What is Confidence?

A while ago, when normality ruled. I went to see a comedy gig with a good friend of mine.  We got talking afterwards about the comedian on show.

‘I couldn’t do that.’ Remarked my friend.

Why?

Because I’m not confident enough.

Something immediately struck me about this comment; it was said with an absolute assuredness.

And yet- what is confidence? Is it how we present ourselves externally, or something deeper?

We often mistake apparent confidence for insecurity. Do you know somebody who loves to talk about where they have been, what they do for living, or how much money they have? What’s important to remember here is, who are they telling?  This is not confidence, this is ego talking borne out of insecurity.

So . . Something deeper then.  

Confidence is about trust- not the intangible and wavering feeling but in one’s own resources.

Clients will often say to me, In some ways I’m really confident and in other ways I’m shy. The key thing to acknowledge here is the self realisation that the feeling of ‘confidence’ does exist; otherwise how do they recognise it?

I put this thought to my friend.

‘Yeah, but getting up in front of people is totally different to what I do’

Well . . yes. . of course it is. However how do any us gain confidence in what we do? We learn, we make mistakes, we hone, we make more mistakes, and after a while a process starts to emerge and a trust starts to develop in our given skill and with it our confidence increases.

But that only happens once we have committed to something new, once we are prepared to get outside of our comfort zone and grow. So how do we take that first step?

We must use resources within ourselves that reinforce the feeling of trust and in turn confidence. Like driving your car. You don’t think about it consciously – you just trust you can drive the car.  If we choose to place our focus on the negative resources of our fears and doubts – like failing at an exam – we then sit inside our own mind, unable to see our strengths. 

This mindset is hardened and calcified in difficult times or when we’re watching comedians thinking  ‘I couldn’t possibly do that.’

Well, how did you get in the car for the first time?

Our sense of possibility only narrows when we don’t trust ourselves, and our confidence diminishes when we don’t acknowledge our own resources. 

Trusting your own experiences to gain confidence isn’t the preserve of the few, it is in all of us.

Is it there. It always has been, and always will be.

Whether you choose to find it,  is up to you.

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch.

How successful are you?

I was talking to somebody very close to me the other day, and we started to talk about her book. It is being developed as despite strong interest from agents it ultimately didn’t get taken on. I could sense her understandable frustration and I was eager to talk to her about what she defines as success for the book. So I asked her to give me a picture or image of what her future success looked like. Is it money in the bank? Amount of sales? Personal gratification? Peer approval? After a lot of chat, and a customary glass of wine.

She replied- ‘It’s seeing my book on the shelf in a store.’

So success to her is measured by the satisfaction of seeing her work published for public consumption.

Great.

But what happens if it’s not published and she doesn’t see it on the shelf? By her own thinking will she not be successful anymore?

How often in our lives are we caught up in the end goal? We chase success, but struggle to define what it means. Often I will ask clients to visualise their future, because if we don’t see it we can’t let our subconscious work towards it. But this is hard balancing act because if we place to much conscious importance on the image it can place unnecessary pressure to achieve it. Additionally it can mean we miss and ignore our own growth and development. We don’t focus on the skills we learning, or our resilience in hard times, we ignore the two jobs we may have done to support ourselves and our family. Each of these examples provides us with resources to better ourselves, but they are easily missed and crucially not built upon if we fixate on the picture in our mind.

Another glass was poured.

‘But I don’t agree that if the book isn’t published, I can still think of myself as successful’

The key to that sentence is the conscious insistence on her picture of success. It neglects her crafting of language, the emotional intelligence it requires to give characters a real voice, her resilience to not give up, the learning and development of her writing, her ability to promote herself and pitch an idea. Her increased self belief. Her ability to take her imagination and through hundreds of hours of work turn it into a tangible and highly credible piece of work. All of these skills are used to great affect in her other career. . .

But they don’t match the picture in her head so they aren’t recognised or given credence.

To want success is highly commendable. It shows motivation and drive but it mustn’t come at all costs. Nor should we lose sight of what success truly means. It’s about constant renewal and growth, it isn’t about who you know or what you can buy. It’s about what you have learnt, what you given, and what you can do next. Success (whatever the picture turns out to be) is the by product of hard work, resilience, and passion for what you love. It can come in small places, and sometimes it’s not what we thought or expected.

Maybe her picture of success will come true and the book will appear on a shelf.

Maybe it won’t.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter.

It’s about the journey she’s taken in writing it.

Who Cares?

Who cares about me?

It’s an interesting thought. 

When we think who cares about us, our attention naturally draws to those we are closest to, partners, parents, siblings, friends,  but we already know that – don’t we?   Why then do we spend so much time ruminating about what people think of us?  The often said line is –  ‘I don’t care what other people think.’ I’ll admit to saying it myself, and of course the truth is I am lying when I say this; I do care. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we all want to be liked and respected and I think it’s vital that we all carry a degree of self awareness, an ability to pause and reflect. However what happens when this becomes corrosive?  Lets explore an example; While we sit at home, our mind drifts to the difficult conversation at work. ‘Should I have said that?’  ‘They didn’t look happy?’  ‘How did I come across?’ 

The first thing to acknowledge here is this-

Nobody outside of your inner circle cares about you.

Wait. What?

How do we know this? Well how often do you spend time at home looking from the other person’s point of view, how they are feeling and thinking? The answer is hardly ever, because we are too consumed by our own thoughts, actions, and life. Therefore It’s not a stretch to safely assume that if you are doing this then so is the other person! This highlights another truth; we are naturally selfish with our thoughts, which leads us to irrationally presume the world revolves us. The idea that everybody cares more about me than they do about themselves. . . .

Really?

Let that digest for a moment as we go back to our example. We sometimes make mistakes, we may say something inappropriate, occasionally we have disagreements, and there will always be moments of vulnerability and self consciousness. However it’s vitally important in any period of self reflection that we quickly ascertain what we can and can’t effect.

Positive thought that you can effect- Were your actions well intentioned? What can you learn about yourself? Will this matter in one, two, or three months time?

Negative thought you can’t effect- What do people think of me?  Do people like me? Do they value and respect me?

We each have our own filters and values when meeting, working, and networking with others. What is offensive to one is funny to another. What is kind to one is needy to another. We can’t keep all the people happy all the time, so why bother trying? Go with what you know. You.  While you can never control or seek to control what other people think, you can acknowledge and trust who you are. If you ever doubt this, imagine what the people who really care about you would say.

Who care’s about me?

Only the people that matter.

If this sounds familiar, then please get in touch. I’d love to help.

F.E.A.R

I can’t do it mum, I’m sorry.

RIGHT!

Oh dear. This isn’t good.

This was a bigger reaction than usual, I knew she was upset this time.

Although to be fair, if you had come out of work, picked your son up from school, driven him to the dentist, put him in the chair ready for a tooth out, only to find ‘the poor little soul has had a change of heart’ you might feel aggrieved at a completely wasted afternoon too.  I sat in the waiting room trying to ready myself for one of my back teeth out,  a very fake smile started to appear on my face. I couldn’t process my thoughts and the image of the dentist with a drill and a hacksaw was only getter bigger in my mind. Plus I didn’t want to let my mum down. The Fear. Oh the Fear.

What is Fear? Is it what we imagine? How many times in our lives is our imagined fear much worse than the reality? One of my favourite acronyms is-

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

 I had a tooth out later in life, did it hurt? Mildly. Was there a dentist waiting to carve my gum open with a rusty scalpel. In short, no. What about the dreaded conversation with the angry partner, we rehearse what we are going to say all day- only to find they are sorry to. Maybe it’s the presentation at work, everyone will throw tomatoes at me and laugh at my ineptitude – only to see smiling faces and have the realisation that you were asked to do it for a reason. Fear carries a certain taboo, we’re not supposed to be fearful, or we don’t want to show it. This is because it’s where our vulnerabilities lie.

What happens though when we suppress how we feel?

Do our fears disappear? Or does our subconscious store it in our bodies for when we least want it be there. We pretend we’re not vulnerable, nervous, self conscious, or fearful and just when we want to show courageous we are. . . our neck and face goes red, our palms sweat, we can’t articulate what we are saying, our mind races, we fidget and twitch. This is your subconscious screaming …

YOU CAN’T LIE TO ME!!!  

I believe fear to be a completely understandable and powerful emotion, it is however irrational and stops us doing the vast majority of things in life. 

There is a saying in NLP ‘You know more than you think you know’ and what this simple but highly effective sentence challenges us to remember is our resourcefulness. As we all sit out and reflect in this difficult time, I ask you to think about when you have overcome fears in your life. How did it feel? Relief? Elation? Pride? The truth is we only feel alive when we are challenging our ‘fears’, when we are willing to take a risk or make a mistake. We may not always associate it with a pleasant feeling, but we certainly know when we come through it, and it gives us strength as we move on in life and we start to realise the only person stopping you: is you.

We drove away in silence from the dentist, my mind raced as I wondered what would become of this 10 year old boy with half a tooth still in his mouth. Would she abandon me by the roadside? Would I make it into school next day?

Turns out we just went home for bangers and mash.

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch. I’d love to help.

What can I do?

These are testing times

From panic buying at the shops, to job insecurity and school closures. No one knows what the future  holds and the sense of everything changing rapidly can be overwhelming.  We are getting a constant news stream of what is going wrong, and what may go wrong. It’s very easy and entirely understandable to emotionally  ‘invest’ in the news. However what is said and what we hear can be two very different things. It’s very similar to our reaction to is happening and what may happen. Let’s look at panic buying as an example. At no time has the government said they plan to close supermarkets, indeed they have gone to great lengths to insist there is enough food for everybody, and yet we still see daily pictures of ransacked shelves. Are people not listening? What prompts somebody to buy more than they need despite zero threat to their food supply? The answer lies in the pictures we create. When we watch the news, it feeds our anxiety and we start to create a future in our mind where we are left bereft of food. The actions that follow are carried out because we think that will keep us safe from our own irrational fears.  It will keep us safe from a future that only exists in our head. Of course the reality is it creates a social tension, a sense of ‘every man for himself.’ Our energy is then spent on anger and derision at the actions of others.  Haven’t we enough on our proverbial plate without creating internal angst at the actions of others? It’s vital we deal with what IS happening and not what MAY happen.

So how do we decide what is worth our focus? How can we become calmer and more resourceful in times of stress? What would society look like if we didn’t escalate beyond the facts?

Firstly we need to accept our place in the order of things. Unless we work in the higher echelons of government we’re very unlikely to be able to shape policy and change the way others behave. So why invest our energy? Secondly we must acknowledge what can we directly effect, or in other words, what is in our control? Our minds don’t tend to do well when they’re carrying a lot of information, especially if that information is corrosive to our well being. Thirdly, ask yourself who is responsible for your thoughts and actions? As individuals we are very capable of making these decisions, and the more we concentrate on what is truly important the more resourceful we become. Lastly, and most importantly we need to be able to switch off, guilt free. This doesn’t mean pretending everything is OK, far from it.  It means giving your head a rest so it’s as healthy and calm as possible for the coming months.

Look after today, and tomorrow will get better in time.

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch.