Confidence is something that almost everyone wants more of….but it can be difficult to get. If you would like to have more confidence, you can use the following ideas to realise your natural confidence and abilities.
Overcoming Negative Thoughts
We all have a “negativity bias” hardwired into our brains.
Meg Selig in “How to Build a Happier Brain in Two Easy Steps” states that:-
“The negativity bias” is the tendency for our brains to notice, absorb, and react to bad things—threats, dangers, worries, anger, mistakes—more strongly and persistently than to good things—pleasure, joy, beauty, and supportive relationships, among others.
On a basic level, this helps us to survive (although it may make us more unhappy, anxious and fearful than we would like). It makes it more likely that we will notice threats. As Meg Selig puts it:
“On the African savanna around 50,000 B.C., the happy-go-lucky humans who were “enjoying the moment” became lunch for the saber-toothed tigers. The anxious humans, who scanned constantly for perils that might be lurking, were the ones who survived and passed down their brain structure from generation to generation.”
There are several ways to counteract negative self-talk:-
- Mindfulness can help you to ensure that negative self-talk or thoughts about yourself do not stay in your brain for long. When you think a negative thought concerning yourself, just acknowledge it, and then do not concentrate on it any further. This will also let you become aware of just how many negative thoughts you have each day – you may be surprised!
- When negative thoughts about yourself intrude, counteract them with three positive thoughts about yourself. Do this for all negative self-talk that you have during the day.
Don’t Believe Limiting Beliefs
We can pick up limiting beliefs from something that has been said to us. perhaps our parents, teachers, “friends”, or someone else said something to us, and it has stuck in the subconscious mind. This can affect our level of confidence.
Self-limiting beliefs can be “There is no point trying”, “I’ve no natural talent for that”, “People are untrustworthy”, etc.
It is worth experimenting to see if these beliefs are true – e.g. if you are interested in learning a new skill, then do so, even if someone has told you that (in their opinion) you are not good at it.
Mix With Positive People
It is important to spend time with people who have a positive outlook on life, and who also treat you well – the way that you deserve to be treated. Due to the negativity bias (see above) there is a tendency for any negative comments from others to be believed even though they may not be true.
Push the envelope
This means to try something slightly outside your comfort zone (ensuring that it is safe of course). Perhaps you always wanted to do public speaking, or learn netball, or learn to surf. Well….why not give these activities a go? You will feel confidence and happiness when you learn a new skill, or conquer a fear. Just take it one step at a time.
I know this from personal experience, as I used to be terrified of public speaking, even in small meetings. I joined a local speakers club (even though I did not believe that I would ever be able to give a public presentation), and found that it gave me a lot more confidence. The club members were friendly too!
So, find the contact details for that public speaking club / netball club / surfing school, go along to the first meeting, and see where that leads you….
Think about your goals in life
Following on from the last section, it is important to plan short term, medium term and longer term goals for yourself.
Setting and achieving goals is a key part of this, and real confidence comes from this. Goal setting is the process you use to set yourself targets, and measure your successful hitting of those targets. MindTools website has a useful article on goal setting.
As described above, start to achieve each goal by planning, and then going forward with the first step.
If you are lacking in confidence, it is easy to brush off compliments, as they do not fit with your current view of yourself. However – consider that if someone pays you a compliment, then they may be seeing abilities in you that you have not yet realised.
In addition, brushing off praise can be insulting to the person giving you praise, as shown in the example below:-
If Betty’s friend praises her dress, Betty may say “Oh, this old worn out thing. I’ve had it for years”. However, this insults her friend’s judgement, as Betty is now saying that her friend thinks that an old, worn out dress is in fact attractive. A better response would be to simply say “Thank you”.
Reference:- Meg Selig in “How to Build a Happier Brain in Two Easy Steps” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201608/how-build-happier-brain-in-two-easy-steps
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