How to be Confident | 10 Steps to increase your confidence
A few weeks back, I was asked the question of “How do you be confident?” It seems such an obvious topic to write about, especially when it comes to facing your fears, going for your dreams and desires and following your passion! Yet here I am months later, only just doing this. So how do you increase your confident, boost your self-esteem and become that fearless individual that lets nothing stand in your way?
You have a big meeting coming up or an interview for the job of your dreams, or you are naturally timid or you want to get yourself out there more and meet others…but! You’re just not confident enough to do it…something holds you back. It infuriates you; you scold yourself and you carry on not daring to try new things or give your passion a second thought. But, there’s another option…
Firstly, the fact that you’re here reading this blog says something really indisputable about you. You WANT to change. Am I right? Congratulate yourself on even recognising that call within and wanting to explore it. The next thing is going to seem a little backwards, but think about what is stopping you from making you feel confident…? It may be that you don’t think you have enough knowledge or experience, or hold the qualities and skills required to achieve it or someone else’s opinion has put you off; this could be Parent/s, friend, colleague etc… it may just seem too big a thing for you to achieve…. sound familiar? One thing to notice about ALL of those reasons why you may not feel confident is that they are ALL based on ideas, thoughts or feelings. ALL of them! Which is actually a positive thing because you have control of all of these! You don’t have to put up with the way you feel, think even if those feelings and thoughts are based on previous experiences.
How do you change your ideas about yourself?
One of the first things to do is recognise them! Those self-limiting beliefs, that inner critic and that negative self-talk, that keeps you in a place of self-loathing. These thoughts and ideas are often instilled in us from a very young age from other people, past experiences, societal conditioning that we may not even be aware of. Once you have recognised them you can start to challenge them. Our first reaction to such unwanted emotions is to run from them or suppress them and believe me, I know! I’ve been there! But to understand those thought patterns and why you fear them is to understand yourself and use them to your advantage. Like for all emotions, don’t run from them, feel them and let them pass naturally.
Remember; you are not your thoughts and just because you think them, doesn’t mean they are necessarily true! Read that again! Just because your thoughts may tell you that you’re no good or you can’t do something, that does not make them true! These beliefs are something that have been learnt over a time, because you have responded to those topics, ideas or tasks in the same way. Therefore, your body and mind has learnt to instinctively react that way. Provoking the same thoughts and feelings based on the way you have felt and thought before in those situations. Just the same way you taught yourself to ride a bike, your body and mind has learnt how to react that way in certain situations. Of course, this can work for or against you. Your body is happy staying in the same situations it knows. Hence why when you have ideas that challenge this, those negative thoughts creep in, that inner critic pipes up and those self-limiting beliefs kick in; to keep you where it knows, where it is safe.
Think about the area that you want to feel more confident in and pin point “WHAT” in particular makes you feel timid or insecure? For example, you may have an interview coming up that means a lot to you, but you’ve had a previously bad experience where you froze up, couldn’t get your words out or just didn’t show your best self…so thinking about those previous struggles in this area, brings up those emotions and puts you straight back there. As said above, don’t run from them I.e. give into that inner critic and give up on the idea; CHALLENGE IT head on.
One way to challenge this is to get out of your comfort zone. Put yourself in situations that challenge that old way of thinking or feeling. For example, if you have put off going for a new job because the thought of interviews terrifies you…then…yep! You guessed it…start applying for jobs to get you an interview. It is the ONLY way that you will be able to overcome this and have increased confidence.
When I was younger my Drama teacher said to me “Serena, why don’t you go into teaching?” “Not a chance!” Was my reply….haha fast forward some ten years later and that is exactly what I was doing. Was I a natural? Nope! Did I get nervous? Yep! And still do! One of the tricks for me is to BE PREPARED! Preparation is absolutely key to giving you that confidence you need in situations you fear or feel overwhelmed by. Before a teaching session I go through my notes, the planned learning outcomes and make sure my knowledge is up-to-date. This preparation in itself gives me the confidence and security in the fact that I have done my utmost to perform at my absolute best.
Be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them. You have been through a lifetime of beating yourself up, so now it is time to try a different more supportive approach. Let go of the control, as you cannot possibly prepare for absolutely every scenario in life. Know it’s ok to make mistakes and not be perfect. Sometimes letting things go for to chance, brings excitement and anticipation in life. Practice some positive self-talk. Talk yourself up! Use affirmations such as;
I am enough
I allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them
I can conquer anything I put my mind to.
Everything I need is to achieve my goal is within me
I am resilient, strong and brave
I am doing my best
Repeat these affirmations at a time to suit you. I write my affirmations in the morning before I get up and at night, before I go to bed. Doing this over a period of time will slowly seep into your mind and become your natural belief system.
When you have done this and put yourself in that position, you have given yourself a new experience! Therefore, a new set of beliefs. It may not go how you wish to at first, but keep trying and it will.
Believe that you can achieve your goal of confidence and that you have it within you. Let’s be honest, if you didn’t have this in you, you wouldn’t be here, reading this now. Believe that you can and you will!
Another thing I do is visualisations. They are soooo much fun! Make believe is not just for children. Do not let anyone tell you any different! Our imaginations are amazing! Picture yourself in that situation being confident. If it’s meeting new people, imagine yourself meeting new people, making great conversation, being witty, funny, interesting; whatever YOUR idea of being confident and successful in that situation is. Take time out for yourself, even if it’s 2 minutes to do this visualisation. A great time to do this is before you go to sleep. Try it!
Another particular activity that I do to gain control of my thoughts is Meditation. There are lots of different types of meditation that you can try, however, Mindfulness Meditation is probably that best to control negative self, talk and that inner critic. Mindfulness is about being present, in the current moment and free from critical thinking. Letting thoughts come and go, without getting involved in them or holding judgement about them. This practice is being recognised by the corporate world for its many benefits, as well as scientifically evidenced as a positive activity by Neuroscientists . At times when you feel you cannot control those unwanted thoughts is when practising meditation will aid this process. There are lots of Apps that can help and YouTube has an abundance of videos. You don’t need to meditate for hours at a time; 3 minutes a day will be enough to start. Take a look at the video for a simple beginners’ guide of practising Mindfulness Meditation… top tip. If any emotions surface whilst meditating…let them come. Don’t suppress them.
Practice mindfulness daily. This is being more aware of your inner dialogue and how you are towards yourself. If you notice you are quite critical, start flipping that around and being kinder to yourself instead. This again, will not change overnight, but it is a profound experience when you naturally begin to be kinder to yourself after years of being critical. Lean on those affirmations when you hear that self-talk in a negative light.
So a quick reminder of what do you need to do to boost your self-esteem, feel more confident in specific situations and trust in yourself more…
- Congratulate the small wins. Wanting to change is the first step. Thank yourself and congratulate the small wins throughout your journey. I write about this in my blog Small Steps Equal Big Changes.
- Recognise those self-limiting thoughts, the inner critic and that negative self-talk.
- Don’t buy into those negative thoughts. Remember; You are not your thoughts.
- Challenge those self-limiting beliefs by coming out of your comfort zone.
- Prepare yourself to give yourself the best chance, but…
- …Don’t beat yourself up. Allow for mistakes being part of the whole process and drop striving for perfection.
- Practice affirmations. Make some of your own up or use some of my examples above. Take time out to repeat these over and over again. Making a specific time to write them down is what I do.
- Play make believe! Visualise yourself at your absolute best, doing whatever you imagine and do not put any limitations on this. Have fun with it. When it comes to your imagination, the only limits are the ones you put on yourself.
- Start mindfulness meditation to gain control of your thoughts.
- Practice mindfulness daily. Be aware of the thoughts you have throughout the day.
If you’re more positive about yourself, you will allow yourself to be you, have less expectations, know it is ok and a part of the process to make mistakes and learn from them, you’ll be freer, more daring to try new things and be confident in yourself and your abilities.
Until next time…Serena
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