I’ve had many people ask me, “How can I be more confident?” And if I am honest, I have asked it before as well. I think this question really has two parts. How can I look more confident? How can I feel more confident? We want both, right? We all want to feel confident in our skin while simultaneously looking confident to those who see us. Building confidence is a life-long mission, but there are a few quick hacks we can employ to give us a nice, easy boost of confidence.
So here are confidence-boosting ideas, thanks to the wisdom of Benedict Cumberbatch, snails, and books.
1) Become Your Favorite Actor/Actress.
Here’s what I do when I face a situation that demands me to take on a role that is challenging for me. I pretend I am an actor playing that role. It’s easy, fun, and incredibly effective. Just choose the actor that best fits the role you need to play. Need to seem cool and suave? Pretend you are Sean Connery’s James Bond. Need to be intellectual and perhaps a bit cold, channel Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes. By pretending you are simply acting a role, a significant portion of your social anxiety will melt away. Even if someone reacts negatively to you, they haven’t really reacted negatively to you; they have only disapproved of or Sherlock or James, not you. After a while, you will stop even thinking of your character and just naturally begin to feel at ease acting as they do.
Now it isn’t as a big a deal for me, but when I was younger I was very self-conscious. As in very conscious of myself during any social encounter and very worried that I would screw up, misspeak, or otherwise make a mistake that would out me as not smart enough, cool enough, whatever. Basically, that internal negative dialogue would play in my mind – something that many shy or introverted people can relate to.
Anyway, I’d read, “Just be confident”, or “Speak this way”, or “Do this.” But it all felt painfully fake and not me. Again the internal dialogue would shout, “Jamie, you are trying to sound cool and confident here, but everyone sees through it; they all know you are fake!”
So I spun my own insecurities around by embracing the thing I feared. I will be fake. I’ll play act the roles I’ve seen my favorite actors do. Obviously I didn’t overact; that would look ridiculous and have the opposite effect that I intended. I’d just steal phrases, body language, and their general demeanor. The funny thing is, by adopting that role, I didn’t feel nearly as self-conscious as before. It was kinda like wearing a mask – a mask that you felt safe and unnoticed behind, freeing me to act more like I truly wanted to.
Now this may sound like the path to becoming a fake person, but I argue it is the exact opposite. I actually wanted to be like those actors. I wasn’t being fake; instead I was actually learning how to express myself in the way I had always wanted to but had been too afraid to try before. So in that sense, when you meet me, I am now closer to who I want to be than I ever was before. In other words, I am now more Jamie Moyer than I have ever been.
At the end result of this, when you learn how to slip into this role or that, you become more confident in yourself. Because you become more comfortable in whatever social situation you face. Some people learn this easily and naturally. But for someone who faces social anxiety, this can be a powerful tool to liberate you from your fears and set you free.
2) Slow Down Everything.
Walk slower, talk slower, react slower. Do everything a bit slower. You get two benefits from this. First, you’ll find that by slowing down, you’ll have more time to think through want you want to say or do. That leads you to speaking and moving more deliberately, which makes you look more confident. Think of a CEO, President, or other powerful, confident person. Do they run? They they jerkily move their arms around. Race to get all the words out of their mouth? Or do they walk, talk, and move deliberately? When it comes to being confident, be inspired by the snail, and take it slower.
3) Watch Your Body Language.
Your body language leaks out a lot of info about you. If you are nervous your body language will betray you. The cool thing is body language not only shows how you are feeling, it also can influence how you are feeling. Choose some confident body language and you’ll feel yourself becoming more confident. If you need to improve your body language skills, absolutely get this book! Amy Cuddy’s Presence is the definitive book on gaining confidence through understanding your body language and yourself. You’ll learn how many mistakes you have been making in your body language and how to correct them easily. More than that, you’ll learn how to think in ways that free you to become a bolder, stronger self.
These 3 ideas together are powerful. They get your body, mind, and timing all synced up and ready to be at your best.
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