How do we develop a more authentic sense of confidence?
Generally, what happens is that we hook confidence onto external things. When things are going well, we feel confident, but when things are not going well, in any area of our life, we lose confidence.
So, let’s start by asking ourselves ‘who or what do I base my confidence on?’
Maybe we base confidence on our physical appearance, or material possessions, and then there’s our relationships and how well they’re going – and many of us know how a breakdown in relationships can cause a huge sense of crisis. Then there’s our mental and physical health, the activities we do, traveling…. the list is endless. Some might say these are all superficial, and if we base our confidence on how well we are doing in the world, then it can feel like we are on a constant roller coaster.
So how can we create a feeling of confidence that comes from within and build confidence from the inside out?
First, we need to be aware of our subconscious beliefs, because often we’re unaware of these. Second, it’s important to have the belief that I can change, otherwise, we stay stuck. Third, we need to know ourselves from the inside – with all our strengths and values.
Knowing our subconscious beliefs
A classic belief is ‘I am not good enough or no good’. We may not say this to ourselves, but it often shows itself in our responses to life, especially when we’re criticized. When we have inner confidence or self-respect, we’re able to look at that criticism positively, if not, we can view criticism as a threat and become defensive, because often we don’t want others to know that inside we don’t feel confident. Another common subconscious belief is that when things are tough and challenging, we feel miserable and believe there’s nothing we can do about the situation. And sometimes, we subconsciously believe that everyone is leading a wonderful life – except me.
All this can lead to a mismatch between the demands of a situation and my perception of my ability to cope with that situation. Many of us have the belief that we can’t cope – but most of us do overcome the challenges life throws at us.
Challenging our subconscious beliefs
Our beliefs are like our inner programming; if we notice them, we can step outside of them and observe them. We can observe our mind and look at what our mind is churning out. If I understand that I am not my mind, but a still and peaceful being, we can then start to witness our beliefs and start challenge them. For example, when I think I am not good enough – I can challenge that belief by telling myself … that I am an amazing capable and powerful being; that this is just a test to make me stronger; that the situation has benefit; that my role is to be the creator, or hero in my own life.
I can retrain my mind. The brain can form new neural connections or pathways. For example, I don’t need to take the same well-trodden path through a grass field, I can start another path, I just need to keep walking that new path for a while. Our brain is the same. Anything we want to change – we can.
To create new neural pathways, I practice finding a space inside myself, a space that goes beyond the programming. When we go beyond our programming, we release a lot of energy, and we can then start to be creative. I can create a vision of myself, a vision of who I truly am and who I want to be. We then just need to get rid of what’s getting in way.
During this practice, I focus on my inner strengths to be creative in terms of changing my responses, understanding that we really are the creators of our inner world.
Knowing my strengths
Often, we tend to focus on our weaknesses. I can challenge my weaknesses by focusing on my strengths. Do I know my own strengths? If I need help to discover them, I can ask my friends or try taking the survey at www.viacharacter.org. We can then use our strengths to counteract our weaknesses and build inner confidence and inner self-esteem. Another thing that builds our inner strength is spotting strengths in others – research studies show that doing this gives us a good feeling.
Knowing my Values
My values are the guiding principles I live by. We need to know what is important to us and ask ourselves if we are living in accordance with them. Demands of the day can take us away from prioritising what’s important to us, especially if we aren’t clear about them. We often know them when others go against them, such as, we may find ourselves getting annoyed with someone because they don’t live by our own values. For example, getting annoyed when someone is late means one of my values is punctuality. But I also need to understand that I have my values and they have theirs. I put attention on myself and live by my values, whilst respecting everyone I meet.
This respect for ourselves and for others, gives us a good inner feeling.
It just takes a little practice.