You Can Train Yourself to Be Confident — Here’s How
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There’s a common misconception that you’re either born confident or you’re not. If you think you fall into the latter camp, it can make many social and work situations feel like an uphill battle. The good news is, there are ways to rewire your brain to increase confidence and if you’ve landed on this article looking for concrete answers, we’ll bet that us telling you to fake it till you make it just isn’t going to cut it.
Building self-confidence isn’t necessarily about making huge life changes that completely change the course of your future in the hopes of coming out the other side as a new-and-improved version of yourself. On the contrary, it’s more about making incremental changes that build resilience.
To help you on your way to becoming your most confident self, we have partnered with Extra White because they’re known for giving you a little boost of confidence (in the form of fresh breath) in basically all of life’s stressful situations — from work to dating, and every scenario in between.
Here are four expert-backed tips to help you shine bright like the confident being you deserve to be.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Staying inside our comfort zones, which is the place we usually will feel the most at home, is a common reflex. “While new experiences can cause pause and trepidation, keeping in one’s comfort zone inspires confidence and limits anxiety,” Dr Abigail Brenner, a psychiatrist, tells Psychology Today. But before you use this as the excuse to never step outside your comfort zone, know that there’s a little bit more to it than that.
But if you always stay inside the boundaries of your comfort zone, you’ll also lose the chance to make it bigger. The trick to using your comfort zone to increase overall confidence is to expand your comfort zone by, you guessed it, regularly testing its limits. “When you take risks, embrace some discomfort and doubt, and succeed, you not only improve your overall skill set, but you boost your confidence,” explains Brenner. “The more you try challenging activities, the more normal those tasks become, broadening your comfort zone to larger and larger dimensions.”
Stretching the boundaries of your comfort zone could be as simple as learning a new skill, taking a course, or putting yourself into a foreign social situation. Sadly, pushing outside your comfort zone just one time won’t do the trick, but doing it repeatedly will.
Walk the Talk
Walking the talk is perhaps the most practical application of faking it till you make it. Specifically, we’re referring to using your body language to your advantage when trying to appear confident — even if you don’t feel it on the inside.
In a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, researchers looked at the postures shown by animals, children, and Olympic athletes when in a prideful or shameful stance and found a few common threads. When in a confident or prideful state, an expanded posture and head tilted back were exhibited across most participants. Similarly, research published in Health Psychology showed that people who sit up straight reported higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear, compared to slumped participants.
The takeaway? Stand up tall, take up space, and think about what your body language might be telling the people around you about your confidence. What we’re asking you to do is quite literally walk the talk.
Not to be confused with being argumentative, being assertive is a core communication skill that comes with many benefits. The Mayo Clinic reports that being assertive is actually considered a diplomatic communication style, not an aggressive one. “Being assertive shows that you respect yourself because you’re willing to stand up for your interests and express your thoughts and feelings,” they say. “It also demonstrates that you’re aware of others’ rights and willing to work on resolving conflicts.”
According to The University of Queensland, learning to assert your needs can help increase both self-confidence and also self-worth. Being assertive can be practised every day in very simple ways, such as saying no to things you don’t want to do and trying to not feel guilty about asking others for what you want.
It can feel counterintuitive to ask questions when you’re trying to appear confident, all-knowing, and totally in control. Early on in my career, I’d stay quiet in meetings in the hopes of appearing like I knew exactly what was going on at all times, but then a senior member of staff shared the one thing she always does to increase visibility with the leadership team and appear engaged and confident in meetings.
Her tip was surprisingly simple: always ask one question in every meeting, no matter who’s running it. This shook me to my nervous little core, but since she always seemed so knowledgable, I took her advice on board. So, I challenge you: next time you’re in a meeting, come up with one thoughtful question and ask it, even if your voice shakes.
While you’re working through all of these tips, you could also consider Extra White sugar-free gum, the little bestie in your pocket, for fresh confidence on the go. Now available in those handy 27g envelope packs, in peppermint and spearmint flavours for minty freshness.