Clients and students often tell me that they lack confidence and self-belief as such this holds them back from being who and what they want to be or do. The media seems to be full of information about confidence building and all sorts of ideas on how to boost it. With all the information out there it is hard to know where to start especially if you lack confidence.
So what set me off thinking about confidence for this blog? It is because we decided to get a puppy. It is 27 years since I had such a tiny puppy as I rescued my last two dogs. As the time approached to collect my new fur baby underneath my excitement was a dread and fear about taking this sweet little fur ball into my care.
My fears were irrational as I have been caring for dogs since I was a child and am as familiar with dogs as puppies. However for some reason my confidence about caring for this little puppy seem to dip. So why was I feeling so nervous and why was my confidence in my ability to care for this puppy dipping?
So what is self –confidence? – According to the thesaurus Self-confidence is – freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities; (http://www.onlinethesaurus.co.uk/reference/thesaurus.jsp?q=self-confidence)
The problem in dealing with confidence issues is that different things can affect our levels of confidence. If you do a Google search you will find all kinds of ways and approaches to help build up confidence. This in itself can cause stress and anxiety as to where go for help and what to try or do.
The strange thing about confidence is that we can have good levels in some areas of our life and yet be totally lacking in another. This lack of confidence can seep into other areas of our life where we usually feel confident and erode it.
Confidence can be a fragile thing especially when you feeling venerable, tired, stressed, anxious, ill or low in mood. Past experiences and life events can have a huge impact on our belief system and confidence.
Before we brought the puppy home I had been busy and I was feeling tired. My thinking started going in a negative spiral with the “what ifs”, “musts, shoulds, ought to, as well as perfectionism creeping in. I was tending to awfulise things pulling on the past and projecting into the future to create all sorts of images and scenarios.
I hope you can begin to build up a picture of how I was literally doing my head in. The spinning thoughts in my head were creating self-doubt and my internal critic was behaving very harshly. Negative thinking never helps to boost confidence and it certainly erodes self- belief thus creating fear, stress and anxiety.
So what was at the bottom of my lack of confidence? Perhaps it was having such a young puppy after so many years. I had rescued my last two dogs one of them, Billy, at 18 months he was very hard work but worth it in the end. Maybe that experience had dented my confidence? The new puppy that I was getting was a breed I had not had before so did I know what I was doing?
The reason that our self-confidence and self-belief erodes is FEAR. Fear can arise from the unknown, the thought of failure, worrying about doing harm and so on. So many things can affect self-belief and confidence. Illness both physical and psychological can have a huge impact on confidence.
There are certain things you can do and try to help increase your self-belief and confidence.
- Get real by stepping into reality –
- Stay in the moment not in the past or future. If you are in real time you are engaged with what is going on in the here and now. We spend so much time lost in our heads in worry we miss what is happening in the now. Mindfulness practice will help you to stay present.
- Mind your language –
- Watch the “must, should, oughts, have to” these are very demanding words, go for softer options such as prefer instead of must.
- Avoid predicting language this is where you predict how things will be rather than just waiting to see.
- Avoid awfulising situations. Keep things in perspective rather than blowing things up all out of proportion.
- Make sure goals and expectations are realistic and achievable so set smart goals –
- We often set unrealistic goals for ourselves. Make sure that you have realistic steps maybe think about small step to gain a big or major goal.
- Expectations often exceed what is possible or realistic then we become disappointed, frustrated when things don’t turn out as expected. A healthy attitude is to wait and see what happens it might just surprise you.
- Follow your own instincts –
- Your gut instinct/intuition will guide you. So often we ignore this inner guidance and sense as we are so locked into the noise in our brains
- Everyone seems to have their way of doing things including you we give others so much power and their way may not be what is right for you. Learn to trust yourself and be your true self.
- Turn off your inner critic it will stifle your intuition, you are not in the moment when the inner critic is active.
We have had our puppy, Tess, for two months now and despite my earlier misgivings and wobbly confidence it has been very good. I had to be careful to be in the moment and not have unrealistic expectations. I made my mind up to enjoy having this puppy. I knew some things could be challenging but Tess is a puppy and not to expect too much. She has been a delight and has settled in so well.
Everyone seems to have their own way training dogs. The one thing I did not want was my anxieties and negative feelings transferring to the puppy. So I followed my own advice. The biggest compliment I had was from our Vet who complimented me on what a relaxed laid back puppy I had. What more could I ask for?