Everyone needs a healthy amount of self-confidence. It’s important for us to have confidence in our relationships, our abilities and our careers. Your level of self-assurance can make a difference in landing a job, earning a promotion or even trying something new.
As I thought more about the advice people often give you for improving your confidence, I realized that a lot of suggestions focus on the outer, rather than the inner, life. I’ll see or hear things like “dress well” or “practice power poses.” While I agree that these tips do make a difference, paying attention to our mental and emotional health is just as important.
In fact, building self-confidence is a three-pronged practice—it involves a wholistic blend of mental, physical and emotional health that helps us build the best version of ourselves. There’s a link between emotional and mental health: our emotions, minds and bodies are interconnected.
After thinking about the practices that give me self-confidence, I came up with a list of activities that I think can create a greater sense of self-esteem in the majority of individuals.
Leaving home and throwing yourself into a completely different environment (even if it’s another town or city within your country) can really push you out of your comfort zone. If you get lost, you have to ask for directions or rely on a map or GPS system to find your way back.
My sister and I once got lost in Rome at night. While it was a daunting experience, it was also a valuable experience for both of us. Through that situation, we were both able to gain a greater sense of pride and confidence, knowing that if we could navigate a foreign city, we’d be able to figure out anything else.
If you’re in a foreign country, you’re also out of your element with the language and culture shock. But I’ve learned that it’s OK to be uncomfortable, since I’ve learned the most in these unfamiliar situations.
Managing unknowns in a new place gives you a new perspective on life: when you compare speaking another language in another country to delivering a presentation or networking at a social event, activities like the latter two suddenly don’t seem as difficult or nerve-wracking.
Follow your passions and interests
I believe a large part of healthy confidence stems from knowing who you are and being comfortable with that. I also think it’s important to nurture your passions so you can understand your potential and the innate abilities you hold.
I’ve recently opted to take a French language class in person rather than online, and it’s not only taught me to embrace emotions like embarrassment and uncertainty, but it’s made me realize that I’m more capable than I thought.
Create a positive mindset
The mind is a very powerful organ. What follows from our thoughts shows in our words and actions. Many of us are self-critical, and this can chip away at our self-esteem, so it’s important for us to be aware of what we’re telling ourselves.
Some people use positive self-affirmations to remind themselves of their value and worth, and others try to use positive thinking to reshape events or feelings.
Rather than repeating affirmations such as, “I’m a capable and confident person,” using other self-affirmation practices such as writing down the things you value in your life and career can be a more effective activity for some people. “People can often find counter-arguments to the positive statement about themselves,” says Christian Jarrett, Ph.D.
Make physical activity a part of your day
There’s nothing quite like physical activity that makes you feel strong and capable. Sports such as kickboxing, tennis, running and cycling are excellent ways to have fun and feel great. If you join an intramural sport like baseball or soccer, there’s the added bonus of bonding with a team. There’s also the added benefit of the release of endorphins you get from exercise.
Even low-impact activities such as Yoga and Pilates can make you feel better. In fact, Pilates and Yoga can both help improve your posture and balance.
Working with others towards a common athletic goal, pushing yourself to do your best and feeling good about your health all contribute to feelings of confidence, which translate to how you carry yourself, how you interact with others and how you think about yourself.
Adopt a healthy approach to eating
Another way to feel good about yourself is to watch what you’re putting into your body. Everyone should be free to indulge and savour their food, but this becomes an issue when it’s excessive and is used as a coping mechanism.
With stress, it’s especially hard to avoid emotional eating, because stress makes us hungrier. However, food then becomes a Band-Aid: we cover up our emotions with it, rather than confronting them.
With mindful, healthy eating, we become more aware of and more grateful for the nutritious food we have available to us. Healthy food nourishes and energizes our bodies, giving us all the necessary nutrients we need each day, so we naturally feel better.
A mind, body and spirit connection
I believe that when we’re healthy in mind, body and spirit, it’s much easier to feel good and confident about yourself, because you can live life with the knowledge that you’re taking steps to nourish, enrich and care for your entire being.
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