Have you ever had an experience where you were excited about a new relationship, a new opportunity, or learning something new, and all of a sudden your feeling of excitement turned into a feeling of fear? We all have.
In my work with clients and teaching on the subjects of mindfulness and behavior change at Stanford University, I have found there are typically four hindrances to confidence. Do any of these sound familiar?
1. Excessive expectations I am just learning to run and I sign up for a marathon that is only two months away.
2. Harsh self-judgment “I am such a loser, why couldn’t I figure that out?”
3. Pre-occupation with fear Fear of things turning out badly, rejection, making a mistake, etc.
4. Lack of experience If we have little experience with something, we can’t expect to feel confident about it. Have you heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill? It’s true. Research shows that there is a direct statistical relationship between hours of practice and achievement.
The solution to increasing confidence is learning how to work with our negative thoughts and fears. In the field of neuroscience, we are finding that many of our thoughts are neural habit patterns that can be changed. In other words, confidence can be learned, behaviors can be changed, and we can practice confident behaviors and attitudes.
There are two main things that contribute to self-confidence.
1. Self-efficacy When we see ourselves and others similar to ourselves mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those areas. (Ex: “Wow, Samantha was able to commit and achieve her goal of weight loss, she just kept at it. She and I are pretty similar and if she can do it, I can do it.”)
2. Self-esteem This refers to our feeling that we can cope with what is happening in our lives and deserve to be happy. It is a sense that we are competent and if we put our minds towards something we can accomplish it.
Confidence techniques can be used at will, are easy to learn, and learned confidence becomes authentic!
Close your eyes and allow yourself to start breathing, in and out through your belly. Allow your mind and body to become more peaceful and calm. Now imagine a real situation that you want to avoid or are having fear around. What story are you believing about yourself or this situation? Now imagine how you’d look and feel if you were able to pull out confidence at will. You are powerful, relaxed, in touch with what you most want. How might you handle yourself in the situation?
Let yourself be led by confidence. In bringing awareness to our thoughts and not being derailed by them, we can see our negative thoughts and fears for what they are,: NOT TRUE. Being mindful of our thoughts and making friends with our feelings allows us to choose more empowering thoughts and this is the key to confidence.
1. Identify what thoughts or beliefs are getting in the way of your feeling confident. (Ex: I am not good enough or I can’t succeed in …”)
2. Develop more empowering and positive statements, such as “I am good enough or I know if I put my mind to something, with practice and perseverance, I can be successful.”
3. Practice being confident while doing something new and know mastery doesn’t happen overnight.
4. Evaluate what is working and what is not. Then continue to do what is working.
When you believe in your abilities and practice new skills, you can manifest success!
Want to learn more mindful practices? Sign up for Carley’s FREE Mindful Training workbook.