Grow your confidence in 21 days
GET confident in less than a month.
THEY say it takes 21 days to break a habit. But what if we told you it takes the same amount of time to develop a whole new level of confidence? Enter the step-bystep guide to a much more positive you.
Being the most confident girl in the room is something a lot of women aspire to be. That co-worker who puts her hand up for every project, the entire front row at an aerobics class, the girl at a party dancing like she doesn’t care about anything – in a crop top!
But how can these women be so sure of themselves while the rest live in a world of self-doubt? Here’s the good news: “Confidence isn’t something that’s fixed for life,” explains Michelle Landy, a motivational coach and author of The Confidence Workout (available on Amazon). “We all struggle with self-doubt at different life stages or in new situations.” However, you can slowly, intentionally change that. “You’ve just got to want it,” Landy says. So supercharge your confidence with these easy, practical daily tips and have your hot pants and microphone handy.
WEEK ONE: Inside Job
IF you had a better job, a boyfriend or a hotter bod you’d be more confident, right? Deep down you know that’s not how it works. Confidence comes from within, but the problem for a lot of us is our worst critic lives there, too. The first step to confidence is learning how to take down your inner mean girl.
DAY ONE: What Up, Inner Critic? Instead of engaging with your own personal hater, start feeling sorry for her, nurturing and treating her with kindness. It seems a little crazy, but if every time the inner critic pipes up with ‘shame, all your friends hate you!’, you can respond with a soothing, ‘wow, you are feeling really insecure at the moment’, or ‘who hurt you?’ – that harsh voice can’t escalate. With daily practice, those little thoughts start to lose their power.
DAY TWO: Distance Education When we’re a little (or maybe a lot) low on self-confidence, we tend to believe every negative thought that pops into our heads. But these thoughts aren’t really ours; they are a reaction to fear. Disconnecting from them can be as simple as adding a few choice words to whatever crazy BS is looping through your mind, says psychologist Dr Gemma Munro. So today, when you think, “I’m cr*p at my job,” be sure to add this: “No, my mind is having the thought that I’m cr*p at my job.” See? It’s not you, it’s that annoying old inner critic again.
DAY THREE: The Power Of ‘Yet’ Another tiny word with huge power? ‘Yet’. Stanford psychologist Professor Carol Dweck says taking statements we make about ourselves
– like ‘I’m no good with money’ – and adding ‘yet’ reminds us we’re a work in progress. Repeat these words: ‘I’m no good with money... yet’.
DAY FOUR: Grammar Time Today’s lesson: trading our nouns for verbs. Life coach Samantha Krajina explains, “Instead of saying ‘I have a bad relationship with my ex’, which makes that status seem fixed, you’d say, ‘I am relating badly to my ex right now,’ which opens you up to change and progress.”
DAY FIVE: ‘I’m Awesome’ List “Confident people know what their strengths are,”
Krajina says. Most of us can easily rattle off five qualities we’d look for in a partner, but listing five qualities we have to offer is hard. Write a five-point (non)humble brag.
DAY SIX: Story Time If there’s a negative thought you’ve been looping for years, it’s probably become a narrative – a story we tell others and ourselves about who we are. “From where you are now to being a more confident person is all about allowing yourself the opportunity to create new stories,” explains Krajina. Think about your narrative: Do you want to live by it? Or is it maybe time for a new one?
DAY SEVEN: Victory! Look at that, it’s been a week since we started this! Go, you! An important part of growing this newfound confidence is acknowledging all of the progress you have made up to now. Noticing what the neuropsychologist Professor Ian Robertson calls ‘tiny victories’ actually changes the landscape of your brain – increasing the number of receptors in its reward-and-motivation area and (psych!) helping you become more sensitive to testosterone, the power hormone. Don’t panic! You won’t grow a moustache, but you will feel bolder next time you’re faced with a similar tricky situation.
WEEK TWO: The Outside World
OR, it’s time to baby-giraffe-walk this newborn confidence into the outside world. And whether it’s friendships, relationships or work, this week is all about making it without faking it. Authentic confidence, coming at you!
DAY EIGHT: Friend Check Spot quiz: Name one friend who makes you feel amazing. And one who doesn’t. Ugh, her. We all have a self-esteem sucker on standby and we seem oddly drawn to them at our weakest times. “We forget we have a choice about who we spend time with,” explains Landy. You don’t have to cut these ladies out altogether, but limit the amount of contact you have with them – especially when you’re going through a rough patch.
DAY NINE: Social Media Cleanse When it’s good, it’s great. Although, when it’s bad, social media can be a stonecold confidence killer. But you don’t have to switch off (and then sign out) altogether; however, those two or three ‘friends’ who routinely zap your selfesteem online act like holes in your bucket of confidence. Block, de-friend and filter your way to feeling better about yourself in real life.
DAY 10: Run To The Pain An awkward, unresolved situation in your life – especially one of your own creation – is not just exhausting (hello, every waking moment thinking about it!) but is a confidence zapper too. Instinctively, you know when the fix is on you, so run to it. Yes, it’s going to be horrible, but then it’s going to be over. “Taking responsibility for a mistake and not denying it is one of the most freeing experiences you can have,” explains Krajina. “Whether or not it was intentional, dealing with it is ultimately better than avoiding it.” DAY 11: Rejection – A Love Story
When the Planet Needy is in ascension, the idea of being rejected is terrifying. But rejection is a normal part of life, and rarely fatal.
If fear of being denied something is your thing, visit rejection therapy. com and sign up for a (hilarious) 30day treatment programme, which will totally
desensitise you to it by setting you up for one tiny, minuscule rejection every day. “Hey, can you drive me to the airport at 05h00? No? No problem, that’s totally okay.”
DAY 12: Narrow The Beam When you’ve messed up (we’re talking hypothetically, as perfect people who never have...), it’s easy to blow the situation out into a total catastrophe of life-ending proportions. To protect your self-image after a stuff-up, Landy says, “Keep a spot focus on the problem.” Meaning, don’t let one error floodlight your entire life. One mistake at work is totally fine, not an irredeemable career-ending disaster. DAY 13: Dare, Double Dare
If you’re an all-or-nothing sort of lady, you may decide to tackle this confidence problem once and for all by signing up for that halfmarathon, even though you’ve never run more than five kilometres in one go in your life. Hold up! Small, achievable challenges are a surer way to build up your long-term self-confidence. Those unfinished fun-runs, on the other hand, have a funny way of reinforcing the old ‘I always fail’ story. DAY 14: Get Ready, Get set... But know this, confident people don’t wait to feel ready before taking on a new challenge, whatever the size. “Waiting to feel comfortable actually holds you back,” says Landy. “Confidence grows out of taking actions, small ones to begin with, acknowledging that you feel nervous but knowing that’s okay.” So what’s your homework for today? Pick something you’re scared of (in a good way), go do it, and watch how it doesn’t kill you.
WEEK THREE: Quick Fixes And A Bag Of Tricks
YOU’RE working on your core, but a few easy go-tos can help you in tricky situations. No, these aren’t cheats, they are long-haul confidence-building habits. And hey, you’re on the home stretch. In just under a week, you’ll be ready to run the world just like Beyoncé.
DAY 15: Power Ballads Rocky was right – playing Eye Of The Tiger at high volume works. “Music lifts your confidence,” explains Dr Munro. “Listening to a
song that makes you feel excited and full of anticipation – even if you just go into a toilet cubicle at work with your headphones on for two minutes – decreases the cortisol stress hormone.”
DAY 16: Gossip Girls You know that grubby feeling you get after a back-stabbing session? (We can’t be the only ones.) A study by researchers at Staffordshire University found, on the flipside, spreading positive gossip about a person gives your own confidence an instant boost. (Don’t tell anyone, but my colleague is seriously hot at Excel.)
DAY 17: Quit Comparing Taller, richer, cleverer... whatever. There will always be people who seem to have everything. And comparing ourselves is a no-win game. “Train yourself to notice what you tend to compare,” says Landy. “Looks, job, money, relationships
– and acknowledge that’s your confidence gap – and over time, minimise that trigger.” DAY 18: Power Pose Turns out, Wonder Woman was onto something with that stance. The ‘power pose’, according to studies by Harvard and Northwestern universities, prepares you to face risk, decreasing cortisol and raising testosterone. Plus, others respond differently to people with strong posture.
DAY 19: Workout Plus When you’re in a selfesteem slump, cutting your workout short
(or out) seems obvious. But researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that putting in a tiny bit extra – just 10 more squats than usual – enhances your sense of control, which in turn, boosts your confidence. DAY 20: Wardrobe 101 It might look like an innocent black dress with the tags still on, but your favourite LBD hanging on your mirror is kind of judging you. Go through your wardrobe and after you’ve tossed the haters, try on everything you own that makes you feel like a hot rig. What’s the common theme? A certain length, a certain shape? There’s your sartorial esteem boost right there. DAY 21: Be A Beginner Stretching yourself and taking yourself beyond your comfort zone builds up long-term confidence, whereas sticking to what you’re already good at narrows your skillset over time. Learning new things all the time, such as surfing, taking Spanish lessons and even knitting, gives you a nice sense of achievement and progress. “Developing confidence in one area carries into other areas. You learn resilience and bounce back, so always be a beginner at something,” says Landy.