How to be more confident and boost your self esteem
How to be more confident: Hello! Do you sometimes feel a bit wrong? That’s okay. We sometimes feel like that too. These 10 behaviour tips can help to quickly boost your self-esteem levels in social situations, from recognising your fight-or-flight fear patterns to doing something about them.
We can’t give you the Holy Grail: We can’t tell you how to be happy. Nor can we tell you how to build self-confidence to the point where you never have any self-esteem issues ever again. Without meeting you, and talking to you, we certainly can’t tell if you would genuinely benefit from exploring natural cures for depression or seeing a psychologist/psychiatrist or not, if you’re feeling so inclined.
But if you feel shy in social situations – if you feel awkward in your skin and wish you could just be yourself but a tiny bit different… then these 10 tips on how to be more confident in social situations have helped us at Mookychick and helped many others, too. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll say in this article that self-esteem and self confidence mean the same thing: Believing you’re worthy of respect from others, and believing in yourself. Many people feel far more confident on their own, ready to be their true self, because there’s no-one around to ‘judge’ them. But if you believe in yourself, then worrying about how people see you just doesn’t seem to… matter quite as much. So, how can we immediately try to improve our confidence in panic situations that make us want to run and hide?
10 Ways to boost your self-esteem when panicking in social situations
1. Recognise your patterns.
When you walk into the ‘stress zone’, that situation that makes your confidence ebb away until you feel like running away from it all, everyone has little patterns. It’s almost like a nervous tic – basically, your body and mind are preparing for flight, not fight. Don’t worry about overcoming that just yet. Instead, try to think of what your patterns are. Do you start to hold your breathe or breathe more shallowly? Do you suddenly find yourself speaking very quietly as if the words won’t come out of your throat properly? Do you let your hair fall over your eyes? Do you have certain words you tell yourself over and over again, and suddenly realise you’ve been saying “I hate myself” over and over again inside your mind for the last five minutes and only just become properly aware of it? Do you hunch your body? Do you stop looking people in the eye? Do you start yearning for a cigarette, or for sweets and chocolate? Yes, we all feel edgy or nervous sometimes. The trick is to figure out what our robot response is to those scary fight-or-flight situations. Only then, when we’re aware of them, can we do something about them.
2. Communication is key.
Even people who love their own company are social creatures. The best way to start breaking those fear patterns and boost your self confidence is to fake it till you make it. We don’t mean ‘hey, you need to boost your confidence, so we’re ordering you to suddenly and magically BE confident’. You don’t have to prove you’re the life and soul of the party. But if you’re feeling really bad, the simplest, shortest conversation can help alleviate the stress. Asking someone about their lunch, or noticing their new clothes/hair, or asking them if they’ve heard about this new film you’re thinking of seeing… or even just thanking the newsagent and smiling at them – and getting a smile back – can make a huge difference. Tiny, safe conversations like this can remind you that you’re not mad, you’re not alone, you’re not so shy you can’t say anything at all.
3. Your mind is your friend.
When it says those silly things like “I can’t do this,” or “Everyone will notice and think I’m odd,” it’s trying to protect you – it’s just gone about it in a way that isn’t as helpful as it could be. We can’t prove it but we suspect everyone has things they tell themselves over and over again, wishing they didn’t, sounding like a record stuck on repeat. Other, more clever people can tell you how to try to change those messages. We suggest: Just notice when you’re doing it. Noticing and being aware can be a really quick way to go “Oh, no. I’m letting myself be a robot again. I’ll try to do something to take my mind off it.”
4. The eyes have it.
Not being able to look people in the eyes is a really, really common sign of when you’re feeling a bit low, or a bit anxious, and wishing you could be more confident at that moment in time. If you notice you’re doing it, see if you can make the effort to look them in the eyes. Even just a little bit, while you’re talking to them. Eye contact reminds you you’re not as alone as you thought. And it means that other people may not be so quick to label or pre-judge.
5. Have a confidence-boosting motto or two.
You know when you’re in a social situation – or worrying about life – and you suddenly become aware of your patterns, your automatic reactions to stress? It may not work for everyone, but sometimes it helps to have a motto or quote at hand to focus on. Anything will do, but it has to be positive, and strong, and feel right to you. You don’t have to really, really mean it. It doesn’t have to be your life mission statement (unless that’s what you would like your motto to be). It just has to be something you can tell yourself clearly and firmly, to show your mind to snap out of it, because you mean business.
“I am a sword”.
“Nuh-uh – I don’t think so.”
Especially if you’re shy and non-confrontational, a motto that’s a little rude and aggressive can help. A friend had one taught to her by her Irish grandfather: “Feck em all, excepting a few… on second thoughts, feck them too!”
Your motto doesn’t have to be something you believe. It just has to feel full of life, and grounding, and help put things in perspective. A bit of base, earthy humour can really help ground you and make you feel a little more confident and yourself in a couple of words.
See more: Ways to overcome fear of confrontation
6. Act positive.
No, it can’t always be achieved. But you know what? Sometimes it can. Sometimes Ragnarok doesn’t happen. Sometimes, the sky will not fall on our heads. Even if you can’t think positive, act positive. Lack of confidence can make you feel and act passive – so take control of your life again. Take control of yourself even in the anxious moments where you have a sudden drop in self-esteem. Take charge by acting positive, by doing something positive, however small it may seem. If you can do this once or twice, when you’re feeling depressed, it can make a dramatic change to your immediate situation. If you can do it on a regular basis? You’ve won.
Feeling stressed, or shy? Confidence suddenly been hit with a mallet? In private (go to the bathroom as an excuse) do a big, cheesy, fake grin. Pull those mouth muscles up high and wide. Biiiiig grin. Weirdly enough, smiling releases endorphins, and endorphins make you feel a little more relaxed and happy. You don’t need to be happy or amused. But a big cheesy grin, however fake (though in private because it will look hugely silly!) will help you feel more in your own skin again. Smiling in public – in a nice, natural, open way – will help make you feel more confident. If you smile, you’re more likely to be kind to the people you’re talking to. People so often appreciate kindness.
8. Release the tension in your body.
Don’t want to feel like a stranger in your own skin? Remind yourself where that skin is. Done your big cheesy grin in private already? Good. Now give your face, forehead and temples a nice brisk rub to get the circulation going. Reach to give your shoulder and back a quick rub, especially if you know you tend to shrink and hunch your shoulders when your self-esteem is low in public situations. They may need to have a little tension released. Take a nice deep breath or two. You may still be feeling not at your best – but at least you’ve released some of the tension you may have been storing in your body. And in public situations, stand tall. It may feel terrifying, but instead of hunching, throw back your shoulders. This will open your diaphragm, where your heart chakra is. Opening your diaphragm and throwing back your shoulders not only makes you look more comfortable with yourself, it also makes you breathe properly (and if you’re feeling unconfident in a stressful situation, there’s a good chance you’re breathing shallowly and tightly).
9. Feel you’re speaking too fast?
Speak slowly. It sounds like such a little thing, but confident people are sure of what they have to say and don’t need to rush it. They feel like they have authority, and people around them are interested enough in what they have to say that they will wait to hear it. People with low self esteem rush their words because they don’t think they’re worthy of taking up anyone’s time, and don’t want people to become bored listening to them. So if you’re feeling a lack of confidence: Speak slowly, speak clearly, look them in the eye.
This can help in the long term, as in volunteering on a regular basis. But we’re looking at the quick fix here. If you’re in a social situation, a great way to boost your confidence and build your self esteem is to volunteer. Volunteering is a positive act which puts you in control. It’s a generous act which makes you feel good about yourself. It’s a kind act which people will appreciate. In almost any situation there’s a chance to volunteer. You can offer to make the tea, or wash up, or go out and choose a cool birthday card for that office work who’s having their birthday soon. Or you can volunteer to help a friend with their love life by providing a listening ear.
If all else fails? Try a self-esteem spell. It certainly can’t hurt.