Self confidence will naturally improve when we are better using our resources to reach the goals we set to get our essential needs met. And the converse is also true. If our life is not working well, then naturally our confidence will take a hit.
It follows that for most of us and for most of the time, we should not directly deal with any lack of belief in ourselves but instead be more indirect or sneaky about it. Just get your life working better; use your emotions more productively and set the right kind of goals – and then guess what – your self confidence will improve.
This is of course the general theme of much of this Feelbetter Counselling website. It really is important. When you are aware of a lack of confidence relate it to what is happening in your life now and what is not working – and begin to problem solve.
Work problems or relationship difficulties and what appears to be lamentable weaknesses of control and self discipline with emotions not under proper control. Get these emotional problems eased and confidence will return – simply because you will be making a better use of your resources.
There are though exceptions. A lack of confidence can reflect an absence of templates (experiences) from the past that block expectations that progress and achievement are possible. Past successes, achievements and capacities are either so well hidden or indeed absent that expectations of progress are stalled. Then a different approach is needed.
This is a long webpage as I have summarised large chunks of my Building Self Confidence Emotion Download
Tame the tiger of your high and uncontrollable emotions
Have these wonderful gifts – of sadness and anger and worry and fear and disappointment and guilt and determination and joy and satisfaction – working for you. Learn to tame and befriend the tiger of your emotions ….. and then ride the tiger in the direction that you know is the way that you should go. Your emotions are your greatest gift to get your essential needs met and also the route to make the changes in your life that you yearn for – and so build self confidence
Look after yourself just a little better
What might your body need now to gain sustenance?
You could eat just a little healthier – take some raw or nearly raw vegetables; spend time cooking good meals with natural ingredients and cut down heavily processed foods.
Or take (more) exercise. What could you do differently today or tomorrow?
And find small pleasures – think about them and anticipate and plan deliciously.
Take some time over the planning and cogitating and implementing these.
- And what might you notice after a day or two of being kinder to yourself.
- Well you could notice an openness to relax or fully engage your mind in something that is important to you at that moment. And you might find that you are sleeping better or feeling just a little healthier and have just a little bit more energy.
Think about what it is in your life that you are most proud of.
- It could be your children (if you have them) or a relationship or an achievement or a skill you have developed or something residing in a special memory. What are your qualifications – as a graduate or a teacher or in business or a profession or as a mother or a friend or a father or a gardener or a handyman? And do you have a piece of paper that states your qualification or does your qualification come from your experience of life.
What have you enjoyed in your life even it was a long time ago – such as holidays – walking, relaxing, and exploring with friends or strangers, laughing, dancing, sightseeing? And what are your passions and that which draws you to them?
Sometimes these can be very clear for you. Or you may have to search a little. Is there a story or experience from your childhood which still touches you and may have influenced you ever since? What did you enjoy at school?
Building up a bank account of good and useful memories and emotions.
What work you have done and been paid for or given of yourself as a gift?
Have you opened yourself to trust or love or to have been loved? What are you doing as you focus on the good and memorable? What are the qualities that you have that you like the most about yourself or have helped you the most?
There can be kindness, honesty, determination, creativity , being able to care, a sense of fun, of wit, of gentleness of justice and loyalty and community. And whatever you are finding for yourself now is also adding to that pool of memories and positive emotions that you have already banked and which you can use whenever you wish.
As your mind begins to see parts of your daily life differently – not fixed but something you can change ….. and discover what you could do even today that would change something, you could have a sense of dominoes beginning to fall – one after another that will take you to places that you had scarcely dreamt about just a few minutes ago.
Next…..practical reframing – change your point of view
Make the problem smaller, more tractable, time limited and reduce arousal.
- ‘Right now, I am still looking for a better way to study, to work, to meet people’ – you could say or ‘I am learning a lot and this will help me when I am ready.’ Or
- ‘I have really done well so far and know I will continue to learn and move.’ or
- ‘When I think back a year ago so much has actually changed – it will be interesting to see what happens that is different over the next year.’ or
- ‘Now that I realise that change is always with me, it is a source of comfort in a strange kind of way. This too will pass.’ or
- ‘Sometimes I find it easier to focus on the strong emotion and miss all the good that I have achieved.’ or
- ‘How would I be feeling, if I saw my situation differently and if I did see it this way, what else might change.’
Are you beginning to see aspects of your life differently or could you and by doing so, how would it be helping you in some way? And it is really helpful to see your current concerns and difficulties as the response to a stressor in your life and a situation where you are not getting an essential need met and so
Avoid at all cost the trap of blaming yourself.
We are can all see our situation differently and one thing that you can begin to do right now is to practice seeing those aspects of your present, past and future that you don’t like as different.
Go to the bank and draw on your savings of good memories and strengths to help you.
And practice this now. So remind yourself of a situation in your past – of an encounter perhaps that you would like to feel better about. Picture it now – really see it or feel it or just have a sense of it. What details are there for you? Is there a location or feelings or a narrative like a video clip.
Now cut and paste. Change one thing about the experience – anything at all – and allow yourself to feel differently about it – stronger, more protected, happier and more vibrant. And you could even now fast forward to another similar situation and change that or notice that as you recall it, that there is a softening of its own accord and it is just different.
As you do this you will be able to notice when the emotions you don’t want are stronger or weaker or absent and what are the thoughts or events or situations which trigger them.
Find a solvable problem – with a beginning, middle and clear end. Think about practical steps and problems you can hold in your hands.
As you recall your strengths and what you are proud of and your past pleasures and those qualifications (wherever they are from), are you feeling more confident about making that move?
See yourself meeting that achievable goal right now – armed and protected and supported by your strengths, knowing that your emotions and feelings are there to help you. Really see it. Who are you with, how are you walking and talking and presenting to the world. And as you do this, feel good about it. Build up that picture of how you are feeling – the satisfaction, the pleasure and control.
What are you achieving? Building status ….connecting to friends and colleagues in new and satisfying ways.. . Achieving something worthwhile …. Gaining a measure of control in some part of your life … building defences to feel safer … Being private in your own space …. Getting close to someone …. Stretching yourself and noticing that you have more sense of meaning.
Emotional Intelligence – stop for a moment and get needs met
Humans are unique in that they can be aware of their feelings and not just be them. And the emotions you don’t like and that you are instinctively pushing away (anxieties, rages, resentments, grieving) could be your mind/body’s communication that you need to take action to get an essential need met or you will continue to suffer.
Your unconscious intelligence instinctively knows what your needs are and your unconscious normally communicates this by creating the emotion which is the energy or the motion and movement towards getting that need met.
So embrace and welcome the emotion. Then give the emotion a name and ask whether this emotion is guiding you or not to getting your needs met or is dangerous and excessive and unhelpful.
Be aware if you are blaming yourself for it – that you are mean or unlovable or unworthy or have anger issues – whatever that means and all that kind of stuff. Because, how will that help you?
‘When I think about it, it is not surprising that I feel like this – anybody would if they had been through what I have been through’ – you could say.
I knew someone once who had been told as a child by her parents in all sorts of ways that she was useless and that no-one would ever want to help her. And so when she realised that her first husband was a bad man she blamed herself and when she found that her business was struggling she could not ask for help and that was her fault also. . And it took her time to change this point of view – so that she could see her relationships with men as either helping her or not and working or not and that by opening to all the people who liked and responded to her, that she could have a business that made money and fulfilled her.
You are beginning to befriend the tiger of your emotions
The stones piled on top in the picture don’t look that steady but they are piled quite high, they are definitely elegant and arresting. With not too much more work, the piled stones really could be something.
First they need some cement and stickability between each stone and second the stone structure needs time to bed down and make its presence felt – for people to see it and appreciate it and give some feedback.
The same is true for you if you are open to creating a different story or legend for yourself.
Legend is used all the best spy stories, at least going back to John Le Carre. It is the completely new identity that ex spies need – background, education, work and relationships maybe that are credible and complete enough to begin a new life.
Write two stories of your life – one is how it seems to have been and another how it could have been. Then with both stories, compress each down into a sentence or phrase. Do the old story first – writing it down (this helps because writing uses different organising parts of the brain) and then compressing it into that sentence of phrase. Then write the second story and spend more time on this.
What are the key events that set you down on a different path – the turning points or forks in the road? How can you reframe the story?
I remember one client who realised that he could change the theme/story of his life from “difficult and hard work” to “having fun and great sex”
Remember Chinese Whispers.
Chinese Whispers is an instructive and fun game where a line of individuals pass on a message that is whispered privately in their ear by the previous line member. The message at the end is always very different from the starting seed message. The classic example is “send reinforcements we are going to advance” becomes “send three and fourpence we are going to a dance”.
So if you make a change early on in how you process and evaluate some key event then that will lead you to create or experience something that turns out to be completely different. The converse is also true. Has there been an event or experience in your life that required serious effort to cope with that led you in a direction that kept moving you off course?
Trance work with an experienced therapist will help to embed the new story. NLP time line work is also insightful which I will often use as a transformative therapy tool.
And the end result – developing and growing self confidence.