5 Tricks To Feel More Confident When Self Doubt Starts Creeping In
To be a person with bulletproof self-esteem is pretty rare, if not downright impossible. But a real crisis of confidence can often come at the exact wrong time. Maybe you're in the midst of a doubt spiral about advancing your career right before a presentation, or you simply aren't feeling good in your own skin after spending way too much time on Instagram before a date. When you're in too deep like that, it can feel impossible to lift out of that downward spiral, so having a few tricks to boost your confidence when you really need it can be super helpful at turning around an internal mini-crisis.
Listen, if you feel a little raw in the self-esteem department from time to time, I get it — oh, girl, do I get it, as do many other women: In a KPMG study on women's leadership roles, 67 percent of women surveyed said they "need more support building confidence" to help them feel like they're able to be leaders in the workplace. What's more, the 2016 Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report found that women's self-esteem is, in general, "on a steady decline," on a global scale.
It's best to think of building your confidence and self-esteem as something that's a constant work in progress — not because it's something you'll never "achieve," but because it means you're always prioritizing the idea of giving yourself that space, time, and compassion to do so, throughout your whole life.
The good news is, once you get in the habit of picking yourself up when you're down, it starts to get easier — trust me. Here are a few expert-recommended tricks to help you feel more confident when you need that boost the most.
1. Walk In Like You Own The Place, Even If You're Freaking Out
According to counselor and relationship expert, David Bennett, that motto, "fake it 'til you make it," actually has a lot of truth to it.
"Research shows that simply appearing confident makes people perceive you as confident," he tells me in an interview with Elite Daily.
And indeed, it does — and you can start implementing this trick by focusing, first, on your posture. A 2008 study published by the National Academy of Sciences illustrated the very real effect of non-verbal body language: The research found that athletes who win competitions tend to show more expansive, open body language than those who lose, whose body language appears physically more defeated and curled inward.
"Carry yourself in a way that shows you will succeed (even if, inside, you feel totally insecure)," says Bennett. "Improve your posture, make solid eye contact, and walk into the event in a way that tells yourself, and others, that 'you got this!'"
2. Stop, Drop, And Rearrange Your Thoughts
Say you're in the middle of a negative-thoughts spiral, going a million miles per hour, imagining all the ways in which the situation you are about to enter will plummet. Hold up, and just breathe for a second. Think about how you're thinking.
Bennett suggests shifting your thoughts and focusing, instead, on this one phrase: "No failure, just feedback."
"Whenever I ask my clients to do things that require confidence, I have them remember this phrase," Bennett explains. "View any setback not as 'failure,' but as 'feedback' to get better in the future."
For example, if you're on a date that's not going well, and your thoughts are spiraling downward about the whole thing, simply remind yourself that you'll learn from it in the end.
The same can definitely apply to any time you get a bad grade or a poor review after giving something your all: Take it as an opportunity to reevaluate and learn from the experience. No one expects you to be perfect, and the beauty of life is that you're always learning new things.
3. Dress The Part
It's no joke that dressing the part helps boost your confidence. Consider what makes you feel comfortable, but also expresses how you want to feel: confident, sexy, or maybe just at ease in your own skin. Bennett shares the example of having a pair of dress boots that he says he always wears when doing business presentations, simply because he knows they consistently make him feel a little cooler.
Remember, though, that taking care of and having confidence in your appearance is for you, and only you. According to that 2016 Dove survey on body confidence I mentioned earlier, seven in 10 women reported feeling more confident and positive when they were investing time in caring for themselves. So, whatever that entails for you, give yourself that time for self-care that makes you feel your best. Seriously, it's worth it.
4. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Go ahead and be that person who talks to themselves in the mirror, because according to Bennett, it actually does benefit your self-esteem.
"I suggest mental rehearsal as a way to boost confidence," Bennett says. "Many people feel insecure because they run every possible bad outcome in their head related to an event, such as, 'What if I run out of things to say on a date?' or, 'What if I forget what to say during my speech?'"
It's not that you need to totally squash these worst-case scenario questions in your mind, according to Bennett. Rather, he says, go ahead and run through a few of those scenarios in your head, and then actually rehearse, out loud, what you would say or do if they were to happen IRL.
"Once you do this," he says, "you'll find that not only are most scenarios not that horrible, but if you practice how you'll handle them, you'll go in with more confidence."
5. Trust That Your Doubt Isn't All Bad
Seriously, your self-doubt can actually be a little bit helpful, and can provide you with a slight boost to get through those situations where you really need it. A 2010 study published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise showed that athletes who went into a race with a little bit of self-doubt actually performed better than those who didn't.
Instead of using your doubt to produce more doubt, tell yourself that those initial feelings of fear are simply a mechanism of motivation. For real, girl, you've got this in the bag.