Self-confidence is that sense of being acceptable, safe, self-assured and capable. It is the ability to feel good about oneself and not buy into those annoying self-talk messages in our heads that tell us we are too fat, ugly or stupid! Unfortunately, self-confidence is often sort after and illusive. This is especially so in situations that increases anxiety such as a new date, public speaking or a job interview.
How many times have you rocked up to that wanted job interview only to lose all your sense of self-worth, even though yesterday you were beaming with confidence when you caught up with your best friend for coffee in the park? We all lose a sense of confidence when placed in circumstances that challenge us or test us to get something we want. The question is… “what can we do to increase self-confidence when we find ourselves in stressful situations?”
Anxiety and Self-Confidence
Some things that tend to happen in stressful situations are that we become a prisoner of our anxiety which leads to disconnection from ourselves and becoming less aware of how we are presenting ourselves. Anxiety can lead us to talk louder and faster, make more mistakes, and become overly conscious of what we say or do. We tend to remember these times and cringe! To make matters worse, our inner critic judges our every attribute and move and we remember things that we might want to forget.
Mindfulness and Self-Confidence
The practice of mindfulness can show us another way! I remember reading the Delia Lama’s words in the book “The Art of Happiness at Work” where he said that when he speaks publically he is not nervous or self-conscious because he practices being present in the moment for the people listening to him. His focus or concern is on others and not on himself… while he is simultaneously aware of himself. This gives us two clues to increase self-confidence and come out of self-loathing or at least self-persecution. Firstly is to have more concern for those you are there for or are giving to. And the second is to witness and be aware of the self without judging about the self.
Mindfulness teaches us how to witness the self without being caught in the thoughts and emotions of the “ego self”. We can witness thoughts without believing them or the emotional landscape attached to them. This is a great way of facing those situations that seem to strip us of self-confidence as we can practice the art of mindfulness rather than floundering around in anxiety.
The Practice of Mindfulness to Build Self-Confidence
To practice mindfulness simply watch your breath without needing to change it. Allow your chest to expand and contract in its own time and its own way. As you breathe, allow yourself to witness your thoughts come in and out of your mind, knowing that they are only thoughts. Remain open and curious as emotions arise and physical sensations in your body emerge and fade. Notice if your thoughts try to convince you of some future unpleasant fate or that you are flawed in anyway. Watch them rise and then disappear without being caught “the story” of anxiety provoking thoughts. Know this response rising is simply a habit… a pattern of thought, feeling and actions. Irrespective of the outcome, know deep in the pit of your being that you are safe… you are good enough…. and either way, you can succeed at your goal.
When we put ourselves in situations that challenge us and practice mindfulness, we can build our confidence. We can increase confidence to some extent through visualising success in difficult situations, but the actual practice of mindfulness and perceived success, is what really builds self-confidence. Remember that success includes decreased anxiety in the stressful situation rather than the outcome of gaining the job or relationship. Mindfulness shows us how to succeed by helping us to centre our conscious awareness, calm our mind, and observe ourselves rather than remain self-conscious and fearful.
Has there ever been a situation where you “faked it until you made it”?
Now close your eyes and imagine adding the practice of mindfulness to your experience…..
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