Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
-Norman Vincent Peale
Perhaps because I was an only child, I was pretty quiet and introverted, not very outgoing except with my friends. I didn’t like being an introvert. So I remember very deliberately asking myself, “How do I overcome being an introvert? How do I become something that I’m not?
I knew that I had to get out of my comfort zone and force myself to be comfortable in front of large groups of people and at least act like the person I wanted to be. Then I figured I could become that person. So I literally jumped onto a stage and took high school drama. I took part in multiple plays. This accomplished its intended job; it forced me to get out of my comfort zone. I portrayed characters who were outgoing and it began bringing me out of my shell. In my junior and senior years, I won the “Thespian of the Year” award. This experience gave me a lot of confidence going forward. Throughout my career I have had many chances to be on stage in front of large crowds of people, so my experience in drama was invaluable.
Here are some suggestions to gain more confidence:
1. Push out those negative thoughts
Confident people exude optimism. So work on pushing out those negative thoughts and self-doubt by replacing them with positive ones. Challenge your limiting beliefs by positive self-talk and rewiring your brain. There are some great books out there regarding how to think more positively.
2. Get out of your comfort zone
Look for or create opportunities to get up and speak in front of a group of people whether in your community, work or church. Consider auditioning for a community play. If you want training on how to be a better speaker check out your local Toastmasters group. (www.toastmasters.org/) Learn a new hobby or skill which will increase your overall confidence.
3. Don’t let lack of experience hold you back
The only way to gain experience is by doing! Sometimes you need to just jump right in and learn as you go. Also, remember that confident people aren’t afraid to ask for help from those that have the experience they can learn from.
4. Bounce back from failure
It’s not failure that destroys our confidence; it’s not getting back up after we fail. Successful people look at failures outside themselves – they aren’t personally failures but the outcome was. They don’t give up and continue to try because they know that failures are opportunities to grow and a necessary part on the path to success.
5. Be aware of your body language
If you are physically or emotionally drained, you don’t appear to be confident. It’s hard to fake feeling healthy if you’re not. Make sure to exercise (even if it’s just going on a walk), get enough sleep and optimal nutrition. Another important outward appearance of confidence is posture – straighten that back and walk with purpose. When are are talking with someone, look that person in the eye and be fully engaged.
6. Distance yourself from negative people
Foster an environment of encouragement. Surround yourself as much as you can with those who believe in you and will encourage you. This should be reciprocal as well; make sure that you’re encouraging others as well. If you’re part of a team, this will create great, positive energy and incredible results as you work together to accomplish your goals.
If a shy teenager can be brave enough to try out for drama to build his confidence, then you can build yours too. I believe in you. Don’t give up! If our paths cross in the future, please walk right up to me, introduce yourself and share your goals, struggles and/or achievements with me or feel free to comment on this blog.