Your life is determined by how you feel.
So if you don’t feel confident and comfortable in your own skin, your life simply can’t be as sweet as you want it to be.
Most people who don’t feel confident have one thing in common: they spend far too much time in their head.
And when you spend too much time in your head, you become victim to what Buddhists have dubbed “the monkey mind”.
The monkey mind is always busy, always chattering on and on, telling stories and going in circles.
Most of this chatter doesn’t mean much.
But if you aren’t careful, you can easily find yourself thinking thoughts that don’t serve you.
And when you believe these thoughts (which will happen when thoughts repeat themselves over and over again,) they can easily chip away at your sense of self-worth and degrade your confidence.
Pretty soon you’re so caught up in these stories that your mind is telling you that you can’t see the truth.
And what’s the truth?
The truth is that you are a miracle.
The mere fact that you are alive means that you are worthy.
And you have already done so much!
You came from practically nothing, and grew into the fully embodied human that you are today.
Your body is exquisitely organized.
Every one of your organs knows how to do its job.
Each cell in your body interacts easily with all the other cells to make each organ function.
Every molecule in your body knows its place and is composed of *just* the right combination of atoms to allow it to react the way it needs to.
And here’s my favorite part of all of this:
When you break your body down into smaller and smaller parts, eventually you see that you are mostly made up of empty space. It is because of this empty space that movement can happen, and movement is what allows you to live.
Your body is working to keep you alive, all on its own, without any conscious input from you.
And that’s just your body.
You, my friend, are as amazing as all of your cells put together, and more.
Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way to realize it.
If you’ve been feeling a lack of confidence for a while, you’ve got to focus your attention on shifting your thought patterns and retraining your feelings.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Let’s start with thoughts.
Your mind has been practicing its stories for a long time.
And the more you think a certain thought, the easier that thought is to think.
So you keep thinking it.
And the more you think it, the more you believe it.
The more you believe it, the more you think it.
You end up stuck in this vicious cycle because your brain always wants to find the easiest way to go about its business so it can save energy.
Any time your brain notices something being repeated -whether its a thought pattern, a muscle movement, a hormonal cascade, or anything else that makes you function- your brain’s neurons rewire themselves so pathways are established.
So if you lack confidence and regularly think negative thoughts about yourself -every time you look in a mirror, or feel uncomfortable about what you have to offer to a conversation at a party, or whatever it is that makes you feel less than the amazing creature that you are- then you are reinforcing those neural pathways, over and over and over again.
If you want to be more confident, you’ve got to rewire your neural pathways to make positive thoughts easier to think.
How do you do that?
Well, some people practice affirmations in an attempt to create new thought patterns.
But studies have shown that you can’t just repeat affirmations you don’t quite believe and expect to see results.
Basically, if you repeat affirmations that you don’t believe, you’re just strengthening the fact that you don’t believe those positive things you’re repeating.
If you’re a math geek you might like this explanation:
A positive thought on a positive emotion ends up with a positive result.
A positive thought (the affirmation) imposed on a negative belief (your lack of confidence) causes more negative emotion.
The only way to change a negative belief is to use negative action (a.k.a. lack of action in relation to that belief).
Since you can’t apply a positive thought on a negative belief, your only option is to notice when you are feeling negative thoughts about yourself, and ignore that thought by changing the topic.
So how, exactly, are you supposed to change your negative thought patterns so you can feel more confident?
I’ve found that the best way is to shift your focus from what your mind is saying to the way your body feels in reaction to those thoughts.
It takes some practice.
After all, your thoughts tell a compelling story that you’ve believed for a long time, so it can be tricky.
But the more you practice this process I’m about to explain to you, the easier it will become.
If you are really diligent and practice this every day, you’ll be feeling significantly more attractive, smarter, and confident in yourself about 21 days.
Here it is:
(1) Observe your thoughts and begin to catch yourself when you think negative thoughts about yourself. Sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day, trying to just concentrate on your breath or a candle can help you notice these thoughts more clearly. Journaling can also help you notice the negative thought patterns that are making you feel less confident.
(2) Don’t judge your thoughts. Know that they are just thoughts and they aren’t necessarily true.
(3) When negative thoughts do pop up -and they will, especially at first- don’t get caught up in the story they’re telling. Remember, they’re just thoughts. They aren’t necessarily true (I know I just said that, but it’s important enough to repeat often. Don’t believe everything you think!) Instead, shift your focus to feel your body’s reaction to those thoughts.
(4) Then shift the feeling (I’ll get into how to do that in a sec).
When you start focusing on the way your body feels a few things will happen.
First, fair warning, there’s a high likelihood that at the beginning you’re going to think you feel even worse than when you started.
In reality, you’re not feeling any worse than you were before.
You’re just becoming aware of how the thoughts you’ve been thinking have been making you feel all along.
When you try to quiet your mind, you start to notice how loud your mind really is, and that can be uncomfortable.
Many people start to notice that their thoughts are stressful and don’t make them feel very good, so they just give up (hence why so many people think they “can’t” meditate!)
But if you just keep letting your thoughts linger without taking action to shift how you feel, your thoughts are going to keep having control over you instead of the other way around.
When you observe your thoughts, that’s when they lose their power over you.
So if you start feeling overwhelmed, angry, anxious, or any other uncomfortable emotions as you start this process, take it as a good sign.
Think of it (no pun intended) like you spring-cleaning for your mind.
You’ve got to pull all the clutter out in order to sort through and get rid of what you don’t want.
At first it’ll look really messy, but in the end you feel a whole lot better.
(And proving to yourself that you are focused enough to make this process work for you is a confidence boost in and of itself!)
So start by just noticing your thoughts and then shift your focus to observe how they feel in your body.
If you look in the mirror and think you look fat, close your eyes and notice how your body reacts to that feeling. (Does your stomach get knotted? Do you hunch your shoulders to try to protect your heart? Do you furrow your brow?)
When you’re nervous at a party, notice how that nervousness feels. (Are you jittery? Do you clench your jaw? Do you feel ungrounded in your feet?)
Then if you can, try to dissociate the thought from the feeling it leaves you with.
When you catch yourself entertaining the story your mind is telling, just bring it back to the feeling.
Then bring it back to the feeling again, and again, and again, as often as you have to in order to just feel the vibration of that feeling without labeling it.
Just notice the sensation of it in your body.
Does it feel tight?
Does it have a shape, color, texture, smell, taste, sound, or memory associated with it?
And then ask the sensation what would make it feel better.
Yes. You read that right.
Talk to the feeling.
It might sound crazy, but just give it a try.
You might be astounded at what you find out.
How would it like to move?
Where would it like to go? What would it like to transform into? How can you help it soften?
Is there another thought you can think that shifts and relieves the feeling inside of you?
Once you have a thought that makes you feel a little better, ask again if there is yet another thought that would feel even better than that.
Keep going, following good-feeling-thought after good-feeling-thought until you notice a feeling of relief or even excitement in your body.
Once you start feeling better, you know you’re on the right track to becoming more confident.
And remember, this process takes practice.
If you’ve been thinking negative thoughts about yourself for a long time, it means those neural pathways are pretty well established.
It can take a while to build new connections.
But luckily your brain is plastic.
It keeps shifting depending on what’s going on with you.
So if you practice better feeling thoughts, it’s going to create new neural pathways that make those thoughts easier and easier to think.
And eventually you’ll have all the confidence you want.
Now I’d love to hear from you:
What makes you feel more confident? Leave a comment below, your experience might just help someone else love themselves more!