Anyone can list all the usual strategies for boosting self confidence: things like thinking positively, surrounding yourself with emotional support, and setting realistic goals. But in this article, we'll explore five less-common strategies. Strategies that don't necessarily make much sense to our rational minds, but that research has proven to be effective.
For instance, did you know that where you exercise can impact your self-confidence? Or that there's one simple thing anyone can do, regardless of how attractive they are, to snag a date? Or that there's something you can wear that can actually make you feel stronger and more likeable?
1. Wear cologne or perfume.
I know, this one even makes me roll my eyes a little. However, research actually supports the notion that taking pride in how you look--and in this case, how you smell - can increase self-confidence.
A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Sciences found that men who used cologne exhibited an increase in both self-confidence and self-perceived attractiveness. So much so, in fact, that others noticed the confidence in the absence of olfactory cues (read: smell).
The study states: "This effect highlights the flexible nature of self-esteem to respond to rapid changes in one's own physical traits through the use of artificial cosmetic products. An individual's personal odour and the perfume product chosen may thus influence both self-perception and impressions formed by others. " In other words, it's not just the smell itself that others are responding to, but to the increased confidence you exhibit when you know you smell good.
2. Exercise--preferably outside.
Everybody who's ever exercised knows the positive effect it can have on mood and self-esteem. When you take care of your health, you have more energy and feel more fit and trim--which helps to improve your perception of yourself.
Some interesting research has found, however, that exercising outside in an attractive, pleasant setting can actually significantly increase these positive effects. While exercise alone decreased blood pressure, increased self-esteem and had a positive effect on 4 out of 6 mood measures, exercise in a pleasant outdoor environment resulted in significantly increased self-esteem measures.
In other words, the next time you feel your confidence waning, take your exercise routine outside!
3. Assume the 'power pose'.
Amy Cuddy, social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business School, noticed that students who were most actively involved in the classroom tended to display 'power poses'; that is, open positions, with arms out and heads up...a more dominant position. Quieter students, on the other hand, tended to sit in more closed positions, heads down, hands folded, etc.
Cuddy and her fellow researchers wondered: could a conscious shift to a more dominant pose actually change internal confidence indicators? Turns out they could. By having research participants assume these power poses for just 2 minutes, they saw an increase in testosterone, a decrease in cortisol and an increase in risk-taking behaviors.
The takeaway? Before your next business meeting, job interview or date, take a few minutes to assume a power pose, and let your self-confidence soar!
4. Smile and make eye contact.
A confident smile can be more attractive than good looks, according to research out of Webster University, as reported in Time magazine. Dr. Monica Moore studied flirting techniques in bars and malls to see which ones worked best; and what she found was that it wasn't necessarily the most physically-attractive people who got approached the most, but the ones who made eye contact and smiled with confidence.
Your non-verbal cues make all the difference, and smiling and making eye contact may signal availability and confidence. In other words, be careful who you smile at!
5. Wear heroic clothing.
In her book, Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, Professor Karen J. Pine shares the results of her study, which asked students to wear Superhero clothing when spending time among their peers. She hypothesized that wearing such clothing might impact the thoughts and moods of the wearer, leading to increased confidence. Not only did this prove to be true, but the wearers also reported perceiving themselves to be physically stronger, more likeable and even superior to other students.
She also found that other types of clothing impacted the self-confidence of the wearer. For instance, those who were asked to wear a white coat demonstrated increased mental agility.
This research suggests that choosing the right clothes for the situation can have a significant impact on our performance, mood and confidence levels. The next time you face a stressful situation, don't underestimate the importance of your clothing selection.
Although these strategies may appear puzzling at first glance, research appears to back them up. While I wouldn't pin all your hopes for increased self-esteem on these techniques, it sure doesn't hurt to give them a try!
What's your most unusual tip for increasing your self-confidence? Share below!