ways of building self confidence

10 Tips To Be As Confident Robert Downey Jr. Even If You’re A Nerd

Ask any girl what she wants in a man and almost immediately, most will say she wants someone who is confident. 

Don’t believe me? Test it out yourself with 5 girls or take your pick of a hundred YouTube videos where they do.

Today, I’m going to share with you the A to Z comprehensive guide to becoming as confident as Robert Downey Jr. or your favorite actor by leveraging what science has shown us.

There will be no tactics or gimmicks here. So far, every bit of advice online has focused on tricks or quick fixes to solve symptoms rather than core problems. I’m here to fix that.

I wanted to share with you timeless, long-term ways of improving self confidence from the best science-backed comprehensive dating advice book in the world.

This book is called Mate: Become the Man Women Want, and it goes into plenty of detail.

A few years ago, confidence wasn’t really well known as an important part of getting better in dating. Now, it’s almost assumed knowledge, probably because of the explosion of dating advice from men and women lately.

The main premise of the book is…

To be attractive to women, you need to become the man she was wired genetically to like. This doesn’t mean being fake, as you’ll see.

(This is a general principle, as there are some random exceptions that allow some girls (like a nerdy Anime gamer girl or supermodel) to prefer unexpected things. Some hot girls like nerdy, skinny physiques.)

Our false beliefs about dating come from religion, culture, society, marketing, parents, politicians, and “dating experts” who make up their advice based on trial and error or theory but no science.

Women didn’t all get together one day and decide on what they liked. It was wired from thousands of years of survival. That’s why you have all these girls on Youtube give similar dating advice about how they love confidence even though they’ve never been told to say that that before.

What is confidence? 

Confidence is the realistic expectation you have of being successful at a task, given your competence and the risk involved with doing it.

This is really important because it implies that you actually have to improve your skill first (as you’ll see).

Now, let’s begin. Here are 10 ways of building self confidence:

1. Understand Confidence Won’t Solve Everything

Anyone trying to tell you that there’s a “magic pill” to confidence or that “confidence will make every girl love you no matter what” is lying. They’re trying to sell you something and make money.

The truth is:

People have over hyped it and have falsely come to believe that it’s the only thing necessary to attract a girl. Confidence alone won’t solve everything. It definitely helps, but attracting a woman is a balancing act.

For example, an attractive woman will take a guy who is kind, smart, ambitious, fit, successful, funny, but a little unconfident over someone who is obese, rude, poorly groomed, broke, but super confident.

2. Understand that Confidence follows Competence

True confidence comes from realistically expecting you can do a specific task well based on a lot of previously demonstrated success.

Examples include:

  • You’re unconfident when you first start driving since you’re new and crash a lot. After 10 years on the road, you’re confident since you never crash anymore.
  • You’re unconfident landing a hole in one as a beginner golfer. After 30 years of training, you’re confident you can do it on an easy course.
  • A caveman with years of experience who confidently tells a young caveman to calm down because he knows how to deal with an attacking animal. (A great prehistoric example of confidence)

Confidence is not pretending to be confident despite no skill or past demonstrated performance. That’s courage.

Confidence is not believing you can easily succeed at something you realistically will probably fail at due to your low levels of skill and practice.

That’s called overconfidence and arrogance. It’s ignorant and can lead to bad consequences. Psychology has found that humans have an internal meter called a sociometer. It adjusts our confidence to accurately represent our past experiences.

Having low confidence in an area is sometimes sensible and the right thing to do. 

  • You don’t want to be the man who is confident thinks he can make a jump off a roof onto a nearby roof without any Parkour training and ends up dying.
  • You don’t want to be the man who is so confident that he can fly a plane even though he’s never touched a plane… and ends up dying.
  • You don’t want to be the man who is so confident that he can get the one hot girl in a small town when he’s not attractive in any way (inside or out) … and gets beat up or killed by her boyfriend.

Approach anxiety and unconfidence is built into our genetics for a reason. In the past, those who didn’t have it often died an ugly death from male competitors or foolish adventures.

3. Confidence is topic-independent

Being competent at something will only make you confident in that area.

You can be great at soccer, but it doesn’t translate to confidence in areas outside of soccer, like driving a car, math, or physics.

There’s one exception:

If you’re great at a lot of things women care about, your overall confidence with women rises. For example, if you have great fashion, grooming, fitness, wealth, intelligence, humor, and artistic skill, your overall confidence with women will increase because things all help with your attractiveness.

I believe there’s also some benefit to being great at just any single skill if you can demonstrate it in a social environment. For example, if you’re incredible at soccer and teach girls soccer at a soccer club, your skill-level can translate into confidence in how you present yourself.

I remember hearing about a guy who sucked with making conversation with women. But he was almost a professional at playing pool. When he could teach or talk to women while playing pool, he became the most social, admired guy there. Your competence can make you a lot more social because of your competency at explaining your skill.

This applies to skills with a high girl-guy ratio that girls care more about. You have better luck at a dance, wine-tasting, Arts, singing, or horse-riding group than at a video game or cosplay meet-up. (Trust me from personal experience… I’ve been at a 2 girl-300 guy video game club meeting.)

4. To Build Real Confidence, Boost Competence

There’s no magic pill. Avoid viral articles like “10 tips to instant confidence” or “the instant hack to magic psychological seduction.”

Develop skills in areas girls care about and demonstrate performance of those skills. 

This takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.

Build up your confidence by slowly building hundreds of small experiences where you slightly push your comfort zone and succeed.

Practice and learn in real life with real people. 

This can be something as simple as taking a girl out on your first movie date without acting as anxious as you normally do.

Accept it when you feel like you have low confidence. Realize it’s normal and logical. You shouldn’t be too confident yet. Michael Jordan got more confident as he got better with the ball.

The book goes into more detail about areas you can increase competence and how: humor, willpower, physique, emotional intelligence, and so on. I’ll talk about this in other articles.

Generally speaking, guys have a decent sense of what competencies matter. They know that being really skilled at personal finance or accounting probably won’t excite women. They know having biceps do.

But, they’re usually too extremist or black-and-white. They think it’s only money, looks, or fame. In reality, it’s a balancing act of dozens of different things.

Being above average in many fields beats being great at a couple, but failing at most. Girls will take a man who makes above average income, has a fit body, is interesting, is a great parent, and dresses well over a morbidly obese, boring, creepy billionaire.

5. Use the snowball effect

Think of a snowball. As it rolls farther down a hill, it gets easier to push. It gets bigger. It gains its own momentum from gravity and soon you won’t have to push it at all.

There’s a similar thing going with confidence and success with women. At the start, it’s the hardest. But as you get more and more successful, you get more and more confident.

Because of social proof and crowd bias, women tend to be more attracted to men who have consistently shown previous success with women. This adds to the snowball effect.

Having lots of attractive female friends around you while you’re in a room or wherever you go makes you more attractive because of the girl-guy ratio. Having successful past experience builds your confidence, which girls can read in your face and body language.

The more dates you go on, the more confident you get, which brings you more dates. It gets easier and easier as you get better.

Further reading

Avoid analysis paralysis where you read too much information and barely do anything with it.

Having said that, if you really want more advice on this, here’s my best recommendation:

I’ve looked at a lot of the confidence videos out there and the few books. Some are pretty bad advice. Some might work for you. For further reading, I suggest Brian Tracy’s book on Self-confidence.

I recommend actually reading Mate by Tucker Max and listening to the counterpart podcast at thematinggrounds.com

6. Fake It Until You Make It On A Small Scale

Fake it till you make it” works to an extent. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard researcher, and other psychologists have shown that faking physiology first can change psychology and hormones. Try smiling more, putting your hands on your hips, stretching your hands, and standing taller. Don’t overdo it or you’ll come across fake.

Specifically, what you can do is:

  • Use more power poses in public, with your peers, and in social settings (arms proudly around your waste, stretching to take up more space over your head, relaxing with your hands behind your head, etc.)

via GIPHY

  • Add in solid left-eye contact – practice focusing both of your eyes on a girl’s left eye. Why just the left eye? Focusing on both doesn’t look focused. It looks like you are switching between eyes.
  • Practice having solid, purposeful body language. Put yourself in a social situation, like a dance class, to practice. When you ask for a girl’s hand, do it in one fell swoop rather than moving back and forth or stalling. Have your chest out, firm strong posture, and consistent.
  • Practice the above in situations where you feel insecure, anxious, or tense.

How to fix the ugly duckling syndrome:

The one situation where you should be faking it is when your confidence is much lower than your competence. This will help boost your confidence up to where it should be.

This is usually happens when you were unpopular, unsuccessful, and/or unattractive in your childhood and you still carry that image with you even though you’re now really attractive, rich, successful, and/or awesome. This is called “the ugly duckling syndrome.”

An example would be a nerdy boy who grows up to be a jacked, muscular, millionaire but still has self-esteem issues because he still sees himself as the skinny nerd.

In this case, fake it until you make it. 

Use self-esteem and self-love building daily exercises.

Logically walk things through to active the logical mind and show yourself why you should be confident.

In some cases, a little alcohol can help. I would use this only if everything else isn’t working. I don’t like this because it can become a crutch and alcohol has negative physiological effects if you drink too much.

7. Use imaginary friends (like Robert Downey jr.)

This is a trick I pulled from Napoleon Hill, who studied 500 of the wealthiest people on the planet in person for over 25 years, including Ford and Rockefeller. He suggests using an imaginary representations of role models that are now dead to help guide you to making money. He would go into detail with these “imaginary friends.” That means talking to them and visually seeing their odd quirks and mannerisms.

I’ve use this same approach for dating. I think of Robert Downey Jr. as someone who is naturally so confident and suave. Once, when I was too shy to approach a girl, I pictured him with his purple sunglasses and suit dragging me by the hand to approach with his matter-of-fact, “it’s not that scary” body language. I ended up approaching.

via GIPHY

Another way is to embody that role model. For example, I will ask myself “What would Will Smith do?” and move towards that behavior.

For some of you, it might be easier to choose someone who is more like you in personality so that you can actually see yourself doing it. If it’s too far out there, it could be too intimidating to even try.

8. Get Good At What Interests You

When people see that you have to “developing skills and demonstrate them” to get confident, they assume they mean skills in social interactions with women. That’s not necessarily the case.

It could be developing a skill at something like a sport or dance class. Honestly, girls like all sorts of different things, just like guys.

If it works for you, find something you’re already passionate about and meet girls who like that, like an entrepreneurs volunteer network to meet other ambitious women.

By doing this, you already screen for traits and interests that fit yours.

The problem with this is your interests can really lower your chances if there’s a poor girl-guy ratio.

Most guys love motorcycles, video games, and weight lifting. The few girls who love them too get their mate value pushed up because of their scarcity at these places. The competition is tough because you’re competing with so many guys.

You can do the exact same thing the girls do. Find hobbies that have many more girls than guys. That scarcity will raise your value. 

This may be something outside your normal sphere of hobbies though, like ballroom dancing.

The book and the counterpart podcast state that you should find something that demonstrates your skill. For example, if you’re really skilled as a Physics professor, go to physics lectures where people actually respect your skill.

I think this Physics can be tough for the reasons just stated, but the general point still holds true.

I’ve noted that you’re probably never going to be that skilled at something with a high girl-guy ratio activity. And it can be tough to really show your other strengths in intellect (or Physics) at something like ballroom dance.

The book implies that you’re mainly there for the girl-guy ratio and the other competencies will bleed through in how you speak, treat others, how you walk, dress, etc. Be socially intelligent enough to show your competencies when you can, but don’t over show it or brag too much. 

My opinions are subject to change.

From my experience, avoid any classes where there’s an instructor out from. This includes yoga, pilates, dance, or fit-pump type classes. Almost all the time, people arrive late and leave early. They are there strictly to learn or get fit and zoom out immediately once class finishes. It’s very difficult to socialize. Let me know if you’ve had different experiences though.

9. Avoid Arrogance

Back when I was really young, I first heard about confidence. I thought it was this magic solution to dating that only I knew about.

Honestly, it kind of was because there was almost no dating advice on the Internet at the time.

I went around acting confident almost expecting women to swarm me. Nothing really changed since I just acted the part without talking to anyone. I assumed the body language alone would attract them like flies.

Yes, I was quite naive.

I remember a couple times where I did talk to girls but I acted too confident and it repulsed them.

In dating, confidence is a scale. You go from unconfident to confident to overconfidence to arrogant douchebag.

It’s not a positive correlation all the way through. Once you hit overconfidence, you get more and more negative results. It’s like a bell curve.

Most girls I’ve asked about their #1 turnoff said that it’s arrogance. And I’ve asked dozens of girls about this.

How To Defeat the Chicken and Egg Dilemma

Have you heard that old paradox? People would fight over it at my school…

“What came first: the chicken or the egg?” It’s a paradox because one cannot exist without the other.

It’s a similar thing with confidence: “How do I get more confident if I need more successful experiences with women first? I need confidence to get successful experiences in the first place!”

As mentioned earlier, you can achieve successful experiences without much confidence with baby steps and building other attractive traits.

When I was younger, I practiced a song for an entire year to compete on a state level for classical piano. It was the most nerve-wracking thing ever since all the other Asians there were so competitive.

I was shaking with anxiety. I knew it would affect the control of my hands and wrists in a bad way.

I faced the same chicken-and-egg dilemma: I know I’d play better if I was more confident and relaxed. But how I could only be more confident if I played well!

Both seemed to play off the other.

In reality, I forgot to factor in other variables. I should have practiced and prepared a lot more, which would have made me a lot more secure with the songs.

Similarly, with the actual chicken and egg dilemma, it turns out there was a third factor: the natural progression over thousands of years through evolution of a non-egg-laying ancestor to the first primitive chicken.

I used to assume that confidence was purely based on past successful experiences with girls and thus a chicken-and-egg issue. That’s not the case.

Successful experiences with women can be achieved based on many other attractive factors outside of just confidence alone. Plus, you don’t need successful experiences with women to feel confident in yourself. Every man is born without any successful experiences with women. They started off at zero too.

Here’s how to fix this:

  • Push your comfort zone slightly. Have many small successes with women that add to your success experience. This can be simple as your first date.
  • Actually increase your underlying competencies so that you do better with women.
  • Smile. Practice and acknowledge any demonstrated performance.
  • Act a bit more confident. Have confident body language and posture. Faking physiology can improve psychology.
  • Use self-love and self-esteem exercises to improve the picture of yourself.
  • According to Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, spend more time dwelling and thinking about positive experiences. This can be memories of any success with women or a happy feeling in general. This boosts your confidence and your happiness, which is a competency that women find attractive. We usually quickly forget and never think back to past successes. Rick has detailed exercises in his book on how to do this well.

10. Push through the tough emotions with mindful acknowledgement

If you’re struggling to get things going because you’re depressed, have low confidence, sad, or really suck with women, this section’s for you.

Getting the ball rolling when you’re starting from the complete bottom is the toughest part.

You may be stuck in this spiral if any of these sound familiar:

  • Depression
  • Little skill or successful reference experience
  • No confidence
  • Harsh self-judgement – “I suck at everything”
  • Imposter syndrome – “I’m a fake”
  • Aiming for perfection and unrealistic expectations – “If I can’t be the best in the world, why bother. I should be a billionaire by now.”
  • Negative comparison to those better than you
  • Dwelling on obstacles or negative events – “I don’t have mentors or money”
  • Dwelling on future disaster – “If I fail, the result will be horrible”
  • Fear of trying
  • Constantly thinking of past failures – “Remember that time you got rejected?”

Acknowledge bad feelings as natural. 

Society has made men want to hide embarrassment as a sign of weakness or shame. In reality, it’s genetically wired and normal for us to be scared of rejection.

For most of history, we lived in smaller communities and rejection meant excommunication and death. Our fear of rejection and approach is a natural reaction of our ancestors to survive.

Modern society depicts a hero’s journey as a quick story through a 2 hour film. In reality, the real despair and doubt of a beginner takes a long time to overcome. It’s really hard.

Accurately describe and call out your emotions with words like “angry”, “anxious”, or “afraid.” Research shows that by doing so, we cool down and start inhibiting emotional overreaction.

Avoid any form of dwelling or comparison. Immediately stop doing it as soon as you recognize you are. In the book The How of Happiness, they showed these these two things are scientifically the worst things you can do because they prolong and magnify depression and sadness.

Believe you can improve through hard work no matter your background, genetics, lack of network, or lack of connection. Use failures as learning lessons to get better. 

The famous book Mindset: The Psychology of Success depicted some intense research on successful children and adults. The unsuccessful ones had a fixed mindset where they didn’t believe they could improve or use failure to learn. The successful ones did.

I personally recommend to actually test different things when something isn’t working. It sounded so obvious in theory to “learn from mistakes” but I found myself using the same stupid opening line of “Do I know you from somewhere?” after dozens of attempts.

It never worked but it took me a long time to quit using it because I couldn’t think of anything better and didn’t realize it.

Conclusion

Build true confidence by building competencies in areas they care about. 

Work on things you can get better at, like exercise and making friends, to increase competencies like happiness, physique, and self-esteem. The book goes into even more detail on what competencies matter and how to improve them.

I will go into detail in future articles, but this article is a great fundamental piece to constantly reference.

Practice self-love exercises and get more reference experience to push up your own confidence if it lags way behind your competence.

As you get more successful with women, momentum builds and it gets easier. The hardest part is getting the ball rolling.

Call out and acknowledge negative emotions or behaviors. Cut them out, especially dwelling on negativity and comparison.

Use mistakes as learning lessons. Have more and more small successful experiences under your belt as reference experience. This can be something as small as a successful movie date with a moderately attractive girl.

Find a job or hobby that lets you socialize with lots of attractive girls, for instance, to increase successful reference experience and improve social skills.

Fake awesome body language a little bit. 

Get great at a skills or competencies women like and intelligently demonstrate it to her. Do not give up and before long, you can act like this guy:

ways of building self confidencePhoto by Gage Skidmore

I’ll go into more detail on the traits described in the book you can improve in the future. Here they are if you want a head start: fitness, health, happiness, fashion, grooming, intelligence, willpower, assertiveness, being a good parent, non-neediness, having your own opinions, having great friends, ambition, and demonstrating these skills tactfully.

Don’t let these overwhelm you. You don’t have to do them all perfectly.

I challenge you to take action on the biggest lesson you learned from this article immediately. Let me know in the comments what you will do right now to get better at this based on what you learned.

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2 Comments

  • Ayodeji Awosika

    August 31, 2016

    Hey Will,

    Love these ideas. They remind me of the book “Models,” by Mark Manson, which is also about attracting women through becoming a more interesting person as opposed to trying to trick them.

    Confidence, indeed, creates confidence.

    Off to share bud.

    Reply
    • Will

      August 31, 2016

      Thanks for commenting and sharing. I’ve heard of the book but have so many books I don’t have time to read. It does seem like a good book if that’s the principle. I’ll have to check it out when I have time

      Reply

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