Confidence is something of a psychological trick, and it is possible to “fake it until you make it.” Try these 11 easy tips the next time your self-esteem needs a little boost.
1. WEAR BLACK (OR RED).
Looking confident is a good first step on the path to feeling confident. A British survey found that people wearing black were overwhelmingly rated smarter, more attractive, and more confident than people wearing other colors. Red came in second. Wearing red has also been shown to provide an edge in competition—so much so that some scientists have suggested banning red uniforms from professional sports.
2. MAKE YOURSELF BIGGER.
It’s a primitive trick, but it works: Increasing your physical size can also puff up your ego. Studies have shown that practicing so-called power poses—standing tall like a superhero with hands on your hips, stretching out over a bench, or putting your feet up on your desk—can make people feel more powerful.
3. HARNESS THE POWER OF SCENT.
A little bit of perfume or cologne can go a long way. In one experiment, women consistently rated men wearing scented antiperspirant as more attractive—even when they were only watching them on video. What made those men seem sexier? Confidence. The knowledge that they smelled good was enough to make them feel good, which made them look good.
4. GET MOVING.
Exercise is pretty magical stuff. In the short term, a workout floods your body with the happy-making chemicals called endorphins. In the long term, regular exercise—even in small amounts—can make you feel more connected to and empowered in your body, which is a real confidence booster.
5. GRAB A LUCKY CHARM.
Rabbit-foot charms and lucky underpants may work after all, but not for the reasons you think. Scientists found that feeling luckier, or even just wishing somebody good luck, can improve performance. But luck itself can’t take the credit; it’s all about confidence, and believing you can succeed.
You’re probably sick of hearing about the benefits of meditation … but there’s a reason it’s so hyped up. Research has shown that practicing meditation can increase compassion, lower blood pressure, improve overall well-being, and, yes, increase confidence. The authors of a 2008 study say that the mental clarity inspired by a meditation session can help quiet negative emotions and magnify confidence and self-trust.
7. PUMP UP THE JAM.
There’s a reason those stadium classics amp you up. Scientists say the most popular psych-up songs tend to be those with intense bass levels. We subconsciously associate the booming bass with power, and we take that power in, like drinking a magic potion (with your ears).
8. BELIEVE YOUR OWN PR.
Let’s be honest: Your social media profiles don’t tell the whole story. We tend to put our best selves forward online, typically sharing the elements and events in our lives that make us look successful and happy. This may not be completely honest, but it can work in your favor—studies have shown that looking at your own social media profile can boost your self-esteem. And why wouldn’t it? Look how great you are!
9. DRESS FOR SUCCESS.
You could say that human beings rely heavily on visual information. You could say we’re shallow and appearance-obsessed. Any way you look at it, our tendency to care about looks can be exploited for your own benefit. Studies have shown that people in well-tailored clothes are considered more successful and confident, even when they’re only shown in photographs. To project (and feel) powerful, select clothes that fit you well and make you feel good.
Didn’t see this one coming, did you? We didn’t either. When the going gets tough, scientists say, it’s important not to bottle up your emotions. Studies have shown that cussing lets us vent our frustrations and feelings of helplessness, which can keep us from feeling like victims, which can help us feel more confident and empowered. There is a catch: We can build up a tolerance. The more frequently you swear, the less power the words have. So save up your foul language for a rainy day, if you can.
11. TALK YOURSELF UP.
Yes, it’s corny, but it really does help. A 2015 study found that self-affirmation has a calming effect, which boosts confidence. Negative self-talk, on the other hand, is a great way to sabotage yourself. If you tell yourself you’re bad at something, your performance will suffer. But remind yourself how brave and clever and terrific you are, and you might just surprise yourself.