I Used To Be Terrified of the World Around Me —I Had Zero Self-Confidence
Nothing you have to say is worth saying.
You can’t make eye contact with anyone else — you’ll do something weird and then they will think less of you.
You walk weird.
Make an assertive statement?! Are you crazy. Not happening.
Those were things I regularly told myself. Is it any surprise that I had a massive problem with self-confidence??
No one believes me. But back in the day, I was the most removed, silent, distant and shy person you knew. I had zero confidence in myself. Zero.
Here are some of my thoughts on how I raised my own self-confidence. Perhaps you can draw some inspiration from my own struggles!
#1. Eye Contact
Eye contact is rough. It is tough. Eye contact is rough and tough! But it is possible to learn to make yours better!
Ok, for starters, you do not have to become some intense person that never glances away and breaks eye contact…don’t make that your goal if this is something you struggle with.
Start small. See if you can maintain eye contact for just 1.5-seconds longer than you normally would. Then take a rest. Try it again. Take a rest. Now do that until 1.5-seconds longer than usual actually feels normal and repeat the process!
Additionally, try making intentional moves such as when you laugh, break the eye contact and look somewhere else. This allows you to come back to the conversation “renewed” (so to speak) and is a little cheat I use to “have great eye contact.”
Improving eye contact will boost your self-confidence. Stop beating yourself up about how “you can’t make eye contact” and start working on it.
#2. Walking Like a Pro
Ok, some of you will not empathize with this. But in all honesty, I struggled with the way I walked for a long time. I felt awkward and would have the hardest time walking across large open spaces without freaking out that I was “not doing it right” and that “someone was watching and making fun of me.”
First of all, no one cares nearly as much as you think they do. Especially in this day and age when the smartphone screen beckons. No one has time to watch your gait.
But, if you do want to change something in the way you walk (for your own self-confidence), try keeping your gaze upward instead of down at the ground in front of your feet.
In high school, I was petrified to raise my gaze. Now, I have a hard time walking without my head raised! By consciously keeping my head down I was suppressing myself. I was trying to hide and therefore I was hurting my own self-confidence.
Raise your eyes and keep them raised.
Additionally, smile!! Smile even when you have no reason to smile. I tried this for the first time the other day right before going into an exam and you know what…it actually had an effect on the way I felt! Not only did I end up laughing at myself for doing something as strange as forcing myself to smile without a specific reason but I also just felt more confident in myself — you have to be more confident when you’re walking around with a crazy smile on your face for no reason!
Side note: if you are alive and breathing, you have every reason to smile.
#3. Making Confident Statements/Leading a Group
Make confident statements by:
- Reading about and actually doing/experiencing whatever you are speaking about
- Speaking clearly and without rushing
- Believing in yourself!
The other day in a meeting I was speaking to a team on how to press forward toward their goals. As I spoke, I glanced around at everyone’s eyes and was startled!
Not only was everyone watching and listening, the look in their eyes told me they actually valued what I was saying…they considered what I was saying important enough to remain silent and listen intently.
After closing my mouth and letting the meeting move on, I thought back to the moment before when I was surprised that people were actually valuing what I was saying. As I considered it all, I realized that it was not all that surprising! I was speaking from experience and I also was speaking with a confidence in myself that I have intentionally cultivated (slowly and painstakingly).
I had read a good deal about what I was speaking about in that moment. I had also spent a year working with my own team on similar goals. I had both knowledge and experience. I made sure I spoke clearly and slowly and I carried with me the habit of telling myself “Yes you can” into the meeting.
Everyone listened and I spoke with substantiated confidence.
Ultimately, it comes down to a decision you make every day: do you believe in yourself or not?
“Your most important sale in your life is to sell yourself to yourself” — Dr. Maxwell Maltz
This is a decision I make every day. I am still working on it.
Napoleon Hill challenges us to take 10-minutes every day to instill in ourselves a sense of self-confidence.
Personally, I make it a continuous habit — always reminding myself that I have something worth sharing.