Confidence isn’t a trait you’re born with. Just like the muscles in your body, it’s something we build and get better at every day with continuous practice.
There are several ways to work on building confidence in the long run, such as knowing your values and practicing positive thinking.
But sometimes we need to display confidence right in the moment. Here are some of my favorite psychological tricks to instantly look and feel more confident in front of other people:
1. Reverse negative assumptions
Without realizing it, we often make assumptions about the skills we lack.
Let’s say you’ve always felt shy growing up, so speaking up in front of others now, as an adult, feels like something you’d be terrible at. Unfortunately, your boss has asked you to do a team presentation.
Challenge the negative beliefs you have about yourself by reversing them. This can be as easy as saying to yourself every day: “I am an excellent public speaker, and people want to hear my ideas.”
Keep repeating it in your head or saying it out loud. You’ll find yourself feeling less anxious and more prepared.
2. Don’t say ‘I think’ or ‘I’m not sure’
Swap out weak words and phrases for ones that will make you come across as more professional and capable.
When talking to others, avoid starting or ending sentences with “I think” or “I’m not sure.” Instead, use “I believe,” which puts you in charge of the thought and conveys a calm surety.
Other phrases like “in my opinion” also make you sound less confident. Just cut to the chase and remove the unnecessary intros.
3. Remember a time when you felt confident
Right before you do something that you feel nervous about, try a visualization exercise in which you replay a previous experience where you had an optimal level of energy, focus and achievement.
Review the event in your mind. What were you doing? Who was there? What was the response you got from others? How did you feel when it was over?
Take that positive energy and confidence with you back to the present.
4. Get off social media
It’s so easy to waste time on social media and compare yourself others. But remember, those posts or videos you see don’t always reflect reality. Nobody’s life is perfect.
Confidence comes from believing in yourself, your own abilities, and where you are in your personal journey. Comparing yourself to people who only sharing the “glamorous” things in their lives makes it impossible to see your own achievements clearly.
Don’t go on social media when you’re feeling unsure of yourself or when you’re about to do something challenging. Instead, grab a journal and write about the things you’ve done that you’re proud of.
5. Wear something that makes you feel powerful
We have all “that outfit” — a dress, suit, pair of jeans, piece of jewelry — that make us feel fabulous and powerful. Wear these things when you need a quick confidence boost or are having a dull day.
Studies have shown that the clothes we wear can effect our cognitive processes. They can increase your performance and heighten other people’s impressions of you.
Tess Brigham is a San Francisco-based psychotherapist and certified life coach. She has more than 10 years of experience in the field and primarily works with millennials and millennial parents.