Three must eliminate confidence blocking habits
Confidence is essential to feeling good about ourselves. So why do so many people suffer from a lack of confidence?
It begins with the mind
The human mind functions at an unconscious level on habitual behaviour. The mind is organised so that our thinking, conscious mind can engage cognitively with analytical problem solving - but another part of our mind responds on automatic pilot. A vast range of behaviour first has to be learned at a conscious level, and, once learned, is moved to another part of the mind and stored as habit.
We are not always aware of the precise moment when a learned behaviour embeds as habit. People may remember, for example, first learning to drive, but driving a car may soon become automatic.
A million and one habits are formed in this way, starting at birth and then leaving the cognitive mind free to 'think.' Our practical routines such as cleaning our teeth or tying shoelaces operate from habit and so do our emotional responses, such as how we 'typically' react to situations and deal with stress.
We make our habits and then they make us
Unlike our cognitive mind, the subconscious mind does not judge whether a habit is helpful or not. Here are three habits we are all better without.
Putting things off destroys confidence and makes us feel bad about ourselves. It is a habit which can be very resistant to change. The origin of the habit is often rooted in an unconscious desire to avoid failure - after all if we don't do anything we cannot do anything wrong. Unfortunately, if we procrastinate, others may conclude we are unreliable. If you suffer from procrastination, do seek help, as there are many effective techniques which really work to eliminate procrastination.
2. Negative self talk
Telling ourselves we are disorganised, hopeless, flaky etc. is harmful. The mind soaks up this self talk uncritically and you may hear a 'little voice' saying,
"You are a tongue tied waste of space at meetings."
If this happens, interrupt the voice and say,
"I used to avoid speaking up in meetings, but I don't do that anymore. I am good at listening to others and make at least one contribution responding to what I hear from them today."
The next time you hear the 'voice' saying,
"You better not ask anyone to dinner. You'll have to slave for hours before they come and no-one enjoys it anyway."
Say to your inner mind,
"I used to try too hard when people came over but I don't do that now. It is easy to prepare a simple meal in advance and relax with my friends."
3. Comparing yourself
Comparing ourselves unfavourably with others erodes confidence. Needing to be loved and accepted just the way we are is inborn in us all. Tiny children and will often beg their parents not to compare their achievements or behaviour with other siblings.
Rather than comparing ourselves with other people, which pulls us into insecurity. It is far more helpful to focus on our individual strengths and things we do well and keep those in the forefront of our minds.
If we want to make a personal improvement, rather than cry for the moon, we can identify a positive habit we already have, and could take to the next level to achieve a desired outcome. The mind will respond at the unconscious level. Do not tell yourself, "I am an unfit slob. If only I was effortlessly slim and gorgeous like Amy" tell yourself,
"I am healthy and strong. I already walk the dog before work. I could start 15 minutes earlier and include walking around the lake as well. I will become even fitter and my dog will be loving it too."
The unconscious mind maintains habits and will look for what we enjoy and what makes us feel good about ourselves. It needs direction to know what that is. Understanding the way the mind works, being kind to ourselves and using our strengths to build good habits is the key that unlocks confidence.
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About Marian Barry
Marian Barry is an Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at the Harley St Hypnotherapy Clinic London and Gt Abington, Cambridge. She has given talks at international conferences around the world specialising in personal change and confidence building. She is a best selling author of many popular works published by Cambridge University Press.