Our subconscious minds absorb messages and conclusions at a very young age. The subconscious mind is not set up to rationalize what it records. It simply takes in the information gathered from our five senses and records it like a tape player.
A fascinating aspect of this phenomenon is that the subconscious mind does not discern what is true, sensible, logical, correct, or healthy. It simply records our impressions. Therefore, when a small child overhears his parents discussing their desperate financial condition every Sunday evening, he may find himself years later as an adult feeling low and stressed on Sunday evenings, and perhaps also feeling stress over continually being strapped for money.
Exercise: On the journal page where you listed triggers that seem to rob your confidence or self-esteem, write in the right-hand column the self-talk that you probably are repeating to yourself in association with each. Here is an example:
You may be able to distill your negative talk into simple concepts, such as "I am not lovable," "I will never fit in," or "I'm not smart enough." After listing the self-talk messages that match up with your triggers, you will begin to see a pattern.
Magic: The magical thing about the subconscious mind is this:
Whatever it absorbs and imprints about you manifests itself every day. In other words, if your subconscious mind holds negative concepts, ideas, and conclusions about you, your life and experiences will reflect those messages exactly. This may seem alarming to you, but it can be very empowering information. Accepting responsibility for your life can be empowering, especially when you know that you, and you alone, can change the course of your life by learning to think differently.
How Can I Fix My Thinking?
Of course, being aware that we are creating our own experiences with thoughts creates a natural urge to take control over and improve our thinking habits. We have the power to do so.
You are not required to remember where your negative self-talk originated, nor do you need to relive painful memories or images in order to reverse the programming ingrained in your subconscious mind. Again, the key to retraining the brain is affirmation. Repetitive, positive statements, spoken as truth, eventually will replace conflicting messages.
In case you doubt the efficacy of affirmations, do some research into what most cutting-edge psychologists and psychiatrists are recommending to their patients. We can discuss our problems and our dramas all day long without dissolving them. We may even identify where the negative programming originated and choose to relive the incidents in our minds. However, to truly alter the subconscious messages that we have acquired, it is essential to repeat, over and over again, a more positive and supportive message, regardless of whether you initially believe the new message.
Exercise: Start a new page in your journal. Now that you have identified the negative self-talk that triggers your feelings of inadequacy, it is time to craft the affirmations that can replace those messages. As you create your affirmations, remember that you will want to repeat these as many times during the day as possible, so be sure they are meaty, core-level positive thoughts. If you clearly have identified the problem, you do not need much detail to construct the affirmation.
List down the left side of the page each negative statement you have identified, leaving room between each. On the other side of the page, create a corresponding statement that refutes the negative self-talk. Here is an example:
People are automatically drawn to me.
You may want to print out your favorite affirmations and post them in your office, on your mirror, or anywhere it would be helpful to remind you to repeat them daily.
Affirmations can be repeated aloud in a private space or silently in your mind, but they should be brief, powerful, and life-affirming. The suggested affirmations in this article can be modified to suit your personal situation, but remember to keep them brief enough that you can easily memorize and repeat them without reading. Also, always remember to keep them in the present tense. For instance, never say, "I will," but always instead say, "I am," because the brain will put off your wishes for the future if you tell it to.
Affirmation: I am now constantly thinking positive thoughts about myself. I know that I am a worthy, smart, and congenial person. My value is enormous. I have gifts to give to the world, and I freely give them. There is clear and perfect love surrounding me and everyone around me.
ADDING VISUALIZATION TO YOUR PRACTICE
You may have heard about professional athletes who visualize their entire game before it takes place. The same tool can be used to increase anyone's self-confidence. For example, you may want to visualize yourself delivering a speech, asking for a raise, dancing, making friends, exploring new ideas, and being successful. Imagery is used now, more than ever, as a tool in the field of energy medicine.
Visualization is so powerful that you probably inadvertently have created much of your own negative experience in the world by visualizing. As with other exercises in this article, training your brain is a key to change.
How does one visualize confidence? It is best to begin with your journal.
Continue with your next pages, writing and sketching out the hardest situations, the most awkward, embarrassing, or frightening situations that you are forced to face. This is easy: Just think about the times when you feel like a shrinking violet, as though no one likes you or you have that wilting, powerless feeling. Think about all the fear or anxiety that you feel when you procrastinate. Think about how speaking to a group of people or undertaking a new adventure feels. Write it, then sketch the positive version of it.
After you have completed this exercise, incorporate it into the meditation that follows, seeing the scene with your mind's eye, watching it unfold perfectly and beautifully, and closing your mental movie with the affirmation, "It is so."
Meditation: I see only perfect transactions and feelings in my mind's eye when I am _(socializing, working, speaking, etc.)__________________. I now live the positive version of this mental movie, and I now feel wonderful in these circumstances. It is so.
If you practice meditating with the new, positive outcomes that you have created on paper, you will be amazed at how smoothly each situation seems to go, and how much more confident you will feel. Sometimes, in order to solve a problem, we just need to pick it apart down to its bones, and rebuild it. That is what this exercise will do for you: Pick apart and reconstruct the scene, then give it life in your meditation.
This practice can be fun and very enlightening in terms of confidence-building. Identify someone who seems very confident and self-assured in your workplace, your local grocery store, or any place that you often frequent. This would be someone whose demeanor and manner suggests confidence and self-respect. Do a mental study of this person. How does she or he respond to others? What are the person's mannerisms? What kind of attitude does the person seem to hold toward the world? Does she or he seem afraid, tense, angry, or resentful? Does the person seem caring, peaceful, or forgiving? Does this individual use humor to soften his or her interactions with people? Do you see this person as someone you want to be more like?
On the left side of the page, identify the person whose traits you admire or who, to you, seems very confident. In the right column, list each of the traits you have observed in that person. Circle the traits that you feel may be helpful to your own self-confidence. Craft an affirmation to remind yourself to emulate each of those traits.
Here is an example: "I am a person with a deep and hearty sense of humor. I see the humor in life and its circumstances. I feel deep joy and happiness. I am friendly, open, and generous. I feel strong around others and enjoy the company of others."
Now close your eyes for a moment and think about this person. Try to copy some of his or her outward mannerisms and practice feeling how it might feel to be this person. If the person seems generous, has a twinkle in the eye, a steady gait, an interest in listening to others, or a ready sense of humor, practice feeling and acting out those traits and begin to incorporate them into your own behavior, one at a time. You may just want to start by imitating the other's handshake or haircut. Begin to pattern yourself after someone you respect.