9 Ways to Exude Confidence When You Feel Like a Hot Mess Inside

confidenceConfidence is a beautiful thing; it emanates persuasion, inspiration and power.   It emits a presence about a person that others around them easily tune in to and react to positively.

It is a great attribute to have; however, it is not always consistent or present.  Everyone has doubts, fears, negative self-talk that interferes with their confidence.  Unfortunately, these things can happen when we need confidence the most.

Here are nine tips to help you exude confidence when you are feeling like a hot mess inside, focusing on internal and external factors.

Externally – Posture

It is a natural bodily reaction to want to shut down or curl up when we are feeling insecure.  This can include crossing your arms across your chest, slouching and lowering your head down.  The one move that I recommend will help straighten your posture, release tension and raise your head all in one.

The Shoulder Roll

In an exaggerated sweeping motion, while inhaling, lower your shoulders and bring together toward your chest, roll them up as though you are scrunching them up toward your ears, continue the roll toward your back squeezing your shoulder blades together and finally drop your shoulders with a little emphasis while tilting your head up about 20 degrees and exhaling in a short, forced, pushed of breath.

In doing this motion, you may not realize how tight your shoulders had become.  This allows you to tighten them a bit more and with the release breath and drop, it will allow you to relax while straightening your posture. 

Simply “standing up straight” may cause you to push your shoulders back, stick your chest out and add to the tension.  The rolling helps you achieve a more natural, confident straightness. 

If you do not feel it the first time, do it again until you do.

The head tilt forces you to raise your head at a higher degree than what you normally would hold your head.  After the exhale, your chin will lower, but not to the buried position it had started.

Hand Reset

After you complete the shoulder roll, shake our your hands.  A nice, short, vigorous shake to both of them at the same time.  Odds are if you are a hot mess inside, your hands are giving it away.  They could be clinched, buried in your pockets or fidgeting.  Shaking them out releases the tension, allows you to recognize any give away signs you were emitting and let them go back to a more natural state.


Think of something that creates an easy, mini-smile.  I saw a video of cute dogs and when I think of it, I unconsciously let out a little breath and smile.  I don’t want to think of something that makes me laugh for fear that I will have a big old goofy smile on my face that might make people wonder. 

You also do not want to force a smile.  This could come across like the Sheldon Cooper forced smile that is just frightening.  Instead, just something that makes you smile a bit.  It relaxes the muscles in your face and gives a pleasant, yet unobtrusive, impression to anyone walking up.

Fit and Flatter

Make sure you are wearing clothing for the occasion that both fit and flatter you.  When you look good, you feel good and it comes through.  I do not think there is an exam I have taken from college through my professional career in which I did not dress up to take. 

Internally – Attitude

This may sound trite, but it really is all about the attitude.  What you are thinking you are broadcasting.  Now is the time that you need to change the internal dialog.

Safe Word

Think of a word, one that you have a positive affiliation to and make it your safe word.  That way when your mind starts to wander down the negative or worrisome path you can immediately stop it in its tracks by saying to yourself the safe word.

I am a dog lover or otherwise known as the crazy dog lady.  When I start to get nervous or anxious, I say to myself, “Puppies!”  If not one is nearby I say it out loud.  Who can be negative when you think of puppies?  Not me!  Whatever will help you throw the train off the tracks.

Be Proud

Once you threw that train off that track, it is time to reroute it.  Think of something that you have accomplished that you are proud of, no matter how big or small.  I recently completed a project helping build a fence, gate, arbor and path for my garden.  It was a lot of hard work – I had the bruises, sore muscles and sun poisoning to prove it.  But the end result was exactly what I wanted and it is beautiful.  I think of this and am proud of myself for the work I put in, the team work, how much I learned and that it is complete.

Chose the Positive What If

It is easy to be waiting for an interview or to give a presentation and have our mind travel down the negative road.  We think about how we might say the wrong thing, come across in the wrong way, sweat too much, seem too anxious, talk too much, go down a rabbit hole unable to recover…and the list goes on where we create and walk ourselves through a whole scenario in which we completely bomb the interview or presentation.

It is easy to mind play the negative.  Try mind playing the positive: you speak eloquently, how the audience responds, you answer each question perfectly, you are relaxed and in charge.  Allow your mind to create the positive experience and see how it feels.

Build a Bubble

Imagine a little confidence bubble around yourself.  Some people are offset by other’s confidence, only because they are envious that they are not exuding it themselves.  This little bubble protects you from any negative reactions and allows you to keep your confidence intact.

It also isolates you from comparing yourself to anyone else.  If you are in the midst of an uncomfortably long wait, it is easy to start looking around and comparing yourself to those in your surroundings.  Your mind then might start to wander on the “should have’s”; I should have worn this, I should have done this, and on and on.  Your bubble is to keep your thoughts all about you and the confidence that you are exuding.

Create a Challenge

I am a very competitive person, sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes, well, not so much.  I am the type that if someone tells me I cannot do something, I find a way and then I go do it.  Challenges motivate me.  Before I give a presentation or facilitate a seminar, I create a challenge in my own mind. 

I can always pick out the one that does not want to be there.  My challenge is to get them to smile.  At least smile, then maybe get them to show a bit more interest.  If I am really good, get them engaged in conversation, in a positive way. 

During an interview the challenge could be to get the interviewer to nod positively after your responses.  Start with something small and when you make it happen, it will help maintain or increase your confidence.

Exuding confidence is within your power.  You would not be there if you did not have the ability to pull it off; believe in yourself, relax and allow it to come through. 


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer



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