There is nothing like pushing our boundaries a bit (or a lot) to give our confidence a great boost. Think back to a time when you felt challenged. You didn’t think you could do something, but you did it. Perhaps you aced a test that you thought you were going to fail or you moved across the country far away from everything you knew and started a new life for yourself.
Do you remember how you felt? Did you stand a little taller and walk with more take charge attitude? Each time we “stretch” ourselves in this way, it expands our world. We grow as a person and barriers come down.
To be clear, let’s define what we mean by stretching. We are not talking about the kind we do before a run or in a yoga class. We will consider stretching for this purpose anytime we do something that is out of the ordinary for us. The more out of our comfort zone we go, the bigger the stretch.
A great article from Forbes.com, " How You Can Build Your Confidence and Keep It" advises that the more we move out of our comfort zone, the more opportunities and successes we will achieve. With that personal success comes greater self confidence.
Leslie Sokol Ph.D, in her Psychology Today article, " Six Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem," wrote: “Take on a new challenge and prove to yourself you CAN rather than you can’t.”
In this post we offer you seven ways to stretch yourself for greater confidence. As you will find out, they don’t need to be a huge task such as completing a marathon or making that cross country move. Small stretches contribute a lot to our self-esteem and sense of joy as well.
Are you ready? These ideas are just to get you started. You may find that once you try some of these stretches, you will eagerly come up with your own.
1. Smile at everybody you meet today.
For some of us this is natural, but for others, this will be a stretch. We may be comfortable smiling at people we know. What about a stranger? What about someone who looks stern and is not smiling at you? Chances are, they are the folks that could use your smile the most.
Make somebody’s day today by smiling at them and feel better yourself. If you have to, fake it till you make it. It will get easier with practice.
2. Teach a class or volunteer to tutor.
We all have within us and from our life experience expertise that we can share. Your public school district, a local church, or local chapter of Boys and Girls Clubs of America are all good places to find teaching or volunteering opportunities. Teaching requires knowing a subject and giving something of yourself during instruction. There is no better feeling in the world than when your student(s) get something that you explained or demonstrated for them. Try it. Be a teacher or tutor for a time and you will positively shine.
3. Visit a new place.
Experiencing the unfamiliar broadens our life experience. This can be a neighborhood you have never been to in your own city or someplace more exotic and far away. It doesn’t matter so long as it is a new experience for you.
4. Try a new food.
Have you ever eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant or eaten escargot (yes, they are snails, but can be quite delightful)? Pick a new restaurant or cook a type of dish that you have never prepared before. This is your chance to be adventurous and daring. Who knows? You may just find a new favorite meal.
Same idea as above only you will be reading something new, whether it's a book, magazine or newspaper you never read before.
6. Start a blog.
Writing is very healing and therapeutic. It is also a great medium to reach out to others. Pick a subject. Any subject will do. The more passionate you feel about the topic, the easier it will be to write about it. Write from the heart and hit the “publish” button. See how you feel afterward. Stick with it for a while.
7. Attend a Toastmasters International meeting.
These clubs are great for improving your public speaking skills and combating stage fright (which most of us have) in a highly structured and supportive environment.
I hope that these seven ideas have inspired you to do some things out of your ordinary life experience. Making a habit of this kind of stretching and moving past your fears will not only increase your confidence, but also will enrich your life in countless ways. Pass the escargot, please!
Debra struggled with anxiety and insomnia for many years. About five years ago, she started a blog, The Warm Milk Journal, as a way to reach out to others who may be having the same struggles. The Warm Milk Journal has become a popular resource for people in need of a good night sleep and recently won Success Magazine's BlogStar award. Debra holds degrees in communications, law, and education. When she is not blogging she is a social media specialist for a large automotive group company in the Jacksonville, Florida area. When not working, you may find Debra walking on the beach or sweating it out at a nearby Bikram studio.
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