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How To Increase Self-Confidence, Part 2

How To Increase Self-Confidence, Part 2

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 Nourish Yourself Emotionally?

 

In my previous post on how to increase self-confidence, I discussed two ways to help you increase your feelings of self-confidence — choosing confident thoughts, and challenging yourself. Today let’s explore a few more habits that will help you feel more consistently and authentically self confident.

Last time, I gave you an assignment: to write down a thought that, if you were to believe it, would help you feel more confident.

Let’s discuss: How was that for you? Did you do the assignment? If so, how did you feel as you wrote down the words? For some people, finding and reminding themselves of self-affirming beliefs feels relatively easy, and good.

However, some people struggle to do this. They feel like positive, self-affirming thoughts are a lie. Thinking supportive things about themselves feels awkward, and untrue. This is especially common for people who are going through a bad breakup or divorce, or who have been in relationships (romantic, parents, others) who have been critical and unsupportive.

If you felt an inward “squirm” as you tried to find better feeling thoughts about yourself (or if you rejected the idea of practicing this skill entirely) you may need more support to shift your inner dialogue. Please consider enrolling in my Happiness Class (where I spend like, five hours of instruction teaching you how to spot and vanquish your inner bully), or getting involved in positive, affirming counseling or life coaching. 

Why? Because self-defeating thoughts can be extremely powerful, and very entrenched. You may need an ally, a partner, to help you even see them — much less talk back to them. An even longer journey may be to discover that the voice in your head that’s tearing you down may not even be true at all, and never was.

But that’s a journey that few can make alone. If you want a partner to help you do this work, we’re always here. You do not need to continue suffering through this by yourself.

However: For others of you, finding the thought that would help you feel more confident was perhaps new, but still do-able. And when you did the assignment it likely gave your self-confidence a boost. If so you’ve experienced a universal truth of self confidence: You are what you believe. Let’s use this success to continue moving you forward.

What’s next? Your follow up assignment is to very deliberately and intentionally remind yourself of that new idea every day. You might even go-getcha some friends for that new thought. Before you know it, you’ll have an empowering, supportive chorus of voices inside of you: cheering you on, celebrating your successes, and motivating you upward and onward. 

But wait, there’s more! Here are a few more tips to help yourself continue feeding the healthy, emotionally supportive part of you.

Effective Ways To Build Your Self Confidence

1) Make a list of things that have gone well. It’s so easy to focus on your perceived character flaws, possible catastrophic outcomes, or times when things didn’t work out the way you hoped. Something about them is just more compelling than positive memories, or thinking about your strengths. Focusing on failures, real or imagined, is a sure fire way to create gnawing self doubt and insecurity.

Try this: literally, sit down with a pen, and write out a comprehensive list of things that you accomplished, things that went well, and things that you know you can do. The act of writing it will give you appreciation for your strengths and your abilities. By willfully connecting with positive memories you will feel more confident to handle new things too. [More: How to Own Your Awesome]

2) Learn the skill of optimism. Yes, optimism is a skill. Unconfident people generally imagine that things will go badly for them, and anticipation of the pain, or consequences of their failures becomes the paralyzing force that prevents them from trying things. (Or, when in the grip of great fear triggered by negative expectations, unconfident people can sabotage their own success).

In contrast, confident people simply expect that things will go well for them, or if things don’t go well they will be able to handle the situation competently. This might sound like a tall order at first, but optimism is a skill that can be learned.

To develop your ability to think in this way, try this: Write out the best-case scenario. Your mind may be crowded  by images of catastrophes, but for this exercise gently push them aside for the moment, and write out the story of what exactly would be happening if you were living out the best-case scenario. To build on this, you may write out possible problems you could encounter, but then immediately write out how you would handle them competently were they to occur. Developing this confident vision will help soothe your anxiety, and feel more competent — and more confident.

3) Populate your life with people who believe in you. If you are spending time with people who generally expect bad things to happen, and who doubt that you (or anyone) can create better outcomes, it may be affecting your confidence.

We humans learn from others, and we internalize the voices of the people we are close to. You’ve probably internalized the voices of your parents as a child, and as an adult the beliefs of those around us get absorbed into our brains too. When you spend time with people who are confident in themselves, they will be more likely to view you as competent too— and they’ll communicate that belief in a variety of ways.

Being exposed to positive expectations of your competence, your worth, and your power to improve your circumstances will make you more likely to feel confident. And, when you feel more confident you will try things that may feel challenging. When you successfully face challenges, your confidence builds.

4) Stay in the present. Things that actually do happen are rarely as scary, catastrophic and overwhelming as we think they are going to be. Our negative anticipations of failure or bad outcomes can be positively visceral, and they make us basically experience the worst possible scenario before it’s even happened. The feelings of dread, terror, and shame we have when living out the possible horrible future in our mind’s eye will paralyze us, and sustain the belief in our incompetence that prevents us from feeling confident.

Try this: Practice unhooking your mind from catastrophe by simply noticing what is happening around you right now. [More on mindfulness, here]. You may be sitting in a chair, laying in bed, or walking. Notice how your body feels, notice the colors and shapes that you see, and notice what you are hearing. That’s all that’s happening now. That is actually all that is ever happening. When you stay here, and mindfully allow the present moment to unfold, you are more likely to feel confident and certain in your ability to cope. [More on managing catastrophic thoughts here, if you’re interestested].

The world needs you. We need you to be your amazing, best self and to do all the wonderful things you’re capable of. [Read: Why The World Is A Better Place Because You’re In It] Strengthening yourself, nourishing yourself, and investing in your confidence gives you the chance to do everything you’re meant to do — for yourself, and others.

Yay for being you!

xo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

How to Increase Self Confidence (Part 1)

How to Increase Self Confidence (Part 1)

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.

 

xo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

Social Media and Happiness: How to Make Them Co-Exist

Social Media and Happiness: How to Make Them Co-Exist

Don’t Let Social Media Bring You Down

Over the last decade, we have all experienced the increase of social media in our lives. There are positives and negatives that come with social media and its influence. On the one hand, social media can be life and happiness enhancing, especially when it helps you feel more connected to the people you care most about.

At the same time, in my experience as a life coach and relationship coach, I have noticed that if we are not careful, we can allow social media to take over our perceptions and become a sort of filter through which we view the world.  When social media use becomes unbalanced it is common to experience an increase of feelings of insecurity. You may also notice that your thoughts about yourself or your life are more negative, and it can cause you to feel as though others are happier and/or better than you. You might also unintentionally spend less time and attention on the people you’re around “in real life.”

Here are some tips to help guard yourself against the negativity that social media can bring:

First, Be Aware of “False Advertising.” Social media is the place where we all go to document our lives and share our experiences with each other. From what we ate for breakfast, to the most significant events, we post it. But what we all must be aware of, is that the things we see down our timeline have been carefully crafted.

We all know what its like to spend several minutes choosing our angles, picking just the right filter, and typing the best caption ever. This effort to only display the best parts of life can cause us to absorb a false sense of reality. It is important to remind yourself that what you see, is only what people want you to see. And there is much more to life than what makes it onto our profiles.

Second, Do Not Compare. Don’t ever compare your relationships, yourself, or any other aspects of your life with what you see on social media. It is very easy for us to use the social media posts of our friends and people we admire as a compass to where our lives should be. We notice when everyone around us “seems to be” happy, getting married, or having a baby, which makes us examine our lives.

It is important to be aware of the negative feelings that can arise when we view the posts of our social media friends. For example, one of your friends travels to exotic destinations with their significant other, and all you see are posts of beautiful beaches and extravagant dinners. It can be easy to think to yourself “wow my relationship is never this exciting,” or “my partner never takes me anywhere.” The trouble with this thinking is that it promotes negativity and may motivate us to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our partners.

Lastly, Spend Time Off The Grid. If we are not careful, social media can become overwhelming and all-consuming. If you find that you spend a tremendous amount of time on social media,  or thinking about posts, or if you notice you are having negative feelings every time you open and close the apps… it’s time to take a break and go off the grid.

I personally have found it very refreshing to spend time away from social media and open myself back up to in-person interactions and experiences. Even if you have to delete the apps from your phone, it can be beneficial to take a step back and regroup— at least for a while. It will all still be there when or if you decide to jump back in. Taking breaks periodically will help you keep social media use balanced and in its place.  Time away, “in real life,” will help you re-establish a healthy perspective of yourself, your relationships, and your life.

I hope that these strategies help you maintain the positive aspects of social media use, without letting social media interfere with your happiness and life-satisfaction.

Teresa Thomas, M.A.

Why You Need To Stop Comparing Yourself to Others, ASAP

Why You Need To Stop Comparing Yourself to Others, ASAP

Do you compare your life and your accomplishments to those of other people?

In this day and age it’s harder than ever to trust your own ideas, believe in yourself, and actualize a self-directed vision.

Why? There are many forces at work in our culture that make us question whether we’re measuring up. Not least of these is our consumption of social media — the never-ending digital conveyor belt of information about all the amazing things our friends and acquaintances are doing with their lives, in vivid color. Vacations, milestones, weddings, births, and promotions are artfully showcased to enviable perfection. When you’re constantly confronted with semi-histrionic proclamations about the magnificence of what other people are doing, your own life can feel less-than in comparison. (Listen to “Schadenfacebook” on The Hidden Brain Podcast.)

But when you’re measuring yourself by someone else’s yardstick, it takes a toll. For starters, it creates anxiety and insecurity. It can also lead you to begin crafting your life and making choices specifically to garner the approval and admiration of others. When that happens, you become disconnected from your vision, your truth, and your personal power.

What Happens When You Lose Yourself

Becoming overly focused on how you compare to others makes you vulnerable to all sorts of problems.

For example, you might find it increasingly hard to make decisions without second guessing yourself. It can feel hard to persist in the face of adversity when you don’t believe in yourself. When you need people to treat you a certain way so that you can feel okay about yourself, your relationships can suffer. You may feel increasingly hollow and empty as you lose touch with who you are, and what makes you authentically happy.

Worst yet, being other-focused may lead you to (ironically) become less able to create the kind of successful life you want… leading to even more anxiety and dissatisfaction with your current reality, and more dependent on the opinions of others to feel okay about yourself. (Check out “Why Gen Y Millenials Are So Unhappy” on the Wait But Why blog.)

Here’s a poignant note on exactly this subject that I recently received from a listener of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast:

Dear Dr. Lisa,

Recently I am trying to consciously make time to work on building cognitive skills and self awareness with the tips and lessons you share in your classes, blogs and podcasts, and also from feedback I get from [the coach I’m working with @ Growing Self.]

[Through my personal growth work] I found out that one of my unhealthy thinking habits is “comparing myself with others”. I was comparing myself with my boyfriend, my friends, and this was so on “auto-pilot” most of the time, I wasn’t even so aware about it.

Since I could always easily find what I was lacking when I did comparisons, it brought me many problems. I was always lacking confidence, I was always seeing proof of my shortcomings and reasons about why I shouldn’t/counldn’t do something, and I always struggled with anxiety and uneasiness. It was most painful when I felt inferior than others in things I value most. (Being compassionate, intelligent etc.)

Also, I realized that deep in my mind I used comparisons to feel good about myself, like comparing my achievements to others’ and assuring myself that I’m doing great, which is maybe not so bad and what people naturally do, but it could make me feel guilty or empty at times.

I was in this unhealthy, unhelpful place for a very long time. I’m still working on this, but I felt very liberated after I learned that these unhelpful thinking patterns can be shifted with effort to more productive ones, and that people have different natural talents and strengths and it’s okay to accept myself as who I am. It was almost a surprise to know that there is actually a way to be happier.

I would be interested if you could do a podcast or write an article about comparisons someday, if you have anything to share about this topic.”

Sincerely,
– H

How to Stop Comparing Yourself To Others, and Start Believing in Yourself

Oh yes, dear H, I do. I have quite a lot to share on this topic, actually.

In my day-to-day role as a therapist and life coach here at Growing Self, I talk to many, many people who express the same anxiety and heartache that you expressed in your letter. You would not believe how many gorgeous, healthy, blazingly intelligent, high achieving and objectively successful people feel the same way about themselves and their lives.

No matter what they do, they harbor gnawing anxiety that it’s not enough. Their accomplishments are quickly disregarded in favor of the next amazing thing they should be doing. Their feelings about themselves rise and fall based on what others think of them. And when they do experience inevitable disappointments and setbacks, they are vulnerable to depression.

Not fun.

So on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m going to be tackling this subject. We’re going to be talking all about the insidious emotional toll comparing yourself to others can take, and how to combat it by learning how to believe in yourself instead.

We’ll be talking about how to affirm yourself, trust in yourself, strengthen yourself, develop your self awareness, plug holes in your vulnerabilities, and be empowered to create a life that is genuinely meaningful and satisfying to you.

Today’s journey will begin by a little rock history lesson, featuring a band called Death.

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Why You Need to Stop Comparing Yourself To Others, ASAP

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Music Credits: “Keep on Knockin’,” by Death

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Vulnerability: The Biggest Risk, The Greatest Reward

Vulnerability: The Biggest Risk, The Greatest Reward

What’s the big deal about vulnerability?

Have you ever seen the movie “What Women Want” starring Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson? There is a moment at the end of the movie (after a rollercoaster-ride romance) where Mel Gibson’s character says that he needs to be rescued, and that he needs Helen Hunt’s character to help him do it.

I felt a sense of uneasiness when I first watched that scene because of the depth of vulnerability that Mel Gibson’s character expresses.  Since then, as I’ve grown as a person, a therapist, a couple’s counselor, and a life coach, I’ve come to feel respect and admiration for his vulnerability… and how much strength it takes to go there.

What is vulnerability? Vulnerability means opening yourself up to another person, which means risking being hurt by them. Vulnerability is difficult and often does not come naturally, however it is an essential part of healthy relationships.

Why Being Vulnerable Feels So Hard

I’ve noticed that oftentimes there is a fear of vulnerability within relationships that is coupled with shame. Brené Brown defines shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”  Has shame ever kept you from expressing your deeper thoughts and emotions to someone you care about?

Although it is difficult, allowing yourself to push past you shame and open yourself up to another being often results in a more fulfilling relationship.

Three Reasons Why Vulnerability is Essential:

  • Vulnerability Fosters Connection: We are made for connection with each other. If we weren’t, we would never experience loneliness. Vulnerability allows our relationships to be more fulfilling because it allows for more depth. Even though it feels uncomfortable at first, a relationship that is safe allows room for vulnerability that deepens our connection to each other.

 

  • Vulnerability Leads to Opportunity: When we are vulnerable, we get to share our lives with another person as well as give them the opportunity to share their life with us. Vulnerability is risky, however, it is often a risk worth taking as it allows us to experience community with others in a way that goes far beyond the surface level.

 

  • Vulnerability Brings Healing: Lastly, vulnerability is often associated with healing. When we are able to let someone else into our dark and hidden places, and have them let us into theirs — and feel loved in spite of our flaws — something wonderful happens. All of a sudden, those dark and hidden places don’t seem so bad, and our shame can be replaced with joy. We are able to experience a sense of freedom and deeper intimacy with someone we care deeply about, all because we took a risk and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable.

I hope these ideas help you cultivate the power of vulnerability into your life, and your relationships.

Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFT-C

PS: For even more inspiration on the importance of authentic vulnerability, check out this Ted Talk by the thought-leader on this subject: Brene Brown.

The Power of Vulnerability: Ted Talk | Brene Brown

 

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