Your idea of a confident person is someone who stands out in a crowd. There’s no one in the world like you and sometimes that can be anxiety provoking. You don’t want to stand out. You want to blend in. Understandable, but even if you are striving to blend in, that doesn’t close up the doubtful areas in your mind where you second guess yourself. Blending in doesn’t hold back the loud ‘inner critic’ that condemns you for saying this and not saying that.
If we boil it down, being confident isn’t about standing out, it’s about being comfortable in your own skin. Here are 5 guiding principles on how to lean away from insecurity and move closer to confidence.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Reduce the amount of time you spend with those that criticize your lifestyle and put you down for the choices you make. These types of behaviors are typical of a toxic relationship and although there are many components to a toxic relationship, recognize one simple fact – it’s very difficult to grow anything in a toxic environment. Fish can’t thrive in polluted waters, birds don’t fly well in polluted skies, so what makes you think that you can thrive in a toxic place?
If we’re striving to discover and build confidence, find a fertile, stable, healthy, and expansive space that will allow for growth and development to happen. You can start by spending more time with people who have the same hobbies and interests as you do. If you already have this type of peer circle and still have feelings of insecurity, continue down the list and see what else you can do to boost your confidence.
Focus on the things you love
Confidence does not emerge from criticism. Confidence grows out of love. If you dislike public speaking, it’s not productive to criticize yourself about how much you dislike that experience. Make a list of all the things you love to do and don’t place judgement on it – meaning don’t exclude it from the list if you think you’re not good enough at it. Remember confidence doesn’t grow from criticism.
The next time you’re feeling insecure, look at your list and focus on the things you love and consider how you would like to grow your love, enthusiasm and passion for the things on your list. My list is pretty long, but a few things on it are writing, yoga, meditation, food, and running. When I’m feeling insecure, I look at my list and I pour energy into the things I love by looking through my cookbook collection and making a new dish, or buying a new journal and fancy pen to write down my thoughts. When we create space to focus on the things we love, we have less room to criticize ourselves about what we think is missing.
Celebrate the small wins
Small wins are not insignificant milestones. Small wins are the accomplishments that don’t receive the public’s praise and spotlight. There are so many opportunities for us to celebrate and yet when we’re feeling insecure, we often think that what we do is not a big deal or worthy of praise.
You didn’t have to be the star of your school play to be considered a great actor. The fact that you were the understudy and remembered all your lines is a win! You may not have won the blue ribbon at the annual bake off, but you tried a new baking technique and your chocolate ganache frosting didn’t crack under the hot lights.
When moving towards confidence, we look more to internal validation than external validation. Focusing on the things we love quiets the voice of your inner critic and brings life to your inner rock star.
Redefine your comfort zone (by expanding your horizons)
Going beyond your comfort zone does not mean you have to expose yourself to your most vulnerable state. Simple statements like, “Face your fear!” are not very helpful, especially when you’re struggling to manage anxiety. For example, if you’re passionate about photography and no one knows that you have this skill, talent, and passion or people know but you’re not interested in sharing your talent with others, taking yourself beyond your limits could look like, posting all your photos on social media opening yourself to global criticism.
Instead try to redefine your comfort zone by learning something new about your existing hobbies, interests, and passions. For example, expand your horizon by learning a new photography technique – exploring different filters or using different lenses to create your next photography project. See the difference? In the second scenario, you’re growing within boundaries that are defined by you, not defined by others.
Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I agree. Let’s take a look at social media. Social media can be a breeding ground for insecurity. Yes, you love watching people’s funny videos, viewing vacation photos, and reviewing funny memes. But how many times have you said to yourself, “I wish I was that funny.” “I wish I looked that good in a bathing suit.” “I wish I could go to Spain.”
Am I saying that you should stop using social media? Not necessarily; but recognize that comparing yourself to others often leads to you feeling insecure, jealous, or even worse anxious or depressed. The act of comparison is not productive. In order to challenge insecurity we need to engage in habits that create inspiration and motivation. So the next time you’re thinking about scrolling through your social media feed, consider what you want to be inspired by and motivated to do. If you’re tired of cooking with the same 3 ingredients, look for a new recipe. If your room is long overdue for a good cleaning, look for organization and cleaning tips. And certainly, if you need a good laugh, search for funny videos that are going to give you a positive energy boost.