Need A Confidence Boost? Look No Further.
14 Ways to Boost Your Confidence.
Confidence for women can be a double-edged sword. It matters as much as skills and competence when it comes to success. Yet a woman’s confidence may be mistaken for arrogance and viewed as a negative.
This is why I read The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know. According to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, “Confidence is life’s enabler - professionally, intellectually, athletically, socially and even amorously.” The authors argue that women often suffer from a confidence gap, which often forces them to hold back from opportunities or to overprepare. Sadly, this is true even if she is overqualified.
How can women increase our self-confidence?
Six small self-confidence boosts
Katy Kay and Claire Shipman suggest six ways to give yourself a small boost in self-confidence.
1. Practice meditation.
Meditation helps you to learn that happiness needs to come from the inside rather than from external validation.
2. Be grateful.
My family and I list five things we are grateful for at dinner every evening. When I practice gratitude by myself, I use a formula. I am grateful for X because Y, and it makes me feel Z. Every week, as part of my weekly review, I list ten things using this formula. The specificity increases the sense of appreciation.
Why is gratitude important? Gratitude stimulates our brain’s hypothalamus, which helps to regulate stress. Think of gratitude as a wellness practice. If you’d like to learn more about how gratitude boosts our emotional and physical well-being, read this article by Robert Emmons, a Professor of Psychology at UC Davis. Or you might enjoy this blog post I wrote about World Gratitude Day.
3. Think small.
Break down larger projects or tasks into smaller parts.
4. Sleep, move, share.
Sleep and move are apparent. The authors use “share” to refer to time with friends and family. It doesn’t matter which order we do these three things as long as we do them.
5. Practice power positions.
I’m sure they got this idea from Amy Cuddy, and her TED talk on body language. Sit up straight, pull in your abs, and keep your chin up. Claim your seat at the table instead of sitting off in the corner or by the wall.
6. Fake it till you make it.
Of all the advice, this might be my favorite. If I am feeling less confident, it helps me to wonder if other people I admire are faking it till they make it too.
Seven habits to boost confidence
First, get comfortable with some of the small ways to boost your confidence. Then you’ll be ready for the longer-term habits Shipman and Kay offer to boost your confidence. Are you at a pivot point and experiencing lower levels of self-confidence? These habits can help you embrace uncertainty and move with confidence into your next challenge. Repeat all the following practices regularly to increase your confidence.
1. Practice failing fast.
This concept comes from the technology industry. It allows for constant adjustments, testing, and then quickly moving towards what works. You take action instead of suffering from analysis paralysis while creating your next plan. You experience bite-sized failures, which you use to learn and readjust.
2. When in doubt, act.
We learn from taking action. This will translate into doing more and thinking less.
3. Don’t ruminate, rewire.
Our minds have a negativity bias. We spent too much time thinking about negative thoughts. At the end of each day, reflect on or write down three things you did well that day. Visualize a terrific outcome for what you are working on.
4. Kill NATs (negative automatic thoughts).
Imagine the sound of a gnat buzzing in your ear. Negative automatic thoughts can be equally annoying. I don’t know about you, but I am often my worst bully. I would never to speak to someone else the way I talk to myself.
Katy and Shipman suggest approaching the situation with a self-compassionate view. They offer the following example. “I’m just not efficient, what’s wrong with me,” becomes “Maybe I am doing a good job balancing so much, actually.”
5. Don’t take it personally.
According to the authors, “Confidence that is dependent on other people’s praise is a lot more vulnerable than confidence built from our own achievements.”
I find this one hard to do, especially when receiving a critique. Shipman and Kay suggest thanking the person for the feedback before making any other response.
This advice is easier to follow if you can unhook from both praise and criticism. Tara Mohr, in her book Playing Big, advises us to do this by remembering that feedback doesn’t tell us about us, it tells about the person giving the feedback. It can take time for this idea to sink in, but when it does, it can be game-changing.
6. Star in your own production.
First, accept compliments. Say thank you and nothing else. Don’t deflect the praise.
Own your accomplishments rather than dismissing them. Don’t say you were lucky, or be self-deprecating. It’s OK to be proud.
In an article about gender stereotypes and self-confidence, Katherine B. Coffman, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, writes:
“Women are more likely than men to shrug off the praise and lowball their own abilities.”
When we were students, doing good work was enough. But to play big out in the real work, Tara Mohr reminds us we also have to make our excellent work visible.
7. Speak up without upspeak.
Are you familiar with the term upspeak? It means to raise your voice at the end of a sentence as if asking a question. This diminishes the power of what you are saying. Ask people you know whether you do this. If you do, work on putting an end to this harmful habit.
Freedom and power
Confidence made me think of Core Desired Feelings related to freedom and power. Since The Desire Map book was published in 2014, thousands of people around the world have discovered their Core Desired Feelings. Danielle LaPorte, the author, and creator of the process noticed the feelings people want to feel most of the time fell into twelve key themes. One of the themes is freedom and power.
The Core Desired Feelings in this theme exude confidence. Here are some examples: bold, brave, badass, assured, confident, daring, empowered, fearless, fierce, gutsy, powerful, strong, and Wonder Woman. What feeling do you want to feel to help you exude confidence?
Pass it on
Katty Kay and Claire Shipman encourage women to pass the confidence code on to other women and girls. They advise us to praise other women for progress, not perfection. In fact, discourage the pursuit of pointless perfect altogether. Teach other women how to cope with the basic challenges of life with optimism, self-compassion, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.
What a better place to start than with tween or teen girls? Despite their outstanding achievements, girls are often consumed with doubt inside as they try to be perfect in every way. For the last few school years, teachers at my son’s elementary school have led an after-school book club for fifth and sixth-grade girls. They focus on a single book, The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self. These dedicated teachers help this lucky group of girls to increase their confidence to become bold, brave, and fearless.
I leave you with this quote from The Confidence Code:
“Confidence, at least the part that’s not in our genes, requires hard work, substantial risk, determined persistence, and sometimes bitter failure. Building it demands regular exposure to all of these things.”
I am confident in you and wish you the best in embracing your imperfect and powerful self.
If you’d like to learn more about women and confidence, here are some articles:
I couldn’t resist sharing Julie Andrews singing “I have confidence” in The Sound of Music.