Be More Confident By Mary Jaksch Did you know having self-confidence is as critical to your overall happiness and well-being as good nutrition is to your health? That may sound like an overstatement, but research shows having self-confidence dramatically improves your finances, your relationships, your career, and your achievement in all areas of your life. Dr. Timothy Judge of The University of Florida revealed in several studies that people with healthy self-confidence have a substantially higher annual income than those with low confidence. In his research he learned that self-confidence people from blue-collar families make about $7,000 more than those without confidence from the same class. People from the professional classes who have self-confidence make a whopping $28,000 more than their low-confidence peers. Clearly self-confidence is a profitable quality, one that directly impacts your bottom line. These same studies also underscored how self-confidence impacts career success. Those who believe in themselves and have self-confidence are more likely to set challenging goals and follow through on them, resulting in more self-respect, career advancement, and leadership opportunities. Even when they experience challenges or setbacks, confident people don’t allow these situations to define them or hold them back. Conversely, low confidence makes us question our judgement and abilities. Those with low confidence avoid potential career-enhancing risks and goals, and they hesitate to take decisive actions. In fact, they often engage in subconscious behaviors that sabotage their success, making them less likely to advance in their careers or get noticed by bosses or decision-makers. But self-confidence not only impacts finances and career success. Research confirms confidence plays a major role in relationship satisfaction and happiness. Studies by Murray, Holmes, MacDonald and Ellsworth (1998) revealed low self-esteem and self-confidence impact a person’s perception of themselves in the relationship, as well as their partner’s expectations and the overall health of the relationship. People with low confidence and self-esteem desperately want approval from their partners, but their own inner doubts corrode the relationship with insecurities and neediness. Their behaviors sabotage the love and acceptance they so deeply desire. Having self-confidence also improves your decision-making and problem-solving skills; your mental and physical health; and your ability to achieve in all endeavors. In short, self-confidence is an life-enhancing elixir that should be the priority self-improvement goal for anyone who feels a lack of it. But for those who have low self-confidence, this is a daunting objective. How do you build confidence when you don’t have any? How do you create self-assurance, poise, and certainty when you don’t feel those things? Well, the good news is that self-confidence can be learned. As with any other skill, rebuilding confidence requires learning the techniques involved, regular practice, and patience until the skills become automatic. However, confidence (like love) is something you must commit to daily, reinforcing the skills for a lifetime in order to nourish and maintain it. If you are lacking self-confidence and would like to begin learning the skills to boost it, you can get started with these five techniques: 1. Commit Building your confidence can’t be a part-time effort. You must make it part of your day, every day, until you begin to feel your confidence improving. Are you willing to make a commitment to yourself to set aside a specific time each day to learn the skills of self-confidence? Are you willing to proactively practice these skills by creating opportunities to stretch yourself and act confidently even if you don’t feel it yet? Now that you know how life-changing self-confidence is, use this knowledge to motivate you to commit to improving your own. You can solidify this commitment by writing yourself a “confidence contract” and signing it. 2. Identify Identify your main area of low self-confidence. Is it feeling uncomfortable about your abilities and skills? Do you think you aren’t attractive enough and feel self-conscious about it? Do you feel shy and hesitant when talking with others or meeting new people? Where does your low confidence most impact your life? For now, just identify one area to focus on if you suffer from low confidence in several areas. 3. Explore Try to uncover the triggering events or causes for your low confidence in this particular area of your life. Was it something that happened in childhood or adolescence? Did a recent or past mistake or failure trigger it? What are the negative beliefs these triggering events have created for you? Write down every event or situation you can think of that contributed to your low confidence, as well as the negative beliefs they fostered. If you have deep wounds and insecurities from childhood that impact your confidence, you may need the support of a counselor or other helping professional to help you heal so you can work on your confidence. 4. Disassemble Now look at everything you listed as the causes for your low confidence, and find evidence in your life, your abilities, the perceptions others have of you, any experiences, or your judgement to contradict your negative, limiting beliefs about yourself. For example, if you had a recent failure at work and feel you “don’t have what it takes” to be successful, write down all the ways you DO have what it takes and have proven that in your life. If you feel you aren’t attractive enough, write down all of the features you have that are attractive and the inner qualities you possess that are attractive. 5. Rebuild If your self-investigation reveals areas where you need to improve (your skills, your relationships, your appearance, etc.), then identify exactly what actions you can take to strengthen this area. Research has shown self-confidence grows with effort and accomplishment. Don’t allow your negative beliefs to prevent you from taking these actions. Use the evidence you uncovered in step #4 to remind you that your limiting beliefs aren’t completely true. Your perceptions of yourself are often quite skewed. In addition to improving your skills, create small and manageable opportunities to practice confidence. Put yourself in situations that require you feel a bit uncomfortable and that force you to practice the skills you are learning. As you gain more confidence in one area of your life, move on to another, following the same steps outlined above. With commitment, self-awareness, improved skills, and regular practice, you’ll find your self-confidence becoming stronger and stronger. The proof of your improvement will be evident in the positive changes you observe in your life, your relationships, and your work. What are your thoughts on confidence? Please share in the comments. Barrie Davenport is a certified personal coach, author, and founder of the top-ranked personal development sites Live Bold and Bloom and Barrie Davenport.com.