Confidence isn’t necessarily easy to develop. In fact, for many of us, it’s something we may feel we’ve never fully grasped.
But you don’t need to be a CEO or celebrity to feel confident. Sometimes it’s as simple as making proactive decisions about how you think and behave on a daily basis.
The Confidence Gap
If you have wondered whether the average American woman has less self-confidence than the men in this country, there are data to suggest you’re right. In fact, researchers and psychologists refer to it as the “confidence gap.”
“In nearly all cultures, men have higher self-esteem. But the difference lies in the magnitude of the gap,” keynote speaker and bestselling author Margie Warrell writes.
“In industrialized Western countries like the U.S. and Australia, the gap is more pronounced than in non-Western, developing countries. That is, the gap between how little women think of themselves compared to how highly men do grows in the more developed, egalitarian, countries—the very ones one might expect it to be the least.”
Although it’s hard to make generalizations about self-confidence, it’s undeniable that a gap exists. The answer is not to bring male self-confidence down; it’s to elevate how we view ourselves. We must take the lead.
Five Ways to Increase Your Self-Confidence
It’s hard to put a finger on precisely what makes or breaks a person’s self-confidence, but the following suggestions have helped thousands of women (and men) become better versions of themselves. Take a good look at these five items.
1. Take Time for Self-Care
As women, we often spend so much time caring for other people’s needs and well-being that we forget to attend to our own. As a result, we lack the self-confidence that others find it much easier to cultivate.
If you want to establish fertile ground in which self-confidence may grow, take time for self-care. This might entail sleeping more, taking a hot bath, enjoying a glass of wine, getting a massage, reading a book in the park, or blocking out time on your schedule for solitude.
2. Tell Someone “No”
There’s something powerful about saying no. Most of us tiptoe around the word like it’s a curse. However, it’s one of the most powerful declarations in our vocabulary.
The more you tell people no—under the right circumstances, of course—the stronger and more confident you’ll feel about yourself. You don’t have to be malicious; just be more truthful!
3. Wear a Watch
For more than a century, men have relied on watches to command an air of success and professionalism. They wore simple timepieces to establish positive first impressions and influence how they carried themselves in high-stakes environments.
Women can—and should—do the same. Wearing a luxury watch is a choice that influences how you feel about yourself.
It can provide confidence in social settings and help you feel greater poise and conviction. Give it a try and see how the kind of impact it will have on your self-assurance.
4. Find a Mentor
There’s something to be said for figuring out who you are and developing the strength to support yourself, but you shouldn’t try to do it all on your own. It’s helpful to work with a supportive group of people … including mentors.
“Do you know someone who is confident and continues to take one new risk after another? Watch how they do this. Muster up the courage to ask them to meet you for coffee,” Maud Purcell writes for PsychCentral.
“Find out how they do what they do, and ask them for feedback about your action plan and implementation. Most confident people are happy to help. They remember the courage and effort it’s taken them to get where they are today.”
Once you find a mentor, open yourself up, ask questions, admit fears, and—most of all—listen to that person! Soak up everything she (or he) says like a sponge and look for opportunities to grow.
Embrace the challenges posed by your mentor, and utilize these relationships as the learning opportunities they promise to be.
5. Keep a Success Journal
People naturally spend more time focusing on their failures than they do on celebrating their successes. You can flip this tendency on its head by keeping a success journal, in which you jot down your small and large wins throughout each day, week, month, and year. The exercise of putting pen to paper—not to mention the opportunity to look back on past successes—is invaluable.
Adding it All Up
At a time when corporate glass ceilings are shattering and we as women are grasping more opportunities in business, politics, and personal life, it’s imperative that we focus on the intangibles, such as our self-confidence.
It’s time to close the gap. Will you do your part?