Visualize Your Success
Ask any elite athlete about their pre-game preparations and you'll inevitably hear something about visualization. Research published in the journal Neuropsychologia has revealed that common mental practices, such as picturing yourself achieving your goal, have been nearly as effective as actual physical practice. And that imagining a positive outcome preps your brain and body for success. The more detailed your visualizations, the better prepared (and thus, more confident) you'll be.
a Little Thing
Obviously, when you think of a confident person, they'd be standing up straight, right? They're not slouching or slinking their head low, eyes pointed toward the floor. But this isn't simply about appearing more confident, but actually becoming more confident. A study in the European Journal of Psychology examined people's self-confidence based on posture: "The applicants who were slumped over had lower self-confidence, as expressed by their answers, than those who sat up straight. This research shows that whether you sit up straight at your desk or slump in your chair impacts the chemicals produced in your brain, which, in turn, affect what goes on in your mind."
Look (and Smell)
This is about self-care and the better you feel about yourself, the easier it is to believe in yourself. This is as much about taking pride in your appearance as it is about the power of persuasion. After all, you tend to be treated better when you put time and effort into your outfit and your grooming. Jaywalk while wearing a suit, for example, and people will be 350% more likely to follow you than if you were wearing a rumpled T-shirt. And don't forget to spritz on your favorite cologne. A 2009 study found that fragrances can inspire confidence in men, and the more you like a particular fragrance, the more confident you will feel when you wear it.
Get Your Blood Pumping
Whether you get outside for a simple walk or hit the gym for an intense workout, you're putting yourself and your well-being first. That already sets you up to value yourself and when you're done, you'll have a sense of accomplishment that will boost your self-esteem. Put in some time to tone your muscles and you'll take more pride in your appearance. Plus, exercising helps memory retention, improves focus, helps manage your stress and fights off depression. It's harder to be anxious when there is no excess energy to draw upon. So make sure to carve out some time to put yourself first.
Tackle a Task You've Been Putting Off
These are often small, menial things—the dull chores that we're never in the mood to do. But they also create a nagging sense of dread and serve as a daily reminder that we're ignoring our responsibilities. So file away that pile of paperwork and bills that's been staring at you from across the room. Clean out your closet and donate the stuff you no longer wear. Often, the tasks take less time than we imagine but afterwards, you're left with a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Make Eye Contact
This might be the most challenging one, as it tends to make people feel awkward when they're used to looking down, looking away and not maintaining consistent eye contact with whom they're talking. Do you tend to look away quickly when you lock eyes with someone? Most of us do, but it's a move that communicates insecurity. As you're developing your self-confidence, focus on maintaining eye contact as it increases the quality of any face-to-face interaction. Multiple studies (PDF) have confirmed that those who make higher-levels of eye contact with others are perceived as being not only more powerful, trustworthy and qualified, but also more personable and likable.