11 Fun Ways to Build Your Self Confidence That You Won't Find In Cosmo
I've had quite a few confidence shattering experiences over the last five years. And there's a notable difference between how I presented myself five years ago than now. Somewhere along the way though , I learned that it's possible to love myself, that I'm much more introverted than I thought I was and that when you compare yourself to someone you once were, you're always going to see it with rose-tinted glasses.
I've been in soul sucking jobs, had managers that were vicious bullies, fallen out with friends, had people my life who made me feel like shit and other various experiences that I won't detail here because no matter how honest and vulnerably you share your life online, you have to have boundaries and draw a line in the sand somewhere.
These are tips you probably aren't going to read in Cosmo. And I'm guessing you're not a huge Cosmo addict because my site is pretty much as far away as you can get from it.
I don't write lists of 5 ways you can love yourself TODAY because I believe they're bullshit as much as I believe the sun is in the sky.
Instead these are small exercises and tiny and big actions you can take, that over a period of time and working on yourself, are going to help you build your confidence.
So if your confidence has been chipped, if you don't stand as tall as you once did, or if you never stood tall to begin with, I hope these can be valuable things you can do so you can greet the world in the eyes, to quote Macklemore, 'stare the world into its face' and claim your space in the world without apology.
1. Dress for the person you want to be
The idea of dressing for the job you want has been thrown around a lot lately. It's one of those pseudo empowerment, techniques that probably helps someone. While I think that leaves a lot to be desired, the idea of dressing for the person you want to be is a much better alternative.
I think we can all get into a habit with how we dress. Wearing stuff that is okay but doesn't really reflect who we are. Keeping to the same safe shapes, the same safe colours and not fully embracing who we are.
And I think that's especially true if you have your own issues around your body image. For me, I've put off buying clothes I LOVE for a long time, because I'm 'plus size'. I kept telling myself the quirky and beautiful clothes I want are attainable when I've lost the weight. But here's the thing. I've had an up and down relationship with my body for all of my life. I'm not suddenly going to drop all the weight, and even if I did, I deserve to have clothes I love NOW. In my head, the person I want to be dresses how I used to when I was thinner. Lots of colour, lots of accessories, and outrageous colour and pattern combinations. And I'm working to embrace that. When me and Mr. Meg go on our round the world adventure, we're going to need maximum versatility and clothes we love. I'm only taking a 45 litre rucksack, so the clothes I take, I need to love. Instead of buying loads of plain vests and leggings, I'm going to be rocking this killer dungaree flared skirt, this beautiful polka dot tea dress and glamming it up with one of these *gorgeous* vintage evening dresses (whenever I can decide on the print!)
How can you dress to be the person you want to be? Take a bit of time - what does she look like? Browse Pinterest, indulge yourself in finding clothes that reflect who you are as a person.
2. Look strangers in the eye
This can be pretty fucking terrifying. So many of us get hung up on worrying what other people think of us, but the truth is that most people are so concerned about themselves and having that same inner dialogue in their own head that they're probably not wondering why you bought that dress or how your stomach sticks out in your jeans.
And here's the fun bit. When you start to look people in the eye, you'll realise something. It's not as scary as you think. It doesn't kill you, you get a much better view. You get to see so much more than the pavement and pigeon shit.
And that has to be worth it in itself.
3. Go somewhere where no one recognises you
There's something so liberating about being somewhere that no one recognises you. There's a sense of freedom, that you probably won't see people you know, and that you probably won't see any of these people ever again. You can try out personas, walk with some serious swagger, dance and sing out loud to your favourite music, give people the eye and greet the world in the face. Of course you do this anywhere, but sometimes it helps to start in places completely familiar and build yourself up.
I love the George Bernard Shaw quote: "Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself."
Explore who you can be. And have fun with it!
4. Take REALLY bad 'selfies'
My inside cringes at the word selfies, but there we go.
If you struggle with low self confidence, chances are you aren't best friends with the camera either.
I've got periods of my life where I have no pictures of myself. There are whole chunks of my life that remain visually undocumented because I hated the way I looked so much. And that's really sad. Because I didn't have any less of a story, and I was still living my life. I just hated myself to the point that I didn't think my face was worth documenting.
While you might never want to get to the stage where you're taking pictures of yourself and updating your profile picture every day, I think it's definitely worth starting to take photos of yourself and looking at them. We can become so disconnected with what we see in the mirror. The more you start to connect with your reflection, the greater chance of you finding things you love about your face.
I can say with joy that I love my eyes, my nose ring really makes me smile and I have a pretty hilariously big smile. And I can also tell you the things I don't like - the fat around my neck, my less than clear skin and my lack of dimples. But you know what? The things I love outweigh those negatives every day.
So start taking photos. Start with the ones that are so bad that they make you laugh. And somewhere along the way, I bet you'll start to find things you love too.
5. Start a Comfort Zone List
This is absolutely inspired by Anabel Roque Rodríguez and her own challenge that she shares on Couragemakers. Anabel and her friend both wanted to extend their comfort zones, so they came up with an amazing project to help them do it.
Every week, they would mail each other a couple of ways they were each going to challenge themselves to come out of their comfort zone. Sometimes it would be something as seemingly simple as talk to a stranger.
Why not start your own Comfort Zone List? By doing small actions every week and deliberately focusing on your comfort zone and how you're feeling, you're going to find yourself really proud of what you can achieve which will start to build your confidence in no time.
6. Do something for you that is completely unrelated to your work or any goal
We're so busy that sometimes it can be really hard to justify doing things just for the fun of it. But I think there's something magical that happens when you do something just because you want to.
It makes you feel more in control of your own life, and reaffirms your subconscious that you do matter, and that your happiness is importance.
And it can be anything. Signing up to Borrow My Doggy and getting to know cute dogs in your neighbourhood, having a one person karaoke party, writing your own one person musical (this is on my 30 before 30 list and I'm still not sure how I'm going to pull it off!), or going outside in the pouring rain and let yourself get completely soaked. Or you could start a watercolour painting class, teach yourself to make your own shampoo or learn a new skill. Whatever appeals to you, even if you don't know why.
Whatever is fun for you - and you don't have to justify it, and it doesn't have to make sense to any one other than you - find time to do it. And enjoy it.
And if you don't know what you find fun - start exploring!
7. Stop apologising
I am a recovering chronic apologiser. I apologise for so much shit that has nothing to do with me.
Sorry [even though you bumped into me], sorry [for talking too much even though you asked me a question], sorry [for taking up my full seat on the train, that I have a right to sit in], sorry [for standing up for myself even if you did treat me like shit], sorry [for asking where my meal is even though I ordered half an hour ago], sorry [for interrupting you even though I told you I had to leave half an hour ago]. And the list goes on.
I might as well apologise for the sun fucking shining.
And here's the thing. It makes me feel like shit. Every time I do it, I then get annoyed at myself and then end up blaming myself and feeling stupid.
What a confidence crippling cycle.
So if you find yourself doing the same (because I know I'm definitely not alone in this), join me in challenging yourself not to apologise, unless you do something that really warrants it. Like accidentally poisoning your friend's cat, or being mean to someone you love.
You don't owe the world an apology for existing.
8. Get an outside perspective
This is something that's really helped me and it's much different (and better) than asking friends to name three good qualities about you, like so many places suggest.
Having a completely objective perspective can really make you view yourself, and your strengths in a way you didn't before.
In order to do this, I suggest three different online tests (in order of how helpful I think they are.
I found this one to be an absolute gamechanger. I'd thought of doing it for a while but resented having to pay (it's not very expensive - I did it by buying the kindle edition). But then I got chatting to Violeta Nedkova on Couragemakers about it, and decided it was worth giving a go.
And it SO was. After an extensive (but really fun) set of scenario based questions, you end the test with a breakdown of your top 5 skills (mine were activator, maximiser, connectedness, strategic and relator). Which is really cool in itself, but it gets better!
For each of your top five strengths, the test goes on to tell you how that strength helps you stand out, gives you questions, ideas for action *and* an action plan.
This test has really given me a new understanding of why I've really struggled with the jobs I've had. I can see that I needed to be working for progressive organisations, places where my creativity, strategic skills and leadership skills were valued and nurtured, and have the ability to really feedback my ideas on how to make the organisation a better place. And knowing that really helped heal some old wounds.
A lot of people find this test so transformative because it allows you to see what you thought were weaknesses, as strengths, and helps you see yourself in a completely different light.
This is another fun one, and again it's not free but I think there is a free quick version you can do here.
This quiz is all about how the world sees you, and while I didn't really discover anything new about myself, it was reaffirming and was a bit like a big accomplishment.
Something I did find however, is that it was SO helpful in understanding how Mr. Meg works. He did the test (yes, I made him!) and I now have such a better understanding of how his mind works and what motivates him.
And it turns out that not everybody works the same as me and is motivated by the same things. So that was a fun realisation!
And if you're wondering, my primary advantage was passion amd my secondary advantage was power which means my result is that I'm 'The People's Champion'.
Get ready to have a new epic name to call yourself after taking this test!
Free Personality Test Based on Myers Briggs* (it isn't THE Myers Briggs test, but a free version that a lot of people take instead)
So if you've seen people have a seemingly random acronym in their Twitter bio, this personality test is probably the culprit.
It's pretty similar in style to the Strengths Finder Test, but instead of telling you your strengths, it assigns you to one of 16 personality types. And it's pretty fucking accurate. And slightly too creepily true.
It is designed to work out :
How you interact with the world - Introverted (I) or Extroverted (E) How you interpret things - Sensing (S) or Intuitive (I) How you make decisions - Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) How you deal with the outside world - Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
And once you do the test, you get your acronym. There are 16 different combinations and each are completely different. And completely fascinating. And you end up with a long description that basically sums you up better than anything ever has.
If you're curious, I'm an INFP, and it seems like a lot of people I really relate with are as well!
These three tests are great at building confidence because they help give you a deeper understanding of you. And you might find yourself nodding along in agreement with some pretty incredible things about yourself.
9. Laugh for no reason
A random fact about myself, is that a couple of years ago, I trained as a laughter yoga instructor. If you're wondering what laughter yoga is (it's not some fantangled way of moving your body, it's mainly about breathing and the amazing health impacts laughter gives us), you can see it in practice here with Dr. Madan Kataria, who started the laughter yoga movement.
As well as laughing myself silly until I felt like I couldn't move, I learned so much about how laughter helps us in every day life. From how it helps boost our immune system, how it helps us connect with people, to how it helps us to build resilience.
And here's the best part of all.
Your body and mind don't know the difference between fake laughing and real laughing. So you get the exact same outcomes from making yourself fake laugh as you do when you have a really good laugh with a friend.
Now, this might take a bit of getting used to, and feel downright bizarre when you first start, but once you've got over that first hiccup, you'll find that it can have great effects on your mood and confidence.
So try it out. I recommend starting with a simple breathing technique 'Ho, ho, ha, ha, ha' and taking it from there.
Believe me, it works, and it's a lot of fun!
10. Do something that really scares you, that you wrote off as something you might do ONE DAY
I think it's really easy to divide the world into things we want to do that are in the realm of possibility and the things we'd love to do that we'll probably never do.
And I think there's a massive amount of confidence that can be gained by making those things that are bucket list items, or things that we think we'll do one day into reality.
And those things can be the big scary things, and they can also be tiny things. Because what's big and scary for you, might be easy to someone else, and what's piss-easy for you might be a huge deal to someone else.
But the main difference is doing them instead of thinking about them. Recruit a friend, set yourself a challenge, take the leap and trust the net will be there to catch you.
Because life is here to be lived. And you have the power to make that happen.
11. Show Up
My last tip is the biggest and probably the hardest. And it encapsulated a lot of what I've already spoken about.
And that's to show up, claim your motherfucking right to exist, and dare to do the things that make you happy.
Because you have every right to show up. And sometimes we all need the reminder that we're not here to shrink away, keep our thoughts to ourselves and look at the ground. We're not here to apologise for taking up space, to hide our brilliance and to shy away from what makes us unique.
You have so many things that make you stand out. And you have a combination of skills, strengths and personal quirks that no one else has.
You don't have any competition, because no one can do what you do in the way you do it.
And that's pretty fucking special.
I hope this list has given you some inspiration and practical ways to start building your own confidence.
Stop apologising for existing, start laughing, embrace your personality, smile at strangers, and stand a bit taller.
You have so much to give the world and the world needs to hear your story.
And anyone who has made you think any different, can quite frankly shove it.
I would love to know any fun ways you've used to build your confidence, or how you got on trying these ideas out for yourself! Let me know in the comments!