My friend Dr Jessamy: psychologist, author and TED speaker has kindly written some tips on confidence.
When we’re feeling confident, it makes everything easier. It helps us reach our goals, try new things, make decisions and be independent. It enables us to manage stress and equips us to deal with emotional, practical and physical problems. It’s how we measure our ability to cope and to succeed.The trouble is that when confidence is proving elusive the opposite is true. So what can you do to capture and build your confidence?
No-one is confident all the time!
No-one feels confident all of the time. How confident you feel is on a continuum; you go up and down depending on what you’re doing, your mood and your experiences. Even the most confident people never feel totally ‘ready’ for something – they just get stuck in. Next time you want to do something remind yourself the ‘right’ time is unlikely to ever come. The best thing to do is to just get started and give it a go.
Be kind and compassionate
If you have a constant negative commentary running through your mind, it’s going to leave you feeling upset, demotivated, useless and anything but confident. You’d never dream of speaking to a friend in the same way. Instead be compassionate - strong, non-judgemental, kind, brave, warm, fair and wise. Core ingredients for confidence!
Step out of your comfort zone
It’s good to do things that mean you take a step out of your comfort zone. New experiences, new hobbies and challenging ourselves on a regular basis are massively important for maintaining good mental health, personal growth and improving confidence and self-esteem.
Confront anxious predictions
When you’re feeling under-confident, you’re more likely to predict the worst, “I can’t do it,” “it won’t go well”. If you listen to these predictions you’ll never take action and end up feeling worse. Next time you think you can’t – test it out by doing whatever you fear and seeing what happens! It’s only by moving past the discomfort of I can’t, that you get to see I can.
When we think about doing something, we often play out the scenario in our mind. If you’re imagining it not going well, you’ll start to feel anxious. Instead visualise all the possible positive outcomes of an event, so you’re seeing hearing and feeling success. It puts your mind and body in the best possible place for a great outcome.
Think of something you did really well: how long did you think about it for? How did it make you feel? Now think of the last time you did badly at something: how long did you spend thinking about it? How did it make you feel? I’ll put money on the fact you spent far more time thinking about the latter. We’re programmed to look for threat, so we need to work extra hard to give the good stuff a chance to settle and be taken on board.
Over the next week note down anything that goes well, any compliments, positive feedback, anything you’re pleased with. At the end of the week, read it back!
The mind and body are pretty amazing – just changing your posture can change your mind-set for the better. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that subjects who sat up straight in their chairs, instead of slouching, were more confident about the things they were then asked to write down. In addition, they discovered that posture builds a sense of strength and confidence in social situations too. So use this to your advantage – stand up straight, push your shoulders back and hold your head high.
If you don’t know how to improve your posture try one of Kerrie-Anne’s Pilates At Your Desk workshops.