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The Top Ten Keys to Self-Confidence
By Sharlene Talbott

If you have the keys to self-confidence, you'll be able to open doors. Doors of opportunity that you were convinced were locked—at least to you. So, why not uncover the keys, learn how they work and open those doors? Here are 10 keys. Once you've mastered them, those doors will open much easier.

1. Understand How Self-Confidence Works

“Ignorance is bliss, only if you don’t want to accomplish anything.”

Self-confidence is a necessary ingredient for success. Self-confidence sells. It's something you can sense about a person upon entering a room. It's evident through body language and speech.

It's not just what you say, but how you say it. Some people think you're born with it. Others have never experienced it. Wouldn't it be great if you could just take a pill and—Wham!—you radiated instant self-confidence?

It's important for you to know that you can create self-confidence. You don't have to be born with it. Everyone is capable of learning how to be incredibly self-confident. It's like most other things. It can be learned.

2. Make Your Confidence Goal a Priority

"Judgment comes from experience and great judgment comes from bad experience."

—Robert Packwood

People who achieve their goals are highly motivated to do so. If you tell yourself you should, could or would if . . . then your desire for confidence may remain but your achievement of it remains just a dream.

You must make feeling and being confident a priority in your life, rather than only a wish. Once you're committed to your goal, only then can you begin to make it a reality.

3. Change the Way You Think of Yourself

"As a man thinketh, so is he."

You must change the image you have of yourself. You may be programming yourself for failure! Are you aware of what you're thinking before and during times you don't feel confident? It's always negative, isn't it? You must reprogram your mind. Choose to think positive thoughts.

4. Speak Positively

"Think before you speak."

Do you carefully choose what you'll say before you speak? Most people just dump whatever they're thinking into their mouths! We hear more negative messages throughout the day than positive ones, unless we make a conscious effort to do so. Disasters make headlines.

Thinking and speaking follow one another. If your thoughts are negative, then your speech will reflect it. You choose how you will react to what happens to you in life and you will create what happens next, according to your thoughts, words and deeds.

A famous person once said, "Be careful what you think, because speech follows thought, action follows speech, habits follow action, character follows habits, and destiny follows character."

5. Change Your Body Language

"80% of communication is body language."

You've heard the expression, "actions speak louder than words". Well, body language speaks volumes and is always believed more than what you may say.

Try this experiment and you'll see for yourself. Stand next to someone with your arms folded in front of you and slightly to an angle. Looking slightly over your shoulder, smile and say, "Hi, I really enjoy talking with you!!" Now, ask the person in the experiment to tell you which he believed—your friendly words or your body language. It's always your body language.

No matter what you may say, people are reading and believing your body language. Closed postures, folded arms and lack of eye contact give negative messages. Open postures, eye contact and smiles are inviting and encourage interaction.

6. Change Your Voice Tone

“If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living."

—Gail Sheehy

30% of communication has to do with the tone of your voice. Record your voice and listen to it, (a painful exercise for most people). What changes to your voice would make it sound more confident? Listen to others who you admire. How do their voices communicate confidence to you?

7. Change Situations that Support Your Lack of Confidence

“You must change in order to survive.”

—Pearl Bailey

If you're in a job in which you're miserable and mistreated, you need to change your situation. If you're involved in a relationship with someone who tells you you're not able to do things on your own or that you're incompetent, you need to either get counseling or get out.

If your "friends" or family members discourage you from getting an education or bettering yourself, then minimize contact or, often better yet, remove yourself from the source of the negativity.

Either people pull you down or build you up. If you find that you're in a situation where you're discouraged, rather than encouraged, then you're allowing someone else to influence or determine your destiny. Give yourself the opportunity to grow and be happy. It's your choice.

8. Practice Confidence

“Over 70% of fears can be overcome by practicing.”

You must, at first, act as if you have confidence before you’ll have it. You will be creating new habit patterns for yourself. You’ve heard the expression, “fake it until you make it”. Well, it’s true. You have to act as if you have confidence—that is, practice what a confident person would say or do—to achieve it.

9. Plan Confidence Building Situations

“Every moment in planning saves 3 or 4 in execution.”

—Crawford Greenwalt

It is much easier to practice building confidence in new situations with people who don’t know you, rather than with people who already know you and have pre-conceived opinions of you. There’s less stress on you too.

10. Focus on Achieving Your Dreams

"Power flows to the focus of attention."

Lots of people have a dream. Maybe it's starting a business. Perhaps it's finding a compatible romantic relationship. For many, it's the pursuit of happiness. The object of the pursuit may change over time.

Too many people give up on their dreams. They simply stop trying because they don't possess the confidence to continue. An obstacle or two is enough for some. Others are puzzled as they try one avenue after another, with little success.

Those who are willing to learn the skills to confidence and success will succeed.

What about you? Where have you given up along the path to success? Will you settle for being dissatisfied and ever trying to convince yourself that your dreams are not possible?

Aristotle, one of wisest men who ever lived, said, "What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing". You've heard that experience is the best teacher, haven't you? There are only 2 ways to learn something. The first, and most common way, is by trial and error.

The second way, which is much faster and easier, is to discover your answers from someone who has already learned those lessons and helped many others do the same.

So, if you'd rather learn by example rather than mistake, learn from an expert. Read books, attend seminars, consult a coach.

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Sharlene Talbott, MSW, is a people skills coach, trainer and public speaker with over 20 years experience helping people to achieve their self-confidence, communication, sales and relationship goals faster and easier. Go to http://www.AssuredSuccess.com for more free articles, a free coaching consultation and people skills training materials.

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