A Con­fi­dent you Starts To­day! How to cul­ti­vate self-as­sur­ance

Think self-as­sur­ance is some­thing you’re born with and you ei­ther have it or you don’t? Not so, say au­thors Katty Kay and Claire Ship­man. Con­fi­dence is within reach – th­ese smart habits will make you feel ready for any­thing

Good Housekeeping (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

1 | DROP THE CHA­RADE DO THIS: Don’t pre­tend to be any­thing or any­one.

WHY? We’ve been told that ‘fake it till you make it’ is the best way to get more con­fi­dence, but it’s not as ef­fec­tive as we once thought, says Kay. ‘Con­fi­dence isn’t about pre­tend­ing or putting on an act,’ she ex­plains. ‘In fact, fak­ing it can make us


feel less se­cure be­cause know­ingly mas­querad­ing as some­thing we’re not makes us pre­tend to be any­thing or any­one. In­stead, do one small brave thing, then the next one will be eas­ier – and soon con­fi­dence will ef­fort­lessly flow.’

START BY… try­ing a small chal­lenge. It could be small, like whip­ping up tricky pas­tries you saw in a mag­a­zine, but you’ll be amazed at how mas­ter­ing lit­tle things gives you the con­fi­dence to achieve big­ger feats.

2 | LEAVE YOUR COM­FORT ZONE DO THIS: Em­brace the risk of pos­si­ble fail­ure.

WHY? You learn by your mis­takes. Do­ing what you know and have al­ways done is safe, but it’s the en­emy of con­fi­dence. ‘You won’t ex­pe­ri­ence how far you can go with­out push­ing your­self,’ ex­plains Kay. ‘Gain­ing con­fi­dence means ex­pe­ri­enc­ing set­backs and, with de­ter­mi­na­tion, pick­ing your­self back up. Do­ing risky things keeps you grow­ing and gain­ing con­fi­dence. In con­trast, stay­ing in your com­fort zone brings you lit­tle.’

START BY… do­ing more day-to-day things you wouldn’t nor­mally ex­pect of your­self. (You don’t have to do any­thing rad­i­cal like jump out of a plane, un­less you want to!) For ex­am­ple, if you turn down party in­vites when you worry you won’t know peo­ple, go and pass around the food, in­tro­duc­ing your­self. Once you re­alise risky things aren’t as bad as they seem (and nei­ther is fail­ure), you’ll feel brave enough to leave your com­fort zone for good.

3 | DITCH NEG­A­TIVE THOUGHTS DO THIS: Fo­cus on the pos­i­tive.

WHY? Ac­cord­ing to re­search by Yale Uni­ver­sity in the US, a woman’s brain is not al­ways her friend when it comes to con­fi­dence. Stud­ies found that women have an in­stinct to dwell on prob­lems rather than so­lu­tions, and to spin on why they did

a cer­tain thing, how well or how poorly they did, and what ev­ery­one else thought. ‘Neg­a­tive thoughts buzz around more than pos­i­tive thoughts, and can mul­ti­ply at light­ning speed,’ says Kay.

START BY… jot­ting down neg­a­tive think­ing in a jour­nal for a few days. ‘Don’t beat your­self up about th­ese thoughts – that sim­ply leads to more anx­i­ety,’ Kay says. ‘In­stead, look for an al­ter­na­tive point of view that will re­frame your fo­cus.’ For in­stance, ‘Did I put my­self for­ward for some­thing I shouldn’t have?’ be­comes ‘I wanted to do it, that’s why it’s worth pur­su­ing.’ Your sec­ond thought doesn’t have to prove the first wrong, but cre­ate an ex­pla­na­tion to lessen the po­tency of the first. An­other tip is to spend time think­ing pos­i­tively. Every day, re­mind your­self of three things you did right. ‘Pos­i­tive thoughts lit­er­ally re­wire the brain and break the neg­a­tive-feed­back loop. This can pro­duce a change in thoughts, then in ac­tions, in weeks.’

4 | CHAM­PION YOUR­SELF DO THIS: In­stead of stay­ing quiet, flag your achieve­ments.

WHY? Of­ten women seem to have the spot­light thing back­wards. ‘We shine a bright light on our faults and in­se­cu­ri­ties, and the rea­sons we will surely fail, but, when it comes to tak­ing credit or en­joy­ing our tri­umphs, we step into the shad­ows,’ says Kay. ‘De­vel­op­ing a sense of your own well-de­served value and hear­ing your­self recog­nise your ac­com­plish­ments bol­sters con­fi­dence.’

START BY… find­ing ways to take in com­pli­ments and own your achieve­ments. It needn’t be com­pli­cated – or feel boast­ful. Even a sim­ple ‘Thank you, I ap­pre­ci­ate that’ can make you feel sur­pris­ingly lifted.


DO THIS: Try not to take things to heart. Re­mem­ber: it’s not per­sonal. WHY? ‘It’s all too easy to think that what­ever you’ve done – whether it’s a tri­umph or a fail­ure – is the fo­cus of ev­ery­one else’s at­ten­tion,’ says Kay. ‘It isn’t. Most peo­ple are too busy get­ting on with their own lives to worry about what you’re up to. Think­ing this way kills con­fi­dence.’ START BY… re­mem­ber­ing that if some­thing doesn’t go your way, it’s not per­sonal, it’s just a re­sult of cir­cum­stances – and it doesn’t mean you’ll never be suc­cess­ful. So, if you don’t get the job you wanted, don’t think, ‘He must have thought I was an id­iot when I said I couldn’t use Ex­cel,’ think, ‘I gained valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence from that in­ter­view and now I know what skills I need to de­velop.’ By coun­ter­act­ing thoughts with facts – that you have valu­able qual­i­ties that em­ploy­ers want, which is why you were in­ter­viewed, and that you need to find the right job for you – you’ll be free to take pos­i­tive steps for­wards.

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