Friday, July 29, 2011
By Grace Fleming
Article Source:About.com Guide
Sometimes a lack of self-confidence stems merely from a lack of experience. You may not feel so confident about taking the SAT test or acting in a stage play if you've never done it before. These feelings will change as you grow and experience more things in your life.
Sometimes, however, a lack of self-confidence can stem from feelings of insecurity. Sometimes we have bad feelings about ourselves and we bury them deep inside. When we do this, we tend not to assert ourselves and take chances because we fear our "secrets" will be revealed.
If your lack of self-confidence stems from bad feelings you harbor about yourself, you are also experiencing something perfectly normal and common. But it's a normal feeling that you can and should change!
Identify the Cause for Your Lack of Self-Confidence
If you have a fear that people will see your perceived shortcoming, you will find it difficult to assert yourself. Your shortcoming or vulnerability may have to do with your looks, your size, your perceived intelligence, your past, or your family experience.
In building self-confidence, your first goal is to develop a realistic understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll have to take a difficult first step and look inside yourself to discover where and why you feel vulnerable.
Face Your Fear Head-On
To get started on your self-exploration, go to a quiet and comfortable place and think about the things that make you feel bad about yourself. These things could stem from your complexion, weight, a bad habit, a family secret, abusive behavior in your family, or a feeling of guilt over something you’ve done. It can be painful to think about the root of your bad feelings, but it is healthy to root out something that is hidden deep inside and to work through it.
Once you have identified the things you feel bad or secretive about, you’ll need to determine what you can do to change them. Should you change your eating habits? Exercise? Read a self-help book? Any action you take—even the act of thinking about your problem—is a step toward getting it out in the open and eventually healing.
Once you have a full understanding of your problem, your fear decreases. When the fear goes away, the hesitation goes away and you can and will start asserting yourself more.
Celebrate Your Strengths
It's not enough to identify your weaknesses or your problem areas. You also have great aspects about yourself that you need to explore! You can start doing this by making a big list of things you have accomplished and the things you do well. Have you ever taken the time to explore your strengths?
You were born with some natural talent, whether you have discovered it or not. Do you always make people laugh? Are you artistic? Can you organize things? Do you navigate well? Do you remember names?
All of these traits are things that can become very valuable as you get older. They are skills that are absolutely essential in community organizations, in church, in college, and on the job. If you can do any of them well, you have traits to cherish!
Once you have taken the two steps above, identifying your vulnerability and identifying your greatness, you will start feeling an increase in your confidence. You decrease your anxiety by facing your fears, and you start liking yourself better by celebrating your natural strengths.
Change Your Behavior
Behavioral psychologists say that we can change our feelings by changing our behavior. For instance, some studies have shown that we become happier if we walk around with a smile on our faces.
You can speed up your path to increased self-confidence by changing your behavior.
•Try smiling more. This will help you fight off feelings of negativity.
•Compliment others on their strengths. You’ll find that other people will return the favor and compliment you back. We all like to hear good things about ourselves!
•Exercise and get enough sleep. Both of these behavioral traits improve our moods. You’ll feel better inside and outside and look better too!
•Take time every night to plan for the next day. By planning ahead we avoid mistakes that make us feel bad about ourselves. Think through the next day to avoid minor malfunctions that could embarrass you.
Use a Third Person Approach
There is an interesting study that shows that there may be a trick to meeting our behavioral goals more quickly. The trick? Think about yourself in the third person as you evaluate your progress.
The study measured the progress in two groups of people who were attempting to make a positive change in their lives. The people who participated in this study were divided into two groups. One group was encouraged to think in the first person. The second group was encouraged to think of their progress from an outsider’s point of view.
Interestingly, the participants who thought about themselves from an outsider’s perspective enjoyed a faster path to improvement.
As you go through the process of improving your self-image and increasing your self-confidence, try to think of yourself as a separate person. Picture yourself as a stranger who is on a path toward positive change. Be sure to celebrate this person’s accomplishments!