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How to develop your power of self-confidence

Last updated on: July 26, 2010 14:12 IST

Image: Book Cover: The Eight Powers Within You
Photographs: Penguin Books India

Starting with the belief that success is possible for everyone, Shishir Srivastava's book The Eight Powers Within You: Your Guide to Success shows how you can develop your latent powers and move in the direction of your goals, both at home and at work.

After serving in the Indian Navy for four years, Srivastava decided his calling lay elsewhere. Since then the Lucknow-based motivational speaker has been associated with City Montessori School in Lucknow where he heads the Department of Personality Development and Career Counselling. 

This is his first book. We bring you an excerpt from Chapter Seven, The Power of Self-Confidence.

Self-limiting beliefs are among the biggest obstacles to building self-confidence. You must try to get rid of the false notions you have been holding about yourself in your brain. To do this, you must write down the different beliefs that affect your performance and ask yourself: 'Is this attitude justified? Is it true about myself? What can I do to change it?'

When you analyse your self-limiting beliefs and ask self-empowering questions of yourself, you will find that most of your beliefs are false. Knowing this, you can adopt a new belief system that is self-empowering and enriching.

When you do this, you will realise that all your beliefs are a choice and what stands between you and your accomplishments is the will to take the first step and the belief that it is possible for you to reach the great heights of achievement.

Click NEXT to read tips to enhance your self-confidence

Excerpted from The Eight Powers Within You: your Guide to Success (Rs 199) by Shishir Srivastava, with the permission of publishers Penguin Books India.

Tips to enhance your self-confidence

Image: Author Shishir Srivastava
Photographs: Shishir Srivastava

Develop your self-esteem

Self-esteem is the opinion you have about yourself. It greatly influences you each time you go out to perform. The higher your self-esteem, the better your performance at work. Self-esteem and self-confidence have a direct correlation. One of the first steps to take when you want to build self-confidence is to like yourself. When you develop admiration for yourself, your self-respect and confidence level go up. Start saying to yourself from today, 'I like myself, I like myself, I like myself.'

Your self-esteem plays a major role even in your interactions with others. While dealing with other people, constantly remind yourself, 'I am as portent as you are and you are as important as I am.' When you repeat this affirmation, your self-esteem and self-confidence are enhanced. When this happens, your chances of success in relationships increase. There is a direct correlation between the amount of self-respect you have and the respect others have for you.

How to gain instant self-confidence

Getting over difficult situations is not always easy. Our brain tends to lock in memories when an event causes negative emotions. These strong emotions return when things go bad. Surely you remember forgetting a line in a poem when you were young or being pointed at when you didn't complete your homework. But you had a lot of successes too -- and they were just as important.

The problem is that focusing on failures tends to lower self-confidence and lets you down. So you must recall your triumphs. Maintain a victory log. Instead of recalling your failures, summon up the instances where you did well. Each day write down one or two successes that you have had. Regularly feed your victory log and refer to it when you feel low. A look at it will boost your self-confidence.

Develop self-confidence through rehearsal

Photographs: Dominic Xavier

Be it an interview, an examination, an instance of public speaking or anything else, you can 'feel' the situation you are about to face -- and, more important, prepare yourself for it -- beforehand. The more you put yourself in real-life situations, the more your confidence will grow and the better your performance will be. So practice, practice, practice and your self-confidence will get a boost.

Focus on your strengths

You are a born to excel in something. The best way to identify your ability is to put yourself in different situations. Then see what you like doing the most, what you can do with natural ease. Once you discover your innate talent, you must devote a great amount of time to working hard and trying to become the best in your chosen field. This will increase your confidence tremendously.

Learn to overcome your fears

Have the firm belief that you have the ability and strength to overcome your fears. Remember, fear is a state of mind. You may fear doing something but many others around you do the same thing with natural ease. Some of them would have started out with fear in their mind, just like you. These people should be an inspiration to you. To overcome your fears, you must choose to take small but consistent steps in the direction of what you fear doing.

When you do a bit of what you fear, your confidence gets a boost. Suppose you have never been on stage and have a fear of speaking in public. You can begin by learning a few lines from a poem that you like. Practise speaking the lines aloud in a room, in front of a mirror, and later on an empty stage (with no audience at all). This step-by-step process will bolster your faith in yourself. Slowly, you will reach a stage where you will be speaking in front of an audience with little or no fear at all.

Face criticism and gain emotional maturity

Photographs: Uttam Ghosh

As you begin to raise your standards, you will often face criticism from co-workers and even from those you do not know. At such a time, remind yourself that what people think of you has no impact whatsoever on your career and that it cannot affect you until you yourself allow it to do so. What truly matters for your progress is the opinion you have about yourself. You must learn to handle criticism with grace and a smile, not with fear and frustration. Always think positively and remember that any criticism is better handled with a smile and emotional maturity than with a frown and a retort.

Learn to handle failure

There will be times when you will fail to achieve your goal. In such a situation you should recognise that failure is never final. You must use it to enrich your experience and learn from your mistakes. Have faith in the future and believe that everything will finally be all right. This belief will keep your spirits up and not let failure affect you.

Motivate yourself by doing small things

When you start taking smart steps consistently, your confidence level will go up. You will feel livelier, walk faster, talk louder and speak with more confidence. When such things happen, do remember to give yourself a pat on the back.

Do not compare yourself with others

Photographs: Uttam Ghosh

You are a unique person. If you compare yourself with others, you actually show lack of respect for yourself. Instead, learn to compare yourself with yourself -- that is, the kind of person you are now and the kind of person you wish to be.

To become the person you would like to be, you must compete with yourself. Each time you do something good, reward yourself. Thereafter, challenge yourself to improve your next performance and start preparing. Each time you focus on improving your performance -- retaining the things you did right, rejecting those you did wrong -- your self-confidence will grow.

'Your biggest competition is yourself' -- Shishir Srivastava