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Hello Readers,

The theme for this month’s Flourish is confidence.  We tend to think of confidence as a trait that one is either born with or must learn to do without.  While it may be true that some individuals are more naturally prone toward confidence, it is also true that confidence is a skill that can be learned.  The value of learning to be more confident can be seen in better personal relationships and greater professional success.  This month’s Feature Article takes a closer look at confidence and the Top Ten offers some suggestions on how to start increasing your confidence.



The Whats and Whys of Confidence

We may have confidence in many things (e.g. the stock market, a friend’s loyalty) but this article is about self-confidence.  Self-confidence means trusting yourself to be able to handle what comes your way.  It isn’t the same as being certain of a particular outcome.  Certainty doesn’t require confidence.  It also should not be confused with arrogance.  Arrogance could be thought of as confidence run amok.
You may question why having confidence is important.  Isn’t having a realistic sense of one’s capabilities the better course?  Actually, it isn’t.  The truth is none of us know exactly what we are or are not capable of.  Being “realistic” about your abilities is often equal to underestimating yourself. 

Also, it feels better to have confidence.  It lightens your spirit to go out into the world each day believing that you have whatever it will take to conquer the day’s challenges.   Believing you will prevail increases the chances that you will.  Confidence breeds success, not the other way around.  

Confidence also helps you in relationships with others.  People are attracted to confident people.  Confident people are seen as friendlier, safer and more competent.  These are all qualities you would want to convey to a potential employer, customer, friend or partner.  We all want to be paid attention to when we are talking with others.  But, if a person is distracted by their own concerns about how they are presenting themselves (Do I sound dumb? Am I dressed right?) the other person may feel ignored.  If they do, the interaction will not go well and you may mistakenly believe that this confirms your self-doubt. 

The most important reason to work on your self –confidence is because your biggest dreams will require you to go to places you haven’t been and do things you haven’t done; that will take confidence.  In order to have the things you most desire in life, you must have the confidence to go after them.

So, what is the cost of believing in yourself and taking risks?  Usually, it is an internal cost and one you have control over.  The most common fear is of looking foolish.  Even if you try something and fail, you can decide to give yourself credit for the attempt instead of focusing on the result.  That level of confidence will give you the strength to try again and likely win the admiration and possible friendship of others.

The last thing to know about confidence is that, for those of us for whom it doesn’t come naturally, it is like a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly to be maintained.  It is not a “one and done” quality.  If you don’t continue to push yourself, a little at a time, it can, and will atrophy.  For some ideas on how to build your confidence muscle, see this month’s Top Ten.

As always, if you would like some help building your self-confidence or any other challenge you are facing, please call me.

Top Ten Ways to Start Having More Confidence
  1. Become aware of your self-talk.  We are always silently talking to ourselves.  Pay attention to what you are telling yourself about yourself.
  2. What is the tone?  Is your self-talk kind or critical?
  3. Stop negative messages.  It’s easier than you may think.  When you notice a critical thought, picture a stop sign, silently say “stop” to yourself, or begin reciting something familiar (e.g. the alphabet.
  4. Refute.  Challenge negative thoughts by remembering exceptional experiences. (“I’m always too afraid, except for that time I dove off the high dive.”
  5. Replace. Tweak your self-talk to be more encouraging.  (“It’s scary, but I can do it.”)
  6. Speak your confidence out loud.  Tell someone about a risk you are going to take.  Share how good you are feeling about an accomplishment.  Start by telling the mirror if that helps.
  7. Smile.  Being smiled at increases our confidence.  The easiest way to get a smile is to give one first.
  8. Exercise.  Focus on your physical being and take a break from your internal monologue.
  9. Meditate.  Practice releasing your thoughts
  10. Take small steps.  Small successes encourage us to continue on.  Set small goals and give yourself credit for every achievement. 

About Barbara Hill
Barbara is a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience helping individuals and couples to achieve happier, more fulfilling lives. She assists clients to better understand themselves, improve their relationships and develop more effective responses to life's problems. Barbara works with adults confronting all types of challenges but is especially skilled at helping survivors of trauma.

Barbara always welcomes the opportunity to work with new clients.
Copyright © 2019 Barbara Hill, LCSW-C, All rights reserved.

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