Have Confidence!
Written for Women Australia by Pamela Tibbs
Illustrated by Robin Single

How do you feel about yourself? Not just the surface you, the image that is reflected back from the mirror, but your all important core that must take you through every situation. How do others treat you? Do you and others look at you as a self confident human being with an almost magnetic aura that surrounds you?

With self confidence as a basic ingredient in you life, all goals are obtainable, whether they are career oriented or personal well being. If you feel that you are lacking in this vital area, right now is the time to start making the change to become a New You. It may not be easy, change rarely is and most of the things you have really wanted to achieve in life involved challenging work. Make up your mind from the start that the struggle is worth the results.

The Norwegian born playwright, Henrik Ibsen wrote, “A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” With your behaviour, you are teaching other people how to treat you, not asking them with words and trite phrases. If you are consistent, you will see the change emerge in your own behaviour, and that of others towards you.

There are some concrete methods that work for all women. The universal ingredient for all these women is a total dedication to self improvement, giving small setbacks the attention they deserve while keeping the main goal in sight.

Changes must take place externally and internally. Surface changes are often easier and will pave the way to making inner changes that will become part of your basic behaviour pattern.

Confide in a friend about your new program and ask for support. Your friend should be someone whom you trust and respect. Above all, both of you should keep a sense of humour about your project. She or he may even get inspired and join you; the two of you can offer each other moral support and positive reinforcement.

Self Image. If you think of yourself as unqualified for a job, under educated, and unattractive, others will see you in the same way. There are definite surface changes you can make to portray a more confident you. These changes will help you to look and feel better.

Posture is one of the most important statements that you can make. Do you stand up straight, head erect, shoulders back, ready to face the world? Don’t get carried away and go into a military stance. By standing comfortably and firmly straight, you portray an efficient healthy person. Practice balancing a book on your head, an exercise that increases your awareness of how you are walking and standing.

Take note of how you walk into a room. I once worked with a woman who invariably entered a meeting with shoulders stooped, feet dragging, and papers dropping from her arms. She seemed resigned to be miserable and cast a shadow of gloom and doom everywhere. You don’t need to march as if you are in a brass band, but always pick your feet up and walk with the attitude that you have everything well under control.

Clothes. When is the last time you gave your entire wardrobe a good clean out? Contact your favorite charity and give them all the clothes that you wear on off days, or the things that don’t quite fit properly, and definitely give away clothing that makes you feel dreary. Many places even offer pick up service so all you have to do is box things up and walk away from the past.

Accessories. Shoes with scuff marks and run down heels can ruin the look of your best outfits. Are your handbags in good condition, up to date? One good handbag is enough to get you through most occasions. If you carry a briefcase, make sure you can open it quickly and easily. Discard a briefcase or handbag that requires a lot of time to open or close, replace it with something that looks good and is practical.

Grooming. Take a critical look at your hair, make up, and nails. Whom do they portray? Get a complete makeover done by a professional beauty consultant with whom you feel comfortable. Confide in your expert as to how you are changing and how you would like to see the new you emerge. A true professional will give you his or her best advice and be excited about doing so.

If you do not own a full length mirror, buy one today and check your appearance, especially before you leave for work. Buy yourself several new outfits that reflect the New You, the person you are slowly but surely becoming.

American motivational speaker, Tom Hopkins, spoke to a seminar of 3000 women in Sydney about the importance of attitude in improving their careers. His advice, “Fake it till you make it” was greeted with laughter followed by positive head nods. The clothes you choose to portray your new self image will help you practice Hopkins' philosophy.

Speech Patterns. Listen carefully to your voice to determine if it is pleasing to hear. Read a passage from a magazine and record it. Then speak informally into the recorder about one of your favorite subjects. Now ask your boss for a raise. Notice any difference in your tone and speech patterns?

Work on being a coherent speaker with a clear timbre in your voice. Practice tongue twisters and rhyming phrases until you are speaking them clearly. If you hear a need for improvement, join your local Toastmistress Club and or take a public speaking class at your local university. A good speaking voice is a valuable asset.

Body Language. Just as your voice portrays your image, your body language conveys important messages. If you see someone hunched over the telephone, furtively glancing about, right away you know that the message is private. Do you have nervous hands, tapping feet, or do you fiddle with pencils when you speak to someone?

Buy a book on body language and study your language as well as that of those around you. It can be enlightening to study your actions and those of your friends and or business acquaintances. You can learn a lot about a perspective client by observing what he or she is saying with body and voice.

Once you have achieved an external positive image, you are ready to begin on internal changes. By committing yourself to a program of self improvement, you have already begun work in the most vital area of inner change, PMA, positive mental attitude.

Think about some of the most inspirational people you know. They all have a positive attitude about anything that they tackle in life. If you need affirmation, look into a mirror and say aloud, “I am a first class citizen and will treat myself that way and I fully expect others to follow my example.”

What can you change right now to make you feel more self-confident? Break this goal down into small steps, once you accomplish a small step, go on to the next. As the journey to discovering a new inner self becomes a way of life, small steps lead to giant leaps,

Make the following premise a basic principle in your psychological makeup. If you expect first class treatment, then people will give it to you. Remember that you may have allowed people to take advantage of you in the past, but not anymore. Start today to accept responsibility for how others treat you.

Establish a daily and weekly set of goals. What can you change right now to make you feel more self-confident? Break this goal down into small steps, once you accomplish a small step, go on to the next. Small steps lead to giant leaps, as the journey to discovering a new inner self becomes a way of life.

Start an incentive program. When you achieve a goal, reward yourself. Buy that new silk scarf that you have been admiring. It will serve to remind you of a step forward and improve your self image.

Reward yourself psychologically as well as materially. After a victory of any kind, take a look in the mirror. Do you like the person that you see there? Remember the feeling of how good it is to stand up for your rights. Isn’t this better than grumbling and accepting what others toss your way?

The following examples should help you to get started:

  1. I will look at my boss, whom I have let intimidate me in the past, and speak with a clear voice about all issues. If he or she consistently asks me to stay after work on the spur of the moment and this does not agree with my pre-arranged plans, I will firmly suggest an alternate and fair plan. I will use the same affirmative attitude with friends who try to 'use me.'
  2. I will not voluntarily take on someone else’s work due to a feeling that I must overcompensate since my job is not important. I will do my job well and look for projects that will get me promoted rather than cleaning up someone else’s oversights.
  3. I will walk away from any situation where I feel that I am not being treated with respect.
  4. I will not waste my time and words by explaining my behaviour to those who are not listening.
  5. I will eliminate the following phrases from my vocabulary:
    “I’m not very good at new projects.”
    “I’m not very efficient at anything involving maths.”
    “I’m not feeling my best today so my work is going to reflect that.”
    “I’m not very successful.”
    “I’m not very attractive.”
    Instead of negative phrases, I will offer positive self affirming statements, such as “I love the challenge of a new project.”
  6. I will concentrate on my language patterns and substitute declarative sentences for questions. I will state my intentions both at work and in personal relationships rather than ask, would it be okay if?
  7. If I do not wish to do something, I will say no. The most effective way to state my intentions is to be clear. “No, Ruth, I cannot take on part of your work today, I am busy with my responsibilities.”

    Above all, be firm in your new behaviour. Do not waiver. Do not allow a crack in the dam. The first few weeks are the most difficult. Be persistent and others will respect the rebirth of a New You; a self confident woman. After all, don’t you deserve the best?