8 Ways to Fake Self-Confidence Until It's Real

8 Ways to Fake Self-Confidence Until It's Real

Experts share their advice for faking your way to feeling more self-assured.

By Leah Maxwell

When self-confidence doesn’t come naturally, sometimes the best thing you can do is fake it till you make it. Pretending to be confident can be enough to get you through interactions where self-assurance really helps (like a job interview or spending time with difficult relatives), but it can also be the first step toward finding -- and feeling -- the real self-confidence within.

“I’m a big believer in the ‘fake it till you make it’ mindset, [while] knowing that it is sometimes easier said than done,” says Lorrie Thomas Ross, a motivational marketing speaker, educator, and author. “I have folks who hesitate, because they feel like they are being dishonest -- women especially,” she says. In those cases, she reminds her clients that self-confidence is a mindset, and pretending to be confident is all part of setting the stage and getting into the role of the self-assured person you want to become. “Change the word ‘fake’ to ‘act,’ and start getting the mindset in action!” she says. Here are eight bits of expert advice for doing just that.

1. Carry yourself like a confident person. Your body language can speak volumes before you even open your mouth, so checking your posture is a good place to start. Keep your back straight and your shoulders strong -- no slouching! -- and you’re on your way to presenting yourself in a more positive light, says Akram Alashari, MD, a surgeon, author, and public speaker on the topic of enhancing personal performance and quality of life.

2. Ground your mindset in a physical action. Alashari also emphasizes the importance of giving yourself custom cues to trigger a desired state of mind or way of being. “Create an ‘anchor’ (a particular physical movement) to activate conscious awareness,” he says. One example: a performer or athlete hitting her chest with one fist before taking the stage or field. This way of linking a physical movement to a specific mental state can help you get ready to act with self-assurance. Alashari’s much more subtle anchor is touching his wedding ring, a ritual he has connected to feelings of confidence.  

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3. Shift from negative to positive thinking. “Be positive to attract positive results,” advises Ross. And if you find yourself thinking negative thoughts or obsessing about negative outcomes, including worrying or getting caught in an anxiety spiral, you should do what you can to think about the opposite, Alashari adds. That doesn’t mean ignoring your true feelings or putting on a Pollyanna attitude when things are bad, but it does mean making an effort to see your life -- and yourself -- in a more positive light instead of focusing on what’s going wrong.

4. Concentrate on what you can control rather than what you can’t. A good way to divert yourself from negative, unassured thinking is to focus on things you have some control over. Instead of stressing about the weather, traffic, or other people’s behavior, Alashari advises turning your attention instead to your own attitude or your response to a situation, which can make you feel more powerful and confident.

5. Focus on your strengths and gifts. “The best way to fake it until you make it is to find self-confidence that is based in the truth,” advises Stacy Kaiser, a psychotherapist, relationship expert. “Grab a piece of paper and make a list of all of the physical, emotional, and practical things you like about yourself. Include things such as, ‘I am a good baker,’ ‘I have lots of friends,’ ‘I have long eyelashes,’ ‘I know how to handle challenging situations,’ ‘I’m great at juggling work and my family.’” Looking at the list every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed (as well as whenever you need a pick-me-up in the middle of the day) is an easy way to build true, lasting self-confidence, she says.

6. Find a motto or mantra that makes you feel strong. Sometimes all you need is a few words of affirmation to get you into the right mindset. Alashari offers up these favorites: “I refuse to believe that there is any situation significantly large enough to defeat me in the pursuit of my goal,” “All I need is within me now!” and “Strength, courage, persistence.” Find a short saying that speaks to you personally, so you can pull it out whenever your confidence needs a boost.

7. Remember it’s not just about you. “My last resort to help shift confidence requires getting out the tough love: While you might feel unconfident, you are also being a bit self-absorbed,” says Ross. “Get over yourself!” She believes one way of helping people start to be more self-assured is by asking them to consider how their lack of confidence makes others feel. “You don’t make others comfortable by looking uncomfortable,” Ross says. “It makes them feel stressed, and nobody wants to stress people out! When you think honestly about the way you are making others feel … it can jerk you into wanting to put others at ease by being more confident.” Putting others first may seem like a strange way to increase your own self-confidence, but for some people it’s great motivation for shifting their attitudes and behaviors.

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8. Finding self-confidence is about the journey, not the destination. Finally, Ross reminds us that connecting to our inner confidence is an ongoing process and not something that can be achieved overnight. Small steps in the right direction will compound to make a big difference over time,” she says. “You start the path to self-confidence by deciding who you want to become, then ‘dressing the part’ by taking small steps to become that person.”

How do you fake confidence when you’re feeling unsure of yourself?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/m-imagephotography

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