Self-confidence and aplomb

Healthy self-confidence is often associated with ability, strength, leadership and authenticity and is key when it comes to addressing one's own needs and personal boundaries.

Self-confidence can be learned

Man confident with folded arms

Self-confidence, aplomb, a self-assured presence: these are qualities that can be impressive and likely to lead to success in certain situations, and more than a few people would like to have access to them in their own personal toolkit. But what constitutes a self-confident presence? Can it be learned? And how can I show poise and exude self-confidence in my upcoming salary negotiation or the next discussion with my family? A healthy self-confidence helps you to address your boundaries and needs. It takes self-confidence and a confident demeanour to stay true to yourself and draw attention to your own demands. People with low self-esteem or an unstable self-image are often plagued by self-doubt. The good news is that you can learn self-confidence and aplomb. Over time, you will approach new situations or difficult challenges with more composure and be better able to deal with crises and set your own boundaries.   

Why is establishing limits important for self-confidence?

If we always say yes, although we mean no, and do not confidently disagree with decisions or opinions when necessary, our own wishes and needs fall by the wayside. At some point, the camel’s back will break, and we might experience a strong emotional reaction. Physical complaints such as inner turmoil, stomach aches, sleep disorders or high blood pressure can also result. Yet the little word “no” is, after all, only a word. It is only through our thoughts and feelings that it acquires negative connotations which make it difficult for us to say “no” – and thereby establish boundaries.  

Why do so many people find it difficult to say no?   

1. Fear of rejection, of failure or of hurting someone

By not using the word “no”, we want to try to avoid jeopardising relationships or incurring other apparently negative consequences. However, saying “no” to others often also means saying “YES” to yourself. Try to understand that you are not deciding against another person, but for yourself.

2. The desire for recognition, belonging and harmony

Saying “no” usually goes against our basic need for recognition, belonging and harmony. When we say “no”, we feel we are not meeting these needs and are afraid of missing out or not being liked by others.

3. The formative childhood

An important factor in the later development of self-confident behaviour is the response children receive when they argue, express an opinion or answer back. These experiences shape our self-image and our behaviour. For example, saying “no” today might be seen as a danger if in the past this was responded by punishment or rejection and conformity was rewarded.

4. Additional obstacles to developing self-esteem

Pity, flattery, being blind-sided and emotional blackmail make it additionally difficult to respond to demands with self-confidence and to stand firm. When confronted with arguments like "Come on, how many times have I helped you out in the past?", "You're my last hope; it really won’t take long at all" or "If you don't help me, I'm completely screwed and I'll still be sitting here tomorrow morning", we usually only realise afterwards that we reacted hastily because we were exposed to feelings of guilt or didn't take enough time to make a decision.

The path to more self-confidence

Self-confidence and aplomb can be learned and practised step by step. If you maintain poise and appear confident, you will remain able to act and keep a good balance between your needs and those of others. The following steps will help you to be more confident and self-assured in your everyday life.  

Person sees himself with crown in mirror
Physical exercises for more self-confidence
Our posture has a great influence on our well-being and motivation. This interaction between body and psyche is called embodiment. For example, you can use the Superman pose to give a boost to your self-confidence, your mood and your effect on others.
Person with thundercloud over head
Overcoming negative thought patterns
What negative thought patterns or inner doubts do you have? Write these thoughts down and become aware of negative formulations which might be blocking you. Then reformulate these expressions into positive ones and develop a kind of affirmation that will strengthen you at the next opportunity. For example, "This will never work out" becomes "I'll try it out - it will work out well."
Person stands in a circle
As the term self-awareness suggests, be aware of yourself and your strengths. Through simple mindfulness exercises or relaxation techniques, you can strengthen your conscious awareness and find inner serenity. The Body Scan, for example, is a good way to integrate self-awareness into your everyday life.
heart between two hands
Be a good friend to yourself
Don't be too hard on yourself and talk to yourself as a good friend would. When you make a mistake or something doesn’t work out the way you wanted, try to respond with a bit of self-deprecation and conscious nonchalance. The sentence “I’ll forgive myself for that” radiates serenity, poise and self-love, both internally and externally.

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