If you watch small children, you will see people who act as though they have all the confidence in the world. They don’t know better. Wouldn’t it be great if you could reclaim your confidence you had as a child?
As a mom, one thing that always surprised me was the level of confidence I saw in my kids. From a very early age, they had like no fear. I don’t remember ever being that fearless. I was a painfully shy kid, so I don’t recall owning that level of confidence. Kids jump into play, ask perfect strangers for help. They show unbridled enthusiasm that adults wish we still had.
We’re actually born with confidence. Sadly, we lose it through experience. The kid who dances at the edge of the pool and falls in learns to be more cautious. Every experience teaches us to live with care. However, sometimes the failure or criticism we face tears a little too deeply and we lose our confidence.
Enough repeated episodes where we lose a little more eventually paralyzes us. The good news is that you can reclaim your confidence. You just have to have the right mindset and make the changes for it to happen.
Part of what allows children to be so confident is their enthusiasm. But as we all know, when our enthusiasm takes a beating, we have a harder time getting back up. Doubt and uncertainty build and sometimes we lose sight of ourselves. Learning to reclaim your confidence can have a multitude of benefits for you.
1. Celebrate the small things
When things go wrong, it often feels like we can’t do anything right. If this happens to you, make a list of things you do well. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. If you have a hard time coming up with things, ask a friend or loved one. They are quick to point out the things we are good at. They see things about us we never notice. Once the list is created, keep it accessible to remind yourself. You might want to keep it in your phone in a notes app or in your planner—somewhere you will see it often so that you can add to it and so that you can reread it when you’re down.
2. Dress confidently
This isn’t about dressing up in fancy clothes you’re afraid to mess up. But when we feel down, we tend to want to hide, so we wear baggy clothes, which make us smaller, so we feel less than… It’s a cycle. Break the cycle. Wear clothes that you feel good in. You know the outfit—we all have at least one—you put it on and every time you pass a mirror, you think, “Damn. I look good.” It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. A lack of confidence can make you want to hide in your own clothes. You feel good and you’ll exude confidence.
3. Care for yourself
Taking care of yourself will make you feel better about yourself. Again, when we feel down, things slip away from us. But eating right and exercising make us feel good. The right amount of sleep also helps. Keep up with regular hygiene. Even if you’re depressed, doing the small things like showering can give you a sense of accomplishment.
4. Be positive
We’ve all heard the expression that we’re our own worst critics. But for someone who lacks confidence, that sometimes means you’re hyper-critical. If you’re telling yourself you’re stupid or that everyone hates you, you need to stop. Talking to yourself that way depletes your confidence because you’ll start to believe it. Speak positively to yourself. If you’re not sure how, start with some basic positive affirmations. You might feel silly at first, but it will work.
5. Give yourself a chance to succeed
This is what I call the easy win or the quick win. As I mentioned earlier, every little success adds to your confidence. Put something in your planner or on your to-do list that you know you’ll do. For some people, it’s taking a shower. They know they will shower every day no matter what. It’s something they put on their list and feel good about marking it off. For you, it might be remembering to clean out the coffee maker when you’re done with your coffee. Or emptying the dishwasher. Or playing with your kids. These are all good things that can make you feel accomplished. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple.
6. Just finish
Nike had it right with their slogan. Often, we start things and never get back to them. Choose something and just finish it. What does this have to do with reclaiming your confidence? If you finish something that’s been hanging over your head, you reduce stress (win!) and you have the sense of accomplishment that goes along with finishing something (see above). Both of these things have a huge impact on your confidence.
7. Be kind
Being kind to someone and being grateful for what you have tends to put things in perspective. If you do something nice for someone, you will feel better about yourself. This increases your confidence because you will have had a positive effect on someone else’s day.
Because confidence comes from acting, use this list as a jumping-off point. Soon you’ll be discovering a multitude of ways to increase confidence. How exciting is that?
8. Remind yourself you can do it
Failure is part of life. Successful people understand this. Remember—there is no growth without struggle. The important thing to remember is that success is possible. Sometimes, you just need to remind yourself that it is.
9. Take a break
It’s okay to walk away. Often, we are told to just “power through.” While there are times that this is good advice, it shouldn’t be the standard. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is walk away from something that is frustrating you. It’s hard to feel confident if you’re overwhelmed or stressed.
Taking a break to do something you enjoy will adjust your mindset and you can go back to the task with renewed confidence. It gives the frustration a chance to subside and when you return to the task or goal, you will be approaching it with fresh eyes.
10. Forgive yourself
Getting hung up on mistakes or failures doesn’t accomplish much—other than ruining your confidence. Learn to let go and learn from those mistakes. Figuring out what you can take away from an experience can increase your confidence because it’s something you add to your repertoire of knowledge. Let go of the past to find future success.
11. Start over
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: Insanity is repeatedly doing something the same way but expecting a different outcome. It’s also a quick path to failure. If you know something doesn’t work, why continue? Repeated failure zaps your confidence. It’s time for a new strategy. Instead of continuing on the same path, ask yourself how you can do things differently.
12. Try again
If you’re willing to start over once (see above), then you should be willing to do it multiple times. There’s a reason we tell kids, “try, try again”—persistence pays.
The only way to really reclaim your confidence is to decide to. You have to want to be more confident and take the steps to get there. A big part of taking those steps is to give yourself some grace and permission to fail.
And right now, you may be thinking, “I don’t give myself permission to fail—it just happens.” But you need to allow it. Change the way you think about failure. It’s not that you can’t do something. You just haven’t found the right way for you to make it happen the way you need.
It’s a process. What makes one person successful might not work for you. It doesn’t mean you can’t achieve the same things; you just need to find the right way for you to achieve. Believing in yourself and having the confidence to act is the first step.