Are you ever held back by a lack of confidence? Does this prevent you from achieving your goals and becoming ultimately successful?
I’ve collected the findings from recent psychology studies and distilled them into these 7 “bio hacks” you can use to build enormous confidence.
1. Be compassionate… to yourself
Psychology researchers found that treating yourself with compassion during a low point in your confidence (after making a mistake) is the most helpful way to motivate yourself.
This strategy was found to be superior to positive affirmations and recalling pleasant memories.
Be kind and sympathetic to yourself. Avoid harsh self-criticism and instead think about how things will improve from here.
By showing yourself compassion, you will more objectively identify your weaknesses, have motivation to move forward, avoid repeating the mistake in the future, and spend more time improving yourself.
2. Change your posture
Do you slouch? Then sit up straight!
Do you fold your arms? Then open them up!
It’s true that your posture and body language show others visually how confident you are. But more surprising is the fact that open body language helps you believe you are more confident.
This study showed how when you have a more confident posture while performing an activity, you actually feel more confident.
In her TED talk, Amy Cuddy explains that if you hold a confident body posture for two minutes, you literally change your hormone levels to become more comfortable and confident. As she puts it:
“It seems that our nonverbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves, so it’s not just others, but it’s also ourselves…our bodies change our minds.”
The next time you’re about to enter a high-anxiety situation (such as a job interview), try “power posing” for a few minutes to get those hormones cranked up and boost your confidence!
3. Create a ranked list of your values
Try this 10-minute self-affirmation exercise:
Write down a list of 10 personal values that you aspire to. Examples include family, education, confidence, attractiveness, and health.
Re-order the list in order of importance.
Write 2-3 paragraphs on why the top-ranked value is most important.
From these paragraphs, write down the top two specific reasons the value is most important.
Now answer two questions: (1) To what extent does your top-ranked value influence your life and (2) To what extent is your top-ranked value part of your self-image?
According to this study, participants who performed this exercise felt more secure and confident for up to 2 months later. Try this quick exercise next time you’re feeling insecure. Keep the list with you for inspiration.
4. Invent your superhero alter-ego
Even the toughest Mixed Martial Arts fighters face fear and need the occasional confidence-booster. Sociologists found that they do this by creating a fantasy alter-ego.
One fighter explained how he visualizes and inhabits his virtual avatar:
“I pretty much think of it as a video game. He has a little energy bar and a stamina bar above his head and every time I hit him that bar goes down. I try to think about the fact that every second that I don’t hit him that energy bar may be going back up. I think of myself the same way, except I pretend that my energy bar never goes down. It’s just like I am in invincible mode.”
Try imagining your superhero alter-ego before you “go out on stage.” What’s your super power? Are you Unstoppable Confidence Man? Are you a Tony Stark + Richard Branson super-hybrid? Get creative!
5. Deceive yourself into self-belief
Although you always want to be genuine and true to yourself, a recent study shows that deceiving yourself into believing you’re confident will make others believe you’re confident. And apparently self-deception is a natural evolutionary trait.
The researchers focused on overconfident people who are overrated by others, but underconfident people can use this as well to tip the scales back.
If you lack confidence, why not use this principle to restore your confidence? This is the classic “fake it till you make it approach,” but it works really well when you’re feeling low.
To develop self-belief, try practicing in a fun, low-pressure, and supportive environment where you receive positive feedback.
Here are two solid ways to do this that worked for me:
Take an improv class
6. Sweat for 10 minutes every day
Ever since I started working out regularly (CrossFit twice a week, sprinting once a week, lots of walking/hiking), I’ve had much more confidence.
There’s science behind this, but you don’t need studies to tell you that exercising has benefits. It gives you energy, floods your body with feel-good endorphins, and improves your self-image.
Successful billionaire Richard Branson says working out is the single most powerful productivity and confidence hack he’s come across.
Try to sweat for 10 minutes every day. When I want a super-efficient workout, I run Tabata sprints—you sprint all-out for 20 seconds, stop for 10 seconds, repeat. Do this for 10 minutes (that’s 20 quick sprints). It’s easy to do and provides all the benefits of a tough workout.
7. Keep your goals secret
When you achieve your goals and realize success, you naturally build confidence. But it can seem like a struggle to meet your goals in the first place.
This study found that people who revealed a goal to someone else actually lost motivation to accomplish the goal.
It sounds counter-intuitive. You would expect that telling others would hold you more accountable. But by sharing your goals, you prematurely feel that you’ve already accomplished them.
Another reason to keep your goals secret is to avoid being discouraged by nay-sayers in your life, according to Dr. Robert Anthony: “Many would-be achievers have lost out before they even got started by letting others…talk them out of what they really wanted to do.”
The lesson? Keep your goals secret if you want to achieve them!