Given that we all have problems to varying degrees, it’s important that the civilized world has mostly moved on from the days of mental health being a taboo topic. There’s still progress to be made, but much of the stigma has been eroded: if you suffer from a mental health issue, you can admit it and talk about it without being avoided or ostracized by wider society.
One of the most common issues involves confidence, or the lack thereof. It’s easy to question your value and worry about the consequences of your actions. What if you do the wrong thing? Say the wrong thing? What might others think of you then? And when you’re placed into a stressful situation, you can find things even tougher to deal with.
By changing your perspective and developing better habits, you can learn to act with much more assurance in tough spots. Here are some tips for keeping cool, calm, and confident:
Control your breathing and take your time
When pushed into a corner, particularly when circumstances are rushing you, you might start to panic and lose your composure. The more you panic, the worse things seem, and the more you feel that you’re the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. But you don’t need to let your mind race in that self-destructive way.
The more the pressure ramps up, the more important it is to slow down, cool down, and control your breathing. Focus on the rhythm of it: breathe in slowly, pause, and breathe out slowly. Clear your head. It’s when you have the least time that you most need to use what’s available — and even if you can only grab 10 seconds to concentrate, it’ll really help.
Tell yourself things are fine until you believe it
Have you ever tried bluffing in poker, holding a weak hand but exuding the certainly of someone holding a royal flush? This is the same sort of thing, except you’re not just trying to convince everyone else: you’re also trying to convince yourself. You can also think about being your own motivational speaker, finding the positive in everything. You can do it. It’ll be fine.
This isn’t really about delusion, because whether you truly feel deep-down that things are fine matters less than you might think. It’s more about holding those reassuring words in your mind, allowing them to drown out the doubts and sources of negativity.
Remember all the times your fears have been unfounded
When you were a teenager, how often did you think that your life was essentially over because of some adolescent drama? Maybe a breakup made you think it was all downhill from there, or not getting into your preferred college had you imagining a lifetime of failure. Here’s the notable thing: for the most part, those inferences were way off the mark.
You’ve been in tough spots before, and it might be that every one of them made you feel inept and hopeless — but you made it through those spots in the end. All those fears that your mind conjured didn’t accurately represent what ultimately happened. Given that, how can you think that your current fears are any more representative of the future? They’re not. You have a great track record of making it through difficult times, and that’s only going to continue.
Accept that everyone has doubts
Even with all the mental health progress that has been made, many people still claim to be confident and worry-free for the most part. Why? Is it true, or are they still concerned about being seen as vulnerable? Well, the answer may be neither of those — it could be that they don’t want to talk about their doubts because they don’t want to give them any attention.
The truth of the matter is that everyone feels vulnerable and self-conscious sometimes, from low-level employees to CEOs, and there’s something very comforting about that. You’re not alone in having insecurities, so you should lean into it, whether you want to confront them, avoid them, or subvert them. You never need to feel isolated.
Acting with confidence isn’t easy, and many people struggle with it throughout their lives, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t various things you can do to make it slightly easier — such as the things we’ve looked at here. Give them a try, and see how you fare.