by Tris Thorp: You’ve had the experience of feeling good—really good—about yourself at least once in your life…
Maybe it was something you accomplished after dedicating a lot of resources, like time, energy, and money. Or perhaps it was just a moment in time where you shined brighter ever before. Whatever that moment was, you will always remember the feeling you had, and there’s a pretty high likelihood that you would like to operate from that place as often as possible.
How to Build Confidence
Confidence is a positive state of mind centered around one’s power or abilities to be the person you want to be, to do the things you want to do, and to have what you want to have in your life. When your self-confidence is soaring, you experience emotions like happiness, joy, and inspiration that make you feel good. You feel clear, congruent, and as if you can take on the world. And yet, there are times in your life when you just don’t feel confident and your self-esteem wanes. In some cases, something happened that caused you to feel “less-than” and you can feel burdened with beliefs that you are incapable of being, doing, or having what you want. It’s important to remember that it’s not uncommon to wonder how to be more confident in yourself.
It’s also important that you learn how to tap into your inner strength on those days because your confidence affects your performance in any area of life and, likewise, your performance affects your confidence. The two are interconnected and go hand-in-hand. The downside to experiencing low self-esteem can present as both negative emotions and limiting beliefs, something that can be easily remedied through applying mindfulness-based lifestyle practices like meditation and goal-setting.
Problems with Low Self-Confidence
Low self-confidence can affect you in many ways. Some of the common issues that crop up are feelings of inadequacy, believing you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough, or you’re unworthy. Sometimes it can lead to negative thoughts that you don’t belong here (or anywhere) and, in some more extreme cases, it can lead to depression, anxiety, or taking action that ends in tragedy.
Signs of Low Self-Confidence
You or someone you care about may be experiencing low self-confidence if there is a strong presence of shame in the emotional body. According to Brené Brown, a research professor, author, and beloved public speaker on the topic, shame is an unspoken epidemic in society that leads to many forms of broken behavior. Other signs that may indicate a lack in confidence is an inability to set and enforce healthy boundaries, social withdrawal, and being fixated on putting others down.
You’ve been there at one point or another and for some, perhaps, more than others. At the end of the day, you were born whole and perfect. You come in with unique talents and special gifts that only you express in your individuated fashion. Your goal is to discover what those positive attributes are and to share those strengths with the world. To do that, you need to have the ability to anchor into your self-confidence and focus on how to build self-esteem. Fortunately, there are several tools and techniques that can help you find and stay connected with this inner aspect.
Let’s explore this three-part exercise that includes using guided meditation (or visualization) to get you feeling more confident.
Define Confidence for You
It’s helpful to understand that words mean different things to different people. What confidence means to one person may look and feel partially or entirely different to another. So, let’s start with a short journaling exercise where you will discover your own definition of confidence.
- Begin by finding a comfortable place to rest where you won’t be distracted. You’ll want to have a clear mind and feel comfortable before you begin journaling.
- Start with some slow, deep breathing to get yourself into a calm, centered, and balanced state so that you may focus on journaling.
- Bring to mind your idea of confidence. You’ll probably find that some form of imagery comes to mind. You might see a picture or a short movie of a time in your life when you felt confident, or it might be of someone else who you see as exuding a strong sense of self-confidence.
- Notice all the things you see, take in everything you hear, and connect with the feelings you feel inside.
- Now, spend a few minutes journaling whatever came through for you; thoughts, feelings, or imagery. This will reveal what confidence looks, sounds, and feels like for you.
Create a Resource Anchor
Next, you’ll use a powerful technique that comes from neuro-linguistic programming called anchoring. Anchoring is an effective tool that helps you access a desired mindset anytime you need to. This can come in quite handy on those days when your self-esteem can use a little boost. For this exercise, you’ll create a resource anchor for confidence, which will help you get in touch with your inner self-esteem whenever you want. (Note: please read through this entire process before you begin so you understand each of the steps clearly.)
- The positive state you will want to anchor for this exercise is confidence. However, you can also ask yourself, “If I could feel any positive and empowering emotions at any time I wanted, what would they be?” Or, another approach is, “How would I like to feel instead (of how I feel now)?”
- Next, decide on a body part you want to anchor the desired state to. Most often, people will use a knuckle on their hand or an ear lobe. You want to choose a place that isn’t always coming into contact with touch because you use touch to activate or “fire off” the anchor.
- Now, ask yourself, “Can I remember a time when I felt confident, a specific time?” Be sure you remember a specific time.
- As you remember that time now, step into your body; see what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel the feelings of being totally confident.
- As soon as you begin to go into the state, meaning you feel totally confident, apply the stimulus by putting your finger on a chosen knuckle or reach up and touch your ear lobe (whichever body part you have chosen to “anchor” this state to). The idea is to do this right when you’re at the peak of feeling totally confident.
- As soon as the state begins to subside remove your finger from your knuckle or ear lobe. Be sure to remove the stimulus prior to the feeling of confidence beginning to dissipate. This is very important.
- Last, test the anchor to make sure it works. To do this, you need to break state, which is a way of saying reboot your mind. Simply look outside the window or walk into a different room and then come back. Test your anchor of confidence by reapplying the stimulus. Observe how you go into a state of feeling totally confident. *If you need to repeat the process, you can do so.
A Guided Meditation for Visualizing Confidence
Now it’s time to bring it all together.
- Find a comfortable place to sit and minimize any distractions.
- Close your eyes and begin to take some slow deep breaths, following your inhalation and exhalation, to allow yourself to settle into a peaceful, meditative state.
- Begin by bringing a real-life situation to mind where you want to be able to step into a state of confidence. Maybe it’s a conversation you need to have or a presentation you’ve been asked to deliver. Perhaps you’re wanting to ask someone on a date or set a meaningful goal.
- As you bring this situation to mind create a picture and then fire off the anchor you previously created. You should feel yourself shifting to an emotional state of feeling totally confident. (If not, simply repeat the anchoring process and test it to be sure it works.)
- Play out the scenario in your mind in the most positive way you would most like to see it unfold. Follow the movie reel all the way through to completion where you end with the most positive outcome. Take in everything you see, hear, and feel around you. Notice how much confidence you have and how amazing that feeling is.
- When you’re ready, open your eyes and journal for a bit about how this process was for you. Repeat as often as necessary.
In this guided visualization, you are practicing what many successful athletes do before the game. It’s called dissociated state rehearsal. It gets your mind into the state you need to be in to accomplish your goals in the moment. The more you practice this in your mind, the better you will become. These methods will help you decipher how to boost your confidence.
The final step in achieving the level of confidence you desire is to go out into the world and do it. Exactly as you’ve been imagining it in your mind, you must now take physical action to make it your reality.