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Mar 10, 2008

Easy ways to boost your confidence

Your confidence not only affects how you see yourself; it also impacts the way in which others view you. Positive self-esteem isn't an overnight acquisition, but there are steps you can take to immediately boost your self-esteem. Get on the right track with these important strategies:

Surround yourself with friends. As it turns out, friendships may be one of the most confidence-boosting assets you can have. In a recent survey commissioned by Tupperware through its Chain of Confidence campaign, 85 percent of respondents said that a supportive network of female friends is more likely to make them feel confident in the long term than simply looking attractive.

• Be realistic. If you have realistic expectations for yourself, chances are, you'll feel better about yourself too. Allow this idea to translate into making "baby steps" in various areas of your life. If you want to become vice president of your company, for example, focus on being promoted to director. Achieving these "mini goals" will help give you the confidence you need to go after bigger ones.

• Admit your weaknesses. No one can do everything well, so come clean about your shortcomings, and play up your strengths. If you’re shy in front of a group, working behind the scenes may be a better choice. Remember, every role is a valuable one.

• Silence your inner critic. "Some people take pride in saying, 'I am my own worst critic". People often treat themselves much more poorly than they would ever treat a friend. Give yourself a break, and try to focus on things you can do well instead of zeroing in on the negative.

• Accept compliments gracefully. Many of us fear coming across as arrogant or boastful if we accept a compliment without protest. Other people may simply worry about being the center of attention. In other cases, praise may increase the pressure to perform better the next time and can also trigger feelings of self-doubt. To improve your self-esteem, learn to accept a compliment with a sincere "thank you," and enjoy the praise instead of trying to convince the person that he or she has made an error in judgment.

• Change one habit. It can be overwhelming to think of changing your entire life at once, so start on the path to a confident new you by improving just one thing that you don't like about yourself, such as smoking or chewing your nails. Research suggests that it takes between 20 and 25 days for a new behavior to become a habit, so give yourself time for the change to take effect.

• Stand up straight. It may sound like a small thing, but just having good posture makes anyone look more confident and ready to take on the world. As a bonus, it also usually helps you appear slimmer.

• Dress for success. Numerous studies show that first impressions are based on appearances, and clothes have a major influence on how we appear to others. Perception has a lot to do with what you look like and how you present yourself." You don't need to spend a fortune on designer labels to dress for success; good grooming and flattering clothes are the key.

• Avoid toxic people. It may be impossible to completely cut certain negative people out of your life, but minimizing the time you spend with these energy-vampires can be beneficial. No one enjoys being criticized or dragged down into a whirlpool of negativity. Surrounding yourself with people who are positive and encouraging can do wonders for your confidence.

• Imagine the worst possible outcome. Fear of failure and public humiliation can lower anyone's confidence. So allow yourself to imagine the absolute worst outcome of a possible action. Most of the time, the worst-case scenario isn't so bad after all, and it may help boost your confidence when you realize you can survive a setback.