Building Confidence: Monitoring Your Thoughts
We can do a lot to change our appearance, but there are no clothes, tattoos, or plastic surgery that can make us more socially confident. The language we use to describe ourselves and the way we dress will shape our behavior (e.g. if you call yourself unattractive, you will feel unattractive). Pay attention to how you compare yourself to the crowd (e.g. are you the most sociable, attractive, fittest, tallest). All of these characteristics have weight because society said so, and some of us bought it. Skeptics might cite studies which support the notion that certain body types are more attractive on average, but it is better to focus on things within our control.
Are you telling me to conform to society’s expectations?
Short answer, yes. I highly advise people to exercise and dress-up to boost confidence and health (physio-psycho-social). A lot of depression and negative thought patterns can be associated with poor diet and a lack of physical activity. I don’t want to put the personal trainer hat on, but try to get as many cruciferous greens as you can, reduce processed foods, and work towards a thirty minute daily workout or stretching routine. Dr. David Agus, author of “The End of Illness”, says, “sitting can be as bad for you as smoking”.
Long answer. I want everyone to be comfortable being themselves. I run errands, get coffee, and grab food in my pajamas. Personally, I don’t care what people think of how I dress, and neither should you. However, I dress up when I go out on a date with a new person. First impressions are huge. Being comfortable with ourselves doesn’t prevent judgement from others.
Our physical appearance will be the first thing people see, present yourself the way you want to be perceived. I recommend having at least seven dates worth of clothes.
Also, don’t be afraid to plan. A lot of people ask , “how are you so confident while dating”, and I attribute the majority of it to planning. Communicate the dinner plans at the outset, to establish dress attire, and have an idea of where you will go from there if the dinner/coffee goes well. One of my favorite coffee shops has a Japanese garden in walking distance, so I would meet at the coffee shop, then walk to the garden to sit down and talk. You don’t want to be in an environment that prevents talking (e.g. movies), but it’s also good to avoid environments that allow for only talking (find a bar that has games or try a wine painting class). Once you have your main events for the evening planned, allow room for deviations. If you find yourself next to an ice cream shop, ask if they want any, and if you they do, go for it. Dating should be fun, it should flow naturally, so take them to places that you enjoy, and if they love it too, you’ll have a shared experience to gauge your future success. Planning the environment will free your mind to focus on the person in front of you.
If you are a guy, be a gentleman, open the door for your date. Maybe buy them something novel during the date, so they have something to remember the event (it doesn’t have to be expensive). Also, check your nonverbals midway through the date, are you slouching or losing eye-contact? These are signs of disinterest, check-in with yourself when you head to the bathroom or find a moment to yourself.
So, how do we become confident and comfortable with who we are?
Change things up!
Try a new hairstyle every 6 months. Not because you are dissatisfied with the way it looks, but because we are constantly changing as individuals. Why shouldn’t our hair? Tired of styling it? Cut it off. Want to run your fingers through it? Grow it out. Don’t get too attached.
Find the most comfortable clothes. Have you ever worn a shirt two-sizes too big, or active wear? Try out new materials. Jeans aren’t that comfortable…
Ditch the makeup and hair products (or try them, if you haven’t). Slip a beanie on, or pat your hair down, walk out the door. People will look at you differently. So what?
Flirt with the office secretary. If you have to spend a majority of your day at work, use the opportunity to practice communicating. Flatter the secretary and try to make her blush. Avoid any language or behavior that might get you in trouble with HR; keep it clean until you have some rapport.
You’re beautiful. Remind yourself. Show yourself. You are fine the way you look, but knowing how to be the most attractive/powerful version of yourself is useful knowledge.
Look up your favorite celebrity or business person. How do they look?
A lot of celebrities will play to their strengths. Accentuating their “attractive” qualities, and hiding their insecurities behind clothes and makeup. A couple of minutes on Google images will humanize any individual.