Feeling self-confident comes through acquiring competence in whatever skill set you choose to focus on. And it really doesn’t matter what aspect of your professional or person life you are focusing on – public speaking, finding the right person with whom to have a relationship, or being able to deal with confrontational situations – you can learn to build competence in it and in turn become more self-confident.
Conversely, as you are learning to build self- confidence, you have to be aware that there are behaviors and habits that can rob you of your self-confidence over time if you don’t attend to them. In this series of articles, I write about the seven behaviors or habits I have identified that can rob you of self-confidence and the ways you can stop them.
The Seven Self-Confidence Robbers are:
- Ignoring Self-Care
- Defensiveness/Taking Things Personally
- Comparing Yourself to Others
- Lack of follow through (having a difficult time seeing things through to the end)
In the previous three installments of this article series, I described how perfectionism, procrastination and overcommitment can rob you of your self-confidence and discussed the ways in which you can stop them. In this installment, I’ll be discussing the next self-confidence robber – ignoring self-care.
When I first started graduate school to become a psychotherapist, a second year student and I were talking about the rigors of graduate school. He warned me of the insidious downslide into letting go of good habits like exercise, adequate sleep and healthy eating as the demands of attending classes, voluminous reading, conducting research, writing and doing internships mounted – usually in addition to working a full or part time job. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t allow what he predicted to happen.
Unfortunately, it did. Though I tried to hold on to healthy ways of being, self-care began taking a back seat to my other demands. It took a worrisome health challenge to get myself to make a change.
But even now, I know that maintaining my self-care is an area I need to keep working on. And I know that this is also true for many people I counsel and coach.
All of us have busy lives and great demands on our time. Something usually has to go and that tends to be self-care – the very thing that we need to support our feelings of well-being and maintain our self-confidence.
Sleep-deprivation, inadequate nutrition and hydration, lack of exercise and an “all work and no play” attitude can cause chronic health issues and bring us to the brink of exhaustion and meltdown.
Exercise, proper nutrition and hydration are key components of your self-care. Please consult with a physician or specialist in exercise and nutrition to determine what is right for you.
In addition to these key components, it’s important to have a repertoire of practices and behaviors that sustain your body, mind and spirit.
Allow Yourself 15 Minutes of Silence a Day
Back in 2000, I read and listened to the audio-book of “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. It had a huge impact on my life.
Of the many things I took away from this classic book was the importance of taking 15 minutes every day to be in total silence.
This is not nap time, this is not mediation time…it is just pure silence. Turn off phones and find a quiet place to just sit quietly. It is truly a restorative practice.
Take a Nap
Research suggests that an afternoon nap – even as short as ten minutes – can make us more alert and improve our mood and our performance.
There are many, many ways to meditate. Here are just a few:
- Sit for 20 minutes and silently repeat a mantra or any word that makes you feel calm and relaxed – words like “om”, love, peace. If your mind strays, bring it back to the word you are chanting.
- Walk a Labyrinth
- Play or listen to a CD of Tibetan Singing Bowls
- Sit and concentrate on an object like a burning candle or a fire in the fireplace
Find one special practice or several different ones that are right for you
Research shows that a really good belly laugh can:
- relax the whole body and relieves physical tension and stress (and the results can linger for almost an hour)
- boost the immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies
- trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals
Find ways to incorporate laughter into your daily life or join a laughter club.
Feel and Express Gratitude
Despite how stressful or bad things can get in life, take a few minutes each day to feel grateful and silently express gratitude for all that you are, all that you do and all that you have. This is a great exercise to do as soon as you awaken.
In addition, take opportunities throughout the day to express gratitude to others.
Create Your “Nurture List”
Make a list of all the things you can do to nurture yourself.
Here are some examples:
- A comfortable or luxurious bathrobe
- A particular brand of good tea
- Fresh flowers
- Music that uplifts you
- Movies that are just plain fun or make you feel good
Schedule in nurture time as often as you can. And if you are wondering “just when am I going to get the time to nurture myself?”, here is something you can do to free up some time.
Look at your daily schedule and see what can be cut, consolidated or reduced. For example:
- The media you consume on a regular basis
- Phone calls
Even small cuts can add up to 20 minutes of free time to take care of you.