People have often described me as a confident person and in many ways I am.
However, there have also been many occasions over the years where my inner confidence has been very ‘insecure’… If someone said something critical to me, it could really knock the wind out of my sails.
If someone came to me and said: “Wendy, I hate your purple hair”, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me too much. Their mean and nasty comment wouldn’t impact on me as a personal set back, because I’d just think “Well you’re an idiot – my hair’s red(ish) not purple” . I’d externalise rather than internalise their criticism. As a result, their comment wouldn’t penetrate and would roll off me like water off a ducks back. I wouldn’t internalise their insult because I’m confident in the knowledge that my hair really isn’t purple. (…although I could be tempted now to go purple on my next trip to the hairdressers!!)
However, if someone came up to me in the past and said “Wendy, you look awful in that outfit” or “Wendy, you’re rubbish at…. “, I would have been very likely to internalise their criticism and then ADD to it with my own negative self talk.
- Feelings of fear and self doubt would quickly emerge
- I would often hold myself back and avoid putting myself in a position where I could be criticised
- In certain situations I’d be very anxious and occasionally I had panic attacks
WHY? – Because I WASN’T CONFIDENT in my own skin. As a result, when someone criticised me, I took it to heart.
Their comments didn’t roll of me like water off a ducks back and I would repeat patterns of behaviour that I’d learned many years earlier… I’d hold myself back for fear of being rejected.
I heard a great definition of FEAR a few days ago:
FEAR is something we often create in our own head i.e. fantasising about all the awful things that might happen if …… and believing that these things that we fear will definitely happen!
The Power Of The Mind To Change….
When I completed my Neuro Linguistic Programming Training with Dr Richard Bandler a few years ago, I had my lightbulb moment, realising that I was running automatic patterns of behaviour that I’d simply learned as a child. Dr Bandler taught me to challenge my beliefs and to challenge the voice in my own head and what other people say about me. I emerged from that training on a new path of self discovery and although I slip off the path from time to time, I now recognise much more quickly when I’m running old patterns of behaviour automatically and which no longer serve a good purpose in my life.
I realised that until I feel truly confident in my own skin, I will always be at the mercy of other people and my own negative self talk and I’d continue to be knocked off course.
- I now know that I can challenge myself and my behaviour and change my internal perception and in doing so, I’ve developed a much higher level of inner confidence.
- I’ve started to take risks, that I previously wouldn’t have taken, for fear of not being good enough.
For me, the key to unlocking the door to living a more CONFIDENT life, was becoming conscious of my automatic thought patterns and realising that these were simply learned patterns of behaviour that could be unlearned. I became aware that often, when I received ‘criticism’ from someone, it triggered a pattern of thoughts and behaviour, which went something like this:
- I receive criticism from someone
- I internalise it – letting their words penetrate deep within
- I believe what they’ve said without challenge
- I add to their negativity within my own head.. “yes, they’re right I’m rubbish at ….”
- I feel anxious and stressed
- I worry about what might happen and create an even bigger negative ‘future scenario’ in my head
- I let FEAR take over and hold back from doing something similar in future
Training with Dr Bandler, I recognised that this pattern of behaviour was something I’d learned as a child and therefore it was possible to ‘unlearn it’.
This pattern of behaviour wasn’t me, it was simply something I’d become good at, because I’d practiced it over and over again.
Becoming consciously aware of it was the first step to changing it!
What patterns are you running over and over that are no longer serving a good purpose in your life?
- Become aware of the voice in your head and notice what it’s saying
- Write down the pattern of behaviour this thought triggers
- How does it make you feel – good or bad?
- If you notice yourself feeling bad about something your hearing in your head or that someone says to you, how do you respond? What do you DO i.e. how do you behave as a result?
Recognising your automatic patterns is the first step to changing it!
The next step is to start consciously challenging those patterns and beliefs and asking yourself a different set of questions. The quality of the questions you ask yourself, determines the quality of your life and your level of Inner Confidence
Instead of automatically ‘believing’ what someone has said or that you notice your telling yourself repeatedly, STOP and CHALLENGE this perception. Ask yourself some searching questions like:
- What evidence is there to support what they’re saying?
- If there is strong evidence that what they say is correct then what can I do to change it for the future?
- What evidence is there that shows that this ‘perception’ about me is wrong?
- Has there ever been a time when I was good at…..?
- If I was really confident, how would I behave?
- What can I learn that would help me to feel more confident?
By asking yourself these questions and consciously challenging the perceived issue they’ve highlighted, you are taking back control.
- Once you have ‘control’ of your thoughts rather than running an automatic pattern, you can start to decide for yourself whether there is some truth in what is being said or not.
- Once you’ve asked yourselves those (or similar) questions, you have factual knowledge on which to decide whether the ‘criticism’ was correct or incorrect.
- You can choose consciously to reject the perception or to accept it.
- If you accept it and recognise you can learn something new to improve things in the future, you are opening your mind up to positive future outcomes rather than fear based limitations.
Occasionally, we may receive feedback which highlights something we do need to consider and change. Brilliant – instead of this knocking us down, we can use this to learn new skills or develop greater awareness about ourselves so that we can make changes that will improve our lives
We have choices and they are ALWAYS within our own control.
- We can always challenge ourselves by asking whether there is ‘evidence’ to support what someone says or what we’re repeatedly telling ourselves.
- Once we start recognising our patterns of behaviour and our automatic response triggers, we are taking back control of the voice in our head and we can start to re-programme alternative patterns.
- We can tell ourselves: “Actually, I’m not rubbish at….”
- We can even start looking out for more examples where we’ve done something really well
In the end, after giving proper consideration to what someone has said, I realise that there is often lots of evidence to show that I’m actually really good at something.
I remember for years, I’d dress as other people ‘expected’ me to dress rather than choosing the clothes that I really liked. I remember as the youngest child in our family, I always had to wear other people’s hand me downs. I never had the opportunity to make a choice about what I wanted to wear or what I liked, to the point where when I was older, I always wore black. I had a friend who always seemed to turn her nose up at what I was going to choose to buy if we went shopping.. “Oh that looks too sparkly – it makes it look cheap” and I’d pop the dress back on the rail and stick to something ‘classic’ instead. I spent my 30’s and 40’s feeling positively frumpy!
Because I didn’t feel confident in my own sense of style, it didn’t take much to make me doubt myself and my choices or to run in a corner to hide.
After I did the NLP training, I recognised that many of my ‘confidence’ issues related to long standing patterns and I realised I’d never really decided for myself what I loved to wear or how I wanted my house to ‘look’… I made it a mission to start challenging my own beliefs and forcing myself to move out of my comfort zone.
Posting photo’s on Instagram, Facebook and my Blog was initially a real challenge and yet something I recognised I had to do, in order to break free of my ‘old pattern’ of blending into the background in black!
It’s been a great part of building my confidence so that I’m not ‘knocked back’ if someone tells me they don’t like something I’m wearing. Now I think … “well up yours.. I love it!”. I’m loving finding my own sense of style and wearing colours I’d never have worn. Finally, I’m feeling confident in my own choices… Wow! I felt the FEAR and did it anyway! (Thanks Susan Jeffers)
I’ve realised that when someone says something that I feel confident isn’t true, that I can reject their opinion of me. I have developed far greater ‘self belief’ in my 50’s and particularly in the last couple of years so that other people’s opinions of me and their critical comments no long penetrates to my heart. I also learned that I can ‘let go’ of people – I can choose to free myself from their negative influence…
With Social Media and the Internet, we are so ‘open’ to criticism, that feeling ‘confident in our own skin’ is even more important! We need to be confident and honest about ourselves to ourselves. Accept our foibles because we’re human, not perfect and be confident about our imperfections and confident that we don’t have to be PERFECT or live PERFECT lives or be the PERFECT mother or the PERFECT employee or the PERFECT manager. We can celebrate our imperfections, we can always learn new things to improve our lives.
I’m not perfect and finally I’m confident in my belief that I don’t have to be perfect to live a great and confident life!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this CONFIDENCE Series and that you’ve picked up some tips along the way, to help you live Confidently In Your Own Skin and reveal your Brilliance Within! I’d love to hear from you so please leave me a comment below….
If you’ve only just ‘joined’ me in this series, you can check out the rest of the series under the Personal Development page. Here’s a link to the first in the series: Confidence – Is It Simply A Choice? Part 1
There are also 5 useful tips on Divyanka Krsna website too..