Confidence is the cornerstone of leadership. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can others believe in you?
Here are some basic steps into gaining more confidence.
1. Make two lists: one of your strengths and one of your achievements. Try to get a supportive friend or relative to help you with these lists, as people with depression are not usually in the most objective frame of mind. Keep the lists in a safe place and read through them every morning.
2. Think positively about yourself. Remind yourself that, despite your problems, you are a unique, special, and valuable person, and that you deserve to feel good about yourself. You are, after all, a miracle of consciousness, the consciousness of the universe. Identify and challenge any negative thoughts about yourself such as ‘I am loser’, ‘I never do anything right’, or ‘No one really likes me’. Make it a point as a fun mind game to turn those statements around; for example “No one really likes me” could be transformed into “everybody likes me”
3. Pay special attention to your personal hygiene: take a shower, brush your hair, trim your nails, and so on.
4. Wear clean clothes that make you feel good about yourself. All things being equal, wear an ironed shirt rather than a crumpled T-shirt, you get the idea.
5. Eat good food as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Make meals a special time, even if you are eating alone. Turn off the TV, set the table, light a candle, and make a moment to feel grateful.
6. Exercise regularly. Go for a brisk walk every day, even if it is cold or rainy, and take more vigorous exercise (exercise that makes you sweat) three times a week.
7. Ensure that you’re getting enough sleep. See my article Better Sleep in 10 Simple Steps.
8. Reduce your stress levels. If possible, agree with a friend or relative that you will take turns to massage each other on a regular basis.
9. Make your living space clean, comfortable, and attractive. Whenever I clean my windows or just water my plants I seem to feel much better. Display items that remind you of your achievements and the special times and people in your life.
10. Do more of the things that you enjoy. Go ahead and spoil yourself. Do at least one thing that you enjoy every day.
11. Perform some art. Activities like painting, music, poetry, and dance enable you to express yourself, interact positively with others, and reduce your stress levels. You might even impress yourself! Find a class through your local adult education service or community center.
12. Set yourself a challenge that you can realistically complete. For example, take up yoga, learn to sing, or throw a small dinner party for some friends. Just go for it!
13. Do some of the things that you have been putting off, such as filing the paperwork, repainting the kitchen, or clearing out the garden.
14. Be nice to people, and do nice things for them. For instance, strike up a conversation with the postman or shopkeeper, invite a neighbor round for tea, visit a friend who is sick, or get involved with a local charity. Putting a smile on someone’s face is bound to put a smile on yours.
15. Get others on board. Tell your friends and relatives what you are going through and ask for their advice and support. Perhaps they too have similar problems, in which case you might be able to band together and form a support group. Don’t be overly shy or reserved: most people do want to help!
16. Spend more time with those you hold near and dear. At the same time, try to enlarge your social circle by making an effort to meet and befriend people.
17. Avoid people and places that treat you badly or make you feel bad about yourself. This could mean being more assertive. If assertiveness is a problem for you, ask a health professional about assertiveness training.
Like finding the perfect pair of jeans or getting to inbox zero, confidence is a pretty elusive thing. But without it, it’s all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and negativity. And this not only hurts us on a personal level (anxiety, depression, membership to the lonely heart’s club), but it can also put a damper on our professional success. Start preparing yourself for more confidence.