Been made redundant?

Been out of the workplace for a long time?

Been getting a lot of rejection letters?

Then it’s hardly surprising that you’re not feeling very confident.
There’s a lot you can do to increase your confidence and self-esteem.
As Paul McKenna says in his book Instant Confidence “confidence is more than just a positive feeling in your body; it’s an attitude and approach to life that leads to success, motivation and new possibilities”

Limiting Beliefs

Growing up, our beliefs were formed by our parents, teachers and school friends. We absorbed their opinions of us. These became our ‘limiting beliefs’.
To change those beliefs, you first need to identify them - for example “I am not confident, I am not attractive, I am fat, I am not clever”.
Take those limiting beliefs and list all the reasons they seem real for you.
Now write new beliefs in positive terms - for example, “I am confident, I am attractive to everyone around me, I am slim, I am clever”.
Repeat these new and positive sentences until your mind accepts them as the truth.
If the limiting beliefs creep back, you must combat them with the new positive beliefs you have created, even if they are not true yet. Also make sure you can feel and see the rewards that these beliefs will give you. Over time you will create a new and confident self-image.

Modelling, Mirroring and Copying

This technique is very popular in the celebrity world. Celebrities seem to have confidence and high self-esteem when actually they are just as afraid or worried about their career and looks as the rest of us. The technique works like this:
Think of someone you would like to model yourself on - someone who displays confidence and charisma or who is skilled in the area that you wish to be skilled in.
Then copy that person’s actions, their body language, their voice, their posture and the way they move. You can do this in private in front of a mirror.
Then think about how your role model gets what they want and what they do to achieve it. Ask yourself: “What do I need to believe in order to behave in this same way?” and look for evidence to support the belief.
Once you know the answer to this question, you will have found the key to developing the skill you want.

Breathing

If you are due to attend an interview you may feel anxious. Getting your breathing technique right can give you the self assurance you need, to perform.
Breathing deeply triggers your body’s natural endorphin response, allowing you to feel calm and contented. When you are in a threatening situation your breathing becomes rapid and shallow. This enables maximum oxygenation to the heart, pumping the adrenaline you need to fight a battle or beat a hasty retreat. By breathing deeply you trick your body into a more calm response.
Picture yourself as someone who is worried before an interview
How would you feel? How would you sit or stand?
Do you see yourself looking at the floor, being hunched over, hugging yourself, with clenched jaws and shallow breathing?
These actions trigger the adrenalin boost that causes your palms to sweat and the blood to move away from your arms, bringing about the fight or flight response.
Now picture yourself feeling confident before the interview. How would you feel, what would your posture be like?
You probably see yourself with your head up, shoulders back, and breathing deeply from the chest.
This allows your body to feel more calm and contented.
Practice this positive posture and breathing regularly. It will then be easier to switch it on when you need it.

Trusting yourself

Confidence means different things to different people. So how do you go about finding confidence?
Being your own role model is a good way to start. Think about situations that you feel confident in. How do you act? What do you say? What do you do? This all leads to what is called ‘Natural Confidence’, the feeling of being comfortable within your own skin. It leads back to the saying “It’s an attitude and an approach to life that will help you succeed”.
Another valuable tool for anyone who needs a boost of confidence or a reminder of your potential in difficult times is to write a list of ten of your accomplishments. Some examples of the kinds of accomplishments you might include could be:

  • I raised a family
  • I helped a neighbour
  • I wrote a book, a poem, or a song
  • I bought my first car or home
  • I made a difference in someone's life

Once you've made your list, print it out and keep it somewhere handy. Read through it at least once a day. By doing this it will remind you about what you have achieved and that you can trust your own abilities.
The truth is, there will always be someone who has more than you, earns more money than you, and looks prettier than you. Some people are elite and are the best in their field of work, like athletes. Even if you are the best welder, chef, programmer or parent, the truth is there will always be someone who’s going to be a better singer than you.
That doesn’t take away from what you are top-of-the-tree-number-one brilliant at. In fact it’s a great idea to surround yourself with people who are smarter, faster, more experienced and better at something than you – that’s a great way to learn and it’s a great model for achieving success.
Stop judging yourself against other people, that way you think about yourself less rather than thinking less of yourself.
“Which is a sure-fire way to unbreakable confidence”.

Reading recommendations:

Instant Confidence by Paul McKenna
You Can Have What You Want by Michael Neill

Other links

italk is a psychological therapy service available to South Hampshire residents over the age of 16 who have problems such as depression and/or anxiety.