The brain is a worry-wart, constantly on guard against criticism, believing more in the certainty of losing than the possibility of winning. There’s enough negative weight in that statement to make anyone with wavering confidence give up, and yet, that’s the word from experts in…POSITIVE psychology! In this article, I will discuss 6 tips on how to be more confident.
1. The Inner Caveman
Positive psychologists Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi believe that when our brains have nothing better to think about, instead of slipping into a fuzzy neutral mode, they fidget and fret by thinking about bills, possible pink slips and relationships falling apart.
Seligman traces the human tendency to lean heavy-negative to the Pleistocene period when a man was in a daily battle for survival. Life was short and the big-ticket items were shelter, food and reproduction, any one of which could be swept away in an instant by a larger beast, a harsh rainstorm, a neighbour with a bigger club or an accidental misstep off a nearby cliff.
Csikszentmihalyi concurs that the worst imaginable is the first to enter our minds when we aren’t occupied thinking of other things, simply because negative thinking was once the best way to stay alive.
2. The Mind as a Method
How to be more confident, if we’re predisposed to negative thinking thanks to pessimistic ancestors? Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi aren’t psychological party-poopers. The reality they’ve discovered is meant to be a great leveller.
Their research shows that we all have the ability to sink into negative thinking. Therefore, it is important to see the mind as a tool, rather than as a master. Only then, the opportunity to change how we think is possible.
3. Self-esteem and Confidence
If you think Seligman’s positive psychological approach is a little disturbing, in his 1995 book, The Optimistic Child, he wrote that there are “… almost no findings showing that self-esteem causes anything at all.
How to be more confident if you don’t feel good about yourself? Well, Seligman growls at a younger generation who appears to have substituted self-absorption for self-confidence, a condition that the psychologist blames on adults who have taught a brand of self-esteem that can be more arrogant than assertiveness.
4. What We’ve Learned So Far
- Our brain is a buzzkill when it’s not busy.
- Dropping the positive thinking ball invites our natural negative thoughts to return.
- Rather than letting the mind control thoughts, we can influence what it thinks.
- Kids are spoiled.
Okay, the last one might be a skewed generation-to-generation opinion, but there is some validity in seeing confidence as separate from self-worth. Roger Elliott, director of Uncommon Knowledge and author of a successful self-confidence course, agrees that lip-service mood boosters don’t really change a person’s real feelings about themselves.
Those with poor self-images become suspicious of positive affirmations unless there’s solid proof they aren’t a person who is as awful as they feel.
The self-confidence director believes self-esteem and confidence are connected, but that healthy self-esteem happens when a person’s emotional needs are met and focus turns outward to others, rather than isolated to the burning discord inside themselves.
5. The Little Shove
Sometimes self-esteem and confidence are separate issues. A person can think good thoughts about themselves and still lack adequacy in the confidence department.
Here are some starters:
Arrogance vs Confidence
Developing confidence can be trial and error and one of the biggest mistakes confidence newbies make is jumping into the deep end of arrogance. It is not possible to correctly answer the question “how to be more confident” if you cannot distinguish confidence and arrogance. Confidence is trusting yourself enough to do something with the full realization of your abilities, capabilities and limitations. Arrogance, which is a blind bull that says you’ll try anything whether you can do it or not, can trip you up.
Humility is a fine quality, but so is knowing how to accept a compliment for work well done. Many people lacking confidence get flustered at the thought of being told “Nice job!”. How to be more confident if you are the type of person to get easily flustered? Well, it is quite simple.
Stop letting yourself get flustered so easily.
If you do great work and someone notices, allow the praise and accept it gracefully. No need for a pink face.
Do What You Love
How to be more confident you ask? Well, do what you love and you will love what you do. A great way to gain confidence is to start with the things that make you feel most comfortable.
If your specialty is building the world’s most beautiful birdcage, go for it. Your abilities are already in place. All that’s lacking is a belief that those abilities are truly worthwhile and unique.
Try Something New
The exact opposite of sticking with what you know is exploring new territory. That’s not a vote to take on a project that will make you feel lost, but one that expands your capabilities.
If you’ve always been a mechanic, just because you’ve never taken an entire car apart and put it back together, doesn’t mean you can’t. It only means you haven’t tried it yet.
Set the Bar Higher
Don’t always play it safe. There’s a little risk in going for more and it’s time to take it. If you see a possibility within your reach, letting your old caveman mind talk you out of it may mean a missed opportunity.
Use the adult version of The Little Train That Could theory of “I think I can”. Deep down you know you can do it. Now say “Yes!”
Tap Your Kid Power
When you were a child faced with a tall tree to climb, did you agonize over it and wonder if it was beyond what you could do?
Or did you focus on the shiny prize apple way up there even with the risk of a tumble? When you were 9-years-old, this was a no-brainer. How about now?