Self-belief is like a shadow in the midday sun. Just as we think we’ve caught it, it can recede surprisingly quickly. Our self-confidence is having to deflect blows on an hourly basis. “With social media, for example, it’s impossible to escape negative comparisons,” says Dr Gary Wood, author of Confidence Karma: How To Become Confident And Help Others Feel Great Too. “It’s an orgy of not keeping up with the Joneses, but of wilfully crushing the Joneses underfoot at every given opportunity.”

Below is a road map to improve your self-confidence, designed by the coaches, trainers and psychologists who boost self-esteem for a living.


Lift others

“We boost our own confidence as we build confidence in others,” Dr Gary Wood says. “Giving others an uplift with a compliment will give you and them a physiological and psychological boost, and they will perceive you as more confident and treat you as such, so you get a further boost. It becomes a positive-feedback loop.”


Power up

“Practise a power pose, with arms raised, chin up and chest out,” says Mr David Waters, a therapist and coach. “Emulating the posture of winners triggers a positive hormonal shift, reduces anxiety-producing cortisol and boosts confidence-enhancing testosterone.”


It helps to focus on connecting with people rather than the performance



Find the right fit

“Nothing boosts self-confidence quite like wearing clothes that fit you perfectly,” says Mr Nick Hems, a men’s personal stylist. “If you truly want to feel comfortable and confident, get the pair of trousers or a shirt you buy off the rack altered to fit you just right.”


Redefine yourself

“One of the challenges that a lot of people face is that they intertwine their identity with their work,” says Mr Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why. Men tend to introduce themselves by their job title because they attach such status to it that when they lose that job or retire or change career, it can send confidence crashing. “I define myself by who I am – an optimist – not by what I do,” Sinek says.


Connect to impress

“We often get the idea that confidence is about holding court, whereas it’s more to do with putting people at ease,” Wood says. “It helps to focus on connecting with people rather than focusing on the performance.” During an interview, for example, you should direct your energy towards establishing a connection with your interviewer instead of merely aiming to impress them.


Take a breath

“Lengthening your out-breath relative to your in-breath counteracts the fight-or-flight response,” Waters says. “This promotes calmness, quickly soothes racing thoughts and instils confidence.”


Stop chronic worrying

“Recognise that chronic worry, although a defence mechanism against feeling helpless and out of control, leads to excessive anxiety and stress that lower your self-confidence,” says Dr Nick Wignall, a clinical psychologist. “Learn to tolerate the discomfort of feeling helpless and accept that there are things you can’t control. This will free your mind and allow self-confidence to grow.”


Stop scrolling

“If we are doing better than others, we’re happy,” Wood says, talking about social media and self-esteem. “But if the comparisons are less fortunate, we’re not happy. Confidence needs to start with feeling comfortable in our own skin. This must come from inner attitudes. It will never come from outer social pressures.”


Learn to say enough

“Curb negative internal dialogues using a powerful trigger word, such as stop or enough,” Waters says. This cognitive behavioural therapy tip can immediately interrupt self-defeating thoughts and refocus the mind. “Saying these words out loud intensifies the effect, opens up new, more optimistic thought patterns and consequently enhances confidence.”


Don’t dwell on mistakes

“Instead, learn to accept feelings of guilt, regret and disappointment and stop using rumination as an escape,” Wignall says. “By building a healthier relationship with these difficult emotions, you can stop them from undermining your self-confidence.”

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