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Self-confident people know what they value and what they want. They share common habits and thought patterns that help them achieve their goals. Here are 13 things self-confident people don't do, so you can be one of them.
1. They don’t believe they are worth less than others. One of the fundamental beliefs underlying confidence is, “My worth as a person is equal to everyone else’s.” That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work for what you want, and it certainly doesn’t mean that life divides up its rewards evenly. But it does mean you have the same right as anyone else to stand up for yourself, pursue your dreams, enjoy your life, and make a difference in the way that’s most meaningful to you.
2. They don’t fear self-doubt. Confident people realize that not all self-doubt is a bad thing. Sometimes fear is a signal that you haven’t prepared enough for the big presentation, the recital, or the interview. Practicing what you plan to say and do will give your mind something to fall back on when the pressure is high. The voice of self-doubt may also be saying you need to get more information, move in a different direction, or take a break.
3. They don’t hesitate too much. The flip side of #2 is that once you’ve put in the hours of practice, you should be able to take action without obsessing over what might go wrong.
4. They don’t wait for the “big” move. When you envision a confident person, you might think of someone who takes big, bold actions, like running for office or making a marriage proposal on the Jumbotron. But there can be boldness and bravery in small steps. Those incremental changes build on themselves, both through your own feelings of accomplishment and reinforcement from others.
5. They don’t confuse confidence with arrogance. Some people fear confidence, because they don’t want to start stepping on other people’s toes, taking up too much space, or just plain being a jerk. But confidence isn’t the same as arrogance or narcissism. In fact, when you feel confident in yourself, you often become less self-absorbed. When you stop worrying so much about how you’re coming across, you can pay more attention to those around you.
6. They don’t fear feedback or conflict. A confident person can accept helpful feedback and act on it without getting defensive. When your sense of self-worth is no longer on the table, you can handle criticism or even outright rejection without allowing it to break you. By the same token, confidence doesn’t mean you mow other people down when a conflict arises. It’s possible to speak your mind with conviction and still make room to listen to someone else’s point of view and even reach a compromise.
7. They don’t fear failure. Confidence doesn’t mean you won’t fail. It doesn’t mean you’re always smiling or that you never experience anxiety or self-doubt (see #2). Instead, it means you know you can handle those feelings and push through them to conquer the next challenge.
8. They don’t have to make things perfect. Perfectionism is a form of faulty thinking that contributes to low self-confidence. If you believe you have to have something all figured out before you take action, those thoughts can keep you from doing the things you value.
10. They don’t believe everything they see on social media. This point is closely tied to #9. It’s easy to believe that everyone around you has the perfect marriage, a dream career, and supermodel looks to boot. But remember that what people post online is heavily curated and edited. Everyone has bad days, self-doubt, and physical imperfections. They just don’t trot them out on Facebook!
11. They don’t avoid trying new things. As you keep pushing yourself to try new things, you’ll start to truly understand how failure and mistakes lead to growth. An acceptance that failure is part of life will start to take root. Paradoxically, by being more willing to fail, you'll actually succeed more — because you're not waiting for everything to be 100 percent perfect before you act. Taking more shots will mean making more of them.
12. They don’t focus on themselves. It might seem counterintuitive, but when you have more self-confidence, you’re less focused on yourself. We’ve all been guilty of walking into a room and thinking, “They’re all looking at me. They all think I look dumpy and that every word I say is incredibly stupid!” The truth is, people are wrapped up in their own thoughts and worries. When you get out of your own head, you’ll be able to genuinely engage with others.
13. They don’t let others determine their goals. No one can tell you what is most important to you. Sure, our culture will say that having a better job, a bigger house, and a fancier car is what we need to make us happy. It takes a lot of strength and conviction to not just go along with societal expectations. Self-confidence doesn’t always look like the “big” move. It can be the confidence to say, “No, this opportunity is not right for me at this time.”
Adapted from The Self-Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem, published by Althea Press. Copyright © 2018 by Barbara Markway and Celia Ampel.