“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t -- you’re right.” - Henry Ford
Confidence breeds success. Confident people do better in school, are more likely to pursue dream careers, and get promotions. We know successful people are confident, but are confident people bound to be successful? Yep. There is a reciprocal relationship between confidence and success, which is why “Fake it ‘Til You Make It” is a legitimate strategy.
You can even boost your self confidence a bit too much, like out of the realm of reality, and still experience benefits. Researchers at University of Edinburgh and University of California-San Diego, found that fortune really does favor the bold, as long as the stakes are not too high.
So how do you boost your confidence? Most recommendations revolve around positive thinking and imagery, but this can be a quagmire. You might think positive affirmations are a good start, but not if you lack confidence. In fact, people who are not already confident react poorly to highly positive statements, which can provoke contradictory thoughts that further undermine confidence.
Luckily, there are actual, concrete ways to build confidence through daily actions. And the tactics are simple. Check out these five, scientifically-proven behaviors that will help boost your esteem.
Columbia University found that those dressed more formally did better on tasks involved in abstract thinking. This research found that dressing more formally made people react differently to verbal prompts. There is even science behind how people react to the colors you wear. The takeaway? What you wear changes how you think, feel and act, so don’t skip the shower and wear yoga pants all day if you want to accomplish more.
Amy Cuddy of the Harvard Business School, has a popular TED Talk on this topic: “Your body language shapes who you are.” Cuddy’s research found that confidently posing, dubbed a “power pose,” for as little as 2 minutes led to body chemistry changes such as a decrease in stress hormones, increase in testosterone and a corresponding increase in willingness to take on risk.
Exercise is a well known mood booster. Being outside also has a lot of proven health and wellbeing benefits. And so this particular study looked to see if combining those two realities further boosted the effects. And they do. They found that, and continue to find, that exercising in nature (vs. indoors) better boosts self esteem and mood.
Make Eye Contact
This one is especially effective in the romance category. Attractiveness has got nothing on confidence. Dr. Monica Moore at Webster University in St. Louis found people who make eye contact and smile in a potential dating situation are approached and engaged more often than attractive shy people.
Create a Success Ritual
Harvard professors Michael Norton and Francesca Gino found that rituals, superstitious or otherwise, were a huge help in confidence, which has been proven previously in sports psychology studies. The Harvard study found that, “Pre-performance routines [worked for] improving attention and execution to increasing emotional stability and confidence.” So maybe you need to start a routine of power posing before the big meetings.
There’s no doubt that mindset and believing in success is a key to confidence, but it’s good to know that there are also these concrete and physical ways to go about boosting your backbone.