We all feel a bit uncertain now and again. Maybe a couple of bad experiences have you rattled. The city can get into your head and take its toll. It's all perfectly natural. Fortunately, shuffling the deck and boosting your confidence is not that difficult.
This playbook will return you to puffing your chest out as any fearless, bold innovator would with 3 simple rules. When all the cards are on the table, it begins with one key factor: convincing yourself of your awesomeness. Feeling unconvinced? Scroll down, friend.
1. Strike the Right Posture
Not to go too technical on you now, but this nifty piece of research from 2011 is a good icebreaker. Researchers studied how posture affects self-esteem, comparing people in power roles (or who thought they were in power roles) to people with power postures.
The lab rats were 77 college students and, after a trio of experiments, the researchers were surprised to see that posture was linked more closely to thinking and acting powerfully than actually being in a management role. Meanwhile, people displaying poor posture —no matter what their role was— simply did not register any rise in confidence.
So with this surprising result in hand, they asked all 77 to chime in on three hypothetical scenarios:
- Do I speak first in a debate?
- Do I leave a plane crash site to get help?
- Do I protest a wrongfully convicted prisoner?
For each scenario, the students exhibiting power postures made confident decisions to take action —yes, yes and yes— far more often than those who had weak posture.
So the proof is in the pudding: posture equals confident behavior. Even if your dog died and your girl (or guy) left you yesterday, you'll look and feel strong and confident with these quick tips:
Stand straight, stand tall
Words don’t have to leave your mouth: when your spine is straight, head high, and shoulders back, you are as powerful as you want to be. It’s about standing solid. Check out your feet too. A wide stance, in line with the shoulders, breeds confidence no matter what shoe you’re wearing.
Walk like a pro
Take that power posture for a walk, because the more space you take up the better. Stay balanced and controlled with confident strides that aren’t too short or too long— go medium spice with each step about shoulder-length. Practice until it becomes routine, and feel the power when you walk in the door of a conference room, pub or gym (or, you know, other places). We’re talking alpha-male stuff here.
Don’t forget to relax
Statues commemorate dead people. If you’re reading this, chances are good you’re still alive. Good posture doesn’t mean you stay rigid, and it doesn’t mean you have to look intimidating. (Keep them arms uncrossed!) Let your muscles relax with slow deep breaths and feel the waves of confidence splashing your brain as a result.
2. Think Positively
Nobody can say we need more books telling us why thinking a certain way leads to happiness, productivity or success. This isn’t exactly some new craze ready to take over the world. In the 50s guys were reading “The Power of Positive Thinking” over a milkshake, and more recently they've been know to soak up a few chapters of “The Secret” over a kombucha tea.
Positive thinking can make many aspects of life better, including confidence. But because our brains are complicated and sometimes our worst enemy, it does take a bit more effort than practicing posture.
Fast-paced city life makes it easy to get caught up judging where you’re at, comparing yourself to others. It’s easy to get cynical, or criticize yourself, or start with the negative self-talk. These thoughts are bandits out to rob us of our positive mood. Eat too much at a Chinese buffet? Miss out on that promotion? Relationship didn’t work out? Happens to everyone -- don’t let it breed negativity.
Go listen to this song by George Harrison and come right back.
Damn that’s fine. Anyway, music can inspire you to think positively. Music changes our outlook and sets the mood -- use it to keep your brain in the right…. headspace (sorry).
Music is one of many tools in the garage to help you. Try new things you haven’t seen or eaten or experienced or watched -- it builds momentum. Exercise is huge for staying positive, so hit some weights and cardio on the regular. Surround yourself with people whose energy lifts you, not drains you. Other positive people make you positive. And the biggest tool out there is to watch your social media use -- it can risk bringing you down, so take a sec and think about how FB + IG actually affect your outlook. Adjust newsfeeds as needed.
3. Take Care of Your Appearance
Clothes make the man. Dress for success. Look sharp, feel sharp. Most clichés belong on the scrapheap, but at the end of the day they exist for a reason. The way you look is a big part of the way you feel. Grooming well, dressing sharp: these are ways to feel and look confident when you stride into any situation (see posture).
A neck of razor bumps can zap confidence. (Here’s something for that.) An experimental beard can go off the rails and leave you feeling uncertain. (Here’s something for that.) Hair trouble -- frayed, frizzy, wiry, windblown, otherwise uncooperative -- is toxic to confidence. Be sure to carry a small comb and hit up a mirror before you make your grand entrance. (Bonus link: time to confront your lingering hair problem?)
Just like a strong posture communicates confidence, so too does grooming like a pro. Your hair, skin and face should work in your favor, not become liabilities. Take the time and present the right physical front, and the world will look more and more like your oyster. Get the horseradish ready.
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