Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She's the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
How do you feel about YOU?
How to increase self-confidence: Self-confidence means having a belief in your own competence to handle things, a belief in your ability to shape your reality and a belief that you are worthy of love and respect.
The feeling-state of self-confidence is elusive for many people. As a therapist and life coach, I often talk to people about how they feel about themselves. Believe it or not, even people that seem like they have it all — intelligence, attractiveness, success, and great relationships — may still also struggle with feeling self-confident. They doubt themselves, and always feel like they need to do more or be better in order to feel “worthy.”
It's exhausting. It's also unnecessary.
What I have discovered over the years through my work as a therapist and life coach is that people step in and out of feeling confident. Sometimes we feel more confident than others. I often explore with my clients the times that they feel better about themselves and their lives to see what common elements there are.
This has been an interesting experiment, as I've gained insight into specific skills and practices that can help us all feel more consistently confident. Here is one of the core skills I've learned over the years about how to cultivate self-confidence and keep self-confidence with you more of the time.
Choose Confidence-Inspiring Thoughts, Intentionally:
When you are feeling the opposite of self-confident (insecure, anxious, incompetent, powerless) it’s likely that you have some core beliefs that are supporting those feelings. For example, you may believe on some deep level that you can’t handle a situation, you’re going to fail, or that you’re not good enough. These beliefs may be so old and automatic that you are not even aware that you are having them. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you decide to take your power back by choosing confidence-inspiring thoughts. Here are some of my favorites:
– “I am strong and resourceful, and competent to handle whatever life throws my way.”
– “My actions in the present moment create my future outcomes. Today I can make choices that lead me to success.”
– “I am a good person. I am worthy of love and respect.”
I know that this may feel goofy, like some seventies-style “positive affirmation” practice, but this is based on decades of research showing that practicing the thoughts that support your desired mood state is a really effective way of helping you achieve it.
As I teach in my Happiness Class, our brains are plastic. The thinking patterns we indulge literally create neural pathways in our brains.
If you are feeling fearful and insecure, it’s likely that there are neural pathways of automatic thoughts carrying you into that bad feeling place. Deciding on, and practicing, new thoughts feel hard at first, but the practice re-organizes your mind. It establishes new automatic beliefs in your competence, power, and worth that will lead you to better feeling moods.
Even more importantly, when you decide to take control of your inner narrative, you become more empowered.
Now I have an assignment for you: Write down a thought that, if you were to believe it, would make you feel stronger, more powerful, and more confident. You don't have to “feel like it's true. Bonus points for making a public declaration in the comments section. I’ll be reading your answers!
I'll be back in touch next week with step two of this process. Do your homework and meet me back here next Tuesday, and we'll move forward together.