If you find yourself spending more time staring at the floor or fidgeting nervously than you do making eye-contact in a conversation, it’s time to start feeling more self-assured and confident in yourself. While it isn’t an overnight process, you’ll be standing tall and conversing comfortably soon when you stop knocking yourself down, set attainable goals and recognize your successes along the way.
Avoid self-deprecating humor and negative self-talk; while it’s positive to be able to laugh at your own mistakes, talking poorly about yourself helps to reinforce a negative perspective. Each time a negative thought pops into your mind, make a conscious choice to resist the urge. Say, “No,” aloud and refuse to continue the thought. Looking for small ways to improve yourself -- healthy self-criticism -- is OK, but tiny mishaps are inflated into epic failures when you trash-talk yourself. When you've made a mistake, narrow down the mistake to its root. For example, instead of thinking, "I totally screwed up," say "My word choice was poor." This is a much more realistic and productive line of thought.
Know Your Stuff
Whether you’re getting ready for a job interview or a business meeting, you’ll feel more self-assured in any setting when you’ve armed yourself with a wealth of knowledge. Know the company to which you’re applying; research the topic of conversation at the next office meeting; dig a little into the baseball stats of the current season in preparation for a day with your sports-loving buddies. If meeting new people and taking part in social interactions is difficult, prepare ahead of time. Create a variety of conversation starters to avoid awkward silences or practice introducing yourself in front of the mirror until you’re comfortable with your first impression. Enlist the help of a trustworthy friend to role play introductions and conversation starters to feel more confident.
Give Yourself Props
Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back when you deserve it -- praise yourself out loud to help reinforce a positive self-image. Deliberately look for reasons throughout each day to recognize your accomplishments and positive qualities -- and acknowledge them aloud. Stop in front of the mirror as often as you can, and each time, find at least three features you like about yourself, such as your bright smile and the color of your eyes. Focus on these attributes any time you’re feeling self-conscious or insecure. Write out a list of the characteristics you like most about yourself, such as your generosity, kindness and intelligence. Look for ways to incorporate these characteristics more in your everyday life. For example, volunteer with a local organization to enhance your charitable personality or offer to tutor to take advantage of your intelligence.
You’ll feel more self-assured when you know you’re managing your time well, planning each morning to get to work on time and picking up groceries before there’s nothing but pickles and cheese spread in the fridge. Writing out a schedule for each week will also help you to avoid missing important events, such as a meeting with the boss or a friend’s bridal shower. In addition to scheduling your everyday activities, incorporate a list of short-term goals you can work toward each week. These goals should be mild to moderate in difficulty -- excessively challenging goals can hamper your confidence if they turn out to be too difficult right now. Aim to clear out the junk food from your cupboards, dust off the treadmill, enroll in a yoga class or have lunch with a friend -- no nervous fidgeting allowed. As you achieve each goal, cross it off the list and revel in your own accomplishments.