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3 Ways To Empower Yourself And Build Self-Confidence

Here’s how to destroy the self-critical voice in your head

Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash

It was the middle of an intense karate match, and two opponents were sparring with muscles clenched in pain and sweat dripping off their backs. While both fighters were at an equal caliber in technique, one of them demonstrated a fighting spirit and self-confidence with a loud “kiai” accompanying every punch. The other stayed silent, perhaps emitting a timid “kiai” every few moves.

In the end, the referees gave the win to the fighter with confidence. While both fighters had the skills to succeed, one did not believe in his ability to win while the other did.

While this example is of a karate match, self-confidence is vital for all aspects of life. Have a brilliant idea at work but can’t summon the courage to voice it? You’re going to get ignored. If you aren’t confident in your competence, no one else is going to advocate for you.

However, you can increase your self-confidence. Here’s how:

Track and question your default state

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh

It’s easy to give in to your inner critic when you aren’t even conscious of the battle going on within you. Write down every instance when self doubt creeps into your mind over the course of the week. Be mindful of those thoughts, and don’t combat them at first. Simply observe, and jot them down.

Once the week has passed, instead of accepting your critical inner voice, question it. Why would your coworkers judge you if you present a new idea? Why would strangers laugh if you wear a bikini to the beach?

Confronting and standing up to a bully often stops future attacks, and facing the bully inside your head will quiet it.

Write down your strengths

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” — Dalai Lama

Think about all the times last week that you’ve embarrassed yourself: maybe you made a weird face on Zoom or texted your boss instead of your boyfriend.

Now, that painful exercise had a point. We criticize ourselves all the time and point out our weaknesses so often that we forget our strengths. Grab a piece of paper, set a 3 minute timer, and jot down your strengths and positive characteristics.

Just like referencing a list of everyone you can rely on will help when you feel lonely, this “brag sheet” will reinforce your positive qualities when you’re feeling worthless.

Based on this list, create affirmations tailored to you. General affirmations like “I’m confident” and “I’m intelligent” won’t build a more positive mindset. According to self-affirmation theory, the key factor for affirmations to work is that they reflect your personal values.

By adapting your affirmations to your unique present and desired characteristics, you will have greater belief in them. Affirmations change the narrative you have of yourself, so they can boost your self confidence. Plus, having a specific vision for yourself will bring it into reality.

Imitate the confidence of others, with your own twist

We’ve all heard the advice of “fake it till you make it,” but before you understand what true confidence looks like, you can’t “fake it.” Find a friend you admire, one who’s assertive and self-assured. Hang out with that friend for a few weeks until you understand his/her behaviors and thought processes.

When you’re at the mall trying on clothes, a self-confident person isn’t going to be self-deprecating and say “Ugh, these pants make me look so fat!” At a meeting, an assured leader won’t constantly be worrying about others’ perceptions of her.

However, don’t be inauthentic and duplicate all of your friend’s actions. Instead, take those actions as inspiration for your own. It’s okay if your friend parties 5 days a week and commands the attention of the room every time while you prefer smaller, cozier events.

Weave the techniques your party lover friend uses to be charismatic into your writer’s group or book club meeting.

The Takeaway

Self confidence is a powerful trait to have, one that impacts your relationships, career aspirations, and all other aspects of life.

With these simple tips, you can reclaim your self-perception and become the most calm, assured, and joyful version of yourself.

3 Ways To Empower Yourself And Build Self-Confidence was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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