“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”― Norman Vincent Peale
Most of us have friends who are very confident and carry themselves effortlessly.
You may have wondered what was the secret to their confidence?
If you are like most people, you may have also occasionally felt a bit annoyed at their levels of confidence and secretly hoped and wished that you had some of their confidence.
Let us go ahead and look at five simple but highly effective and actionable steps that will assist you to get back into your natural center of unbridled confidence.
1. Become Aware Of And Observe The Deepest Beliefs That You Hold About Yourself
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”― Mahatma Gandhi
Some of your deepest beliefs about yourself may be hidden in plain sight and may have become habitual when you were still at an impressionable age.
Rest assured that at some key moment of your day-to-day life, they will resurface as doubts, fear, guilt or just a lack of confidence. Our objective here is to catch them and then question their validity because they may just be assumptions that we believe as true.
Neuroscience tells us that it may be impossible to completely forget or shut down those old neural networks but you can replace them with others that serve you better.
This can be done in many ways but affirming and imagining yourself as more confident and playing the scenario in slow motion in your mind can work wonders.
Research from peak performance athletes and from the classic book, PsychoPsybernetics by Dr. Malcolm Maltz has shown the effectiveness of visualization.
Dr. Malcolm Maltz describes that peak performance is increased in top athletes by visualizing the race in their minds.
Repeated slow visualization of success and confidence is powerful in becoming confident and achieving your goals. Throw in some strong emotional anchors such as a past situation and time when you felt great and naturally confident.
Deeply feel the process of seeing yourself as super-confident. Then go ahead and act the part of feeling and being confident.
Another method is to work with the conscious thinking brain or the neocortex and give it evidence from the past or the present of the new belief of confidence that you are setting up.
Surely if we look at our past or present, there are areas and aspects and skills that we are great at and amplifying those experiences gives our doubting minds some hope to hold on to. When your thinking brain latches on to incidents that affirm that you can be highly confident, it does not panic when you need to be confident in the future.
Replace deep beliefs of lack of confidence and worthlessness with those of self-confidence
Visualize and affirm that you are highly confident in areas that you think that you lack confidence.
2. Thinking Makes It So: The Mental aspect
“What we think, we become.” ― Gautama Buddha
As you are in the process of realizing how some of your beliefs are affecting your confidence, look at some of the results of those beliefs. One of the most obvious places to look is in our thinking process.
You may have heard in the past that “thoughts are things” and thoughts shape your reality.
This idea is true but it is exhausting to even think that we can control all the thought that are drifting in and out of our consciousness. Any conscious and forced control of thoughts only makes matters worse.
However, there are other more subtle ways to work with your thoughts to impart you great self-confidence. One way is the Buddhist method of mindfulness where instead of struggling with your thoughts, you label them and become aware of them.
The real issue with thoughts is not the stray solitary thought that brings you down but the habitual self demeaning mental chatter and giving too much importance to negative thoughts.
When you realize that the thoughts of doubt and lack of confidence are just thoughts and you have the ultimate power in giving them importance and weight, you set yourself free.
Give more energy and power into thoughts that empower you such as: “I am an awesome person and I deserve to be naturally self-confident.” Thoughts that demean you can slowly be allowed to drift away as little clouds in the distance.
When thoughts are playing their little song of criticism and blame in your mind, just remind yourself of Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith’s advise of saying “not so” and distract yourself to break the chain of thought.
At the subconscious level, the best method to release thoughts is through silence and meditation. Even if you focus on your breath for a few minutes and do the deceptively simple but highly effective technique from the monk Thích Nhất Hạnh, you will be uncoupling from the grip of thought.
All you do is while breathing in, you say, “Breathing in” and identify it as the in-breath and while breathing out you say “breathing out” and identify it as the out breath.
When inner thoughts and mental chatter are in consonance with the image of your being a confident person, your inner radiance and confidence simply lights up from inside.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”- Thích Nhất Hạnh, Being Peace
Give weight to the thoughts that support an empowering self-image and uncouple from the thoughts that do not.
Do not buy into the assumption that you do not have self-confidence.
Sit down in delicious meditation and silence or deep breathing or anything that relaxes you deeply even for a few minutes to uncouple from incessant negative thought.
3. The Hidden Power Of Emotions And Feelings
“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” ― Carlos Castaneda
It may be true that we have not much control over emotions that just come forth and wash upon us. But again just like thoughts, the bodily manifestations or feelings is where you have some scope to work on.
Assess the dominant state of your feelings. Are you allowing yourself to feel great or do you fall prey to the very first person that doubts your abilities?
Do you feel great at some parts of your day? What, who, where and when do you feel great and experience joy, confidence, laughter and happiness. Amplify those occurrences and become aware of emotional vampires and negative situations that suck out the confidence life force out of you.
Are you emotionally fused or do you assume something is wrong with you and feel bad when someone else is having a bad day? Do you have a difficult time distinguishing your emotions and feelings from those of others?
Good humor and laughter are wonderful ways to feel great instantly and experience a surge of self-confidence. When you feel great, it radiates outwards as a smile at others and it is a gift that you are giving others. A gift of joy and happiness that you can give freely if you choose.
But if you feel badly and have nothing to be happy or to smile about and you are allowing only emotional vampires and draining situations to be dominating your experience, it may be time to take charge of your feelings.
Yes, go ahead and be Pollyannaish if you feel like it.Go ahead and feel insanely good about yourself and your work and your life.
Positive psychology has shown that we need to become happy first and then success is a result of that. Confidence is no different.
Find ways to feel great and experience joy and happiness and you will have discovered a wellspring of confidence.
Amplify the people, places and things that make you feel great to experience a surge of confidence.
Realize that you need to setup a deep and unalterable core of feeling great about yourself and express that natural confidence from that core of well-being.
4. Are Your Actions In Consonance With Your Beliefs, Thoughts And Feelings?
“And no one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.”― Marianne Williamson
I could think myself positive or affirm confidence till I am blue in the face but if I shortchange myself in the realm of my actions, none of it really matters much.
Not being in consonance with your thoughts, feelings and actions sets you up for cognitive dissonance and angst.
You will need to back up the work in beliefs, thoughts and feelings with a great bias for action.
For example, if you fear public speaking and lack confidence to talk in public, you can begin addressing the issue by changing some beliefs, thinking better thoughts and feeling great about it.
And then you practice by taking action and facilitating more public speaking and interactions. You become better and more confident by taking repeated action and assessing how you need to improve.
Pay close attention to body language because there is a lot of research done on the fact that closed, hunched and weak postures and body language make us feel less confident. Power poses like standing straight or looking at others in their eye instantly transform our energies and make us more confident. I will address the science of body language in a different post.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”― Dale Carnegie
Fake it till you make it really works in body language and confidence levels. Once you act and feel confident, you will become confident.
Action and practice are the single most important factors for a more highly confident you. Practice, practice, practice and act even if you feel fear or hesitation. Take small steps and see your confidence levels increasing incrementally.
5. Lose Yourself In Purpose, Meaning and Service: The Natural Confidence boosters
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”― Henry David Thoreau
Find meaning and purpose in your journey. Allow your unique creativity to come forth by giving an outlet and energy to it.
When your mission in life is to uplift others and be of service, a lack of self-confidence usually just falls apart because you have more important things to address. When you are able to find the sweet spot of your purpose, passions, and skills and giving great value to others, you feel a great natural confidence.
And as Patanjali so wisely puts it:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”― Patanjali, The Yoga Sutras
Make it your mission in life to provide great value to others and uplift them with your skills and work and you infuse yourself with great natural self-confidence.
Allow your natural creativity to flourish and allow it to make the world a better place.
Please let me know in the comments below if any of these ideas resonated with you and how do you increase and sustain your levels of natural confidence?