Cultivating Confidence

Con-fi-dence:  belief in own abilities: self-assurance or a belief in your ability to succeed

Learn how to build and cultivate your confidence

Learn how to build and cultivate your confidence

Confidence is one of our greatest internal resources, yet it can be one of the hardest things to cultivate.  I often wonder what amazing things I could accomplish if I let go of my own fear and self-doubt.  I also wonder how my lack of confidence holds me back.  As a therapist I am aware that confidence and self-esteem issues can be very painful for people.  For those of you reading this and thinking “that’s me,” you are not alone. A recent event in my life made me really start thinking about how confidence (or lack thereof) shows up in my life. 

About a month ago I was confronted by my business consultants about avoidance.  They told me that they thought I had some fear around networking, which was causing me to stall setting up meetings  and making calls.  They asked me what the resistance was about and I admitted I was afraid to put myself 100% out there.  “So what’s the worst that would happen?”  They challenged, and they pointed something very crucial out to me.  I was so consumed with rejection that I was paralyzing my ability to build a successful business.  Several days later I was in a yoga class and I experienced the same feeling of doubt.  We were doing handstands and I can’t do a handstand to save my life.  I started thinking of excuses to avoid the exercise.  But my friendly neighbor saw my terror and encouraged me to give it a go.  Afterwards (and it wasn’t pretty) I felt proud rather than mortified-strange right? I contemplated why I felt this way and realized that I had forced myself through the doubt and the result wasn’t so bad. I felt like yeah, I could do another one of these.  So what if I were able to treat my lack of confidence in other areas of life like a handstand? 

The problem with confidence is that it shows up both inside and out.  We can all recall that person (and it certainly has been me at times in my life), who tries to make themselves invisible.  As humans we notice self-doubt in others through their body language.  Additionally confidence is similar to armor.  When we have a lot it makes us feel secure, even invincible at times.  However in it’s absence we feel exposed and vulnerable, an easy target.  Confidence or lack thereof communicates with others and provides information about how we should be treated.  Think about it: When someone looks self-assured, or seems like a go-getter, they often command respect from those around them.  On the other hand, people who question their self-worth or abilities they may push people or opportunities away, potentially sabotaging their own successes.  If you are not yet convinced about the benefits of confidence consider this: Confidence is contagious- being around people who value their worth and believe in themselves makes us what to feel the same way.  Could you be showing up in your life differently?

So how do we grow confidence?  We can begin by using mindfulness to observe times in our life when we feel self-doubt creeping in.  Then try implementing some of the tips below:

  1.  Act as if-Even if you feel very unconfident, act as if you are. 
    1. Talk successes up
    2. Practice sitting in a “confident pose”
    3. Visualize what it would look like if you were confident-how would your confident self respond? 
    4. Practice Gratitude-Dwelling on what we don’t have or can’t do (weaknesses) bring us down and we doubt ourselves.  Practice mentally listing all the things we can be grateful for (past successes, loving relationships, unique skills)
    5. Focus on what you can contribute-What are your strengths? 
    6. Exercise- makes us feel stronger and more confident in our abilities.  Also ignites the body’s natural feel good chemicals
    7. Craft your environment-with people or things that bring you up rather than down