Ten ways in which lack of confidence might stop you from living your life to the full – and what to do about it

Posted by on Nov 11, 2011 in Uncategorised | 0 comments

Do you feel that lack of confidence is holding you back? Do you feel frustrated that you are not showing up in the world as your best self? Are you successful in your own field but convinced there must be something more? Are you longing to fulfil your potential and make your unique contribution? Do you wish you had the courage to take the steps you want to take?

1. You do not voice your opinion incase others will not listen/do not approve/disagree.

Ask yourself if you are voicing your opinion to yourself. Are you allowing yourself your own opinion? Are you hearing yourself? If you don’t value your ideas, opinions, thoughts, how can you expect others to do so?

Begin to listen to yourself. When you catch a thought, opinion, idea, tell yourself “Yes, that’s good, that’s valid, that expresses who I am.”

Doing this regularly and consistently will really help you to honour and value yourself. And, if you do, by definition, others are more likely to do so too.

2. Sometimes you have no idea what your thoughts, feelings, needs are.

For a couple of days/ a week, ask yourself at regular intervals “What do I need for me now?”

Answer the question. Try to discern the kernel of the need. For example, if it is peace, go somewhere quiet and do deep breathing for a few minutes; or plan to spend some quiet time later. (Best to do something immediately, though). If it is connection, talk to someone, call up a friend.

It doesn’t have to take long to take a step to meeting your need. You need to believe – or pretend you believe, if necessary – that “you are worth it.”

3. Are you a “people-pleaser”? That is, do you long for others’ approval more than valuing your own?

To please yourself, you need to know what you want, what is good for you right now. Ask yourself if it is more important that others approve of you or that you approve of yourself.

The ‘right’ answer i.e. the one which brings most joy and authenticity is that your opinion of you is more important. After all, who knows you best? You do, of course – you have spent every second of your life with yourself. So practice approving of yourself! Tell yourself ‘Well done’ when you do something with which you are happy.

Even if you don’t believe in it first-off, even if it feels uncomfortable, over time you’ll begin to enjoy it and it will have a snowball effect.

4. You give yourself negative messages which you believe are true and which do not support you, for example ‘I can’t do that’; ‘ No-one wants to listen to me.’

These could be messages you have picked up in early childhood, perhaps from parents or teachers, and now you tell them to yourself. Clearly, giving yourself negative messages will undermine your confidence and prevent you from taking positive steps in your life.

Reverse these messages. Begin to build a bank of positive messages to tell yourself. It is important that these messages are short and in the present tense. A useful cover-all message to use is ‘I love and accept myself exactly as I am.’ Identify particular times to say this to yourself e.g. first thing in the morning, at certain times during the day, last thing at night.

As you use positive messages consistently, the neural pathways in the brain are altered, and you will find that you begin to believe them and that positive thoughts become more and more available to you in times of stress and difficulty.

5. You find it difficult to say no and to set boundaries. So you find yourself spending time on things you don’t really want to be doing and which don’t take you further towards your goals.

Ask yourself why you do this. It is probably because you regard the other person’s needs as more important than your own and do not sufficiently respect yours. Or you think the other person will think badly of you if you refuse the request.

Be clear what is important to you; ask yourself how you need to spend your time in order to serve your wider goals. Know that the other person will survive if you say no to them. Will you survive if you don’t?

Saying ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’ denies your own importance.

6. Not making clear choices; going along with something without really thinking about whether or not it’s right for you.

You are responsible for you, do you agree? Not making clear choices does not lead to living life to the full. It leads to a watered-down version of your life.

Practice listening to your gut feeling of what is truly right for you? Deep down you know – it’s just a matter of tuning in to it. Then practice making that choice; not with complete disregard for others’ needs, of course not. It may involve negotiating.

Again, as you get into the habit of living in this way, the old way will seem strange and inauthentic.

7. You feel fear –this stops a lot of people from living their lives to the full. Most people feel afraid at some time; some go ahead and do it anyway and others don’t.

Ask yourself if you weren’t afraid, what would you do and what would it give you if you did that; for example, you are afraid to take a particular step incase you fail. What would it be like if you succeeded?

Focus your energy on and think about what you want and not on what you don’t want (fear). And know that successful people have been unsuccessful first. They just persisted in focussing on what they wanted.

What we focus on comes into being.

8. You find it difficult to express positive feelings – feelings of warmth, enthusiasm, appreciation, affection.

Sometimes, people think if they are too open with positive emotions, others will take advantage of them in some way.

Make a point of saying something positive to everyone you meet today. See what happens.

The likelihood is that you and the other will feel better.

9. You don’t believe you can make a difference or that your contribution matters. This is a specific negative message which could really have the effect of stopping you from making any changes in your life.

Try the following as a working premise i.e. you don’t have to believe it, just ‘try it on for size.’

‘I have a unique set of skills, talents and abilities; there is no-one else exactly like me. It is up to me to find a way of expressing this in the world in such a way that the world benefits and I feel fulfilled. I matter.’

Just try living with this belief for a week and see what happens.

10. You know what you want but various others – friend, family, other – are trying to convince you that you want something else or that something else will be better for you.

Just remember who knows you best – before any action or decision, ask yourself ‘If I was really loving/taking care of myself, what would I do or how would I be?’

Answer the question and note the consequences.

“ALWAYS BE A FIRST-RATE VERSION OF YOURSELF, INSTEAD OF A SECOND-RATE VERSION OF SOMEONE ELSE.”
Judy Garland

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