Becoming your most confident self is a process that takes time and requires daily habits. But even when you’re trying your best and giving your all, life can sometimes throw curveballs. Remember that growth is not linear – and ups and downs are not only inevitable but also necessary. Without the dark, we can’t see the stars. Without the valleys, we can’t get to the top. Without..okay, you got it. Whether you had a bad day at work, someone made a not-so-Versace comment or your hormones are simply playing up, here are a few tricks that can boost your self-esteem in no time.
Power pose and smile
Power posing means adopting tall, wide and open body postures in order to feel more confident, powerful and generally positive. In her book ‘Presence’, Amy Cuddy writes that this new body-mind approach allows us to skip over mental or emotional stumbling blocks that keep us from believing we’re awesome. The same goes for smiling. Instead of trying to create a mental shift, we reverse the order and are directly affecting our mind and mood by creating a pose we would normally only adopt when we already feel powerful and happy.
“I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing.”
– William James Hall
Powerful poses: standing tall with your hands on your hips and your feet apart, interlocking your hands behind your head with your elbows in the air, leaning forward with both hands on a table, sitting down with your legs and arms wide.
Powerless poses: standing or sitting with arms folded over your body and crossing your legs, touching your neck or chest with your hand, leaning on a table with your forearms, hunching over a smartphone or tablet.
Tip: every morning while you’re brushing your teeth, do the Wonder Woman power pose in front of the mirror. Perfect for that everyday confidence kick. Don’t forget to smile as you walk out the door!
Write down 3 things you are grateful for
The positive psychology of gratitude is no longer a secret to most of us. If this is news to you, then this post will be the first thing on your gratitude list today. (You’re welcome.) Its life-changing effects have been worshipped by world’s most famous lifestyle gurus like Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris, Oprah and many more.
Being grateful has been proven to uplift your emotional state and increase long-term happiness. A study published in American Psychologist (2005) found that people who wrote down 3 good things each day for 1 week were happier and less depressed at the one-month, three-month and six-month follow-ups. Writing down positive things not only trains but literally rewires your brain to actively look for the good things in life. Changing your perspective from seeing the things you’re lacking to noticing all the things you already have, will boost your self-esteem and self-worth. If this hasn’t convinced you to start writing your way to confidence, we don’t know what will!
Tip: You can use these as a momentary confidence boost or you can keep a daily gratitude journal to start noticing the long-term effects.
A positivity list
According to research, we anchor positive and negative feelings to everything we encounter: objects, faces, smells, sounds, textures, colours,… When we’re in a sad mood and we counterproductively play a sad song (e.g. Sam Smith’s Too Good At Goodbye, we know) over and over, we have anchored a feeling of sadness to that song. The next time we hear that song, regardless of our mood, we will be triggered to feel sad. But it works the other way around too. When the person you love wears a certain perfume, you will anchor feelings of love and happiness to that smell.
With this knowledge, we can start looking for all our positively anchored songs, clothes, smells, photos and even colours. Prepare a list of 3 or more things that you know trigger happy and confident feelings for you. That one song that we sing at the top of our lungs with someone we love, the legging that makes us feel like an Instagram model, the lipstick that makes us feel like Scarlet Johansson. Absorb the positive vibes!
Tip: you can actively positively anchor anything and everything. Next time you’re feeling really happy, proud, confident or fulfilled, sing along to a song, touch your necklace, or wear a new colour lipstick. And voila, you can now add these items to your happy list!
I know what you’re thinking… The last thing you want to do when you’re having one of those moments is dragging yourself to the gym and stand in front of that mirror. But.. we have good news, we promise. Exercise releases endorphins, also known as the happiness chemical your brain produces and makes you feel happy. Besides the obvious health benefits, regular physical activity boosts self-esteem, reduces stress and feelings of anxiety or depression and improves sleep. More good news? Studies show that 20 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week, is enough to feel a difference. However, building up to 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times a week, would be even better. Any type of activity will do, so choose something that you enjoy and suits you, your schedule and your lifestyle.
Tip: There is one type of exercise that releases the most amount of endorphins: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This type of exercise consists of a combination of light and heavy activity in intervals. Example: 1 min. walking – 1 min. jogging – 1 min. sprinting – 1 min. jogging – 1 min. sprinting – 1 min. jogging – 1 min. walking – … Make sure to do this with a personal trainer of while following a class. Exercise should be fun and motivating!
Fake it till you make it
Yesterday you may have felt insecure. Today you feel incredible. Unless you’ve morphed into someone else you’d rather be overnight, you are still the same person you were yesterday. The only difference between those two moments is your mindset. “But… external circumstances!” Nope. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky found that only 10% of our happiness is determined by our circumstances, 40% is determined by our internal state of mind, or simply put our thoughts and feelings about those circumstances.
Of course, everyone has bad days and unfortunately, we can’t control what happens to us. But it is our responsibility to not let our self-worth and self-esteem be affected or determined by external events. We take a major step forward when we learn to create space between an occurrence and our emotional reaction to it. Sure, the event might not have been pleasant, but that doesn’t mean our thoughts have to be unpleasant too. Okay, you didn’t get that job – have you considered you might have been overqualified? Realise this and distance your thoughts and feelings from your external circumstances.
How do we instantly change our state of mind from low to peak? Take a minute and remind yourself of a moment in which you felt proud, fulfilled, happy or loved. A work accomplishment? Graduation? A certain birthday present? A random act of kindness? A compliment? Close your eyes and relive that moment in detail. Remember what you were wearing, remember colours, sounds and smells. Open your eyes and gush in euphoric emotions, welcome to peak state! See, you’re an incredible, talented, intelligent and beautiful person after all (and your circumstances don’t change that).
Tip: it’s difficult to remember proud moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed. It helps to prepare a list of your proudest moments beforehand, so you can simply read them and remind yourself of how amazing you are when you need it.