Confidence could be the key to unlocking the next stage of your life — here are some expert tips to discover the most confident you yet.
Be Wonder Woman
“I know it sounds a bit out there,” says Dr Jan Smith, a chartered psychologist and executive coach. “But power poses can help to boost our confidence. Some research studies show that standing tall, legs apart, hands-on hips, and shoulders back increase the assertive hormone (testosterone). At the same time, it lowers stress hormone levels (cortisol) and increases risk-taking behaviours. So, when you need that extra boost of confidence, take a few minutes and strut your power pose.”
Create a mantra
Dr Jan says, “Mantras can positively improve confidence. We all have an inner critic, the voice that gives us a hard time for the decision we made or when something didn’t go as expected. Its tone is rarely one of kindness, understanding, and empathy. Rather, it’s the opposite.
“Saying daily mantras that are positive and self-affirming can shift our thoughts away from thinking negatively about ourselves. This can help us begin to feel more confident about ourselves and increase our self-esteem. Some examples of mantras can include, ‘I am a competent and confident person’ and ‘it’s okay to not always get things right’. Give them a go today.”
Engage in gratitude
This is so much more than feeling thankful, as when practised the act of gratitude releases serotonin and dopamine. It also ignites the part of our brain responsible for emotional experiences (the limbic system) which gets activated with feelings of gratitude, particularly the two main areas that regulate emotions, memory, and bodily functioning. Dr Jan says, “By stimulating our brain’s reward centre through gratitude practices, we alter our view of ourselves and the world. So, by setting an intention to practise gratitude every day, we can strengthen these neural pathways, creating a more positive and grateful part of ourselves.
“At the end of each day, write down three things you are grateful for. It could be, ‘I’m grateful for having my morning coffee’, or ‘I’m grateful I’m able to take a lunch break.’”
Start a new hobby
For some people, public speaking or dancing in public can feel like their worst nightmare and drain any last embers of confidence they have. Others will thrive doing these activities, and it will boost their confidence. Dr Jan says, “Whatever creates the most confidence for you, pursue it. When you notice you want to avoid things because you aren’t feeling as confident, connect with why it’s important for you to do it, and practice noticing that part of your mind that’s being loud and creating feelings of doubt.
“Ultimately, by not doing the thing that makes you confident, we can feel lost or unhappy. And remember with with new hobbies — starting is the hardest step, but one you must make.”
Boost your confidence chemical
We all have hormones and neurochemicals that can help us feel more confident, but three, in particular, play a crucial role. As Dr Jan says, “Serotonin regulates our mood, helping us feel happier, and oxytocin (aka the love hormone) makes us feel warm and connected to others. At the same time, dopamine can support us to take risks and drive curiosity. The interplay of these means that we can take action (dopamine), calm our thoughts (serotonin) and feel positive towards others (oxytocin), which all contribute to helping us feel more confident and increase our self-esteem.
“We can boost these exercising, exposure to the sun, celebrating little wins, hugging a loved one, giving a compliment, or stroking our pets.”