Developing self confidence is the cornerstone of positive personal development but it can often be the most confusing aspect. How do you build self confidence when if you are traveling down the personal development path then you are obviously not 100% happy with yourself? I believe that most people who are actively seeking personal development are not necessarily trying to change themselves per se, but they are trying rediscover their natural personality state. They are trying to find the version of themselves that is the most congruent with what they feel inside. This is actually a very hard thing to achieve because there is so much bullshit and bluster generated in our society that confuses the issue and this is why learning to build your own self confidence is so important.
Which is why I was excited by the fact that my recent article on using affirmations to build self confidence struck a chord with some readers and has already generated some good comments. It is great to see other people who recognise the significance of being able to build a positive self image. With that in mind I thought I would continue this trend and talk about another trick I use to main my elevated self confidence: daily comfort challenges.
Daily Comfort Challenges
The concept of the daily comfort challenge is to set yourself a personal challenge every day that pushes you outside your comfort zone. It should force you to confront your simple social fears, which are often unfounded, and do things you would never normally consider. The confidence you generate from pushing yourself like this is amazing.
I used to have a massive fear of failure when it came to talking to women, which of course manifested itself throughout my life, and I ended up afraid to talk to most women. Not exactly an ideal state for a 23 year old heterosexual man to be in. So when I started setting myself these daily comfort challenges I began small - I just had to say "Hi" to one random woman every day.
It sounds simple, and to be honest it was, but it gave me exactly what I needed. It forced me to confront my stupid fear and realise that talking to strangers was not hard. Nor scary. It was actually a whole lot fun. I ended up meeting some great people, having some fantastic conversations, and building up my confidence.
Enough rambling from me. Here are my top three comfort challenges that you can use to build your self confidence...
Comfort Challenge One: Talk to 5 Complete Strangers
Try starting conversations with several complete strangers every day. This is a great way to build confidence and hone your communication skills and the beauty is that it doesn't matter what you say because you will probably never see them again in your life.
Tips for talking to strangers:
- Start with people who get paid to be friendly (e.g. waiters, charity beggars etc)
- Talk to people forced into close quarter (e.g. elevators, trains, checkout lines)
- Keep it simple - you don't need to discuss the meaning of life with them, just say "hi"
Try it and see what kind of conversations you can generate. You never know, you may meet some very interesting people.
Comfort Challenge Two: Perform a Street Stunt
The street stunt is anything that is completely out of the ordinary and will cause most people to think you are crazy. Don't worry, it's really them that are crazy. ;)
Performing a street stunt takes little effort but it throws all current societal expectations out the window. Here are some good examples you can start with but don't be afraid to create your own:
- Dressing strangely (undies on the outside is always good)
- Lying down in the middle of the footpath
- Walking on your hands (I wish I could do this one)
The key to a good street stunt is to never acknowledge that anything strange occurred. When you are finished just go about your business as if nothing happened. If people comment or ask you about it just fob them off with a silly excuse like "Oh that? My doctor says I need to walk on my hands every hour to take the pressure off my feet".
Comfort Challenge Three: Get a Phone Number
This is taking the talking to strangers challenge to another level, and is also great for anyone struggling to connect with people of the opposite sex.
The challenge is simple - just get a phone number from someone you don't know. You don't have to like them, or actually want to call them, but you must find a stranger and get past the initial small talk stage to finish with their phone number. The phone number doesn't even have to be real, just get some numbers.
I only have one tip for getting a phone number - ask for it. Most people aren't expecting you to ask for their number and if you've had a small conversation beforehand you might be pleasantly surprised at just how willing they are to give out their digits. Or at least get rid of you by giving you a fake number.
If you still want a suggestion try something like this - "Hey I saw walking by and thought you looked amazing and I just had to come say hi…I've got something important I've got to get to right now but I'd love to catch up for a chat sometime...What's the best number to call you on?" Smooth right?
Confidence is the goal, nothing else matters
For all of the above challenges the specific actions taken and actual results are not what matters. The goal is to build your self confidence. It doesn't matter if you strike out 20 times on getting a phone number because the experience you get from it (and the realisation that only your own opinion of yourself matters) is worth much more than a single phone number will ever be.
There is no limit to what you can try with these personal challenges, but be sure to keep it all legal. I don't want to get a sudden influx of "I decided to run naked down the street and I got arrested" hate messages. Unless photos are included.
Get creative and set yourself some personal challenges that are fun but push your boundaries at the same time. Take a look at your life and figure out where you lack the most confidence and challenge yourself to get outside your comfort zone. You will be amazed at the impact it will have on your self confidence.