Have you ever wondered what lies behind true confidence?
Sometimes it seems like there is a magic potion that separates highly confident individuals who act in the face of fear and everyone else who feel like they’re often going around in circles.
What psychologists will tell you is that there isn’t anything special behind these individuals, they’ve simply accumulated a series of habits and beliefs over time, either intentionally or by good fortune.
But before looking at these habits and beliefs, we need to go back and ask the question; what is confidence?
Confidence is simply the degree to which you believe that your actions will result in a positive outcome.
This is not the same as self-esteem.
Self-esteem is a more general feeling you have about yourself, where as confidence is the belief you have in your skills in a given situation. When most people say they want to be more confident, what they mean is that they want more self-esteem.
Unsurprisingly however, the more areas you become confident in, the more you are likely to naturally develop self-esteem.
Why do we want confidence?
Confidence is an evolutionary advantage that can help you approach whatever task is in front of you without hesitation or anxiety. It can allow us to do what we really want to do with our lives.
The problem is that most of the time the advice we get about how to be more confident can be a little generic.
“Fake it till you make it,” “Talk louder” or “Dress the part.”
To be fair, this isn’t terrible advice, it can actually have a positive impact on how you feel, but it doesn’t really instill you with the kind of deep confidence that results in real change.
Here are 5 hidden qualities of confident people.
- They manage their outcome dependence
Confident people don’t worry about the outcome of a situation. Their attention is focused on the action or activity as opposed to the external result.
In the event that they fail, they see it as a learning experience as opposed to a reflection of who they are as a person or even how much they’re worth.
- They assess themselves accurately
This might seem counter-intuitive, but to develop true confidence you need to have a little bit of brutal self-honesty.
If you have unrealistic expectations about your capabilities, you’re likely to get shocked and disheartened when things don’t go as you expected. On the other hand if you have an objective assessment of your skills, this is less likely to be the case.
Another important thing to consider here is that they are able to accept constructive criticism from others without getting defensive. The attention of confident people isn’t focused on whether others perceive them as competent but on how they can improve for the future.
- They practice Positive Visualization
Ours brains have a difficult time distinguishing real memories and constructed ones. Self-assured people use this to their advantage by visualizing their competence in a certain area until their neural networks have been rewired for success.
One study revealed that weightlifters that practiced positive visualization found the practice almost as effective as the physical practice itself for performance enhancement.
- They choose their activities carefully
You can’t be the best at everything and self-assured people know this. Instead they stick to what they known is going to make them confident.
For example, if they want to be a confident swimmer they might spend a lot of time running, because some of the skills are complimentary. But they’re not going to spend hours writing creative stories, because the overlap between the two activities is less significant.
Sometimes it’s simple enough to realize that if you want to feel confident, you should spend time just doing things your confident in.
This might not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. If you want to develop self-esteem, you need to need to push your comfort zone in a number of areas, but it is slow growth over time that will lead to deeper, long lasting confidence.
- They develop their skills
To feel more confident you need to better yourself in the area you want to feel confident in, and the only way to do so is practice.
Again, this is pretty obvious, but it means being able to focus on one area for a sustained period of time until you’re competent, instead of letting your attention drift all over the place and getting what is known as ‘shiny objective syndrome.’
- They take action!
As Dale Carnegie said:
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
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Ben is a freelance writer, and the co-creator of Project Monkey Mind—a blog that helps you learn practical ways to live a productive, fulfilling and world-changing life in the digital age.