One of the most interesting and unexpected things about writing is the assumptions people sometimes make.
Recently, I have had more than one person say that I come across as opinionated and confident. While the former is certainly true, the latter is not. Simply put, confidence is not something that has ever come naturally to me. Despite being an Aries—a fire sign associated with being fiesty—I tend to be ridiculously passive at times.
I hate conflict and go out of my way to avoid it. I also have a problem selling myself. (Blame my Anglo-Chinese background on some of that. I was brought up to believe that “bragging” about oneself was bad and should be avoided at all costs.)
In any case, I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes it’s downright vital to appear confident.
One situation that immediately comes to mind and applies to nearly everyone is job interviews. It’s been shown time and time again that in cases of candidates with identical qualifications, the one who is the most confident usually ends up getting the job. Furthermore, confidence and self-esteem go hand-in-hand.
While I freely admit that the mere thought of repeating positive affirmations would cause my eyes to roll to the back of my head, a funny thing happened when I started doing so out of desperation and with the thought, “Oh, well. What can it hurt?”
I started to believe them and strangely enough, those around me did as well.
And, it is not that surprising. There has been significant research to support that old statement, “If you think you’re ___________ (clever, attractive, etc.) others will, too.”
Also, people tend to believe the things they want to hear or believe.
For example, I recently read a book about about the infamous Anna Anderson, the German woman who, for over 60 years, claimed to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia. Even though a close look at her improbable story showed it to be full of holes and posthumous DNA testing proved she was a fake, she nonetheless managed to convince many people including journalists, historians, and even Romanov relatives that she was the doomed duchess.
While you don’t have to go so far as to convince people you’re Russian royalty, you can nonetheless do a good job convincing yourself and others you are the unique, worthy, incredible creature you are by following the simple tips below:
1. Write it down.
For many people, thoughts aren’t real until they are written down. I happen to be one of them. Somehow seeing an affirmation taped to my mirror like, “I am good enough” was a lot more affirming than simply saying it. Also, having someone else write the words for me was even more affirming. If this applies to you, ask a good friend who believes in you if they will write it for you. It may help.
2. Watch movies.
Have you ever noticed that the most convincing actors are those who become the character they are playing? For example, when I watch a Meryl Streep performance, I don’t think “That’s Meryl Streep playing that character.” Rather, she is so damn good that she becomes that character for the 90 minutes or so she is on screen.
Seeing how a master actor nails a role can help you prepare for a big event like a job interview, public speech, or even mastering up the courage to have a serious talk with a lover, family member or co-worker that may very well lead to some sort of conflict.
Again, you don’t have to be Oscar-worthy. Instead, pay attention to the body language, expressions, etc. that makes that actor own their character.
3. Look the part.
Contrary to popular belief, looking confident doesn’t necessarily mean dressing up or in the case of women, applying a full face of war paint. Rather, it has to do with appearing that you know what you are talking about. Being comfortable is a key part of this. For instance, if you are trying to boost self-confidence, wearing “sexy” clothing like low-cut necklines and 3″ inch heels isn’t likely to make you appear and feel more confident and sexually attractive unless you are actually comfortable in such clothing.
When you are comfortable and feel you look your best—and the latter can vary a lot from person to person—-we often appear more confident to those around us.
The final tip on this is go with what makes you feel confident and not what’s in fashion magazines or media images.
4. Know the difference between confident and cocky.
A lot of people get these confused. While some have argued that there isn’t a lot of difference between the two, there actually is a big difference. The former know when to admit that they are wrong or do not know all the answers whereas the latter seldom does.
Just like poor self-confidence can be a major turn off, so can arrogance. In fact, I would argue that the latter is more of a repellant than the former.
In closing, confidence is not something that will ever come naturally to me or to a lot of people. However, it can be acquired, and faking it until you make it can be done. Taking the time to try and incorporate the above tips can be a step towards more confidence.
To paraphrase a friend of mine, confidence is one of those few things that most of us (especially women) could all use a bit more of in our daily lives.
What’s stopping us?
Be happy and fall in love with yourself:
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons