Not confident in some situations? Retrain your brain

Confidence is an asset which is prized in the business environment and evident in people who are successful. It has an impact on daily life: from how you see yourself, the way others perceive you, the relationships you form, the decisions you make and the actions that you take.

 Confidence is not the same as self-esteem, which is a low sense of self-worth. Context plays an important role in confidence. Have you ever noticed that you could be buzzing about presenting and sharing ideas with your colleagues but be a nervous wreck when you have to give a presentation to the board. Why is this so?

  The answer lies in exploring the circumstance of the situation that you are not confident about and getting to heart of the issue. For example, if you are worried about not being able to answer a question, you can prepare and find answers to possible questions that might come up.

For most it is not a lack of knowledge or content but a lack of belief in yourself. It’s your own thinking that is preventing you from believing in yourself. The trick is to retrain your mind.

 Reframe limiting beliefs : Albert Ellis, founder of REBT, developed a way to teach people how their beliefs cause their emotional and behavioural responses. You may have had a ‘bad’ experience from which you dwell on the negatives aspects. These negative thoughts are played over and over in your mind until they become beliefs. Whenever placed in such situations, the feelings of anxiety and nervousness emerge. It is not giving a presentation that causes those feelings it is the beliefs that you have associated with them.

Examples of such limiting beliefs are the need for approval from others (if this is not 100% they will think less of me) and it must be perfect with no hitches (if there a mistake then it has all gone wrong)   

Dispute and banish those negative beliefs and replace them with positive performance enhancing ones. Such as, ‘I realise that my belief is unrealistic and keeps me stuck. The only way I’m going to find out about the quality of my ideas is by presenting them. If they are rejected, it is important for me to distinguish between my ideas being rejected and me rejecting myself because my ideas have been. If someone does think I’m a fool I certainly don’t have to agree with them….

 Use an anchor:  Physiologist & psychologist Pavlov discovered a phenomenon called conditioning. At meal times he would ring a ring to call his dogs to the food. After a period of time he found that even without any food, the dogs would salivate from hearing the sound of the bell.

An anchor works in a similar way. By conditioning responses to an anchor we are able to get into a specific state. How to do this:  

  1. Think of a time when you were really brimming with confidence, self belief and feeling on top of the world.  Relive the memory of that experience. Construct thoughts, images, feelings and visualise  yourself in that state
  2. At the peak of that state, when the feeling is most intense, anchor that feeling to a unique trigger such as a light pinch of the palm  
  3. Change into a neutral state by moving around and doing and thinking positively about something different.
  4. Repeat that process and practice several times until every time you pinch your left palm you will be in a confident state 

Visualisation: Imagine and play through the desired outcome in your head. Rehearse and practice the scene until you perfect it. This starts from what you are wearing, how you are feeling, how you are speaking, how you move about the room, what questions might come up, what your response would be… 

Affirmations: These are short, I, Me and My statements that you repeat to yourself in order to change limiting beliefs. How we feel and act is influenced by our thoughts. Change the way you think and you will change the way you feel and behave. State your affirmations in the present tense. “I am a confident speaker,” ‘I am confident in my speaking abilities’

Imitate someone else: Think of someone who is really confident that you admire and say to yourself ‘What ABC do in such a situation? How would she handle it? How would she act? And then behave like that person

What tips can you share that have worked for you? Have you used any of the above?


About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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3 Responses to Not confident in some situations? Retrain your brain

  1. Tony Goddard says:

    Vera – this is a great article and an easy read for anyone looking to boost their confidence.

  2. I’ve passed on this Blog to a couple of my coachees as I think it will help them, thanks Vera!

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