Recently, I received a message: “How do you build up your confidence?” Once upon a time, I took a Xanax just to get out of bed and greet the day, but since then I've found some methods helpful in bolstering my confidence. Here are seven I'd like to share with you.
1. Externalize your inner roommate(s).
The voice in our heads provides the streaming commentary that is our life. Our reality. *If* we allow it.
I’ve become more skilled at adjusting the volume on this voice, and I've come to understand that it will never be content. Think about your current problem. Before this problem grappled for your attention, there was a different one; and after you bring some closure to this one, there will likely be another. We will always be working on something. We’ll never be perfect.
Rather than attempting to try to make these inner roommates stop talking, give them names and bodies and imagine them as people in the outer world who say exactly what the voice within says inside. It’s highly unlikely I’d ever let another human being speak to me the way my inner roommate does.
2. Widen your perspective.
When I can’t seem to shake my own insecurity, I gather my closest family and friends. Solution-focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), the style of therapy in which I am trained, refers to these types of questions as relationship questions:
What would my mentor who believes the best about me beg me to believe?
What would my dog, in whose eyes I can do no wrong, want me to know?
Like a panoramic lens, their responses provide a wider view. Our loved ones see us in ways that we simply cannot see ourselves.
3. Diagnose your beliefs about yourself.
What do you believe about your body, health, finances, abilities, your past and future, the world, etc.? Our beliefs create our experiences; our experiences create our reality. When we change our beliefs, our experiences change.
Try this: sit and hold the belief, “There’s something wrong with me.” Breathe this into your consciousness as if it were 100 percent true. If you’re like most people, you’ll feel some unpleasant sensations percolate in your cell tissue. If you toss that belief aside and take on a different belief (i.e. “I am a good person”) you'll notice a significant shift in the way you feel.
4. Recognize that the path to confidence is a process.
When we were born, we had no beliefs. Over time, our relationships and experiences indoctrinated us to act in various ways. I have a process for change that I’ve utilized for everything from quitting drinking to biting my cuticles to changing my posture.
The process has four steps:
- Catch that you’re doing the behavior.
- Take 10 deep breaths and reset.
- Reward yourself lavishly for catching the behavior.*
- Take one step toward healing.
*The mind would have us skip this crucial step. Yet, if self-deprecation worked, we would all be perfect. We must employ an empathetic approach. It took time and practice for us to adopt our current behaviors. So it takes time and practice for us to adopt better ones.
5. Practice vulnerability.
When I find myself lacking confidence, I start teaching on vulnerability and practicing it with my loved ones. Soon I realize that almost everyone else in the world struggles with the same things that I do. Never will there be another soul exactly like you. Yet, at some point, in some area, we all lack confidence.
Sharing our fears and imperfections humbles us. Humility intermixed with confidence is a powerful combination.
6. Remember who you *truly* are.
Let’s pretend for a moment that love is all there is, that you came from the same Divine substance as the sun and the stars. Even if you don’t believe in your own magnificence yet, try it on for size. Put on confidence like a sweater. Soon the fabric softens and morphs to fit your body.
We have an obligation to our broken world to own our confidence and use our unique talents to help heal ourselves and others.
7. Love the (wo)man in the mirror.
When it comes to building confidence, a little self love goes a long way. Our society seems to mistake self-love for self-indulgence. They aren't the same. At least once a day, look yourself square in the eyes and say, “I love you.” Say it until you believe it. Say it until it becomes true. It feels slimy and strange at first. In the beginning you’ll want to laugh or cry, but you don't want to spend your days hating yourself. At the end of my life, I don’t want to regret a thing. And since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you don’t either.
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