Everyone has had an occasional lapse of confidence, but there are essential things we can learn about ourselves and exercises we can do that will strengthen our innermost self-respect and improve our outward demeanor. It takes making a commitment to explore yourself and more than a little practice, but you really can become a more confident person.
When you came into this world, you were totally self-assured. You loudly asked for what you wanted and needed, laughed when you thought something was funny, tried hundreds of new ideas, and enjoyed the company of others. You operated from a level of instinct, with no compunctions about drooling down your chin or others seeing you in diapers. In fact, you probably loved being stark naked, regardless of who was in the room. You willingly crawled around like a crab while others around you walked upright. When you fell down, you did not recoil in shame but got up and tried again, awkwardly, to walk like those around you. It never occurred to you to feel self-conscious about not having teeth. You never wondered if you were lovable. When you scribbled nonsensical pictures, you were proud, not embarrassed.
So, what happens to us when we are small that leads to a lack of confidence when we grow older? A number of things begin to take place that cause children to alter the way they see themselves. Certain messages about the world and life begin pouring into our sponge-like minds. Perhaps we can remember some of these things, but probably not. It is safe to assume that we drew conclusions about ourselves over the years that have lodged firmly into our personalities, whether or not those ideas have any relevance to our present situations.
As small folks, when we are reprimanded or experience sad, frightening, or even everyday circumstances over which we have no basis for understanding, we often attribute the related discomfort to some flaw in ourselves and draw conclusions about who we are. This often happens long before we have the capacity to put into words what we are feeling or experiencing.
Self-esteem has to do with how much a person respects, honors, likes, and assigns value to himself or herself. Your personal level of global and/or specific self-esteem is thought to be established by about the age of three, based on:
*What others said to you
*What you heard others say about you
By taking responsibility for your own happiness, you have, one hopes, realized that you are the only one who can fix things for you. No one else is responsible for your confidence or lack thereof. Your mere intention to change activates your subconscious mind and begins the process, even before you start.
We suggest that when you begin this process, you obtain a notebook of blank pages to help you with the exercises.
We will look at how the subconscious mind absorbs and retains messages, even when the messages no longer make sense. We will explore ways to reprogram our thinking and look at some of the ideas we have, perhaps accidentally, assimilated that might be holding us back. We will look at the ways in which writing, visualizing, meditating, emulating, and quietly affirming can bring about change in the way we see ourselves. In addition, the article explores some of the habits we typically fall into that tend to keep us feeling insecure and how these habits can be changed. Confidence cannot be bought or acquired but must come from the inside. This article will help you learn some internal tools to excavate and uncover the wonderful self that you actually are.
THE SIGNIFICANT EFFECTS OF CONFIDENCE
When fear of failure prevents us from taking risks, we miss thousands of opportunities to experience new adventures, create wealth, or accomplish those things that we truly desire.
Shyness and low self-esteem or confidence are not necessarily the same things. Shyness often can be attributed to a personality that is simply more introverted, or not as outgoing, but it does not always indicate a lack of confidence. However, when shyness becomes debilitating and prevents a person from simple self-expression or communication, it is a good idea to look at the issue of confidence.
Confidence, on the other hand, might be harder to define, but we certainly know it when we see it. Confident people are not afraid of making a mistake because they know everyone makes mistakes. Confident people do not punish themselves when things do not turn out perfectly but are relaxed and comfortable in their mannerisms and speech. They often seem to like themselves and everyone around them. They seem to be at ease in their bodies and lives. They often appear to be creative and productive.
Have you ever noticed that when confident people make a mistake or misstep in some embarrassing way, the reactions of those around them do not make them retreat in shame or shrink in horrified embarrassment?
When we have a lack of confidence, the sad internal discomfort it causes often is triggered by others whom we perceive to be smarter, more successful, or better looking, or those whom we think are judging us in some critical way.
Confident people often are more successful because they are not afraid of their own weaknesses or others' ability to make them feel inferior.
Every human on this earth has some weakness. Most of the flaws you see in yourself are only ideas you have accidentally accepted as truth. You probably notice that certain environments, situations, and people tend to set off the sadness you feel about yourself. Perhaps you think you are the only one with certain weaknesses or shortcomings because you do not recognize them in others. When you reflect on this, allowing others' opinions of you to affect your life seems nonsensical.
Consider the following idea: You have the power of choice. You either can allow yourself to react to the judgments of others, the environmental triggers, and the old ideas that lie programmed in your brain, or you can remind yourself that these people or circumstances are only inadvertently serving as triggers for your bad feelings. You can accept the trigger, allow it in, and let yourself to react to it; or you can practice choosing to see it for what it is. The idea of changing your self-image may be difficult to believe at this time, especially if you have felt powerless over your lack of confidence. But, hold onto this idea in your mind as you move through this course. Science has discovered so much about the brain in the past decade that real change is no longer a remote longing or a hopeless dream.
So, how would it feel to be a confident person? Do you understand the reasons for your lack of confidence? Perhaps you believe your reasons are valid, and you may be entirely convinced that you are less worthy, or less likable, or not as smart as others. In a lesson coming up, we will discuss people you know or have seen that you think are confident, what they do, how they talk, their body language, and what makes them different from you.
In the meantime, open two more blank pages in your journal.
Exercise: Entitle a page in your journal "Good Feelings," and another page "Accomplishments."
List four things about yourself that you feel good about. They can be small, like the shape of your toes; or huge, like a talent for math or physics.
For each thing you have listed, write a short sentence about your reason for liking it. How does this one thing affect how you feel about yourself?
Write down four ways in which you have excelled, succeeded, or accomplished something that made you feel good or something that you have been complimented about. Are you a good swimmer? Are you artistic, helpful, or patient? There may be more of these than you realize.
Do not worry; if you cannot come up with four things, you will by the end of this course. Look carefully. Even if it is something from your past, or a kindness you have extended to someone, what have you done, said, felt, or believed that makes you proud?
Affirmations: In this lesson, we will begin to work with affirmations. Affirmations are simply positive statements that, when repeated many times, will effect change in your subconscious mind. Try to plan a time to sit quietly and let your mind become still. Read the affirmation aloud to yourself several times. Memorize it and repeat it in your mind as often as possible, while stopped in traffic, while cooking, while meditating. Note that affirmations always are framed in the present tense. Remember that the subconscious mind is like a recorder. Do not suggest that you are putting off to the future what you want for yourself now. Speak to the subconscious mind with respect, firmness, and love.
Affirmation: I am proud to take responsibility now for my own confidence. I am strong, healthy, and whole. I now have at my disposal all the optimal tools I need for perfect change.
Notice how this affirmation is designed to simply inform your brain, in the present tense, of what you are officially adopting as a new stance, a new attitude. Although your busy, conscious mind might try to deny the truth of these or begin reasoning or rationalizing, your subconscious mind simply imprints what is repeated over and over. Remember, it takes practice.