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GENERAL10 ways to boost your self-confidence

Lack of self-confidence is for awkward teenagers and little girls who hide behind their mother's skirts, right? Wrong - we all suffer confidence slumps from time to time. Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey tells you how to overcome them.

By Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey, Contributor, Aquarius
April 1, 2011
Image Credit: Rex Features

1 Make decisions

Making - and sticking to - decisions can give your confidence a massive boost, says life coach Yasemin Demirtas of Effect Coaching Group (www.effect-coaching.com). "One of the important issues I work on is decision-taking, as low confidence inevitably reflects in our ability to take decisions. Making a decision when needed and then sticking with it will not only free you from the burden of being stuck in between, but will also reward you with respect from others." 

2 Become an expert

Whatever you do, do it well, says career coach Sandi Sayer (www.best-coaching.co.uk). "Anyone can become an expert at any stage of their career, even if your job is photocopying. Simply learn how to fix the photocopier, know how to get the best resolution on a faded page of text, and file everything in a clear and logical order. It doesn't matter what you do, taking ownership and learning everything there is to know makes you an expert - and gives your ego an enormous boost." 

3 Look the part

When you wear clothes that fit right, suit you and that you love, your confidence soars. Experiment: try on all the clothes in your closet and ask yourself how you would feel if you bumped into someone whose confidence and style you admire. If you'd want to run and hide, toss it! 

4 Quality over quantity

With clothes and work accessories, stick to the rule ‘spend twice as much, buy half as much', and go for quality over quantity. Find a good cut that flatters your best bits and hides whatever you are shy about. And wear the right underwear: nothing zaps your confidence more than ill-fitting undies! 

5 Give yourself a pep talk

Instead of concentrating on your flaws, weaknesses and negative sides, concentrate on what you are really good at, says Demirtas. People will value you as much as you value yourself. Stay strong in your opinion and what is important to you, and don't give in easily. Ten times a day, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are good. Changing habits comes with practice! 

6 Be nice to be around

It doesn't only matter how well you do your job, says Sayer, it is important that your colleagues enjoy being around you too. "I have known many colleagues who are very good at what they do, but nobody wants to work with them because they are unapproachable, negative or not a team player. These individuals may get to a certain point in their career and then plateau. In order to do well, to get ahead and to get what you want, it is always wise to make sure you get on with those around you." 

7 Pay it forward

Psychologist Devika Singh of the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre (www.dubaihtc.com) says that doing things for other people has a great impact on how you feel about yourself. "Especially random acts of kindness where you reach out to someone when they least expect it, and sometimes need it the most. The neurotransmitters released during helping behaviour has an impact on the brain's supply of ‘happiness chemicals' which can contribute to more positive feelings about yourself," says Singh. 

8 Have a Gratitude List

Research in the field of positive psychology has identified gratitude as a critical building block for self-esteem. This doesn't refer simply to fleeting thoughts of gratitude, but a more focused approach to experiencing and expressing gratitude in your life. "A thank you letter to someone can not only boost your self-esteem, it will probably boost theirs too!" says Singh 

9 Stand tall

Watch your posture. You can usually pick out a shy person in a crowd by the way their shoulders are turned down and by the way they walk. A self-confident person has a straight back and walks with a purpose, showing the world she has things to do and places to go. 

10 Pass it on

Studies show that young girls often have issues with self-confidence and constantly underestimate how well they will perform when faced with a task, whilst boys just charge ahead. Boosting confidence in children is linked to unconditional love and support from parents, but not too much support. As psychotherapist Colette Dowling states in her book The Cinderella Complex (Pocket Books), many parents tend to ‘over help' their daughters in particular, when they should be learning to falter and self-correct, a process fundamental to the development of self-confidence. So if you have a daughter, make sure you let go a little and help her grow.

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