Confidence is the cornerstone of leadership. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can others believe in you?
Here are seven ways you can use to be more confident in yourself:
1. Push through self-limiting beliefs.
As children, we think we can conquer the world. But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, our enthusiasm and natural inclinations to dream big are squashed. Parents and teachers start imposing their own beliefs — about what we can and can’t do in life — upon us. Find your limits by exposing yourself to different situations and pushing through the uncomfortable. Once you have confidence in yourself, you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.
2. Never confuse memory with facts.
Our memory does not store information exactly as it’s presented to us. Instead, we extract the gist of the experience and store it in ways that makes the most sense to us. That’s why different people witnessing the same event often have different versions. Your brain has a built-in confirmation bias. That means it stores information that is consistent with your own beliefs, values and self-image. This selective memory system helps keep the brain from getting overloaded with too much information.
So recognize that your memory does not always provide you with accurate information. For example, if you have low self-esteem, your brain tends to store information that confirms your lack of confidence. That will be all you remember about a specific event. Revisit the facts of a memory loaded with self-limiting beliefs and try to gain a more accurate perspective on the event. Talk with others that might have a different perspective.
3. Talk to yourself.
This might seem crazy, but it works. Talking to yourself can make you smarter, improve your memory, help you focus and even increase athletic performance. The documentary The Human Brain claims we say between 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves per minute. The Navy SEALS and Special Forces use the power of positive self-talk as a way of getting through tough times.
Be positive, because the way you talk to yourself influences your neurobiological response to it. When you say, I know what to do here or see things as a challenge rather than a problem, you’ve turned your response into a positive one.
4. Think positive to overcome your negativity bias.
Since the early days, humans learned to get lunch or be the lunch. Our natural negativity bias has kept us safe from danger for thousands of years. But not every new or different thing is a threat to our survival. This negativity bias can chisel away at our confidence because we’re hardwired to pay attention to all that we’ve done wrong.
To avoid this, come up with five positive thoughts to counter every one negative thought and let every positive thought sit for 20 seconds before moving to the next positive thought. Also acknowledge both good and bad emotions, and do not try to suppress negative ones. Then, label the emotions for what they truly are and move on. Do not enter into inner dialogue about the negative emotion because then it becomes more powerful.
5. Raise your curiosity levels.
Curiosity is the foundation of life-long growth. If we remain curious, we remain teachable and our minds and hearts grow larger every day. We can retain our beginner’s mind by always looking forward and discovering new experiences and uncovering new information. Ask questions and be curious. It makes your mind active instead of passive, it encourages you to be more observant of new ideas. It also opens up new worlds and possibilities and creates an adventurous response that leads you in a new direction.
6. Overcome self-doubt.
If you lack self-confidence, you will always feel like you’re at the mercy of other people. When you assume a victim mentality, you are no longer resilient to life’s inevitable obstacles and roadblocks. No one but you is stopping you from achieving what you want to accomplish. It’s time to identify the areas in which you doubt yourself and remove those barriers.
7. Face your fears.
When we feel in control, we’re not afraid. When we have a level of comfort with something, it’s not scary. When we don’t feel in control, we don’t think clearly because our emotional brain is in the driver’s seat and takes over. This is why fear often seems random and irrational.
“Think about your worst fear. Spend time with it,” recommends Ronald Siegel, a Harvard Medical School professor and author of The Mindfulness Solution. “Now make your fear worse by getting closer to it. Imagine the worst that could happen. Now focus on your breathing. Feel your body relax. See, you didn’t die, did you? You’re on your way to conquering your fear.”
If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anybody else to? Start today.
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