How to Fill Yourself With Real Confidence (Instead of Just Pretending)

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Real confidence means going beyond just standing straight and repeating positive mantras.

You know the standards like great body language and questioning the inner critic yammering in your head. Yet, your confidence still isn’t as strong as you’d like it. What else can you do to feel capable of conquering the world (or at least Mondays)?

1. Ask for what’s ridiculous or what you probably won’t get (over and over again).

People tend not to reach and request a lot because, quite frankly, rejection can sting. We feel like if we stick our necks out and get shot down, it’s somehow a reflection on our abilities, status and self-worth. But as the rejections march in, you’ll see that, when push comes to shove, they affect almost nothing. You’ll still have your friends or the same amount of money in your bank account, for example. In other words, you’ve got nothing to lose. You’ll simply desensitize yourself to “no” and learn that, once in a while, taking a risk gives you something great back. As an example this strategy actually works, check out author and motivational speaker Jia Jiang.

2. Schedule in you time.

A certain amount of confidence can come from successfully meeting the requests of others and getting yourself out there. But if you spend all your time trying to meet the expectations and demands of the people around you, you won’t explore all the sides of yourself. Subsequently, you might not have an accurate sense of what your strengths, weaknesses or preferences are. You can’t be confident in what you don’t even know!

3. Identify core principles to live by.

When you don’t have some life guidelines in place, it’s harder to have a sense of direction in new situations. It’s also easier for others to sway you to whatever they want, even if it’s not what’s right for you or makes you feel bad. Ask yourself what you believe in, what you value. Then commit to centering your behaviors and decisions around those principles. Over time, people will see your consistency and come to trust you. It’s pretty hard not to feel confident when others are loyal.

4. Take compliments.

If you’re not very confident, you might dismiss or wave off compliments for fear of seeming conceited. But humility isn’t teaching others they can’t say something nice about you. It’s simply being willing to make others a priority ahead of yourself. And the more you take compliments well, the more people will feel comfortable with singing your praises and do it more often when it’s deserved. Simply leave the “I’m-awesome!” mantras in front of the bathroom mirror and wait for others to congratulate you, rather than reiterating what you’re good at to everybody in earshot.

5. Do at least one thing that makes you nervous or scared every day.

Your brain is hardwired to respond to emotion faster than logic. That can make it easy for fear, which is often not justified, to overwhelm and direct you, and for you to have falseconfidence in the comfort of the familiar. To set the fear aside, you have to show your brain what actually will happen if you try. You have to gain new experience and show yourself, very methodically and intentionally through learning, that you’re safe.

Now, when I say try something that scares you, I’m not necessarily talking skydiving. Focus on little things like

  • Sending a cold email to your business idol
  • Cleaning out your basement despite the creepy spiders that give you the heebie-geebies
  • Taking a new way home from work without your GPS
  • Ordering something you’ve never had at a restaurant

The more you conquer these situations and challenge existing habits, the more you’ll learn that you didn’t have to be scared and the more willing you’ll be to take yet another step out of your comfort zone.

Even though some people naturally are bolder than others, confidence is something you can build and learn, much like different types of intelligence. This doesn’t mean you’ll get a quick fix in five minutes, but it does mean that you don’t have to cower and settle. Work at it day by day and, little by little, the change you see in yourself and your life will become undeniable.

This article was originally published at Inc.com.

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