Most of us are not blessed with an uncommonly high level of self-esteem. In fact, most of us have trouble finding positives in even our greatest successes because of the incredibly high expectations we have due to the explosion of ‘optimalism’ created by the mainstream media (meaning that they only show extreme successes on TV and on the radio…it’s good for ratings, but wreaks havoc on our personal expectations).
To remedy this, here is a short list of 5 things you can do to boost your confidence level right now (if you are unconvinced of why you should be boosting your confidence, read this first).
1. Put Things in Perspective
Though Newsweek and CNN would have you believe otherwise by their incessant focus on the .0001% of people who are making hundreds of millions of dollars in their teens and twnety-somethings who are unifying quantum theory and Einsteinian physics, the successes that you have in your day-to-day life actually do matter. In fact, most of them probably matter much more than you are even aware of, since you are likely only considering the impact that they have on you personally. You got a new job, excellent! You just made your day, as well as the company you signed on with, that of your significant other, and all of your friends that just found out about it. Even small stones thrown into a pond create ripples, so even if your success is not a tsunami worth covering on the 6 o’clock news, be sure that YOU celebrate it, because at the end of the day, the things that effect you directly are much more important than newsworthy-but-distant achievements anyway.
2. Call Your Mom
Any time I’m feeling blue and need a pick-me-up, I call my parents. This works for me, because I happen to have very supportive parents who will ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ about even my smallest achievements without fail. It’s a small confidence boost that always helps me to realize, hey, what I’m doing is kind of neat. Good for me! It’s very easy to loose perspective and get too deep into what you’re doing so that you forget how interesting your life actually is.
Obviously, you don’t have to call your parents. It just has to be someone who will give you that reality check and take an active interest in what you have to say. On the flipside, be sure to be the kind of person who will do this for others, too. Call it karma if you like, but helping someone out when they are feeling down makes it all the more likely that you will have someone to go to when you need the same.
3. Do Something Mindless That You Are Good At
When I need a short mental vacation that won’t make me lose my momentum but will allow me to get a sense of completion I play a few games of Tetris. I got in the habit back in high school where I would play for an hour before guitar lessons once a week while waiting for my brother to finish his lesson. It’s a game I’ve played enough that I don’t really have to think about what I’m doing, but it’s also complex enough that it keeps my mind active so that I can take a bit of a break without completely shutting down. Additionally, every time I win, or even just last a really long time, I get a sense of worth, like ‘Man, I’m good at this. That’s awesome.’
Again, it doesn’t have to be Tetris (though studies have shown that Tetris in particular does have memory benefits), it can be any relatively mindless activity. Do a cat’s cradle. Knit. Play with a yo-yo. Sing along to a song with complex lyrics. Anything that takes a bit of skill but not so much that you’re going to fail miserably at (because what we’re looking for now is not so much as a challenge as a quick jolt of rejuvenating ego-boost).
4. Work Out
Even when I really really really don’t feel like working out, if I can make myself do it for even 30 minutes I feel a million times better afterward. Working out pumps your body full of feel-good chemicals like endorphins, and your self-image will immediately increase while your inhibitions and self-imposed walls will become more brittle and easy to break through. Not to mention the fact that you will, in fact, be healthier (as opposed to just feeling healthy), and long term your confidence level will grow and grow and grow. Not too bad for a half hour investment!
5. Learn Something
When I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything at the end of the day, I’ll immediately cruise the web to learn something new. There’s something invigorating about adding to your library of knowledge because it allows to you make new connections and potentially change your entire perspective on the world. Some good places to check out for quick doses of knowledge are Lifehacker, Mental Floss and TED.
What’s your favorite way to boost your confidence level? Comment below!
Update: April 23, 2016
A lot of this is still pretty solid advice, and a lot of it is advice I still give, today.
I would add a few items:
6. Remind yourself of past successes: I think about this when I’m doing something that gets my blood pumping, but which I’ve done before. Public speaking, for instance. Beforehand, I remind myself that this is what I do, this is what I’ve done. I’ve worried before, but it’s been okay. The same applies if it’s something completely new — just remind yourself of how you’ve overcome newness in the past, and how that turned out. How you came out the other side.
7. Remind yourself of past failures: More specifically, remind yourself that you got back up after you stumbled. This is a focal point of strength for me — my failures serve as reminders that I can overcome failure. If the worst should happen, I’ll overcome again.
8. Smile: There’s good science to back up the idea that how you carry yourself and your facial expression informs how you actually feel, but I want to focus on the act of smiling when you don’t quite feel like smiling. Slapping a smile on your face is something you have control over. It changes the way others respond to you, and allows you to play the role (even if it’s a fake role, at first) of happy, confident person. When I do this, I also think about something ridiculous: how worked up I’m getting over something that, in the broader context, is a small concern (and everything is, if your context is expansive enough). This tends to bring a legit smile to my face, along with a silent laugh, and that makes me feel ready to tackle this now-surmountable whatever.
9. Help someone else: Becoming a source of strength for someone else can also strengthen you. If you’re feeling nervous, chances are the people around you are, too. Helping them feel more confident tends to make you feel stronger. Like so many things, this is an act that allows us to benefit while also benefiting others, which is ideal.