Confidence boosting special

There's nothing more sexy than confidence. If there's one thing most women need more of it's inner confidence. This four-part special will help you to recognise your weak spots and increase your self-esteem in your work, your relationships and all areas of your life. Get started now!

Learn to be confident

What one single personality trait most makes you popular, attractive and sexy? It's nothing to do with being tall, slim and beautiful; it's everything to do with being confident. Countless studies show that people are attracted to people with high self-esteem. If a woman genuinely believes in herself - not with the arrogance of uncertainty, but with a calm inner security - people are drawn to her like a magnet!

It's pretty clear how a lack of confidence can drag you down, look at these five dead giveaways:

  1. The most obvious sign is that you don't feel good - you sometimes doubt yourself, maybe criticise yourself, feel pessimistic, fight shy of challenges.
  2. At work, you may down-rate your own abilities, feel you let others out-perform you, or hold back from taking responsibility.
  3. In love you can hesitate before committing yourself - or fall headlong for unsuitable partners because you don't feel you deserve suitable ones.
  4. You don't feel able to take from others because you don't feel you deserve it. You may also give too much to others because you feel you have to 'earn your keep'.
  5. You may end up dulling the pain of low self-esteem by unhealthy eating, drinking, drug use or sexual relationships.

What stops you being confident?


  1. Negative early messages that you weren't loved, particularly from parents or guardians, can leave you with a deep-rooted and unshakeable belief that you're worthless.
  2. Childhood trauma, especially if you were abused, very ill or separated from your parents for a while, can cut across the natural development of your self-esteem and leave you 'stuck' at that unconfident stage.
  3. Bad treatment from childhood friends - maybe being bullied - can mean you're nervous of other people and end up not trusting anyone - even yourself.
  4. A major shake-up in adult life - a relationship break-up, career setback, even becoming a Mum or turning 30 - can dent your normal confidence and spiral you into self doubt.
  5. Depression, which can be caused by imbalanced brain chemicals, can also result in low self-esteem. This is a vicious circle - because lowered self-esteem can then be caused by depression.

To start to turn this round and become self secure, you first need to alter the basics, the way you approach life in general.

  1. Learn to think differently. When you fall into self-criticism and unconfident thoughts, note them - and change them to positive thoughts. Tracking down the original life event that made you think negatively - for example, you believe you're ugly because the bullies told you so - will make it
  2. Learn to speak differently. If you pepper your talk with self put-downs, you'll not only convince yourself you're not capable - you'll convince others as well. Use 'I can' instead of 'I can't', 'Next time I will' instead of 'If only I had'.
  3. Try to stop judging yourself by what happens to you in life, so you're not basing your confidence on outside events. It's tempting to feel confident only when you do well or feel popular. Confident people take the rough with the smooth, so that when things go wrong in their lives they can rise above and deal with the situation.
  4. Be aware of when you are succeeding. Naturally confident people take credit for things that go well... and put the problems down to circumstance. So when you do something well, be friendly to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back!
  5. If you suspect that your lack of confidence is down to some trauma or disaster in your life, get support from a counsellor to work through the problem

Look confident

Feeling good about yourself on the inside will make you feel great on the outside. You can also add to the internal changes you're making by deliberately looking and acting more confident. If you add extra zing to the way you come across, people will respond to you more positively - and that in turn will then make you feel even better about yourself!

To begin with, feel good about your physical appearance.

  1. Don't make comparisons with others - accept yourself. In particular, don't compare yourself with models, celebrities and anyone who has their photos in the papers - they all get airbrushed so what you see is not reality!
  2. Of course be proactive in looking good. But only change what is healthy for you to change; going over the top with, for example, starvation diets or extreme cosmetic surgery is a sign you need to work at being more comfortable with whom you are.
  3. Being actively kind to your body will help you feel better about it. Indulging in sensual activities such as dance, massage - and loving sex - will work wonders for your body confidence.
  4. Remember that after the first ten seconds, most people won't judge you on the way you look. If your personality shines through, you will make a good impression and people will respond positively to you.
  5. If in any situation you find yourself feeling bad about the way you look, use this quick strategy. Remember a time when you felt really confident in your appearance, then take a deep breath and as you let it out, let yourself feel good.

Then add in confident body language - to make yourself seem confident even when you're not.

     

  1. Stand tall. A confident posture is one with head held high and shoulders back. Place your feet about a foot's length apart so that you're well balanced. Keep eye contact with the other person.
  2. Look happy. A positive expression will not only give the impression of confidence and make you feel better about yourself, it will make you approachable, and make people want to be with you.
  3. Work to lose the nervous habits that signal a lack of confidence. Get a trusted friend or colleague to tell you one thing you do that makes you seem nervous - fidgeting with jewellery, saying 'you know' all the time. Then work to reduce that.
  4. Be confident enough to take up space. Don't shrink into a corner, but allow yourself to take centre stage with broad gestures and a clear, definite voice tone.
  5. Make sure you are taking your share of any conversation - not grabbing attention but talking equally along with others. So in a twosome you should be talking roughly 50 per cent of the time, in a threesome roughly 33 per cent and so on.

Finally, put the icing on the cake by dressing confidently.

     

  1. Don't hide inside your clothes, choosing too-big sizes because you hate your figure. Dress gurus suggest that whatever size you are, outlining your shape will make a more confident - and so more effective statement.
  2. Yes, black is the new black. But brighter colours make a statement that you are happy to be noticed because you know you look good.
  3. In work situations, wear whatever fits with the office culture (jeans, skirt, suit) so you're accepted by your colleagues. But always dress slightly above your level, with the best clothes you can afford, to make the statement that you're worth it.
  4. Have your own individual take on styling so that you're not slavishly following fashion. Develop a signature element that marks you out - wonderful earrings, a classy scarf or a signature scent.
  5. If choosing between a conservative look and a stunning one, resist the temptation to play it safe. Dress to turn heads and you will - which in itself will boost your self-esteem.

Act confident

Once you've started to build your self-esteem, you'll find your increased confidence affecting how you act in the rest of your life. Here are more tips to build on that - particularly in the workplace.

  1. People with low self-esteem often put such high expectations on themselves that they can never feel good. Get a clear idea of what you can expect of yourself in the workplace - checking it out with your manager - and work to that.
  2. Avoid colleagues who sap your self-esteem, either by putting you down or by building themselves up so much that you feel inferior. Instead, mix with ones who because they believe in themselves, are secure enough to let you do the same.
  3. It can be tempting to think you have to handle everything alone, and struggle on even when you're not coping. But a truly confident person admits when they've reached their limits and asks clearly for more resources from colleagues and managers.
  4. Get a mentor or buddy, someone a few steps above you on the work ladder, who is positive and who can encourage you. Meet regularly - say once a month - to review your progress and plan the next move.
  5. You may feel that you need to hide your successes - that it's not good to brag. But it's vital to acknowledge them to yourself - and let others realise you're doing well. So be proud of your victories - and share them with others.

Making decisions - particularly on big issues such as job change or project management - may tap into your self-doubt, so you spend all your time wobbling about what to do. Here's a useful five part strategy.

     

  1. First set a goal - and make it clear, positive and yours. In particular, to begin with, don't worry about what other people want; go with your own gut reaction.
  2. Collect information. Choose three people you respect, and who respect you. Don't ask them to make the decision for you - but do ask 'what do I need to know in order to make a good decision here'. Then let what you've learned settle for a while.
  3. Remind yourself of your abilities. You may be wary of making a decision because you are scared you won't cope. So make a list - maybe with the support of a colleague - of the strengths you have that could help you action your decision.
  4. Remove blocks. If you know that something is stopping you actioning any decision you make, pinpoint what. Then find ways round the block by brainstorming creative solutions.
  5. Make the best decision you can. Then sleep on it. If in the morning you have doubts, imagine deciding otherwise and see how that feels. If in the morning there seem to be no major objections, then action what you've decided - and stick with that.

Dealing with difficult people - at work or at home - can be a real challenge to your self-belief.

  1. A difficult person is often difficult because they lack self-esteem. Instead of being angry or scared of them, look behind the facade and imagine a howling baby. That'll alter the way you deal with them - and so shift the way they react to you.
  2. A difficult person can often make you feel in the wrong. So when dealing with one, remind yourself of your strong points; if necessary keep an actual list that you can read through before and after any tricky meetings.
  3. Reward difficult people for not being difficult. Smile, congratulate or act upon anything they do that is positive or constructive. If they're 'rewarded' for being easy rather than difficult, they'll learn that's a better way.
  4. Bridge the gap between you and them. Ask yourself what part of what they want you could actually give them - then offer that, as far as you possibly can. They'll see you are willing to deal, and so will be more willing to deal with you.
  5. Develop assertiveness skills - ways of stating clearly your point of view without backing down. See the resources section for ways to become more assertive. Your Human Resources or Personnel Department may also be able to help here.
Develop confidence

A confident woman makes a successful partner - so bring your self-esteem into your love life.

     

  1. Make a list of what you need and deserve from a partner and from a relationship. This isn't just about going for what you need - it's about holding out for it. Settling for second best - even if it seems easier - is never the answer.
  2. Never expect your relationship to fill the gap left in your heart by low self-esteem. If you don't love yourself, no one else will love you.
  3. Giving to your partner will raise your self-esteem because you'll learn you have something to give. Taking from your partner will boost your self-esteem because you'll learn they feel you're worth it.
  4. If you realise that you had more confidence before you met your partner - or that you get your confidence back when they are absent - it is the wrong relationship. Walk.
  5. After a relationship breakdown, it will take time for your confidence to build back up. Don't try to boost it temporarily by leaping into another relationship; you'll only fail and take another knock. Instead, give yourself at least three months for every year your relationship lasted before you date again; that will give you time to grieve, learn the lessons and feel good about yourself again.

Survey after survey suggests that men find confidence in bed the ultimate turn on.

  1. If there's something you want from your partner, ask for it directly. Most men love to please and want to know how, so clear and confident requests work.
  2. Remember that in bed, men are far too ecstatic about being cuddled, touched and aroused to worry about whether you look like Kylie.
  3. If he asks you to do something and you don't know how, don't panic. Instead, ask him to teach you to do what he likes in the way he likes. He'll feel good about getting exactly what he wants and you will learn something new!
  4. If he asks you do to something and the thought turns you off completely, try it once to check whether the reality is any better than your horror fantasy. If it's not, say a clear no. You deserve to only do things you want to; he deserves to have a partner who is enjoying herself all the time.
  5. Touching boosts oxytocin, which in turn makes you feel good about yourself. So if you feel low in self-esteem, ask for a cuddle. No need to have sex unless you want that too - a cuddle alone will often give you the confidence boost you need.

With more confidence, you'll be more able to take on new challenges in life.

     

  1. Continually set yourself a challenge in the area you're weakest in. If your vulnerability is talking to people, approach a new one every day. If you hate writing reports, aim to write one a week.
  2. If you stretch yourself - in a new job, relationship, exercise regime - don't expect to succeed first time. You can't develop if you never push your limits. So if you do mess up, admit it, work out what you need to do differently next time - then do it.
  3. Taking on - and accomplishing - new challenges, teaches you a valuable lesson. You learn that your initial fear disappears as you keep working at something. So next time you feel nervous you will be less thrown - and more able to succeed
  4. Keep an achievement diary. Then if you get stuck at anything, read back over your previous victories to remind yourself that you succeeded.
  5. If you do something good, don't wait. Celebrate. Have a glass of champagne. Throw a huge party. Or simply pat yourself on the back and reinforce the message that you're worth it.
Source: Ivilage


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