In about a year, I went from being an introvert who placed too much value on what others thought to an introvert who felt more confident and comfortable in my own skin. When I wrote about my transformation in a recent article, a few people asked me how I did it. So, in this article, I’ll share ten things that helped me become happier and more confident.
Change Presents Itself in Tiny Opportunities
But first, let me say that I started out writing this article as a collection of my own thoughts and experiences, as you will see listed below. Then I had the idea to ask in a few introvert Facebook groups what others have done to find self-confidence. My question was basically, “Is there anything that really made a huge difference for you?” Between the two groups, for a grand total of 109,977 people in the groups combined, guess how many comments/responses I got? Three comments. Two likes. No, really. My concern is not the lack of “validation” per se regarding my posts, but that it speaks volumes for introverts and self-confidence. Or in this case, a lack thereof.
It makes me wonder, what exactly is the “X” factor that plagues us introverts in regards to confidence? Introverts who have achieved some level of confidence are awe-inspiring. Let me drop some names here: Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, JK Rowling, and Susan Cain, to name a few. They needed confidence to achieve their own individual greatness.
Unfortunately, there are so many introverts who are depressed. Sad. Misunderstood. I’ve seen more suicidal posts than I’ve ever cared to as an admin of introvert Facebook groups. Waves of sadness flow through them in an almost cyclical way. Introverts, I implore you, what is holding you back?
Do we need a trigger that causes change and growth? Do we have to experience a “pivotal moment”? (For me, it happened when I divorced and began therapy.) When it comes to the desire to change, there always has to be a moment of choice. The choice is the catalyst to actual change, and that catalyst sparks what is necessary to build a chain reaction. The analogy that comes to mind is the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The butterfly may struggle for hours to get out of its cocoon in order to strengthen its wings. If you cut the cocoon to help, the butterfly will die. This is the butterfly’s pivotal moment.
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It could be a moment as simple as reading an article you really connect with. Or maybe you have an interaction with someone where, without realizing it, you stood up for yourself when you usually would back down. You didn’t plan on it, but it was there inside you. Maybe it takes more extreme circumstances, like your relationship imploding. Or you look in the mirror one day and say to yourself, “Enough is enough.”
Change presents itself in tiny opportunities. It is winning the little battles, and ultimately, that is what wins the war.
10 Ways to Be More Confident
Here are ten things that helped me become happier and more confident. I hope they help you, too:
1. Make a conscious choice. Everything we do in life involves a choice. You can choose to wallow in self-pity or to keep your head up and fight on. As Glinda the Good Witch says in the Wizard of Oz,“You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” You have the power to choose, and I hope you choose change.
2. Acknowledge that you are afraid. Change is scary. We will not grow without some pain involved. Identifying your deeper fears will help you figure out the next step along the path to self-confidence. Everyone, let me repeat, everyone is afraid of something. Whether you make the choice to acknowledge and face those fears is up to you.
3. Let go of your perfectionism. There is no such thing as “perfect.” Stop compartmentalizing your ideal of perfect and behold the beauty of something with flaws. This applies to your looks, goals, projects, assignments, and much more. Just give it your all and let the rest go. You will find life is much more enjoyable when you free yourself of something unattainable.
4. Be kind to yourself.Celebrate the little victories. Self-praise can go a long way. Even if it was as “little” as speaking up to the waiter that got your order wrong, give yourself a mental high five. Baby steps like this create a beautiful snowball effect.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance.Go to a counselor. Social worker. Therapist. Reiki master. Priest. Whatever works! Someone trustworthy who can help you reflect on your personal desire to change. When you do go, you have to be 100 percent honest. If you hold anything back, it will stunt your inner growth.
6. Read self-help books.Fellow innies, I know nearly all of you have a passion for reading. If you find a book that you can connect to, you’re going have a breakthrough. A “pass the tissues, damn it, I can relate to that chapter so much” breakthrough. It’s so cleansing.
7. Lift others up. At every opportunity, praise others. Help them see positivity. This will help further eradicate negativity in your life, as well as theirs!
8. Apologize less.No more preemptive apologies! If apologizing was an Olympic sport, I could have gotten numerous golds a few years ago. The only time you should apologize is if you have violated a moral norm or directly disrupted a relationship. More likely than not, the person is going to tell you outright how they feel (some people let it stew, I know). But if you’re apologizing just for asking a question, enough. Once you catch yourself a few times, you’ll get the hang of it.
9. Realize the world owes you nothing. We are entitled to nothing in this life. Everything you want to achieve, you must work for it. It’s much harder than you think — but totally worth it in the end.
10. Darling, just f*cking own it! Excuse my edited expletive, but it’s a saying that has stuck with me. Own it. Own all your mistakes, your achievements, everything. They are a part of you, and to deny them is to deny yourself.
One of the three comments on my Facebook post sums things up my feelings about self-confidence perfectly:
“Without confidence, you can’t contribute to change in the world around you. Remind yourself of that. Change doesn’t start out with a crowd…it starts from one person speaking up. Confidence to be vulnerable and honest in who you are also brings out honesty in others.”
Practice those steps listed above, and your brain will start to connect the dots. One victory leads to another. All of a sudden, you will start feeling little bouts of happiness. The happiness replaces the worry and the doubt. It’s addicting, this new, amazing feeling.
Dear introverts, be confident in your quiet. You might change the world.
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