It’s a confidence thing – how to fake it ’til you make it

Jackie Thomas winningX-factor

“I guess it’s a confidence thing. Most of it has been proving to myself I could do it. Every week I thought I was going home.”

These inspiring words were said by Jackie Thomas, New Zealand’s first ever  X-Factor winner. You can see how excited she was to win here >>

So what are the lessons to us artists? Believe!

 “For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him he must regard himself as greater than he is.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet dramatist, novelist, and scientist

It was recently noted that less than 1% of people are born with confidence. The other 99% are faking it until they make it! Faking it is not necessarily a bad thing – it means imagining that you are more capable, more able, more fabulous, more likely to succeed than you currently believe. Most people do the opposite. They focus on all the ways they will fail, or the ways that won’t work, all the imagined things that are wrong about them. Sometimes people around them add fuel to an already roaring fire of self-doubt by criticising them or warning them to be overly cautious.

Faking “CON-fidence” may take quite a stretch of the imagination, but it does work. I remember when I developed the Passion Pack and my business partners in that venture asked me if I really thought they would sell. “Absolutely!” I cried, leaving no doubt in their minds at all. The truth was I had absolutely no idea. But what I did believe in was my capacity to find a way that would work. Driven by my desire not to let them down, and belief in what we had developed I found a way that worked. Now our wee Kiwi Passion Packs are in America, Europe, Japan, Australia, Korea and other exciting places. There’s nothing like taking on your own self-doubts and succeeding in spite of them. But “faking it, ‘til you make it” is no good if you don’t follow through.

Many people say they want more confidence, but what exactly is it and why is it so elusive?

What does confidence mean to you? Write you own definition in an inspiring journal

A variety of things, including negative thinking, criticism from other people, fear, stress and low self esteem, can negatively affect people’s confidence. My daughter Hannah has a wonderful singing voice. I still remember when she was five when the neighbours daughter leaned out the window and yelled, ‘You think you can sing but you can’t.” Even last week at my Godmother’s 70th an aging soprano told her, “That’s enough singing now. People find you too loud.” What was at heart? Jealously, Pure and simple and insidious. Identify some other things that undermine and knock people’s confidence.

What things on the list you generated above affect you the most?

What boosts your confidence levels?

When you are around a confident person what do you notice? How do they sound? Look? Etc.

If you were feeling more confident what would be different? What would others notice?

What is confidence?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘confidence’ as being self-assured and feeling or showing self-reliance.

Take Control!

You have a whole range of tools – strengths, skills, abilities and strategies – available to you which will enhance your confidence. But sometimes you may not be fully aware of them.

By becoming more aware of these tools and the ways in which you can apply them in the face of life’s challenges, you can build your confidence.

If you feel more is required of you than you are able to give when faced with a challenge, you are likely to feel less in control, more anxious, more helpless and more stressed. Losing your job, being fired, failing an exam or being rejected by someone tends to dent confidence because in all these situations you’re at the mercy of someone else – you feel powerless.

If you focus on your strengths, your skills and your general ability to cope with the situation (even if you can’t change it), your feeling towards the challenge of moving forward is likely to be much more positive.

This holds true even when you’re facing a scenario you haven’t encountered before, or when you’re in a familiar situation that you didn’t handle so well in the past.

Here’s some powerful, and relatively simple strategies to give your confidence a boost:

Confidence – It’s One Big Con!

Confidence – take a look at the first three letters – yes, it’s one big CON! Those super-confident people that we all know are expert cons already. They know their weaknesses; they’ve worked on them and learned that, by playing the part, over time their confidence really has grown.

Thankfully, this is something that we can all learn.

Firstly, we need to understand why, in spite of all our achieve­ments, we still lack confidence in certain areas of our life. Self-development guru, Louise Hay (of You Can Heal Your Life fame) believes that, “Lack of confidence as adults can often be traced back to messages we were given as children.”

So, for example, if you were told that you were ‘stupid’ and ‘irresponsible’ as a child, there is a part of your subconscious that still believes that to be true today.

To combat these thoughts and regain your confidence Louise says that, “Every negative message you received when you were growing up should be turned around and made into a positive statement of self-worth.” The idea is simple – every time you hear yourself thinking ‘I’m stupid’ you realise it’s your parents talking and replace that thought with a ‘Hang on a minute, I passed my exams, I’m now a successful businesswoman,’ etc.. It sounds crazy but, believe me, it works – try it and see!

Con Tricks

There are many ways to appear more confident and the beauty is that, the more you practice them, the more you start to believe them yourself. Try these for size…

Talk Yourself Into It

Use the power of affirmations to build yourself up before any important or stressful event. Refuse to pay any attention to your ‘negative chatterbox’ (the one that says “I can’t do…”, “What happens if,” etc) and concentrate on achieving a positive outcome. Tell yourself, (out loud if you can) “I am good at this”, “I will do…”, “I am looking forward to…”

Visualize a Successful Outcome

The brain tends to panic when faced with a new and difficult task,” says Gael Lindenfield (author of Super Confidence and Self Esteem) who suggests we use visualisation in order to build inner strength and self-belief. Say, for example, you are worried about a job interview next week – what you need do is set some time aside each day (preferably last thing at night and first thing in the morning), relax as much as possible and then run through the whole process in your imagination, as if you’re directing a screenplay.

See yourself waking in the morning, feeling calm and confident, showering, dressing, eating breakfast (perhaps listening to some favourite music which always lifts your mood), driving to your appointment, smiling as you greet your interviewers and so on. As Gael explains, “by repeatedly visualizing your success, you’ll be able to trick your mind into believing it’s been in this situation before, and you should be able to manage perfectly on the day”.

Dress The Part

With psychological research showing that appearance counts for 55 percent of the impression created, voice for 35 percent and what you actually say seven percent, it’s obviously crucial to dress for the part! A good haircut is essential, as are clean, well pressed clothes. From there, it’s up to you to choose the most appropriate clothes for the occasion. Wearing colours that suit and flatter you will help of course, as will clothes you feel comfy and confident in (never wear something new for an important event, particularly shoes – they may pinch like mad after an hour or so!). Pay attention to the little things as well, such as making sure you have a fresh notebook and stylish pen (one that works!) when you attend meetings.

Stand Up To Make That Call

People who stand up while they’re on the telephone come across in a much more confident way. Lynda Field, in 60 Tips for Self Esteem, explains that “the person you’re phoning is likely to be sitting down, so you have the psychological advantage. Also, smile while you’re talking. This transmits confidence and assertiveness down the line and people treat you with more respect”.

Body Language

Before entering a room, take a deep breath, pull yourself up and walk tall, with your head held high. Look people in the eye and smile encouragingly, especially when you’re the one who’s talking. Remember not to cross your arms and legs (others see this as you being defensive); leaning forward slightly is a much better posture, showing that you are open and interested in what’s being said.

Be A Copycat

No matter how well prepared you are, you have to allow for those unexpected, potentially confidence-draining moments. A simple but effective strategy is to take a few very slow, very deep breaths and to ask yourself “How would I behave if I really felt confident?” or think of a confident person you admire and ask “How would so-and-so handle this?” Remember that the more you practice the behaviour of a confident person – adopting the best posture, actions and thoughts – the easier it will become.

Positive Friendships

If you spend your free time with work colleagues or friends who drain you emotionally, it’s worth re-evaluating your social life. Psychologist Dorothy Rowe explains, “So many people go on seeing people they don’t like because it’s expected and they think it looks good to others. A lot of people think it is better to be with anyone rather than leave a relationship and/or go it alone. You have to decide what you want.”

Remind yourself that you deserve positive friendships, and spend more time with those who lift you up rather than bring you down.

Take Control

Confident people don’t waste time blaming everyone else; they accept that they are responsible for their own lives. As best-selling author and psychologist Susan Jeffers (of Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway fame) says “We realise we can’t blame others for walking all over us, not society, not our parents, nor anyone else out there – only ourselves for not getting out of the way“. So remember, if there’s something you’re not happy with, you have a choice – to accept it or to take control of your own life and start to change it!

Eliminate stress

High stress levels often undermine even the most confident, capable people. A common side effect is negative thinking, depression and low self-esteem. Minimise stress from your life and learn techniques to help you build greater resilience. Some simple but effective techniques include regular exercise, eating well, drinking more water, massage, and making room for family, friends and activities you love.

Trust Yourself

Believe that you know what’s good for you and always listen to ­and trust- your intuition. Notice what makes you feel happy, strong and confident and aim to do more of those things! The truer you are to yourself and the more fulfilled you become as a person then the more your confidence and self-esteem will blossom.

Taking Risks

As your confidence grows you may well find yourself behaving in ways you wouldn’t once have dreamed possible. Don’t leave it there – let the new you grow even stronger by moving out of your safe and familiar ‘comfort zone’ and begin taking a few risks! Start as small as you like, signing up for a painting class, perhaps, simply because you’ve always wanted to have a go (and in spite of your partner thinking it’s a daft idea) and then think bigger as time goes on. Remember that succeeding at new things boosts confidence and can lead you on to greater things – just what these are is of course entirely up to you!

Back yourself

To your own self be true! Back yourself and don’t worry about what others think of you. As someone once said, “I can’t give you the recipe for success, but I can failure – try to please everyone all the time.”

Be your biggest fan

Collect and record positive feedback you receive from other people. Keep it in an inspiring place and read it daily to remind yourself of all the things that are fabulous about you – your  strengths, your personal attribute and the things that other love about you. Ban sad-crap and surround yourself with glad-rap!

Step into the passion zone

Flood yourself with happy hormones by making room for passion and things that give you a buzz. Passion helps people lead bigger lives. Passion is an indispensable part of success. Passion helps people achieve. Passion energises people. Passion liberates people. It lets them be themselves. Passion opens up fresh horizons.

Passion is good for your health and helps you live longer. Passion is a great confidence booster.

Colour therapy

Think about the colours that make you feel confident and optimistic. Surround your self with these colours. Choose clothing, wall colours, make-up, shoes…, anything that your eye settles on. Aromatherapy is a good addition too. Some aromas such as grapefruit, jasmine, fennel, orange and mandarin are all said to help stimulate confidence cells in the brain. Sprinkle a few drops on your shirt collar or mix with body oil and rub into your skin to give yourself a confidence boost.

Tap into your Intuition

Suspend your ego-based fears by harnessing the power of the super- conscious. Allow intuition to guide and inspire you. Trust your gut instincts and don’t let your rational mind be your traitor. “Logical” solutions aren’t always the best ones. Sometimes the rational mind can talk you out  of having more confidence. As actress Shirley MacLaine, once said: “I could be whatever I wanted to be if I trusted that music, that song, that vibration of God that was inside of me.

Simple but effective ways to boost your intuitive guidance include: meditating, spending time in nature and tuning into your body barometer – noticing times when you feel a lightness of being, feelings of joy, excitement, optimism and clarity of thought.

 Do what you love

Talents come in a variety of packages (not just the high profile ones). Don’t think small. You may have a a knack for reading, writing, or speaking.  You may have a gift for being creative, being a fast learner, or being accepting of others. You may have organisational, music or leadership skills.  It doesn’t matter where your talent may lie, whether it’s in chess, drama, or butterfly collecting, when you do something you like doing and have talent for – it’s exhilarating.  It’s a form of self-expression and it builds esteem.” ~ The Principal, Mackenzie College, NZ

Schedule regular time to do what you love. Create a  passion action plan and make passion a regular event.

Give yourself permission to fail

Trying to be perfect can completely undermine your confidence because you are always in attitude of critique and fear. Give yourself permission to get it wrong sometimes. See mistakes as learning moments. Nobody is perfect and often the biggest successes come in the wake of some of the biggest “failures”. Collect examples of people who have failed and have gone on to achieve anyway to inspire you. They don’t have to be famous. It could be anyone – even you! Remind yourself of a time when something not working later lead you to success. Sometimes not getting something right first time can lead you to new and exciting discoveries.

leonardo da vinci from zollner with textTake Control – of yourself!

Learning to take control of yourself and your emotions is a great way to master confidence. This may mean learning how to become an independent observer, and detaching from things that might otherwise get you worked up or make you feel nervous. Remember no one can make you feel inferior, angry, etc without your consent. The one thing you do have control over is your attitude. Make it work for you. Learning to meditate, challenging assumptions, and taking control of your thoughts by looking in things in a fresh, positive light, are some of the many ways to master the power of control.


Adding Confidence To Your Life

As your confidence grows, you’ll feel ready to gradually introduce further, deeper, changes to your life. Remember that most people are faking it until they make it. Work on your confidence every moment of the day and soon you won’t even have to consciously try.

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