Carrying yourself more confidently will make you feel more confident and vice versa. Looking self-assured, even if you’re faking it, is an easy way to kick-start feelings of self-belief. So if you want to feel ten foot tall and bullet proof, you need to at least pretend first.
Psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd and journalist Jo Usmar have recently released their book entitled This Book Will Make You Confident and it offers some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy methods that can be applied into professional situations to remove anxiety and stress.
Humans interact through physical representations of their emotions and thoughts via non-verbal cues. We can all “read” people through their expressions, ticks, posture, stance and how they act. While there are thousands of subtle cue variations, there are equally as many really obvious ones. If you’re angry you might furrow your brow, grit your teeth, tense your jaw or clench your fists and if you’re insecure you might hunch your shoulders, bite your nails, shake or cross your arms.
However, if you’re feeling confident you’ll probably have relaxed shoulders, be standing upright and have your head held high. You’ll also act in more confident ways, e.g. by not crossing your arms, not shuffling when you walk, not staying silent or hiding under your desk.
Just as actually feeling confident will make you look confident, learning how to look confident (even if you are faking it) will make you feel more confident. It works both ways, a bit like how making yourself smile can cheer you up. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that subjects who sat up straight in their chairs instead of slouching were more confident about the things they were then asked to write down. They also discovered that posture builds a sense of strength and confidence in social situations too.
If you project an aura of capability people will respond to it, feeling as if they can trust you. Just as you would be wary of approaching someone who looked stressed or angry, you’ll be encouraged about approaching someone who looks open, easy going and sure of themselves. You can become that person. If you look the part, you’ll feel and act the part too.
Start incorporating confident body language and behaviour into your day-to-day life. It’s so simple – whenever you notice that you’re slouching , crossing your arms, fidgeting or edging towards a door……stop. Drop your shoulders and push them back, raise your chin, uncross your arms and stand up tall. Remember to make eye contact and smile. Speak clearly and don’t rush. Consider what you wear and whether you’re willing to change things a bit. If you’re always in jeans and trainers maybe buy some smarter shoes or invest in a skirt. Or if you’re always suited and booted, try some jeans instead. While these changes may be considerable to you, other people will have no idea they’re unusual or scary.
Dr Jessamy Hibberd and Jo Usmar’s new book, This Book Will Make You Confident provides a range of tools to build your self-belief and realise your full potential through a range of practical exercises and CBT research.