Y’all ready for a bombshell?
I haven’t always had the self-confidence levels of P. Diddy after bedding the current, former and future Miss. Worlds at the same time.
In fact, I remember back when I was in early high school I was embarrassed taking my shirt off in front of people.
It wasn’t because I was fat (as much as my friends like to argue the contrary), it was simply because I didn’t have the physique of a professional athlete, movie star or model and those were the ones I was watching on TV and seeing in the magazines.
I recall noticing, at an early age, that it was the same type of guy who was on the magazine covers and in the lead role in the movies. He was always tall, good looking, athletically built and – most importantly, in my opinion – he appeared to be super-duper-confident.
Put simply, I wanted to be that guy…or get as close to him as I could.
Now, I knew I couldn’t force myself to grow or change my looks (damned genetics), but I made a concerted effort to positively manipulate the two factors I could control: my body and my confidence.
It wasn’t an easy process, nor was it a quick one but here are some recommendations I have for you that I’ve used in order to transform myself from an insecure teenager into a man with slightly astronomically higher than average levels of self-confidence.
1) LIFT WEIGHTS, BAYBEEEEE
As soon as I was old enough to join my local gym, I headed down (with my mum and her credit card, of course) and signed up for my membership.
I’d seen the Men’s Health covers for years and now it was my turn to I get a piece of the pie. (Yup, I really thought it’d be that easy.)
Initially, I’d run, cycle, row and then work the ‘mirror muscles’; blasting out sets of push-ups, sit-ups and ‘gun-curls’.
Then, still mainly focused on machines, I progressed to a three-day split. Then a four-day split. And, finally a five-day split where I worked: chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs on different days, with my two extra days spent running or playing football.
However, as I progressed, I learned to focus on ‘bigger’ compound movements with barbells and dumbbells – such as squats, deadlifts, pushes and pulls – in order to get more ‘bang for my buck’. Basically, I wanted to target more muscle groups in less time.
My body was changing by the week and transforming by the month.
And so too was my confidence.
Every time I lifted a new weight, added an extra rep, found a new vein and received a new compliment, it was as if someone added another penny to my confidence piggy bank.
Over the years, I continued to lift weights and chase after new personal records in the weights room. However, despite my constant hard work, I’ve never been the strongest or the biggest guy in the gym. And, you know what? I’m cool with that.
My goal is, and always has been, to be the best that I can be. I’ve never wanted to be ‘better’ than anyone else. And I think that’s an important message that’s oftentimes lost among those who are not physically active.
Of course there are always going to be people stronger and fitter than you are, but that shouldn’t be your concern. Your concern should be to become stronger and fitter than you are at this precise moment in time. To constantly strive for self-improvement.
Put simply, if you’ve never lifted weights before – whether you’re a man, woman or child – I implore you to start.
If you work hard and are patient, over time your body will transform; and so too will your confidence levels.
2) LEARN MARTIAL ARTS. (Errybody was kung-fu fighting…hu wootcha!)
Once I got to around 17-18 years-old, I had the body I was looking for.
I had a full-blown six-pack, biceps that I could flex and pecs that I could ‘make dance’. (Great non-verbal chat-up line in any social situation. Right, girls?)
However, there was something missing. And that something was martial arts.
I was first introduced to Thai boxing by a friend whom I always envied. I didn’t envy his physique as we were similarly built, but I envied his self-confidence.
You see, he had an ‘X factor’ in that he could defend himself and those around him if shit went down and knowing that gave him a sense of self-belief unlike anything I’d ever seen. I knew that, if I was to match his confidence levels, I had to learn how to defend myself. I had to learn how to fight.
After a few years of Thai boxing I was introduced to MMA and was immediately infatuated. I found it amazing how these vicious knockout artists’ skills were being totally nullified by grapplers who were, seemingly, just cuddling them.
I knew I couldn’t be the best martial artist that I could be without learning how to grapple and I knew that my self-confidence would always be inhibited knowing that there were such glaring holes in my ability to defend myself.
After this stark realisation, I accepted the invitation to take a couple of classes at a submissions grappling club close to my university and, soon after, joined my local MMA club where I could continue to develop my skills and learn how to blend them all together.
My experience training and competing in various martial arts has been and continues to be amazing.
I’ve won, drawn and lost in competition. I’ve beaten people up in the gym and been punched silly in the gym (more times than I’d like to admit).
I’ve also learnt more than I ever thought I would about being a good human being. (I know that sounds overly philosophical but I know that the ladies and gents who regularly exchange punches, kicks, takedowns, choke holds and joint locks know exactly what I’m taking about.)
My advice to anyone, regardless of your age, gender, shape and/or fitness levels, would be to find your local martial arts club and take a few classes.
Whether you fancy learning how to strike, wrestle or use submissions, I guarantee that your levels of self-confidence will grow with every new technique you learn. Furthermore, your fitness levels and body composition will most-likely make positive changes as a byproduct.
3) WATCH & LEARN.
(This section is pretty male-orientated, largely because I’m a man, but it’s applicable to girls too; just picture popular female leads and apply the same rules)
Do you think I’m a good bet to play the lead male in a Hollywood blockbuster sometime in the future?
But that doesn’t mean I resent the guys who have/are played/playing the roles. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I used to (and still do) study them and try to learn from them.
As I mentioned earlier, the stars are all good looking, athletic and confident. Additionally, the male leads have another enviable attribute in common: they always pull the hottest girls with little or no effort.
That’s what I wanted.
I wanted the hottest girls in school, the girls I’d been ogling at in FHM, Nuts and Zoo and the girls in the movies. And so, I figured, I had to start behaving like the characters who were wooing them.
Guys like Ashton Kutcher, Will Smith, Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx generally play the role of the alpha male in their movies and, as a result, have the adoration of females and the envy of the males all over the world.
What do their characters possess or what do they do that the average man on the street does not?
Obviously, they’re all good-looking, athletic and have confidence in abundance. But, interestingly, what I notice is that they have some more subtle attributes in common, in terms of how they convey their confidence. Here’s a couple of them:
Dress to impress.
The first minute of the link above shows Ryan Gosling dressing to impress. His shoes match his belt. His belt matches his watch. His watch matches his suit. His suit matches his shades. Everything is in sync and it all fits well.
Then the camera switches to Steve Carell, who is wearing a pair of worn-out, baggy jeans, a polo shirt that’s at least a size too big and a pair of used and abused trainers.
Gosling proceeds to give Carell a make-over by encouraging him to buy clothes that fit and match, ditch his velcro wallet and get a hair cut.
It’s really as simple as that.
(I appreciate that this is kind of ironic coming from a guy who wears shorts and a t-shirt or a tracksuit to work everyday. Just remember this is a fitness blog, not an article for GQ.)
Whilst desperately looking for alternatives to tutorials of how to walk confidently on YouTube, I remembered the most confident walk I’ve ever seen: the WWE chairman, Vince McMahon’s.
The way you walk tells someone a lot about you and your levels of self-belief. If you’re hunched over and walking like your spine has taken a vacation, you’re not going to come across as a particularly confident person. However, if you walk with with your shoulders back, your chest up and your head looking forwards you convey an air of self-belief that is believable to others.
Maybe old Vince takes it a little too far but, if you can get away with it, I say go for it!
Care about other people, genuinely.
I notice that the male leads go out of their way to help other people; not because they have to but because they want to.
(Check out Will Smith in the movie ‘Hitch’ or, the aforementioned, Ryan Gosling in ‘Crazy, Sexy Love’.)
I believe giving back is one of the most rewarding things someone can do. If you’ve got a particular skill and you know someone who is lacking in it, help a brutha (or sista) out.
For example, I can’t count and always miscount the number of reps my clients have completed in a set so one of the guys I train, who happens to be an accountant, said he’s buying me the Sesame Street Guide to Counting for Christmas; showing two things: 1) He cares about me; and 2) I’m an idiot. (Yeah, I know, it’s probably more 2 than 1.)
Convey success by faking it until you make it.
Whatever you do, behave as though you are already successful at it by using the previous tips.
For an example of this point, watch the movie ‘Django: Unchained’ with Jamie Foxx and pay close attention to the scene immediately following the one in which he’s allowed to pick his own clothes for the first time.
Despite being a slave in the previous scene, he rides that horse like he’s just conquered the world.
He’s dressed to impress, his posture is great, when he dismounts the horse he walks like he’s a higher power and he’s doing it all because of his love for his wife. (Not sure if the last one counts but it’s staying.)
The men I’m speaking about in this section play roles in which they act according to the script they’re given. In everyday life, they may not be particularly confident men, but they play the role of confident men very well. So, why can’t you act like you’re confident?
4) TAP INTO YOUR MIND.
I once heard Muhammad Ali say: “I am the Greatest. I said that even before I knew I was” and, immediately, it resonated with me.
I started telling myself I was the greatest in front of the mirror every single day. I didn’t even know what I was trying to convince myself I was the greatest at, but it was working.
Everyday I’d have more of a spring in my step and my belief in myself soared.
I took it a step further and set my alarm tone to ‘The World’s Greatest’ by R. Kelly and didn’t get up out of my bed until I had listened to the full song.
Now, as ridiculous as that sounds, it had the desired effect.
I began making bold statements, such as: “I’m pretty” and “I’ve got the best body in the world”. I didn’t even fully believe my own words but the more I said it, the more it started to stick; just like Ali said it would.
I started getting recognition for my physique and known as being ‘cocky’. (I know now cocky isn’t a good thing but I thought it was when I was young.)
Whenever I doubted myself, I would go back to the drawing board and have a word with myself, either internally through thoughts or externally through speech, in front of a mirror.
I’ve done this before job interviews, martial arts competitions, games of football and even nights out where I was determined to get that chick’s number.
Believe me when I tell you, it works.
I started doing these ‘things’ in high school, not knowing they were legitimate techniques. Imagine my shock when I took sports psychology modules at university and discovered that ‘self-talk’, ‘imagery’ and ‘positive affirmations’ are, in fact, scientific theories. (Science-bomb, bitches.)
If you don’t currently believe in yourself, use techniques such as imagery and self-talk.
In more basic terms: think of an attribute you wish you had more of and simply imagine you have it in abundance. Then tell yourself how amazing you are, out loud and in front of a mirror, often. Literally take time out of your daily routine and focus on these two tasks and I promise the results will be remarkable; as long as you BELIEVE!!!
5) GIVE ZERO FUCKS.
I used to lose sleep at night over what other people thought about me.
Genuinely, it used to drive me wild.
She hasn’t replied to the text I sent her 15 seconds ago. Maybe she’s not interested?
My friend isn’t answering my calls. Maybe he doesn’t want to be friends with me anymore?
The interview went quite well but the interviewer didn’t laugh at any of my jokes. Maybe I’m not the right man for the job?
Then something amazing happened: I just stopped caring.
If I was to hazard a guess I’d say that it happened a few years back. I was in my early 20s and had been hanging around with the same group of friends for around a decade; some even longer. I had a solid relationship with all of my family members, had finished university and was already working as a personal trainer. I had done quite a bit of travelling and had, what I’d consider, more life experience than most people of a similar age.
I guess all of those factors combined to form a wall of security around me that had been increasing in size and strength since before I could remember.
Other people’s opinion no longer mattered to me.
I didn’t care if I didn’t get the job or if the girl wasn’t interested in me or if someone called me an asshole. As long as I did my best to be a ‘good person’ to everyone in my life, and behaved genuinely, I had nothing to worry about.
I knew my family and friends would always have my back and no one else really matters, after all.
Surround yourself with good people who will always be there for you and stop caring about what other people think. Remember: the lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep…or something like that.
THE WRAP UP
Over the years I have worked hard in the gym and earned a physique I am proud to show off.
I have studied various martial arts and have become semi-useful at punching and choking people; at least competent enough to walk down the street without worrying about my safety or the safety of those in my company.
I’ve watched enough movies and analysed enough stars to know I should be wearing clothes that fit and match, walking with good posture and behaving like I’ve already won the game of life.
I’ve told myself over a million and one times that “I am great” and it has finally sunk in deep enough for me to act like I believe it.
Finally, I have ceased to care what other people think about me and figure that as long as I do my best to be ‘good’ to everyone the majority of people will have a positive perception of me.
Self-confidence, in my experience, is a very trainable character trait. I don’t believe it’s one in which we are born with. Instead, it’s one that grows over time if you’re willing to work on it.
If you follow my tips, your body composition will change, your skills will increase, your dress sense will improve and you’ll begin to believe in yourself. Next, other people will notice and begin to pass comment: “you look like you’ve lost weight.”; “your arms are looking great.”; “I really like that shirt.” This will improve your confidence even further as, at that point, as opposed to your confidence building being internal, other people will start doing the job for you by making positive remarks about your appearance.
Then it becomes a beautifully harmonious cycle as the more you improve, the more others notice, which gives you more motivation to continue to improve in order to catch the eye of even more people. This’ll continue for a while until you finally take a back seat and think…”HOLY SHIT, how did that happen?”
…and then you’ll write a 3,000 word blog post on the subject aimed at helping others.