Do you ever wish that you could improve your self-confidence to get your ideas across and influence others? Do you struggle with self-doubt and wish that you could get rid of the negativity that is holding you back? We have put together eight pointers to help you become more confident and keep self-doubt in check:
- Trust your instincts
- Remember your achievements
- Redefine how you think of success
- Think positively
- Don’t be afraid of failure – learn from it
- Try to emulate people you admire
- Realise that self-confidence is an ongoing project
- A little self-doubt is healthy and useful
Having confidence in your own ideas is an essential first step to making them a reality. It is also the magic ingredient that will convince others of your idea’s excellence. Use this advice and you may be on the way to doing just that.
1. Trust your instincts
Everyone is concerned about how others will react to them; carried too far this can become crippling. Does this situation sound familiar? You have a great original idea for an upcoming essay, but when your start writing, you are struck by doubt. What if my tutor hates it? What if my idea is actually stupid and people laugh at me? You set aside your original idea, go for something safer and get an average mark.
Trying not to worry about what others think may seem counter-intuitive, after all, we rely on the opinions of others as markers of our own achievement. Yet, worrying about what they think before you’ve even begun will stop you in your tracks. Try instead to trust your instincts. If you think your idea is great, then it is likely that others will, too.
Even if other people are not convinced about your ideas, don’t forget that other people’s opinions are just that: opinions. They are not unalterable factsey. Hugely successful people like JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, and Stephen Hawking went through lots of rejection, but th had enough confidence in their ideas to see them through. Think of role models like these when doubt creeps in.
2. Remember your achievements
When you start to doubt yourself, it’s natural to think of every mistake you’ve ever made. No wonder your self-confidence begins to drop. As difficult as it may be when you’re wallowing in self-doubt, remembering what you’ve achieved in the past can really give your confidence a boost. Try making a list of three achievements you are really proud of, and remember how you achieved them through your own hard work and self-belief. Then you can start to apply the same dedication to the task at hand.
3. Redefine how you think of success
Success doesn’t have to mean being the best at whatever you’re doing – it can also mean doing something to the best of your own ability, or better than you did it last time. If you are constantly doubting yourself because you don’t think your idea is ‘the best’ or that what you’ve created ‘isn’t perfect’, then you will always be dissatisfied. If you have worked hard and done all you can, take pride in the effort you have put in and move on.
4. Think positively
Negative thinking is the enemy of self-confidence. One of the best ways to deal with this is to recognise the negative thoughts as you think them, and actively say ‘stop’ in your head. Then try to think of something positive instead. For example, if you start to think ‘what if this idea is stupid?’ say ‘stop’ in your head and force yourself to think about what you think is great about your idea.
If you’d like to know more tips on thinking positively, here’s a useful article.
5. Don’t be afraid of failure – learn from it
Fear of failure is often the root of self-doubt, but it is not the case that confident people think that they won’t fail. They acknowledge that they will fail on occasion but they don’t let it stop them taking action. Failure is best seen as an opportunity to learn rather than fuel for self-doubt. Ask yourself, where did I go wrong? Is there a way to avoid this in the future? And remember, sometimes failure isn’t your fault – you may have done everything you could but circumstances meant that you did not achieve what you wanted to.
6. Try to emulate people you admire
Doubting yourself can be a side effect of comparing yourself to other people. If you admire a successful person but use their success as a stick to beat yourself with, you’re missing a trick. Instead, try to observe what those successful people do and how they act, particularly on those occasions when things don’t go their way. Use this as a guide as to how you could change your behaviour to be more like someone you admire.
7. Realise that self-confidence is an ongoing project
No one is self-confident all the time. You might be self-confident in some situations but anxious in others. The important thing is that you keep working at it. Doubting yourself can become habitual and often takes less energy, since you stop pushing yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable.
A good technique is to look back on the day you’ve just had before you go to sleep and think of at least one thing that you did well. Even if you feel like you had a bad day, thinking of one positive thing can keep you in the right frame of mind, boost your self-confidence and get you ready for the next day.
8. A little self-doubt is healthy and useful
While too much self-doubt can be crippling, a little self-doubt is useful. Being able to question your own ideas and thoughts is actually a valuable asset. It is possible to be too confident, always trusting yourself to do the right thing and then falling into traps you should have avoided. It is important to have the ability to reflect and check that you have considered alternative options or ideas and have thought about the impact your quest for success might have on others. Use doubts to check that you are being realistic and thoughtful without letting them harm your self-confidence.
Think constructively: rather than ‘is this idea stupid?’, think ‘is this idea effective? Will it achieve what I want it to achieve?’
In the end…
The most important thing is to keep thinking positively and constructively. Don’t let self-doubt get in the way of your self-confidence; use it as a tool for your success. Look to the success of others for inspiration. Most of all, trust yourself and your ideas, and don’t allow worry to become an excuse for inaction!