si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Month: August, 2009

How To Be Confident

Confidence is a funny thing. It comes in two flavours. How confident other people believe you are, & how confident you feel internally. The two are related, but not necessarily linked. E.g., it’s quite common that other people see us as more confident than we may actually feel.

So how do you go about becoming more confident?

Well, there’s a bunch of physical attributes: head up, shoulders back, firm eye contact, firm handshake, steady voice. None of this is new or complicated. You can read more about it here & here.

Changing your posture does change your emotional state, so by all means do the physical stuff as well (it’ll help how you feel), but I’m going to talk about working directly on the non-physical stuff.

Let’s start with the easy side of things – how we’re perceived externally. Other than posture, how do other people assess how confident we are?

By our speech. What we say, how we say it, the words we use.

I got to thinking about this when reading Jeannette Maw’s excellent Good Vibe Blog. She was talking about wiping out wimpy words. Words that disempower us, make us sound wishy washy, limit us.

These are all words & phrases that will make us seems significantly less confident than we may actually be.

pic by nnn27

What are some examples?

  • Hopefully
  • Probably
  • Should
  • I suppose

So, my hypothesis is, if we stop using these kinds of words, we’ll appear (externally) more confident.

Well, that sounds worth doing, but wait up a second. Before we rush into this, let’s think a little.

Who do we talk to the most, out of all of the people in our lives?

Ourselves, of course.

For every time we say something out loud that makes us sound insecure, we’re going to be saying the exact same thing to ourselves dozens if not hundreds of times.

Removing these words from our vocab will not only make us more confident to others, but will also make us notably more confident internally, when talking to ourselves.

As within, so without – maybe it’s not quite so much of a surprise after all.

Of course, a healthy goal is to remove that nagging inner voice entirely (through meditation, releasing etc), but until we reach that noble pinnacle of enlightenment & inner peace, we still have to contend with our ego. Why not push things in our favour in the meantime?

What’s a good way of removing (or at the very least drastically minimising) specific words & phrases from our vocabulary? Well, the tool I’ve found best for this task is EFT. It’s super simple to use and ridiculously quick.

If you haven’t used EFT before, I’ve put a quick intro up here. The basic gist is to tap (just like tapping a keyboard, but with a coupla fingers at once) on various points around the body, while thinking or saying whatever-it-is you want to fix. The tapping loosens up energy blocks in the body, your energy starts flowing properly again and you automatically heal (since our natural state is to be 100% healthy).

So how to remove a word from your vocab? Just tap the karate chop point (side of hand) while saying something like “Even though I say ‘hopefully’ I love & accept myself”, or “Even though I use the phrase ‘I guess’ I love & accept myself.” Really, the words don’t matter too much, just say whatever pops in your head & feels right for you. Once you’ve said that a few times while tapping your karate chop point, work your way around the points on the body (pic here), saying “I say ‘hopefully” or “I use the word ‘hopefully'” etc & tapping each point 5-10 times.

Once you’ve done a couple of full rounds, & if you want to be really thorough, you can do a couple more rounds, saying something like “I still say ‘hopefully’.” This will clear out any remants that might be left over.

It really is that simple. Total time? 2-3 minutes a word, if that.

pic by pixietart

Here’s the list I cleared out yesterday:

  • hopefully
  • probably
  • should
  • try
  • pretty sure
  • I’ll figure it out
  • doubt
  • can’t
  • want (since want is synonymous with ‘lack’, why not clear that too?)
  • I guess
  • I suppose
  • I need to
  • I’m not sure
  • I don’t think
  • kinda

Of course, everyone uses different words & phrases, so your own list will likely be quite different, but these might help you get started. Just see what resonates for you.

The funny thing is, as you start to clear them out, other commonly used limiting phrases will start to become more obvious & bubble to the surface. I also felt the way I was thinking changing. Sounds insane but it’s true. I could feel myself using different phrasing internally, & as I did, my body became more sure of itself. Not quite sure (ha! I’ll add that to my list) how that works, but a definite example of the mind/body connection at play.

The net result of all this mucking about? More confident thought patterns, more confident speech & a significantly more confident persona. Total time taken? A little over half an hour.


    More On The Mirror Exercise

    I talked about the mirror exercise a while back. I’ve used this quite a lot, & discovered a few extra tricks to really amp it up, which I thought I’d share.

    I Love You
    Paying yourself compliments is a good way to start, particularly if you’re feeling down on yourself, but the single most powerful thing to say is simply “I love you.”

    This heals incredibly deeply. Even if you don’t believe it, say it anyway. Of course, the more feeling & energy you can put into it, the better. Shout it out loud if you like, it all helps.

    pic by prozac74

    Imagine It’s Someone Else
    So how do you say “I love you” if you’re struggling to actually love yourself (like so many of us do)? Well, everyone has someone they’re comfortable saying (& meaning) I love you to.

    So, look at yourself, but get yourself in a loving state by imagining (initially) that you’re saying it to that person. This’ll get you started with really feeling it. The more you say it to yourself, the easier it’ll get. The more strongly you can feel what you’re saying, the more powerful.

    Remember how you act when you meet someone you really like. You smile, right? If you genuinely love them, you’ll smile even more. So definitely smile at yourself.

    It sounds ridiculous, but there’s a definite physiological feedback loop. If you genuinely smile, you will cheer yourself up emotionally too (ie, the energy you’re pouring into yourself will increase). Ie, physical state affects emotional state. As nutty as it sounds, this is well recognised. See? Here’s proof:

    One thing to note with smiles. Humans are very good at assessing the truthfulness of a smile. In other words, telling a fake smile from a real smile. What it comes down to is the very small muscles around the eyes (the orbicularis oculi). So, try to smile so it looks genuine to you. Even if you’re not feeling it internally to start with, do it anyway. Yes, you will feel like a crazy person, but it’s just you & the mirror, so who cares, right? If nothing else, laughing at how nutty you look trying to fake a real smile might set you off into genuine smiling. If so, great!

    Tap While You Do It
    Using EFT while you say “I love you” will do a hell of a lot of good. Don’t panic too much about the details, just tap on the various points around the body, saying “I love you” on each point. If you feel like something is shifting, feel free to stay on that one point, saying “I love you” over & over until it shifts. If not, no biggie.

    I guarantee you, a few loops around your body & you’ll start to feeling significantly better about yourself.

    Use Your Name
    This will help you connect with yourself.

    Even better than this, use a name or nickname you commonly used when you were younger. An awful lot of pain in our lives starts very young. Connecting with & loving our younger selves helps bring up, heal & remove this pain in the simplest, least painful way possible. You’ll feel it.

    All these things help amp up the basic exercise. Simply use any (or all!) of them that resonate with you. I’ve been doing this every morning recently (my shower has a mirror opposite, so I get to tap & wash at the same time), & it gets each day off to a brilliant start.


      How To Stop Feeling Bad

      Why do we feel bad?

      It’s a good question.

      An easy answer would be “because bad stuff happens to us”, but what for one person would be a disaster, someone else might barely notice.

      So what’s actually going on here?

      In a nutshell?

      We beat ourselves up.

      That little voice in our heads giving us shit. Yep, it’s our ego.

      No big surprise there then. So what can we do about it?

      Well, stop complaining is certainly a good start, but there’s more to it than just that.

      For example, how many different ways are there of beating ourselves up?

      Regrets, disappointments, undesirable events, worrying about the future, things we dislike about ourselves, or (even sillier) things we dislike about others (“Why oh why did I choose a husband like this?”) That’s the craziest of all. Resentment about someone else is like drinking poison & expecting the other person to get sick.

      Notice that all of these things are either in the past or in the future? Yep, that’s not a surprise. More on that later.

      A good rule of thumb though? Any time we say something to ourselves that makes us feel worse, that’s beating ourselves up, in one way or another.

      Ok, so we’ve mapped out the field, how to deal to this behaviour? How to stop it?

      The Reductionist Method
      Here’s one method that has worked wonders for me.

      Every morning I sat down & brainstormed a few lists “Things I disapprove about myself”, “Regrets”, “Disappointments”, “Worries” etc. (You can use any phrasing that resonates). Next, I just worked my way down each list I’d made, healing each item in turn. The whole thing would take, 10 maybe 15 minutes tops.

      pic by gwilmore

      What I noticed was, each day the lists got shorter, & the items I’d healed didn’t come back (or they looked like they came back, but were actually subtly different – i.e. different sub-aspects of a larger issue).

      After a few days, I couldn’t think of anything for any of the lists. Oh, & I also wasn’t thinking any of those crappy thoughts about myself any more.

      The fewer negative thoughts you have, the better you’ll feel. It’s not rocket science.

      Of course, when you’re making these lists, the things that come up first will be the things you’re thinking most often. Those at the top of the list will be the loudest complaints. As you clear those out, you’ll naturally work deeper & quieter, till eventually you’re clearing out more & more subtle negativity. It’s a great, natural way to clear through internal noise in a way that gets you the greatest benefits immediately, but gets more deeply powerful the longer you continue.

      It’s also good just to do it a little bit each day. Often we need a good night’s sleep to fully process & clear things out of our systems.

      How to heal this negative self-talk? Well, you can use whatever tool appeals to you. Some of the things that came up I used EFT on, some I used the release technique (aka the Sedona Method), & some I used Reiki. I just trusted my intuition & used what felt right (mostly releasing).

      Our ego has a thousand ways of making us feel bad. Constantly nattering at us, trying to bring us down. This is just a good, time effective way I’ve found to proactively clear out a huge chunk of that crap. Each day getting clearer, lighter & happier.

      The Holistic Method
      Ok, so, remember how all this negative self talk was either in the future, or in the past? Well, that’s not an accident.

      Remember Eckhart Tolle? Well, he’s way ahead of me on this one. See, if you’re the kind of person for whom a methodical approach is just not for you, well, here’s what he recommends.

      Get yourself completely “in the present.” Just be here now.

      It’s that simple. Let go of all the noise in your head. Stop thinking your thoughts. If they come up, simply let them go.

      pic by savannahgrandfather

      The important thing to remember is – you are not your thoughts. It’s your mind thinking them, not you. Which means you have a choice, seriously, whether you want to keep thinking them or not. As with all things, you always have a choice.

      Same thing with any feelings that come up. Just observe them, but let them go too.

      This way, you stay 100% in the present moment. You can still be going about your day, doing whatever, but any thoughts & feelings that come up from the past or about the future, just let them drift off.

      Now, there’s a couple of interesting things about this. Firstly, if you genuinely do welcome up (without attachment) any thoughts or feelings you have, & let go of them fully, they won’t come back. (Very loosely, this is how you release).

      Be gentle with yourself though, because one large issue can often have a ton of little sub-issues to it that may all need to be cleared. It may seem like you’re making no progress, but just keep letting go, keep letting go. Pretty soon you’ll start to see the difference.

      Secondly, the more you can hold yourself in that present moment, the more junk will naturally come up. Why? Because being in that state holds you in a very specific (very powerful) state of vibration. Much like shaking a dirty glass of water, anything counter to that vibration will float to the top. Of course, the important thing is just to keep letting go of everything that comes up. You feel bad? Great! Let it go. Nasty thoughts or memories? Wonderful! Let those go too. They’re only coming up because they’re not in accordance with the person you’re becoming, with that powerful “Now” vibration that you’re holding.

      It’s all good stuff.

      Plus, if you’re truly present? Well, it’s feels great. Best feeling in the world. So that’s a nice bonus too.

      Oh, & there’s nothing saying you can’t use both methods – making lists and being present. Every little bit helps. As Buddha said, “There are many fingers pointing at the moon, but only one moon.”