Struggling with low self-esteem and suspect your lack of confidence might be holding you back? If life feels like a series of obstacles and you never quite manage to achieve your goals, it’s normal to focus the criticism inwards and assume a character flaw is preventing you from living your best life. But what if these confidence-blockers could be overcome?
We speak to confidence expert Kate Tojeiro about the 9 most common confidence-blockers and how to beat your demons and learn to live your life with self-assurance.
‘Having the freedom to choose, to follow our dreams and passions and to realise our potential can all be floored when we let the confidence-zappers take control,’ says Tojeiro. Sound familiar? Read our expert tips on learning to kick confidence-zappers into touch: 1.Stop worrying about what ‘they’ think
Whether it’s society, social media, your family, friends or colleagues, ‘they’ are people we consider won’t approve, will look at us critically or deride us for what we want to achieve. ‘These aren’t the people to have around or give too much thinking time to when we’re striving towards a goal,’ says Tojeiro.
Think about who inspires you and who has stepped beyond the restrictions of convention to follow their own path. ‘Think Maya Angelou, Angelina Jolie and add a few role models of your own,’ suggests Tojeiro.
Research shows that role models can be especially effective at helping us to succeed if they correlate in some way with a goal we are trying to achieve. A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that looking at photographs of women leaders boosted the confidence of other women and increased the likelihood of girls choosing non-traditional female roles in life. 2. Avoid people who bring you down
Do you have a friend or colleague who makes you feel bad about yourself or feels like an emotional vampire?
‘The age-old analogy of people being like radiators or drains holds true,’ says Tojeiro. Radiators exude warmth, enthusiasm and kindness whereas drains are negative and glass half-empty. Radiators bring out the best in people while drains can be demanding and never give anything back.
If your confidence is low, consider who you want to be around. ‘If your mobile rings and the name that comes up makes your heart sing – answer. If your heart sinks, call them back when you feel stronger,’ suggests Tojeiro.
Plan your day to be with or near people who are radiators. Can’t be with them? Call them, message them or even just look at a picture of your favourite people on social media. ‘The power of a smile in a photograph is the same as the power of a smile in person,’ says Tojeiro.
A 2016 University of California study found that snapping selfies and sharing photos with your friends can make you a happier person, so both sharing and receiving a happy picture is good for wellbeing and positivity. 3. Don’t forget food can impact your mood
When it comes to mood and behaviour, research shows we are what we eat. A nutrient-packed diet may help to reduce anxiety, boost your mood and in turn help you to feel more confident. However, one loaded with sugar and caffeine can cause energy spikes and mood swings and lead to a dip in how you feel about yourself.
‘We feel better physically and mentally when we eat the right foods, whereas reaching for ones like sugary snacks and carbs will give us a momentary feel good boost followed by a dip,’ explains Tojeiro.
To help you maintain a sunny disposition all day long, it’s also worth remembering to keep hydrated. A 2016 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that brain function can be compromised by even a minor degree of dehydration.
Tojeiro also recommends you eat mood-boosting foods. ‘If your brain isn’t working optimally, you’ll be more prone to poor memory, mood swings and making mistakes and this will impact your confidence levels,’ says Tojeiro.
To keep your daily confidence levels in check, be sure to include the following foods in your diet: Complex carbohydrates for slow-release energy.
Foods rich in vitamin D – such as eggs and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B – such as dairy and meat.
Selenium – such as whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids – such as oily fish.
4. Learn that body language speaks volumes
You probably don’t realise it, but your body language reveals a lot about how you feel on the inside, so try to stand tall and project a confident persona. ‘If you’re not feeling confident, you may be slouching, slumping or standing in a stopped position,’ says Tojeiro. ‘Studies regularly back the notion that body language affects how we feel.’
Stand tall and hold your head high to give your self-confidence a leg up. ‘Imagine you are an oak tree with roots coming out from your feet into the ground – this gives a sense of strength, grounded-ness and confidence,’ recommends Psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, co-author of The Crisis Handbook . 5. Stop living in fear
If you’re so scared of what might happen that you find yourself living in constant fear of the unknown, you could be inadvertently preventing yourself from achieving your goals. ‘Fear has the power to make our dreams a reality or completely stop us in our tracks,’ says Tojeiro.
In reality, FEAR is ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ – in other words, when you head towards a goal, you may find that your mind is producing false evidence that will seem real but that can easily blow you off course. ‘What if I can’t do it? What if they say no?’
The first step to overcoming your fears is to face up to them. ‘I tend to liken fear to having a cold; it won’t stop you doing what you need to do, it will just make it a bit harder,’ says Tojeiro. ‘So acknowledge your fear, take it with you and counterbalance it with your drive, ambitions […]