I’m regularly told that one of my main personal attributes is self-confidence.
Remember when I told you about that rave I went to in high school?
I forgot to mention that I felt so out of place, so insecure, so improperly dressed—when I was confronted by a (drugged out) man while waiting in a long line for the unisex bathroom.
This hopped-up guy was going down the restroom queue unabashedly saying what he thought about us. (Yes, it was as weird of an experience as it sounds.) He got to me and paused, looked me up and down, and then backed up a good two feet and said, “Wow, man, you’re, like, the most confident person I’ve ever met. Wow.” Then he walked to the girl behind me and told her that her angst-riddled frown was from being unlucky in love. Anyways, back to my point.
My point is that, for many years, I’ve often been viewed as a confident sort of gal, when my reality is that my natural tendency is to be quite insecure.
Yet I learned to fake confidence early on—and there’s one main reason why.
Ever heard of “fake it ’til you make it?”
Keep in mind that I’m a yoga teacher and a writer with a degree in geology. In other words, I’m not writing this for a psychiatric journal. (Although, I do hold a minor in sociology—that sound you heard was a button flying off my shirt, hitting my wood floor, as I puffed up my chest to help give this some extra merit.) Still, faking it ’til you make it works, never you fear.
It works when you’re sad. You know, when you watch your favorite hilarious movie—the one you’ve memorized all the lines to—and you end up feeling better.
It works when you’re feeling withdrawn. You go to that socially obligated get-together, put on a smile and extend your hand to your friend’s friend, and you leave the party feeling more like a happy social butterfly than an awkward recluse.
In other words, in life, we sometimes have to do things because we don’t have a choice. Duty calls and we answer, because we’re grown ups—and part of being a grown up is dropping residual childhood insecurity.
So, without further ado, here are 10 ways to (temporarily) fake confidence.
1. Stand tall. I can still hear my dad telling me as an awkward pre-teen to stand up straight with my shoulders back. He never said it to me like he was a military drill sergeant either, he said it with love, because he wanted me to feel good about myself and to project that out to others. First of all, having good posture is an instant confidence booster—and it really does help display your self-worth. Try imagining that your sternum is connected to an imaginary string, and that as this string is pulled up, your heart lifts and your shoulder-blades naturally slide down your back and relax. Also, lift up from the crown of your head while softening through your jaw.
2. Smile. People who smile win people over, plain and simple. I see it already with my toddler, who’s an innate flirt. More importantly, smiling helps you feel and then send out happiness into our world—and what’s an easier self-esteem fix than that?
3. Make eye-contact. A recently discovered pet peeve of mine is lack of eye contact. It’s like some people have no awareness that you should look at the other person during conversations and when you, say, smile at them. Notice how it makes you feel when people make eye-contact with you, as well as how it makes you feel when they don’t. I honestly think that a quiet smile, emanating from your eyes and then radiating down to your lips, is more effective than a bunch of fancy schmancy words—and I also think that making eye-contact shows self-confidence.
4. Quit apologizing. Okay, I’m the first person to suggest learning how to say I’m sorry. For some, it takes work to learn how to make an apology even when it’s desperately needed, while others say “I’m sorry” way too easily. On the one hand, when you do need to apologize for real, it will mean significantly less, and, on the other hand, you’re giving away your own value every time you apologize unnecessarily.
5. Laugh at yourself, not others. One thing I’ve learned from being a blogger is that our senses of humor vary considerably. Since I’m positive that I’m hilarious, I’ll let you in on a little secret—it’s much funnier to be able to laugh at yourself than to try make a joke at someone else’s expense. (Which, in my not-so humble opinion, actually stems from a lack of self-esteem.)
6. Say “thank you.” When you’re offered a compliment say “thank you.” That’s it. Thank you. Don’t add in that this silly little skirt only cost you twelve dollars or that you don’t think so but…(voice trails off into self-deprecating comment of choice). Why? Because it’s not necessary. Take the compliment, and consider that it’s true. The end.
7. Look in the mirror and see your value. Do you look in the mirror and see only the things that you don’t like? Well, stop it! Start paying attention to the attributes you love about yourself, because that’s what other people see when they look at you. For one full day, try looking in the mirror and noticing all the things you love about yourself (or better yet, don’t look in the mirror much at all).
8. Dress well. My sister told me when we were teenagers that I should always wear my best dress on the days I felt the worst about myself, and was she ever right. Dress the part. If you’re feeling frumpy, then wearing frumpy clothes will only serve to foster this feeling. Instead, dress to impress (yourself).
9. Surround yourself with love. Surrounding yourself with people who think highly of you encourages your own self-appreciation. Make sure that the people you invite into your life, and into your heart, deserve to be there.
10. Fake it, but only ’til you make it. Flaunting phony self-esteem for too long will wind up falling flat if you don’t back it up eventually. If you struggle with severe confidence issues, then try talking to someone (possibly professionally). Sure, I’m advocating initiating your search for self-confidence with a little jump-start, but I’m not encouraging you to be unauthentic. After all, learning to get in touch with the confidence that you already possess—that’s buried beneath the garbage that we all collect as human beings—is really what I’m trying to get you to do.
We’re all stars. We all shine brightly—and it’s these different lenses that we’re shining through that color our world with beauty.
Use these 10 tips to re-connect with your own inner rock star, rather than to present a falsely contrived picture of someone else’s ideal of what you should be—because when we connect with our true inner value, we stop needing the approval and authorization of others anyway.
So get out there and show the world what you’re made of.
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone for others. Unfold your own myth.” ~ Rumi
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta
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