Hands up, how many of you would describe yourself as confident? Whether it be giving a speech to an audience, asking someone out on a date, or just going into a shop in another country when you don’t speak the language very well, how do you get by?
If any of these scenarios would make you feel anxious then don’t worry, confidence is not something that is elusive or that only a few are blessed with, it is a quality that can be learned. And confidence is best when you build it for yourself, rather than hoping another person will give it to you. In counselling I find that many of my clients are struggling to feel confident in certain areas, so here is a basic tip you can try yourself at home:
- Remember as you start that low confidence is always built on a foundation of negative thoughts. Most of the time we don’t realize we are doing this, but we tend to say negative things about ourselves in our mind, like a mantra we repeat over and over. “What is the point of trying, I know I will fail, I am not good enough.” We also tend to visualize ourselves failing and looking stupid, and then the thoughts can seep into anxiety dreams where we wake up sweating. Does this sound familiar?
- So, to move forward, pick a small achievable goal. Then sit in a quiet place and remember a time when you did feel powerful, successful or good about yourself. Really let that feeling wash over you, and then intensify it and hang on to it. Now visualize the task you have set yourself and see yourself doing well at it. Make it a big full colour picture with sound, and notice how the people around you are appreciating you. If you feel any of those old little nagging negative voices trying to intrude in your movie, then tell them to go take a hike and play the new movie again, but this time with the volume turned up.
- When you are ready, take some deep breaths and go and achieve that small goal you set yourself. Then give yourself plenty of praise and perhaps a small reward. If you are someone who is plagued with low confidence, then each time you get a feeling of self-doubt, make sure you shred that old tape and balance it with a re-run of the new movie in your mind. If you are building up to an event where you need to feel confident, then schedule a daily session of at least 10 minutes (set a timer) where you sit quietly and watch the movie of the successful you achieving your goal.
I used this technique myself when I had an important oral examination to sit in front of a panel of doctors, and I can promise you that it works. The feedback I got from my examiners was one word: “impressive”. If you start rehearsing your confident behavior in your mind, your brain and body will soon start to believe it. So go ahead and impress yourself with your new confident identity!
If you are feeling stuck with your life and can’t see a way forward, then counselling can be helpful in providing support and a non-judgmental space to explore your options. For more in-depth help through counselling, consider contacting Dr Jules in person via the contact page on this website - Julie Askew PhD -