Testing, Testing, One, Two

I never said that drawing was one of my gifts....and now you know why :- )

I never said that drawing was one of my gifts….and now you know why :- )

I’ve written before about the things we say to ourselves that are very bad for our confidence: “Good things never happen to me”, “I’m not good/young/old/clever/whatever enough”, “I can’t do that”, “I always fail” etc.

And I’ve told you that these things are a load of rubbish, not even true. Good things do and will happen to you, you are good/young/old/clever/everything enough to achieve the things you want in some way or another, you can do it and you wont always fail…

…but some of you wont have believed me.

You may have thought “That’s all very well and very nice of her to say this and everything, but she doesn’t know me. I know that these dreadful things about me are true…I have PROOF!”

So today I want to talk to you about this “proof” of the crappy things you believe about yourself.

So I’m just going to come right out and say it. You do not have proof.

What you have is a load of things that you have noticed that you have decided to accept as proof. If you hold these horrible rubbish beliefs about yourself you are expecting things to not work out, so when they don’t work out (and sometimes even when they just go a little bit off track), you notice and say to yourself “There, I knew that would happen, that always happens.” but that’s not a fair test, because you haven’t taken into account all the things that are going quite well or where things are going ok. And the reason you haven’t taken them into account is because you haven’t noticed them. The reason you haven’t noticed them is because you’re not looking out for them. All these things that go right haven’t crossed your mind.

It’s a bit like when you decide to buy a certain model of car and then suddenly you notice them everywhere, are there any more of these types of cars around compared to before you considered buying them? No, probably not, you’re just noticing them because you’ve tuned in to them.

So it’s not a fair test to only look at the failures you’re tuned into and ignore the successes and therefore it’s not proof.

Thinking about fair tests brings me around to the other thing I wanted to say, and something that occurred to me the other day at work. You see, I work in IT, and working in IT you find yourself involved in lots and lots of testing and what you’re trying to do is to prove that your new piece of software works.

That involves knowing how it should work and then trying it out to make sure it does. If it doesn’t work then you fix it and then try again.

What it does not involve is deciding something doesn’t work, giving it a go, finding that indeed it doesn’t work and then doing nothing about it apart from maybe trying it again a bit later to find it still doesn’t work…and then saying “That never works”.

No, no, no!

The only point in re-testing things which you already know haven’t worked for you before is to find out where the problem is AND THEN TO FIX IT!

Then when you think you’ve fixed it, you test it again, this time to prove that it DOES work (sometimes it’ll take you a few goes to get your changes just right…I work with some pretty kick ass people and it even takes them a few tries sometimes).

So try to stop noticing things which only prove that the negative little voice in your head is correct, things aren’t working out. Don’t use it as proof things always go wrong. That you’ve done the same thing a few times and it hasn’t worked out yet means just that, it hasn’t worked out YET. Probably BECAUSE you’ve done the SAME thing a few times without any changes.

So, take some time, have a think about what you could do differently next time and give it another go. This time try to prove that you CAN do it.

Natalie

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Where I Have Been

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Those who were kind enough to sign up to receive my posts by mail might have thought “I’ve not seen anything from this mad woman in a while” when this one hit their inbox.

They’d be right. I can’t help but feel that I might have left you hanging there.

My most humble apologies, that was a bit naughty of me. I can just imagine what my mother would say “You don’t call, you don’t write, nobody had any idea what you’ve been up to!”

Well, what I’ve been up to is this:

It started off when out of curiosity I went to a free 2 Day Coaching Certificate. It was an extremely good couple of days, the whole thing was very well done and positive. I met loads of nice people all doing a range of interesting things. But, for me, the BEST BIT was when they started talking about limiting beliefs and mind chat.

“THIS! This is the stuff I’ve been writing about!” I thought to myself “If coaching teaches you how to help people with this, then I want in!”

So, I signed up and that’s what I’ve been doing since.

I’m still not an “expert” but I have learnt some great stuff so far. Not just about confidence and being kind to yourself instead of treating yourself like a punching bag, but also about working out what you want and strategies that will help in going out to get it, even if it seems like a squillion miles away from where you are at the moment.

Seriously, it’s one of the best things I ever did and well worth the time I’ve put in (tonnes of it, hours and hours, but I’ll not get into that now) and I think it might be time I started sharing again.

Natalie

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Jedi Mind Tricks

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Ok, so last time (too long ago, sorry everyone!) I spoke about ways you can feel more confident using your body and I promised a follow up on things that you can do to feel more confident using your mind, pretty much instantly.

Now I say these are quick fixes, but it’s worth pointing out that just because they’re quick that does not mean the effects are not long lasting…because once you know them you can repeat them whenever you like. In that sense, this stuff can pretty much last you forever…yippee!

Before we get going, I should just mention that the brain is a weird old bit of kit. It’s weird how little things can make such a big difference. It’s weird how the rubbish that you’ve been telling yourself for years can be turned into something much more positive over the course of just a few minutes and some of the ways of making these changes are in themselves quite weird.

Because of this it may sound a bit like I’m selling you a load of voodoo, but give it a go and see for yourself…as I’ve said before I’m not an expert so all I’ve got to go on is whether it works for me. This stuff works for me…even if I feel like I must be out of my tiny mind whilst I’m actually doing it. If you give some of these tricks a go and take control of your mind, you’ll be feeling like a jedi master in no time.

Tuning into your good experiences

It might be a good idea to read this through before you give it a go.

Take a breath, close your eyes and relax.

Oh, that’s nice isn’t it?

Now think of a specific time when you felt really confident, it must be a specific time. Trying to remember a general feeling of confidence wont cut it for this.

Imagine that it’s happening to you RIGHT NOW!

Add a load of details, where were you? what could you hear? what could you see? what could you smell? how did it feel, to be so confident?

spend a good 20 -30 seconds enjoying that memory, run through it a few times, at least 3.

Great, you should be feeling pretty nice already…

…Now, bring to mind a situation that you are likely to face in the future where you are bound to be in need of a bit of extra confidence. Imagine yourself dealing with it beautifully, what will you say? how will it feel? what will you do? again add in a load of detail, detail is important for this

Spend some time enjoying how great it will feel to deal with that situation confidently and beautifully.

Now, open your eyes and notice how much more confident you feel.

Go on, give it a go.

Wanna know how it works? It’s an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) technique. Apparently it has something to do with one of the ways in which your brain is not as clever as people will have you believe…your brain cannot tell the difference between what you imagine experiencing and what you are really experiencing, that’s why the detail is important, you’ve got to make it as real as possible. You can make your brain think that something great and confidence boosting is happening to you right now.

…silly brain!

or you could try this, bit new age weirdy for me this one…

Sharing Someone Else’s Limelight

Imagine someone else who is really confident, imagine them walking into a room full of people and picture the reaction they get. People love them, Princess Leia in her gold bikini and Luke Skywalker with his light saber (not a euphemism people!) are drinking in every word.

Now imagine that person is surrounded by light and that light is their confidence.

Now imagine that light coming from them and surrounding you as well (it doesn’t have to leave them, it’s not a finite resource, there’s plenty to go round) and settling on you and sinking in.

Feel it sinking in.

Now open your eyes and try to feel that confidence still bubbling away under your skin. You should be feeling a bit more confident now, having “felt” that confidence sinking in and therefore knowing it’s there.

You could also try this, which I’ve borrowed from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

Think “as if”

Ask yourself these things: If you were confident how would YOU be acting? How would YOU be speaking? How would YOU be feeling?

The important thing is to think about what this means for you. Your brain, in it’s keen to please way will push you towards feeling more confident, to make it easier for it to answer your questions.

It’ll make you act as if you are confident, after a while you’ll forget that you’re acting…the brain isn’t always brilliant at knowing when you’re acting either. It’s all about visualisation.

As a sort of “offshoot” of this you can also try giving yourself evidence that you are good at something, even when you’re not feeling particularly confident about it.

Write down ” I AM good at xxx because…” for example “I AM good at fighting with a light saber, I know this because I’m just learning and I’ve already kicked Obi Wan’s butt!” (you know, if you HAD actually kicked Obi Wan’s butt in a fight featuring light sabers).

This type of thing will help you, because we look for evidence of things in our reasoning and when forming our beliefs. If something bad happens to us, we believe that it will happen again because we have evidence that it has happened before etc.

Sometimes this evidence isn’t particularly helpful because it can hold us back, but in this instance we can use it to our advantage.

Let me know what you think.

Natalie

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Quick Fixes

Behold my "super" friend Liz, demonstrating excellent confidence boosting body language. Note the confident stance, eye contact and wide smile...or if you prefer you can just have a chortle at her in her Batman onesie and Santa hat!

Behold my “super” friend Liz, demonstrating excellent confidence boosting body language. Note the confident stance, eye contact and wide smile…or if you prefer you can just have a chortle at her in her Batman onesie and Santa hat!

So far I can see in my posts, that I’ve concentrated on things which might take a bit of time: changes to mindset, thinking about your thinking (if you follow me) and even having a think about who your friends are…all these things take a little while to work through.

I honestly think that a longer term approach to boosting your confidence is the way to go, but I understand that it’s no good to you if you’re feeling nervous about something and need to boost your confidence now, as in today, right now!

So, I also wanted to give you some quick fixes that will help you to feel confident instantly. Today I’ve focused on little tricks you can play on yourself using your own physiology. I’m planning a follow up of very quick in-your-head exercises that you can try, but today it’s all about how to use your body to trick yourself into feeling a little more in control. Some of them you’ll probably have heard before, but a little reminder never hurt anyone.

Breathe

When we’re stressed or nervous our breathing becomes shallower and faster. Our state of mind affects our breathing. Sounds like simple cause and effect but, happily, it works the other way too. We can control our breathing and have an effect on our state of mind. If you concentrate on breathing more slowly, deeply, regularly and start to control your breathing you will start to feel calmer, more in control and more confident.

Watch Your Posture

When we’re not feeling confident we tend to go a bit hunched up and adopt a defensive stance. My Dad always says that he can tell when I’m feeling threatened by something as I tend to go all fetal and small, he doesn’t even ask if I’m okay, instead he asks “Feeling small?”

Just like the breathing we can (to some extent) trick ourselves into feeling better and more confident by doing what our bodies do when we are feeling that way. So stand or sit up straight but relaxed (you will not look comfortable and confident if you’re standing as if you’ve just shoved a broomstick down the back of your shirt). Don’t hunch, instead stand tall and strong. Adopting a strong stance has been shown to cause the stress hormone cortisol to drop significantly.

Also, as an interesting aside, did you know that a strong posture has also been shown to make people feel physically taller and stronger than they really are? Sometimes useful if you’re feeling small (or in the case of short-arses like myself, even shorter than usual) and a bit overwhelmed!

Speak slowly

When we’re feeling nervous some of us tend to babble. This makes things worse as we then know that we’re babbling and not making sense to whoever is listening to us.

By making a conscious effort to slow down we’re starting to take control of the situation again. We give ourselves time to think about what we’re saying. It makes us sound more considered. If you slow down it helps with the impression that you’ve thought about what you’re going to say. It also means that your audience has a chance to consider what you’re saying. You are showing them that you are confident enough to take your time to say something worthwhile and by slowing down you’ll have stopped your babble making you feel like you’re not getting your point across.

Make eye contact

If you’re feeling all defensive you’ll have a tendency to avoid eye contact. You’ll be aware that you’re doing it too and know that you’re “hiding” from whoever you’re talking too.

Mostly we’re nervous because what we’re doing feels out of control or is unknown to us. So take a look at your audience, see them for just what they are, people who are listening to what you have to say. If you can make eye contact it will help people to be engaged with what you have to say and it will help you get a grip on the reality that awful things are not happening to you here.

A little while ago I found myself in the situation of having to give a presentation at work in front of a room of about thirty people including some senior managers. Public speaking is not my thing at all and I was struggling a little bit and found myself wanting to start rushing through to get it over with, but I happened to look around and catch the eye of one of my friends who sits a few desks away from me and she gave me a little smile. I realised that I speak to nearly all of the people present every day for one reason or another, no one here would be waiting for me to fail or mess up. I relaxed a bit, was able to slow down and get across all the great things that the team had achieved, which is what I was there to talk about. True story.

Smile

There are loads of reasons why smiling is a good thing to do when you’re feeling under pressure. You normally smile because you’re happy, just as slowing down breathing can make you feel calmer, smiling can make you feel happier. Smiling is so tied up with positive feelings that even just forcing a little smile out will make it a lot harder for you to feel bad.

If you can manage a smile you will also appear to be more confident to others, and you look like you’re willing to engage with them.

If you can smile as you’re making eye contact with someone, you’re fairly likely to get a smile back (people are generally built that way I find) and that will help take the edge off of any nervousness.

These are just a few ideas that I know work for me. Though I am never going to be at my most comfortable giving a presentation or a speech, these things can help me through it and leave me feeling good about myself.

You can’t be good at everything, you cannot be confident all of the time. But what you have to say is valuable, please do not hide yourself away, if you do we will all miss out. If any of my little tricks will make it a little easier for you to share your thoughts and ideas then I am delighted…even more so if you would like to drop me a line to tell me about it.

Natalie

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