“When you lack confidence you put a lid on your potential” – Angie Morgan, author of Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Other to Greater Success brilliantly sums up why self-belief is so important.
Whether it’s going for that promotion, getting up on stage to deliver a speech or having the courage to finally launch that event, believing you can do it plays a big role in having the ability to do it.
According to Morgan, the power of positive thought can have a transformative effect on our lives and recommends daily personal pep talks and meditation. But there are also lots of other small tips and tricks you can use to boost your confidence when you need it. We’ve curated our top seven….
- Spritz yourself with your favourite scent
It sounds crazy, but smelling great can actually make you feel – and be perceived as – more confident and more attractive.
A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Sciences found that men wearing a fragrance behaved more confidently, to the extent that women watching a video of the men rated them as more attractive than their fragrance-free counterparts.
Although confidence comes from the inside, this study proves that taking care of your external appearance – and smell – has psychological benefits that help fuel self-worth.
- Make eye contact
This can be very difficult when you don’t feel confident, but holding eye contact with others is the biggest signal of mental strength that you can give.
However, you have to be careful because the power of eye contact is surprising and you don’t want to come across rude or intimidating.
As a general rule, according to Carol Kinsley Goman, author of The Nonverbal Advantage: Body Language at Work, direct eye contact ranging from 30% to 60% of the time during a conversation – more when you are listening, less when you are speaking – should make for a comfortable, productive atmosphere.
She adds: “If a speaker actively seeks out eye contact when talking, he or she is judged to be more believable, confident and competent.”
- Go for a run outside
Exercise gets our adrenaline pumping and our endorphins going, making us feel great, but research suggests you can enhance the effect by doing it outside.
A study was conducted testing the effect of physical environment (in this case artificially simulated) on self-esteem and mood. Five groups of 20 subjects were exposed to a sequence of 30 scenes, both rural and urban, projected on a wall whilst exercising on a treadmill, while a control group ran without imagery.
The researchers found: “Both rural and urban pleasant scenes produced a significantly greater positive effect on self-esteem than the exercise-only control. This shows the synergistic effect of green exercise in both rural and urban environments.”
- Take up space with your body
In her viral 2012 TED talk, Amy Cuddy shared the concept of the “power pose”: adopting a confident, dominant stance by opening up your arms and legs to take up more space.
Following research, Cuddy, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business School, found that adopting a power pose for just two minutes could actually increase testosterone production in the body and reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
This led to the subjects in her study (even very shy ones) feeling more powerful and more confident. Cuddy suggests nipping to the bathroom to stand in a power pose before any nerve wracking experience, such as going on stage or entering a job interview. However, you can also use this body language in front of others if you wish to influence their perception of you.
- Wear something that makes you feel powerful
Do you remember dressing up like a superhero as a child and believing you could do anything, like fly, walk on water or see through walls? Well, according to research that still works when you’re a grown up!
Psychology professor Karen J. Pine asked university students to wear superhero clothing when spending time among their peers and then interviewed them about their experiences.
The wearers not only reported feeling more confident, they also perceived themselves to be physically stronger, more likeable and even superior to other students! Meanwhile, subjects who were asked to wear white coats actually demonstrated increased mental agility.
In her book, Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, Pine says that making a simple tweak to what you wear can change your confidence, mood and life, and you’ll be relieved to hear it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Spiderman costume!
- Put on motivating music
We all have certain songs or pieces of music that make us feel pumped up and raring to go. Download whatever tracks do it for you, so you can have a listen whenever you need a confidence boost.
Research by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in the US suggests that music really can transform the psychological state of the listener.
Author of the study, Dennis Hsu says: “When watching major sports events, my coauthors and I frequently noticed athletes with their earphones on while entering the stadium and in the locker room.
“The ways these athletes immerse themselves in the music – some with their eyes steely shut and some gently nodded along the beats – seem as if the music is mentally preparing and toughening them up for the competition about to occur.
“People might want to explore whether pumping up their favourite tunes can quickly ease them into an empowered mental state before going into a first date, an important client meeting, or a job interview.”
I don’t know about you, but singing along (privately) to my favourite X-rated rap song can put me in ‘go getting’ mood.
According to psychologist Neel Burton, swearing gives us a greater sense of power and control, especially in bad situations.
“By swearing we show, if only to ourselves, that we are not passive victims but empowered to react and fight back,” he writes in Psychology Today. “This can boost our confidence and self-esteem, and also provide the impetus for further corrective action to be taken.
Swearing also comes with health benefits, would you believe it? These include increased circulation, elevated endorphins, and an overall sense of calm, control, and wellbeing. The key is not to get angry at the same time – and to do it where no one else can hear you!
Use these everyday confidence-boosting tricks to gradually change your self-perception. Once you believe in you, everyone else will too.