Confidence is something so many people wish they had more of and is an area that I’m particularly passionate about in my work. My passion comes from the fact that a perceived lack of confidence can lead to such a lot of pain and unhappiness and when we find ways to gain or regain confidence, the sense of calm, contentment and joy that often follow is amazing to see and experience.
The first things that I’ll work on with a client, who longs for greater confidence, is to identify exactly where and how they’d like to be more confident. To simply talk about confidence is rarely specific enough as it means different things to different people. It also means different things in different situations, even for the same person. Adding to this, it’s often true that a client describes him or herself as needing more confidence, when actually it soon becomes clear that they do feel and act confidently in some areas of their lives already. In these cases, it’s important to recognise this – both because they can otherwise miss this fact themselves and therefore not take the credit for and enjoy their own confidence and also this enables them to think of character traits that they already have and act upon that will help them in situations where they feel insecure or somehow like they are lacking in confidence.
So, it’s important to be specific of what confidence they feel they’re lacking and want more of in order to develop ways in which they can instil more confidence in these areas. Here we sometimes use the situation specific ‘mimic a role model’ exercise. This involves them thinking of someone who behaves, sounds and looks like the confident person they want to be. Once they’ve identified who this is (can be someone they know personally or from afar like a celebrity of some sort), they list the specific attributes that makes the person come across as confident – tonality, posture, facial expression, eye contact and so on. The more details the better. Then they start to copy their role model whenever possible, starting in situations where they feel relatively comfortable and then pushing themselves into more and more challenging situations.
This is based on the principle that if you act confidently, you’ll eventually feel confident.
A related concept is that of ‘act as if’. Act as if you’re confident, act as if you’re really interesting, act as if you’re worth is…. This is based on the fact that you chose who people see. Often we put others on pedestals – ‘she always sounds so self assured’ or ‘he always stays so calm under pressure’. Of course we don’t know if this is how they actually feel, we merely see what they chose to display. So start acting as if you already feel the way you want to feel. Over time the acting will become the true you.