Pat Henneberry is vice president of global learning and development at Hearts On Fire. She also is founder of The Jewelry Coach, a sales training community for jewelers. Reach her at
Let’s get real: You can’t always put on a smile, and sometimes you have bad days.

However if you’re in sales, you need to stay confident even in low times. Being confident is the most important thing you can do, yet sometimes is the most difficult. But one thing I know to be true is once you believe in what you’re doing, you focus and dig deep, you can find the confidence.

For some people, that’s easier said than done.

I recently had a setback with my health. I went from playing tennis every day, riding my bike, doing stand-up paddle boarding and trail running to an unexpected back surgery that landed me literally on my back, with a long recovery. My life as I knew it changed in a matter of moments, and I found myself slipping down a dark rabbit hole (yes, me, Pat Henneberry the inspirational speaker, was at a low point trying to dig out.)

Please understand I am not comparing my situation with the acute suffering of others; things could’ve been a lot worse and I realize how lucky I am. But let’s face it—there are times that suck in our lives and from which it is difficult to recover. It’s times like these that make it hard to believe in our skills and abilities, that can mess with you quickly before you know what’s happening.

So, here are five scientifically proven and Pat-backed ways that have helped me recover and can help you be more confident at work and in life.

Dress for Success
It’s easy to underestimate the effect of clothing.

You shower and get dressed every day, but you might not realize that your wardrobe could be influencing your confidence and mindset. A new pair of running shoes always make me run faster. A new pair of socks are miracle workers on the tennis court.

One study found that wearing formal attire changes people’s thought processes, stating: “Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world.”

In short, dress to impress. Revamp and rework outfits you already have, purchase the better-quality dress or suit, and make sure you feel like the best version of yourself in your new threads.

Even when I was on in the hospital on my back, I wanted to dress in clothes every day. No dresses, but a T-shirt and shorts made me feel better than a hospital gown. I would try to pick a funny T-shirt for the day. My favorite had, “I am only talking to my dog today” printed on it, which leads me to my next point.

Find Humor
Trust me, finding humor when you are in pain is no fun.

I believe I did get some humor DNA from my mother. My mom is the funniest person I know and I’ve seen her in some pretty bad situations through my life.

When I asked her how she pulled out of them and what the secret was to her 60-year marriage with my dad, humor was her answer. If you can find a moment to be funny in a not-so-good time it will help.

I remember in the hospital there was a Dry-Erase board with all kinds of nurse lingo and different letters that meant nothing to me, so I had a friend write in big letters BYOB. Every nurse who came in would look at it and laugh. It made me laugh too and for a moment it gave me confidence.

Learn from Constructive Criticism
Criticism can be tough if you focus on the negatives and get caught up in your missteps rather than focusing on your accomplishments over your entire career.

So, what can you do to remain positive? Filter criticism and remind yourself that it can help you improve your skills, work and relationships over time. Thank the person for their feedback and seek solutions to address it and remember, not all criticism is true. Take it in and move on.

Listen to Music
You already know that music can affect your mood, but did you know that certain kinds of music can influence your self-esteem too? A study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University found that different types of songs impact confidence.

Listening to one of my up-tempo running playlists gets me going and helps me complete a task more successfully. The songs I find to be my most empowering including “Happy” by Pharrell; “September” by Earth Wind and Fire; “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited; and “In Da Club” by 50 Cent (researchers attribute this song’s ability to motivate to heavier bass levels.)

The next time you’re getting ready for a job interview or a big presentation, just queue up Spotify, Amazon Music or Pandora.

Sit Up Straight
Your posture is important for more than just your physical health; it can also affect your confidence, according to researchers. According to my mom, you need to sit up straight and stop slouching or you will have back issues later in life (she was right; see above.)

We tend to assume our confidence is coming from own thoughts; we don’t realize our posture is affecting how much they believe in what we’re thinking and how people perceive us.

Everyone experiences periods of insecurity and anxiety, but allowing it to run your life will only hurt you in the workplace. Be confident in who you are and your ability to accomplish goals.

When I was at my lowest, lying on the bed in my doctor’s office, the pain was so bad that I couldn’t sit up. I was going down a dark hole fast.

My doctor looked at me and said, “Pat, you will have good days and bad days, but you will be OK.”

You too will have good days and bad days, and my hope for you is that you find your way back after a bad day.

So, put on a great outfit, tell a joke, turn up the volume on one of your favorite songs and stand up straight.

Pat Henneberry is vice president of global learning and development at Hearts On Fire. She also is founder of The Jewelry Coach, a sales training community for jewelers. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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