People instinctively like someone who has confidence, but what even is confidence? Is it a way of acting or dressing or speaking? Is it something you can buy with money or something that you earn with experience? You know when someone is confident. It seems like they always know exactly what to do in any situation, but how? You know it when you see it, but how can you get it for yourself?
Often when people talk about confidence, what they mean is the appearance of confidence. When a person walks into a room knowing that they have something to offer, you can see it in the way they move. People who are confident display open body language, stand straight and hold their head high. We can work on having good posture and mimicking these attributes until they become part of our intrinsic behaviour. In fact, studies done by Amy Cuddy and her team at Harvard University suggest that people who adopt powerful body language that we see in confident people, can ‘reverse engineer’ their minds to adopt the feeling of confidence.
“People who adopt open, expansive, “power” poses do feel more powerful. And “feeling powerful is an intrinsically consequential, theoretically important, fundamental outcome… for people’s lives.”
It is easy enough to create your own feeling of confidence by paying attention to the way you dress and present yourself. Wear clothes that fit well make you feel important. Women have a secret weapon in how high heels sound on a floor. Men often feel important wearing a suit. Neither of these are worn for comfort, they are worn when we want to make our presence known. Consider revamping your wardrobe, for instance, shopping at secondhand stores or other sustainable clothing companies will give you a unique look. Remember that having your clothing items tailored to fit correctly is actually very easy to do, and effective. Owning clothing that doesn’t fit well not only makes you feel less confident, but means that those pieces are more likely to sit unused and end up being tossed.
A smile says a ton. An authentic smile from somebody shows they have something inside them that gives them a positive outlook, and that is attractive. If you feel shy about your smile, consider getting help from a dentist or company like Smile Direct Club vs Candid.
Don’t underestimate the importance of appearances when it comes to confidence. Often a habit of looking confident can help carry you through the times when you don’t feel confident at all.
You can’t feel confident in every single aspect of your life. You might know a lot about your work but not know anything about romance, or vice versa. Everyone has some areas that they objectively know a lot about, and other areas where they don’t. The trick is knowing which is which. On the one hand, knowing your weaknesses is important, because pretending to be confident about something you know nothing about is going to end in disaster eventually. On the other hand, if there’s something that you know a lot about, but you act like you so don’t, you are doing yourself a disservice. Be honest with yourself about your strengths as well as your weaknesses. And use the things you are less confident about as an opportunity to learn!
Once you know what your strengths are, it’s easier to accept your weaknesses. This might seem counter-intuitive. Surely confidence seems to be all about knowing everything about everything, but we all know that simply isn’t possible. Confidence isn’t about knowing it all, it’s about being comfortable, even when you don’t know. No one can know everything, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Accept your weaknesses and know that you don’t need to be embarrassed by them. Your weaknesses can be compensated for by the strength of others, if you are just willing and able to ask for help. Think of life as a team building exercise.
Having a solid support system is a hugely important part of being confident. It’s a lot easier to try something new if you know that there are people who will help you if you fall. If you look around, I guarantee you will be able to find someone who can help you when you need them. Maybe you have to build that system from scratch, but it’s not impossible. Make friends, trust that they can help you if you need it, and you will find that you are right to trust them. If you are starting some sort of venture… a new business, a new hobby, starting off in a new location… find a person who has been there before you. Mentorships are highly undervalued in our society but can be invaluable in launching yourself successfully. If you find somebody who already made mistakes on the path you want to take, you don’t need to make them, and you can be more confident about your stride.
A lot of what we call confidence is actually just emotional maturity. If you are realistic about your strengths and weaknesses, trust the people around you to help you when you need it, and ask for help when you need it, suddenly people will start talking about how confident you are. If you’ve built an appearance of confidence by dressing well and taking care of yourself, the illusion will be complete. Have you magically become a perfect expert at everything? No, because that was never a realistic goal. The difference is that you can still be comfortable and relaxed, even when you are stuck doing something you don’t know much about.
Confidence can be hard to define. It’s a projected aura of comfort. When someone is comfortable with themselves and with the tasks they have to do, we say that they are confident. Building your own confidence is a delicate balance of self-knowledge and support, but projecting that out is often a matter of faking it until you make it. Remember, being a confident person doesn’t mean that you have to feel 100% confident 100% of the time. If you do feel 100% confident 100% of the time, the only person you’re fooling is yourself.