If you’re wanting to know how to build self-confidence, I’ve got a powerful, yet simple tip you can use to start feeling more confident today.
We all want self-confidence. When we’ve got it, we feel safe, strong, capable, and worthy of love. But depending on the environment we grew up in, or the one we’re living in now, it can be difficult to find our strong, confident center. For most of us, it’s not something that comes automatically. It’s something we have to work at, and it usually evolves over time as part of a self-growth process.
The truth is life can slowly erode our confidence. It starts in adolescence, when we’re given the difficult task of having to form an identity while also navigating a flood of new insecurities and self-doubts. And then we face it again a few years later, when life hands us a bunch of even bigger challenges to tackle. Like adjusting to college, job-hunting, and starting families of our own. Not to mention the inevitable failure or two that can test our confidence at any point in our life cycle.
This post is part 3 in my 6 Little Things series, which is a collection of six simple practices I’m currently cultivating that are making a BIG difference in my life. You can check out the previous two if you want to get on-board with giving them all a try. There’s a mindful eating tip that can seriously transform your relationship to food, and a mantra practice that can help you quiet your mind and find inner peace throughout your day.
But today’s tip is all about building self-confidence, and it’s inspired by my 25 years of practicing yoga. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to have that kind of yoga background to benefit from it. In fact, you can build self-confidence with this tip even if you’ve never done yoga. It’s just one of the many wonderful gifts yoga has offered me. And it’s the best kind of gift – something I can take with me as I walk off my mat and into my everyday world.
So, without further ado, here’s the tip…
Start Building Self-Confidence Through Your Body
That’s right. You can build self-confidence through your body. In fact, it’s an incredibly effective way to do it. Self-confidence means trusting your abilities, your personal qualities, and your own judgment. It means you give yourself validation rather than constantly seeking it from other people. Essentially, it means you know your own worth.
All of those things sound like mental traits. Of course, because that’s what self-confidence is. However, that doesn’t mean the only way to build it within yourself is to think or talk your way into believing it. Self-confidence doesn’t have to arise first or only as a mental trait. It can be cultivated through your body. In fact, I’d venture to say if your self-confidence lives only in your head, you don’t fully possess it yet.
The tip I’m sharing with you today focuses on embodying confidence. What do I mean by that? I mean, feeling your sense of self-worth in your body, and holding your body in such a way that you reinforce and exude that message. I’m talking about your posture.
Good Posture Helps Build Self-Confidence
I know, it sounds so simple. Nothing earth-shattering here. We’ve all heard we should stand up straight and keep good posture to project confidence to the world. But, did you know good posture has been shown to directly correlate to higher self-esteem, improved moods, and resilience to stress? Or that proper posture helps you breathe better? That it gives you more energy, helps you feel less stressed, and makes you less prone to sadness? (source)
Being mindful of good posture can help you build self-confidence from the inside-out. As you practice sitting, walking, and standing with proper posture, you’re sending a powerful message via your body to your mind. That means, even before you mentally believe in your capabilities, personal traits, and trustworthy judgment, you can start embodying self-confidence. And because it requires mindful attention (i.e. engaging your mind), the mental piece begins to follow suit too.
What is Self-Confident Posture?
Self-confident posture is standing upright and tall. It’s stabilizing and aligning your torso with your core muscles. Lifting your chin so that it’s perpendicular to the floor, and keeping your shoulders wide and back so that your chest stays open. All of this not only protects your spine and allows you to breathe more fully and freely, but it also helps you face the world straight-on with a sense of confidence.
Much of the time, we don’t pay much attention to our posture. And even when we do from time to time, we tend to forget about it and slouch back into what’s become our habitual stance. When we’re feeling really insecure, we might even cross our arms over our chest or stomach to give us an added layer of protection from anticipated or perceived judgment.
I confess, even as a longtime yogi, I’ve been mindless about my posture much of the time. Yoga supports better posture in general, but just because we do yoga, it doesn’t mean we automatically hold ourselves in true proper alignment all the time. Over recent weeks, I’ve been giving my posture a lot of mindful attention, because I’ve been consciously cultivating it as an all-day, everyday practice. And, what I’ve noticed with this practice is how incredibly self-confident and self-loving I feel when I walk with strong, upright posture. I’m talking a huge, noticeable difference. So big, it inspired me to write this post.
How Yoga Helps Build Self-Confident Posture
I also noticed how much easier it is to remember to pay attention to my posture after a yoga session. Especially when I’ve devoted extra effort to strengthening my core. In yoga, we focus so much on proper alignment. Mountain Pose asks us to incorporate everything that’s needed for self-confident posture, all in one pose. Other standing & seated poses reinforce at least a few key components. It hit me that, as I’m focusing on carrying myself with graceful, confident posture, I’m literally walking my yoga practice off the mat. Carrying it with me into every moment .
As I said before, you don’t have to practice yoga to start building your self-confidence through posture awareness. However, doing something to strengthen your core muscles will greatly support your efforts. We’ll talk more about specific core-strengthening options in a bit, but first, let’s look at what it means to hold confident posture in more detail.
How to Practice Self-Confident Posture
To really appreciate the benefits of self-confident posture, it can be helpful to compare how differently we feel when we’re holding good vs. poor posture. So let’s start first with noticing what it feels like to have poor posture. Whether you’re seated or standing, slump your shoulders forward, release your abdominal muscles completely, and let your head hang out over your chest. Hold this position for a few moments. Notice how it feels to breathe. Notice any tension or discomfort in your body. And, what kind of signal this position sends to your mind. Does it make you feel self-confident, energized, and ready to face the world? How does it make you feel?
The Posture That Builds Self-Confidence
Now, let’s see how different it feels to hold good posture. Sit or stand upright, with your shoulders aligned over your hips. Lift up through your spine, all the way up through the crown of your head. (It can be helpful to imagine a string attached to the top of your head, and someone pulling that string to lift you up, creating spaciousness all along your spine.)
Activate your core muscles by hugging your lower abdominals into your spine. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean sucking your stomach in. That can interfere with healthy abdominal breathing and make it difficult to hold for any extended amount of time. Activating your core is more subtle than that. It’s just keeping your abdominals slightly tightened to support your posture.
Bring awareness to your shoulder blades and draw them in toward each other (toward the center of your back), so that your shoulders draw back instead of rolling forward. Then, slide them down your back, so that your shoulders lower. At this point, you should be standing or sitting tall with a stabilized torso and an open chest. The last component for self-confident posture is to lift your chin so that it’s perpendicular to the floor, and the weight of your head is stacked directly over the line of your pelvis and shoulders.
Hold this posture long enough to really notice how good it feels in your body. How much easier it is to breathe fully. And, how it makes you feel about yourself. Does this feel like a stance that’s more prepared to face the world with confidence? Does it feel more loving to yourself to bring your body into proper alignment and breathe deeply and fully? It definitely does for me.
Building Self-Confidence With Your Walk
It’s one thing to hold proper posture when we’re sitting or standing. But what about when we’re in motion? It can get a little trickier once we start walking. Yet it’s well worth the effort to bring mindful awareness to your walking habits. There’s something about the act of walking with good posture that sends an even stronger message of self-confidence and self-love to your brain.
Most of us walk without giving much thought to the physical act. It’s a mindless activity that gets us from point A to point B. This often leads us to walk with a forward-leaning posture. Without realizing it, our intention for getting to point B causes us to lean forward. This postural misalignment gets added to whatever other bad habits we may have, including slumped shoulders, head hanging forward, maybe even looking at the ground. All of this is terrible for the health of our spine and can lead to body aches. Additionally, it can subconsciously engender a stressful feeling of being rushed in life. Speaking in terms of posture, it’s living in the future instead of the now.
When you give active attention to maintaining proper posture as you walk, you slow down a bit. Not enough to make you late, but just enough to help you feel calmer. Additionally, and of most importance here, it helps build your self-confidence. Walking with good posture requires you to walk from your center. In order to keep your spine, shoulders, & head aligned as you walk, you have to engage your core. And with all of these parts of your body aligned, you’re not leaning forward or back. Naturally, you lead with your pelvic & abdominal region rather than your chest.
How Does Walking from Your Core Support Self-Confidence?
I’m going to show you a walking exercise that can help you walk from your core with proper alignment. But first, I want to emphasize how powerful this walking technique can be for boosting your confidence levels.
The yoga system teaches us about chakras. These are energy centers that run along the spine, each one supporting different nerve centers, organs, and psychological or spiritual aspects of our being. When these energy centers are balanced, we experience a free flow of life energy and healthier states for the associated parts of our body and psyche. When they’re out of balance, we experience less optimal functioning that can create unnecessary struggle for us.
There are two chakras that lie within the core region: the sacral and the solar plexus. The sacral chakra influences our self-esteem, sexuality, and creative expression. When balanced, it helps us remain open and gives us the courage we need to risk vulnerability, to allow our inner self to be seen by others. The solar plexus chakra influences our sense of life purpose, competence, and personal empowerment. Combined, these two chakras help stimulate and sustain self-confidence.
When we walk from our core, with our core strong and engaged, we’re activating these chakras. It’s subtle and energetic, but it’s happening. This is your body’s power center. When you walk upright, leading from this region of your body, instead of throwing your body off-kilter by leaning forward or back, you’re walking from a place of strength.
Just like other people read your body language to size-up your confidence, your own mind receives those same subtle cues from your body. When you walk from your power-center, the message you’re communicating is I’m strong. I’m competent. I’m valuable.
The Self-Confident Walking Exercise
This exercise is something I learned during my yoga therapy training. It works instantly to show you how to walk from your core. I learned it many years ago and was so impressed, I went out and bought a bunch of wooden dowels to teach it to my yoga students. It has definitely informed my walking posture all this time, but sadly, not as consistently as I would have liked. Old habits die hard!
However, since I’ve been making it a regular, mindful practice to walk with self-confident posture, I’m finding it’s gradually beginning to stick with me more. I’m noticing the difference in how I feel, both physically and mentally, when I walk with good vs. sloppy posture. It’s serving as an intrinsic motivation to straighten up, slow down, and lead from my center. It takes time and effort to develop new habits and make them stick. But when you pay attention to how good those new habits make you feel, it gets a little easier.
Here’s how to do it.
To do this exercise, you’ll need a stick or pole of some sort. When I learned this and taught it to my students, we used long wooden dowels. You can purchase one at a hardware store, or if you happen to have one around the house, even better! However, you don’t need a dowel. You can use anything you have that’s long and straight to do this exercise. Examples might be a yard stick, a broom, or a long-handled duster. To demonstrate, I’m using my Swiffer sweeper.
While standing, place the pole behind you, holding the top end with one hand above your head. Grasp the other end with your other hand at the lower part of your bottom. Then, align your posture as described earlier (shoulders & head stacked above your hips, shoulders back and down, chin perpendicular to the floor).
You’re going to be bringing three points on your body into contact with your pole. The back of your head, your upper back, and your bottom. As you do this, you’ll notice that to hold these points of contact, you have to maintain your postural alignment.
Add-In the Self-Confident Walking
Make sure your core is active, and begin walking forward while keeping those three parts of your body in contact with your pole. Take a good amount of steps, turning to walk in the opposite direction several times if you need to. As you’re walking, notice what part of your body is leading. It should be your core – your pelvic and abdominal region.
This is a power walk. And by that I don’t mean power over other people, but a strong sense of your own personal power, worth, and self-confidence. Practice it as many times as you need to get a feel for it in your body. Then, try it without the pole. You can repeat this exercise as often as needed, until you know what it feels like, without the pole, to walk from your center.
Strengthening Your Core Builds Self-Confidence
Most of us know a strong core is key to good posture. And that the core muscles stabilize the spine, support good balance, and decrease risks of injury. But studies have shown increasing your physical strength also translates to higher self-esteem and a greater sense of competence. When you work on developing core strength, you’re building self-confidence not only via improved posture, but also through the empowerment that naturally comes from any kind of strength-training.
There are many exercises that can help strengthen your core, but since I’m a yogi, I’m going to share a few yoga poses most anyone can do. Remember, as with any body movement, listen to your body. Come out of any poses that cause significant discomfort, and if you have physical limitations, talk with your healthcare provider before adding in new exercises.
Core-Strengthening Yoga Poses for Self-Confident Posture
These yoga poses all work wonders to develop your core strength, and in turn, your self-confidence. Just be sure to give your spine some love between poses, and at the end of your practice, by rounding your back. You can use Child Pose for this and/or simply hug your knees into your chest while lying on your back.
As you develop core strength – and put it to good use by practicing properly aligned posture and core-empowered walking – you’ll start to feel your self-confidence building from within. You won’t need to look externally for validation of your worth or competence, because you’ll be feeding yourself affirming messages with every strong, centered step you take.
I hope you find this practice as empowering as I’ve found it to be. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. And check back for next week’s 4th installment of my 6 Little Things series. I’ll be sharing another yoga-inspired tip – the beautiful & productive practice of waking for the sattvic hour.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and that you walk confidently upright from your strong center wherever you go! You are, after all, an exquisite manifestation of divine imagination. Why shouldn’t you?