Confidence is all in the mind – how to be comfortable in your own skin

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However, as far as I’m concerned, those people are actually unconfident – they are trying too hard and overcompensating. Truly confident people don’t need to pretend to be something they are not; they feel perfectly good enough as they are.

These techniques are all about giving you inner self-confidence – a strong belief in yourself and your abilities to handle life’s challenges.

I am convinced confidence is ultimately a state of mind and body, it’s also a habit that can be learnt and turned on at will.

It never ceases to amaze me how someone can go from a state of complete terror to one of complete conviction in just moments.

Some Olympic athletes, who have trained for an event for years, walk out into a stadium with a billion people watching them on TV and suddenly they lack confidence, and their performance suffers.

Others have trained not only their bodies, but their minds, to go into a peak state of performance – they call it being “in the zone”.

Musicians refer to it as being “in the groove” and psychologists call it being “in flow” – a peak state of performance where you are in a state of total focus, you move and express yourself perfectly and nothing else in the world matters because you are totally in the moment.

A recent example of this was teenager Emma Raducanu at the US Open – even when she cut her knee on the match point, forcing play to stop, she stayed in the zone and walked into the history books.

She’d taken the tough lesson of having to retire fromWimbledon with breathing difficulties and turned it into a positive.

She said in an interview: “I think Wimbledon was an extremely positive experience. I learnt so much about my game and what it takes to perform at the top.”

This type of confidence is not something that some people are born with, and others will never attain – it is the inevitable result of taking a few daily actions on a consistent basis. So stop for a moment and vividly imagine how your life would be if you were already naturally confident right now – at ease with yourself and whatever is going on around you:

  • How would your posture be?
  • How would your voice sound?
  • What kinds of things would you be saying to yourself?
  • What would you picture in your mind?

If you actually took the time to imagine any of these things, chances are you are already feeling more confident.

The human nervous system doesn’t know the difference between a real and a vividlyimagined experience, so when we imagine scary things, it makes us scared; when we imagine relaxing things, we feel relaxed. The state of confidence is created by the pictures we create in our mind, our internal dialogue and our posture.

We can increase confidence by imagining a more confident self and stepping into it. Confidence is a habit – the more we practise it, the better we get.

THE GRADUAL CONFIDENCE BOOSTER

1 Imagine a slightly more confident ‘you’ sitting or standing in front of you.

2 Now step into the more confident you. See through their eyes, hear through their ears and feel the feelings of your confident self.

3 Notice that right in front of you is an even more confident you – sitting or standing a little bit taller, a look of slightly more self-belief behind their eyes and emanating a little bit of extra charisma.

4 Now step into this more confident self and then notice that in front of you is an even more confident self – more passion, more power, more ease, more comfort.

5 Imagine an even more confident you sitting or standing in front of you.

And step into that more confident you.

6 Feel your confidence overflowing! Be sure to notice how you are using your body – how you are breathing, the expression on your face, and the light in your eyes.

BORROWING FROM A CONFIDENT ROLE MODEL A LOT OF people think that being confident means doing some important act like speaking in a massive auditorium or making a huge business decision.Whereas the confidence people experience in everyday life can be something as simple as shopping in a supermarket.

There’s no worry present – just a decisive, simple, effortless, determined act of picking out the items that you want.

That, by definition, is a form of confidence.

This technique is about borrowing from the confidence of someone who is extremely confident. It can be a famous person, or it can be your Aunt Gladys – it doesn’t matter, as long as the person you choose is someone you think of as a confident person.

1 Think of someone whose confidence and charisma you wish to emulate.

2 Think of a time when they exhibited the skill you wish to learn.

3 Run through that memory of your role model performing that skill several times.

4 Go over to your role model and float into their body, and synchronise with their posture, stand or sit exactly the way they do. Pull the same expression they do. See through their eyes, hear through their ears and feel their confidence.

5 Now run through the memory of them performing the skill from the inside and get the sense of their confidence.

6 Do this several times, until you have a strong sense of how confident it is to be your role model.

YOUR NEW CONFIDENT INTERNAL DIALOGUE

Now let’s try a technique to increase your confidence by controlling internal dialogue:

1 Ask yourself: “Where is my internal voice?” and notice the location where you hear the words.At the front of your head, the back or the side.

2 Imagine how your voice sounds if it is totally confident. Is it louder or softer, stronger or weaker, clearer and easier to hear than normal? Do you speak faster or more slowly? However your voice sounds when you are positive and confident, put that voice in the same location where your old internal voice was located.

3 In a strong calm voice say these words over and over: “All is well, all is well, all is well,” and notice how that makes you feel.

4 Next, take a few moments to think of some of the negative suggestions you have habitually given yourself in the past: “I’m shy and nervous”; “I will never find someone to fall in love with me.”

5 For each statement, come up with its positive opposite: “I’m a naturally confident person”; “I am extremely loveable.”

6 Finally, repeat the positive suggestions in your new, confident internal voice – say the new statements over and over again.

THE POWER OF POSTURE

The film star Roger Moore once told me when he first went to acting school, he had a teacher who asked him: “How tall are you?” “6ft 1in “he replied. “So, why don’t you stand as though you are 6ft 1in?” said the teacher.

Roger straightened up and from that day onwards, he started getting more work.

Nobody has ever marched into my office with their head held high and exclaimed: “I’m depressed!” Those people are usually slouching and looking at the ground.

When you are excited, your posture reflects that.When you are sad, your posture is different. I have a simple exercise that creates this effect.

I imagine that there is a golden thread coming down from the sky, going through the very top of my head and down through my core, which is holding me upright.

I imagine this thread holding me up straight and taking my weight, so I am relaxed, but with a tall, upright posture.

It takes just a couple of seconds to remember it, to let your body respond and to feel the benefits.

It is particularly useful if you are tired or stressed or have spent too long hunched over a computer.

Adapted by Matt Nixson from Positivity: Confidence, Resilience, Motivation by Paul McKenna (Welbeck, £14,99). For free UK P&P on orders over £20, call Express Bookshop on 020 3176 3832 or visit expressbookshop.com

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