead of setting goals. Unlike these, your values ​​will always be there for you to fulfill and make you feel proud of yourself.

6. Use a trump pose

Dr. Amy Cuddy discovered in one of her experiments that adopting a power pose for 2 minutes  increases testosterone levels and decreases those of cortisol , the stress hormone.

The consequence? You feel more confident and willing to take risks.

Cuddy’s explanation is that there is a two-way communication between mind and body . When you are proud, your posture reflects it. But if when you are sad you adopt a triumphant pose, little by little you will feel more confident.

Note: Power poses are those that expand your body, such as those that athletes do when they win (arms raised, chest swollen and chin up).

Subsequently, it has been proven that its effectiveness depends on many variables, but I recommend that you check it for yourself when you need to feel more secure.

advice
Before taking on your next challenge, try holding a posture of power for two minutes.

7. Reinterpret your fear

Did you know that fear and excitement are actually caused by the same substance?

Yes, it is about adrenaline, and although psychologically the two emotions are different, biologically your body responds in exactly the same way to both.

That means that theoretically it would be possible to use it to feel arousal rather than fear .

In a scientific study , Dr. Alison Brooks separated several students into three groups. To generate anxiety, he had them make an individual presentation while a jury evaluated them.

The first group was given no prior instructions, while the second and third were made to repeat aloud  ” I’m calm”  and ” I’m excited,” respectively.

The result was that students in the third group, those who tried to interpret their nerves as excitement  rather than fear, did much better.

advice
The next time you face a challenge, try to imagine that the nerves that you fear are actually  nerves of excitement produced by your enthusiasm . You will feel more confident.

8. Make smaller decisions

In the same way that starting to act is the source of trust, making decisions is also a great reinforcement.

Making a decision, no matter how small, has been scientifically proven to activate your prefrontal cortex, reducing your worry and increasing your confidence.

If you make decisions regularly, you will feel more in control in your life. Starting with small everyday decisions is enough, such as:

  • Choose the movie that you are going to see with your partner.
  • Decide the restaurant where you will dine with your friends

Little by little you will feel capable of making more difficult but important decisions for you, such as joining a choir when your partner thinks it is a waste of time.

advice
Do not avoid making the small decisions that arise in your day to day. Doing so will boost your confidence for bigger challenges.

9. Use the mask technique

Do you remember when you used to dress up in Carnival and you wouldn’t stop doing mischief?

Why did you behave like this if in your day to day you were introverted and reserved?

Because you were playing a role.

This phenomenon I call the technique the mask , and is a powerful psychological tool to achieve more confidence.

The mask technique is what helped Beyoncé overcome her fear of going on stage. He created Sasha Fierce , a sensual and charismatic alter ego , whom he plays every time he has to perform in front of thousands of fans.

Beyoncé Sasha Fierce
Beyoncé even put out an album revealing her alter ego.

This technique consists of creating another personality, a character that allows you to leave your reality to dare to do things that you would not normally do. This protects you against failure, because you will stop living it as if you had failed: your character has failed.

advice
When you feel that fear paralyzes you, put yourself in the shoes of some brave and reckless character, and start acting like him.

10. Treat yourself like a friend

What do you say to yourself when you fail?

You’re probably hard on yourself, right? I’m sure messages like “You’re a failure!” Have crossed your mind at times or “You are useless!”

But what do you say to your friends when they fail?

Are you telling them that they are useless? Or do you try to comfort and encourage them so they don’t get depressed?

What if you started treating yourself like a friend every time you fail?

This concept is based on a scientific method that is revolutionizing the scientific community thanks to its impressive results. It is able to reduce insecurity, anxiety and stress and increase the amount of optimistic thoughts.

This method is called self-compassion .

Self- compassion does not mean feeling sorry for yourself, but treating yourself as you would treat a friend when you fail or something bad happens to you. It means supporting and forgiving you rather than criticizing you. Comfort yourself to try again instead of punishing yourself when you make a mistake.

advice

The next time you fail or feel bad about something that has happened to you, ask yourself the following question:

“What would you say to a friend who tells me that he is going through the same situation?”

And say it to yourself.

conclusion

Learning to trust yourself is essential to get out of your comfort zone and live a fuller life.

The first step is to understand the golden rule of trust . Stop trying to feel confident before taking on any challenge, because that’s impossible. You will only feel confident later, once you have acted.

Remember: acts first, then feelings of trust. It’s something you already do several times a day.

Then, there are several tools that can give you an extra boost of confidence when you need it most, such as remembering your values, reinterpreting your fear as enthusiasm or maintaining a pose of power, but above all, avoid making confidence a goal in himself .

All of this will free you up so that you can finally bring out the best in yourself.

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