I’m often asked about confidence: how to get it and then get more of it. The thing is, I think that confidence isn’t something we can just go out and get. It’s a combination of practising confident thoughts, feelings and behaviours – and then practising some more – these three aspects of confidence interact.
Thoughts. Getting the thoughts part right may take some deep digging – but I think it’s well worth it. By the way, it’s not just a case of ‘think confident thoughts’ and ta dah! Oooh get you, all shiny and confident. No. First we need to notice our thoughts, especially when we’re in situations when we’d like to be a bit more confident, but just when we need it, what confidence we have seems to desert us. What are you saying to yourself?
Are you being kind: ‘I’m really improving at writing presentations’, ‘I’m getting better at speaking up in meetings’? Or are you being cruel: ‘I’m just rubbish at writing presentations’, ‘I never speak up in meetings, and probably never will…’? And if it’s the latter, ask yourself if you’d let a friend tell you that – probably not, I suspect. Play judge and jury on these negative thoughts: what’s the evidence for and against them? Then, how can you build up more ‘against’ evidence and deal with/eliminate the ‘for’? Ask yourself what that friend would say… or even ask that friend in person.
Start to build the case for more positive thoughts; notice the evidence to support them on a daily basis.
Feelings. When we’re thinking negative thoughts about ourselves, what are we feeling? Happy, elated, excited? No, thought not. More likely depressed, frustrated, a bit of a failure? Thoughts influence feelings, and feelings influence thoughts. So notice the relationship between these two, in good times and bad. When we’re thinking more positive thoughts, our feelings tend to complement them. We can reinforce the positive feelings by practising the more positive thoughts.
Behaviours. Thoughts and feelings are vital component parts, but we need to get out of our own heads and doing to really make a difference to our confidence levels. Start practising now the behaviours that align with more confident thoughts and feelings. You can even start practising the behaviours if you are still working on your thoughts and feelings, by behaving ‘as if’ you think and feel more confident. Again, this doesn’t happen in isolation. Thoughts, feelings and behaviours intertwine and each influences the other two. So practise and work on all three.