How to Increase Self-Confidence.
I never thought I’d be writing an article on self-confidence. I struggled with it for years, due to many factors that are just too long to go into. One thing I would say right now to anyone who struggles with this chain of captivity, is increasing self-confidence is all about taking action.
· how you speak to yourself
· how you speak to others
· body language
· learn something new
· goal setting out of your comfort zone
How you Speak to Yourself:
Firstly, you must begin within. Think about how you speak to yourself. Is your internal monologue positive or negative? If it were your best friend, would you still be friends? If the answer is no, then you must begin to take action and talk to yourself with more kindness and compassion. This will take time, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if they didn’t start building, they never would have built anything!
Let me give you an example - you get distracted cooking and you burn the dinner. Would you call yourself an idiot and be angry with yourself, or would you reflect and say, that could have been quite dangerous. I must make sure I do not get distracted when I’m cooking.
If there are people in your life, who are speaking to you negatively without provocation, if possible, try to keep away from them. If that’s not possible, perhaps a conversation needs to be had. Sometimes there are people in our lives, who will try to drag us down. My advice is to look at them with kindness and understanding. What suffering in their lives has made them this way? Remember the issue is theirs and NOT yours. Sometimes just knowing this, will not allow it to penetrate deep within our own subconscious.
How you Speak to Others:
Secondly, think about how you talk to others. Do you speak positively? Do you create harmony, or do you add to conflict? How we speak has a huge impact on how we feel. If we speak with good intention, we feel good, even if for whatever reason, it is not well received.
How many times have we said something we know we shouldn’t have and suffered the consequence of guilt and disliking ourselves for it? There goes that negative internal monologue again! We’ve all done it, we are not perfect. Sometimes we just need to STOP before we say anything, take a breath and mentally list some ways of dealing with a situation, especially if we feel upset.
I challenge you to smile even if you don’t feel like it. Smile your widest grin! Feel any better? We can reverse negative feelings by using our bodies positively. A smile will ‘trick’ your brain into thinking you are happy. If there are other people around you, don’t be too surprised with how many smiles will be returned to you, it’s great.
Posture can also be used in the same way. If we slouch and keep our head down, like we do when we lack confidence or feel sad, try straightening up, roll your shoulders back and down and lift the crown of your head. Not only is this great for your posture and to avoid all sorts of aches and pains, but it can also increase your positivity and how people perceive you. The same can be applied to walking confidently. Try it, even if you don’t feel like it. What do you notice about how you feel?
Learning Something New:
This is a great way to feed our brains and increase our intelligence. Intelligence is not fixed. If we don’t use it, we lose it. If we keep our brains stimulated, the sky is the limit!
Choose to learn something you enjoy. Some ideas could be learning an instrument, how to draw, reading books on subjects that interest you, the list is endless.
If there is something you really want, but don’t know how to get there, don’t worry about the how, you’ll work it out. Never in my life did I think I’d ever design my own website. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a simple website, but I’m happy with it, because I learnt so much (you’ve probably guessed I’m not very technical)!
Goal Setting Out of Your Comfort Zone:
If there is something you want to do, but don’t feel confident enough to do it, set small bitesize stepping stones that will eventually lead you to it, or adapt it so you feel more secure.
One example of adaptation I can share with you was when I worked for a pharmaceutical company many years ago. I happily worked in Customer Services answering the phone and processing orders. Within a couple of years, I got to know the products quite well. One day my General Manager approached me and said that the Regional Business Manager had handed in their notice and he though I should go for the job. I was gob smacked. My first thought was ‘I can’t! I can’t drive around selling products to doctors, why would they listen to me?’ His argument was that I knew the products and how to drive and not to worry about the ‘how’ - ‘You’ll be fine’ he said.
I agreed after many people telling me I’d be mad to turn it down, but to say I was terrified was an understatement. Within a couple of weeks of working as a Business Manager I was asked to deliver a presentation to a London hospital in front of 50 doctors! My Colleague was also asked to do the same. He hated giving presentations and I was nervous about answering in depth questions, so even though we covered different territories, we joined together. I gave the presentation and he answered all the questions. Sharing this challenge made it more manageable for both of us. Both of us grew in confidence.
Giving is a great way to make yourself feel good. I’m not necessarily talking about giving money to charities, although this can be great, if you are able to. You can help a neighbour with their shopping; lend a gentle listening ear to someone who needs to let off some steam; make dinner for your family and friends; give unwanted clothes to someone who may need them, or even give something as pure and simple as a smile.
These are great ways to begin your journey in increasing your self-confidence. All will take some time, and all will take some effort, but if you are taking action and moving forward, you can never go backwards.
Mindful Resilience & Wellbeing Coach (CThA)
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