3 Steps to Confidence

Self ConfidenceMost of my life I’ve struggled with confidence and I hear the same from other INFJs. Over the years I’ve watched people who appeared confident and worked to figure out what makes them tick.  What I finally realized is that self-assurance isn’t some kind of inborn magic that only a lucky few have.  It’s a specific mind set, a perspective that anyone can learn.

Here are 3 steps that will help start you on the path to confidence:

1.  Stop worrying about what other people think of you

Self-consciousness, worrying about what others will think, is an instant confidence drainer.  People who are confident don’t stress if they’re under-dressed for a party or if people don’t agree with them.  Confident people own who they are and don’t care if they’re different.  They don’t get upset every time they goof up and if someone doesn’t like them they don’t agonize over it, they just shrug and move on.

2.  Be yourself

Imagine a shy person at a party, shrinking back in a corner, obviously worried that no one will talk to them. Now imagine that person sitting comfortably in that same corner, but they are relaxed and are enjoying just sitting quietly and watching the activities around them.  The first person is clearly insecure and anxious, the second comes across as relaxed and confident.  The difference between the two is that the second person accepts their quietness and just enjoys their experience of the party, the first resists who they naturally are and thinks they should be different. 

It’s interesting, once we really step in to our natural preferences, they stop feeling like problems and simply become facets of our personality.  Once I embraced the fact that I remember experiences rather than facts, I was no longer embarrassed that I forgot details and started enjoying my ability to replay the feeling of a sunny day or the joy expressed by the bride at her wedding.   

3. Focus on living a rich life rather than impressing others

You want to be beautiful/handsome, interesting, exciting and magnetic?  The good news is that you have everything you need to be all those things. Beauty?  It’s found in a relaxed smile, enthusiasm and personal style (think of the charismatic appeal of Adrian Brody, who’s exuberant personality makes him attractive, crooked nose and all). You want to be interesting and exciting? You’re both when you’re discussing areas that are obviously fascinating to you, areas that you’ve explored and spent time delving into (check out the engaging and compelling Benjamin Zander on TED.  I don’t care a thing about piano playing but I was riveted when I saw this little talk).  

In other words, the more you focus on who you are in the world, on learning, growing and connecting with others, the more attractive and confident you’ll be.

Sure, there are people who are born with confidence.  They don’t struggle like we do with shyness and insecurity.  But confidence is less about personality and more about self-acceptance.  People who are confident aren’t focused on their flaws, they’re focused on living life.  Rather than asking “Will this person like me?” they ask “What’s this person like?” When they make a faux pax they apologize and move on.  They enjoy who they are, idiosyncracies and all, because they know that their uniqueness is what makes them special.

 

Whoops!

When I was training to be a coach I assisted for a class at my coaching school. On the first day of an endless session where the students practiced and the assistants sat quietly at the back of the room, I got bored.  I’d brought a book  and without thinking, I asked one of the leaders if I could read during the practice session.  Had I thought about it I would have realized that this absolutely wasn’t done – no assistant had ever sat and read during any of the classes I’d attended.

As the leader very kindly explained to me why I couldn’t read during the session, my face burned with shame.  For the next two days of class I felt like a fool.  I was sure that she’d told the other instructor about my ridiculous question, and I imagined that some of their instructions over the next couple of days were directed at me, just in case I had any other brainless ideas.

I was so embarrassed I almost didn’t tell anyone, but finally I confessed to my coach, Michael.

What was Michael’s response?

“So what?” he said. “You’re human.”

And, just like that my embarrassment and shame evaporated.  I realized that although I thought my question was disastrously stupid, the leader probably hadn’t given it much thought.  And even if she had, even if she paused and thought, “Here’s a dumb one,” what did it really matter?  It’s true she was the class leader but, as Michael would say, so what?  We were both there for the same purpose – to help train coaches.

Now when I goof up it leaves a different residue.  Sure, I’m still embarrassed, and I still get that flash of “What will they think?” panic.  But it quickly fades as I reconnect with the fact my blunder is merely a moment’s lapse of judgment – nothing more.  It’s not the first mistake I’ve made and it won’t be the last.

And that’s ok, because I’m human and that’s just part of the package.

Copyright © 2010    From The Easy Place