Even the most beautiful actresses and models in the world have insecurities. The difference is they know how to turn it off when they perform on stage or cinema screens. How do they get that composed and poised confidence? They mentally prepare and rehearse tirelessly. They stop anticipating rejection. They don’t listen to negativity (or at least they learn to press pause). Most importantly, however, they just plunge in no matter how afraid they are.
Confidence can only begin when you start taking risks, but they don’t have to be grand gestures straightaway. Here are doable ways to move past your timid self.
1. Go inside that boutique you’ve been eyeing.
What’s the worst thing that can happen? Stares from a snobbish attendant? You’ll survive, and shame on him for judging you. You’ll eventually discover that stores become less intimidating each time you don’t let yourself be scared of cushy interiors.
2. Fit a dress you never imagined you could wear.
Because, you know, it may actually look good on you. And when it does, remember that giddy feeling as you look at the mirror. Now if you feel like a whale in it, you can finally quit the endless wondering and move on to something more fab.
3. Say yes to anything for a day.
Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean it has to be skydiving agad. Someone you met a month ago at a work event sends you a Facebook friend request. Accept! Your barista suggests an add-on to your coffee, and you have no clue what it is. Let him drizzle! Relish the positive vibes you’ve done something out of the ordinary.
4. Do your best Wonder Woman pose every morning.
Don’t laugh. Studies have shown that power posing raises your testosterone levels, which increases confidence. If you wish to be technical about it, here’s social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s suggestion: Stand with your feet hip-length apart, raise your arms above your head, spreading them out and pointing upwards, and hold this pose for two minutes. Can you feel it?
5. Write a fan letter to someone you admire for his work/talent.
And by letter we mean commenting on his Facebook page, tagging her on your Instagram post, or, replying to a tweet she made. These are brave things to do for someone who is afraid to put herself out there. Hopefully, you find the courage to do it with someone in your physical proximity.
6. Do anything solo.
You know why people who have travelled on their own recommend it all the time? Their perception of easy and difficult changes. They discover they can be capable and resourceful on their own. They feel a sense of accomplishment, and that translates as self-assuredness.
7. Ask the universal question: “So?”
Life coach Martha Beck gave this wonderful advice every time you feel the glare of an (imagined) embarrassing spotlight. People will stare if I dine solo. So? People will see my thighs if I wear shorts. So? I can’t wear that bright color—people will look. So? Remember, people pay more attention to themselves, not you.
8. Put together a girl power anthem playlist.
When you have really bad days (or a scary presentation), begin your day with music that makes you feel beautiful (hello, Christina Aguilerra), gives you a dose of encouragement (Stronger by Kelly Clarkson comes to mind), or just gets your head bopping every time you hear it (playing Geronimo by Sheppard on a loop will do it, we promise).
9. Wear high heels.
It corrects your posture almost immediately. Feeling taller, you’re already projecting a picture of confidence, and people will perceive you that way.
10. Be comfortable with that awkward feeling.
Dining solo makes you feel like there’s a spotlight on you? People are not really looking—it’s just in your head. New job? Introduce yourself first when you find yourself in a room with your new colleagues. Most of the time, people are just as shy as you to make the first move.
11. Chat with a complete stranger on your commute.
It’s a great practice for small talk because there is no agenda (except maybe to beat traffic boredom). You’re not out to impress because he’s not a boss. You don’t have to worry about how look or sound because you won’t be bumping into each other soon.
12. Break a sweat.
Exercise or any kind of physical activity that gets you perspiring enhances the mood, and fills you with happy hormones (called endorphins). If you stick with it, you’ll stand straighter, get an extra skip to your step, and feel good in your body.
13. Type your most confident moment down on your phone.
Read it any time you need an encouragement or a reminder that at least once you handled yourself with aplomb. If you can’t think of one, then gather inspirational quotes that give you strength and raise your spirit. Here’s one of our favorites: “You do not self-destruct when your fears come to pass.”
PHOTO: Flickr Creative Commons/Nova