When it sometimes feels like the world around you is crumbling down, the one thing you’ll always be able to rely on is yourself. And in order to build a solid inner foundation that will carry you through your life and career, you need confidence.
“Confidence gives us power. Working on your confidence helps you gain a positive perspective on yourself and your capabilities. And more positivity never hurt anyone. In fact, it can really play a big role in your life and outcomes,” says Mélissa LeMay, CEO of the design agency Graphic.Maven and business coach.
But what does working on your confidence actually look like? It’s not like you can snap your fingers and declare yourself confident and never feel moments of self-doubt again. It’s more of continuous practice.
Just like being fit and healthy is a lifestyle, being confident requires consistent effort as well. To carry on with the analogy, think of some subtle diet tweaks, like adding five servings of veggies a day, that end up having a positive impact on your health. The same applies to confidence: small changes in habits can pay off in major ways.
Ready to embrace a more confident day-to-day life? Here are four subtle shifts that will completely elevate your confidence when practiced over time.
1. Change your language
If you want to start increasing your confidence, paying attention to both your self-talk and the way you speak out loud is paramount.
“Start being aware of your thoughts and also the words you use to describe yourself. Our minds don’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s not. So by using positive words and thinking positive thoughts, we can reframe our minds to believe anything we want,” says LeMay.
Sounds easier said than done? Journaling is a great way to anchor in a new set of thought patterns and beliefs. Whenever you feel insecurity creep in, take a moment to pause and reflect on the thoughts that led you to feel that way.
Then, write them down and question whether those thoughts are actually true (hint: they’re likely not). Follow that reflection up by writing better-feeling thoughts and beliefs.
If going from “I suck at my job” to “I’m an absolute rockstar” is too much of a stretch in terms of self-convincing, choose something that feels a little more believable, like “I am a valuable contributor and have several wins under my belt. I am learning and improving every single day.”
Soon enough, you’ll very quickly be able to notice negative thoughts and language. Shifting them to more empowering ones will become a habit.
2. Invest in building self-belief
According to LeMay, if there is one subtle shift you absolutely need to embrace if you want to boost your confidence, it’s investing in building self-belief.
“Once you truly know and trust that you can achieve something (or anything), it’s only a matter of taking the right actions to make anything you wish happen,” she says.
Finding proof of all the ways in which you are capable and resourceful is a great way to build self-belief. Make a habit of celebrating your wins. Take small action steps towards your goals and notice your actions leading to positive momentum.
Once you see that you can indeed accomplish way more than you thought yourself capable of — and that you’ve already accomplished a lot in hindsight — you’ll truly feel unstoppable and believing in yourself will become second nature.
3. Be mindful of who you spend time with
If you think who you hang out with has nothing to do with how confident you are, think again. If you spend time with people who have a lot of self-doubts, you might find yourself absorbing their mindset without even realizing it. And the opposite is also true: Surround yourself with confident people and watch your own confidence skyrocket.
“Avoid hanging out with the wrong crowd. Their low energy can only bring your own energy down. Instead, focus on finding people who are positive and have similar goals and values as you,” says LeMay.
You don’t necessarily need to cut ties with family members or lifelong friends. But do question whether some relationships in your life are toxic or need better boundaries. And start putting yourself out there to connect with people who elevate you and encourage you to improve.
4. Watch your posture
Sitting up straight is not only good for your back, but it also gives you more confidence and helps combat impostor syndrome.
Researchers asked two groups of people to write down thoughts around whether they were qualified for a job. In one group, participants were sitting up with their backs straight. In the other, they were slumped over their desk.
It turns out body posture does have an impact on self-confidence because the people with better posture ended up feeling more convinced about the positive things they wrote down about their skills.
Powerful stuff, huh? So the next time you find yourself slouching over your laptop, remember that improving your posture will also help your mindset.