Let me be clear: I don’t believe in instant confidence as a permanent cure for confidence issues. I think what works in the long run is changing the thinking patterns and belief system which feed insecurities. And this cannot be done in an instant. It take times and persistent action.
I do however believe there are often situations when you don’t have the time to build confidence by addressing the roots and you need an instant boost for your confidence. There are strategies for this, which work a lot like a patch over a wound, with a temporary but also positive effect. This is why from my perspective, this discussion makes sense.
Do a simple search on this topic and you will actually find dozens of tips and tricks for instant confidence. Which always leads me to one simple question: which ones work the best and are truly worth applying?
Having tested a lot of them myself, as well as having seen even more of them at work in my activity as a coach, I’ve selected a couple of them, which I believe to be the most effective strategies for instant confidence. Here they are:
1) Dress sharp. Clothes can be an instant confidence booster, if they’re good quality and look very nice on you. Some people, when they put the right clothes on, perceive themselves as if they have armor, they’re more successful or they’re putting their best selves out there. Dressing sharp can change for a while how you perceive yourself, what you focus on and thus, how you feel.
2) Breathe. When you feel insecure, it manifests itself in your physiology and especially in your breathing, which becomes faster and shallower. Your emotions impact your physiology, but it can also work the other way. Focus on your breathing: first notice it, then start to consciously breathe deeper, slower, and more regular. As you do this, you will quickly notice your negative emotions dropping and you will feel more confident.
3) Exercise. It’s not about going to the gym and working out for two hours. That’s not a quick solution. It’s about using a couple of minutes to do some simple exercising, like stretching your muscles or running a little. Exercising will help release tension in the muscles and will boost your level of endorphins, which is the body’s natural drug for improving your mood, including your confidence.
4) Focus on action. When you feel insecure, your thoughts will often go into a negative cycle: you start thinking negative, dramatic things, which trigger more negative and more dramatic thoughts and so on. One way to get out of this cycle in a moment is to stop focusing on your thinking and instead, acting. In other words, you’re getting out of your head by doing something, and thus, you make the insecurity go down instead of rise.
5) Stop! There is a very simple and effective technique for dealing with negative emotions in some therapies: you focus on your internal dialogue, which is full of negative thoughts that make your nervous, and you say with conviction: “Stop!” Either out loud, or if it’s not convenient, in your internal dialogue. This self-command will interrupt the negative internal dialogue for a while, prevent it from spinning out of control and help you boost your confidence.
6) Think of your qualities. A lot of times, lack of confidence is a result of loosing sight of our qualities, exaggerating your flaws and because of this, thinking you’re going to do terribly. When this happens, consciously remember your qualities, especially those which are relevant in the context, and focus on them. If for example, you are delivering a speech and you know you are very organized in your speaking, think about this, and it will boost your confidence.
7) Remember positive experiences. When you think of positive things, you generate and amplify positive emotions, while at the same time combating negative ones. Think of an experience you had in which you felt very strong positive emotions, especially confidence. Close your eyes and visualize it as clearly as you can, with all the relevant details, as if it were happening again. The better you do this, the more you will improve your mood, your confidence for the moment.
Using these simple strategies, always remember that even if they may work well, they are mostly just temporary patches. If you always find yourself needing them in the same type of situations to feel more confident, it’s a sign you’re not addressing the roots of your confidence issues. And addressing the roots is the most important thing to do in your personal development.
Eduard Ezeanu is 80% communication coach and 20% something more. He teaches people how to put their best foot forward in communication and helps them propel their careers. He writes personal development advice at Ideas With A Kick and you can follow him on Twitter at @eduardezeanu.