HIGHLIGHTS: Living out loud; How to develop lasting confidence Part One


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Confidence – that quality so many of us admire. During my younger years I was plagued by insecurity, often colouring how I interacted with those around me. As I grew older I naturally developed more confidence as I actively worked on my self-esteem but I still sometimes have my moments when I become a little insecure.


I remember talking to my boyfriend for the first time on the phone. I was feeling anything but confident in the lead up to the call. To help the conversation along I Googled ‘fun dating questions’ so that I wouldn’t run out of things to say. It seems funny to me now, but at the time it did wonders to improve my confidence, even although my nerves didn’t go completely. There have also been times when I have experienced inner confidence, when my insecurities faded and I felt truly comfortable with myself and my surroundings.


After having experienced this I realised here are two types of confidence, internal and external. In this series I shall briefly discuss how fostering external confidence (with internal confidence somewhat absent) can help us to develop internal confidence in the long-term. That said, we can also work on developing internal confidence, whereby external confidence naturally manifests itself. With this in mind I shall explore how to develop internal confidence in-depth, as this is by far the most powerful form of confidence because it has many deep rooted psychological benefits. Having lacked confidence in the past I definitely believe it is something we can all develop with patience and  practise.


The difference between self-esteem and confidence


How not to get discouraged when trying to foster more confidence

In today’s world where results are expected to be instant – this attitude fueled by both technology and the media – it is often forgotten that most things worthwhile take time. It is true that you can have breakthroughs and instant results (especially when Tony Robbins is your personal coach) but a little patience is usually required when developing a new habit, trait or skill. If you want to speed up this process try thinking of your reason why every time you feel discouraged to motivate you and picture yourself achieving the goal.


Often when we work towards something like fostering more confidence we can overly berate ourselves for stumbles along the way and fail to praise ourselves enough for the small wins. So every time you catch your inner critic saying something like ‘you got that wrong’ or ‘look, you did it again’ just roll your eyes and take no notice! For a more in depth look at silencing our inner critic please read my self-compassion article titled ‘How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend’.


Are people ever born naturally confident?

I was shocked to discover that recent studies have seemed to suggest that genes account for 50% of how confident we are in adulthood (Steve Suomi of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)). However this isn’t to say that we can’t cultivate more confidence and nurture ourselves in such a way as to promote a healthy level of internal confidence – I believe if anything this preliminary finding means that actively fostering more confidence is even more important for those of us that lack in this area.


How shyness can inhibit and how confidence can set you free to be you


True confidence comes from within and can liberate you to vocalize and present your authentic self to the world. Whilst shyness is sometimes perfectly natural, if it is chronic and indiscriminate it can inhibit us whereby we fall short of being our true selves.


Throughout the series we will be looking at ways we can develop lasting confidence, but here are a few tips if you often feel shy around others:


  • Don’t admit you’re shy
  • Don’t label yourself as shy, thereby limiting your self-identity
  • Tell your inner critic it’s not needed anymore
  • Ask questions and let others do the legwork in conversation
  • Consider taking acting classes


It’s worth remembering though that shyness isn’t a flaw in any way – it is simply an inhibited state and is neither good nor bad. I would encourage you to only work on your shyness and becoming more confident if you feel it is limiting the quality of your social interactions or personal emotional state.


Confidence In Action: Envisage Confidence

Describe how a confident you would feel. What would it look like? How would you act? What would your body language communicate and how? This exercise will help crystalize what you are working towards throughout this series and give you motivation to develop lasting confidence. Place what you write down somewhere accessible like on your phone or on a mirror to inspire you to continue working on your confidence levels.


Myth busters: Confident People Are Always Confident, No Matter What

Even usually confident people can enter a situation which makes them nervous – an interview for a dream job, meeting the parents of your partner for the first time, even public speaking can inspire otherwise confident people to become nervous. The old myth that confident people are confident 100% of the time is simply not true. So the next time you’re nervous, remember, you’re in good company!


Myth busters: Confident People Always Talk Loads

One of the biggest myths about confidence is that confident people are always extrovert and always talk loads. Introverted people are just as able to be confident and confidence does not always equate to being the life and soul of the party or talking loads. You might just as easily find a confident introvert making quiet conversation with the guest of honor at a party or giving a speech at a wedding.