Have you ever wondered why some people seem to view life’s challenges confidently and in a positive light, while others struggle with negative reactions? The distinguishing factor is whether a person is assessing themselves and the situation or if they’re judging themselves and the situation. What’s the difference?
Assessing is viewing the situation objectively, seeing what happened, why it happened and learning from it and moving on with greater self-knowledge.
Judging is the limiting mindset of labeling yourself as a winner or a loser based on a standard that either you or someone else imposes on you.
When you have a winner/loser mindset, it creates a desperate need to continually achieve your goals based on the fear of not measuring up to a self-imposed, unrealistic standard. This leads to chronic stress of fear of failure or to the other extreme of becoming narcissistic and egotistical.
Let’s examine ten typical behaviors of people with low self-confidence and see how realistically assessing the situation without judgment can create greater self-confidence:
Underestimate their capabilities. Rather than immediately reacting with “I can’t”, calmly think about the desired outcome and see how your skills can accomplish the task. Remember you don’t have to do things like everyone else does. When you succeed by your unique style, you gain immense satisfaction and confidence.
Take the blame for everything. Rather than thinking, “If only I had done…” let others be responsible for their own actions. This actually dignifies them with freedom of choice. And if you are responsible in some way, make amends as best as you can by saying, “I’m sorry I made a mistake.” In many cases we just have to accept that we can’t fix everything.
Are overly self-critical. Our minds are quick to judge and criticize so rather than holding onto those stories, acknowledge them as judgments and let them go without getting caught up in them.
Take feedback from others as criticism. Rather than disengage from the experience and switch to negative thoughts, become more engaged in what the person is saying and sift out what is helpful to you.
Constantly focus and review past failures. Acknowledge each failure as helpful feedback, allow yourself to feel the emotions. Accept and learn from them as a valuable part of your experience.
Predict future failures. Rather than saying, “It never works or I always fail so why try”, approach each new situation with curiosity and enthusiasm as you eagerly look for the possibilities.
Focus on being perfect instead of being competent. Rather than thinking, “I can’t allow myself to make a mistake”, recognize that everyone makes mistakes. That’s how we learn. Don’t demand the impossible from yourself, and be happy you’re doing your best.
Are people-pleasers. Rather than seeking validation from others, it’s okay to say, “I’d really love to help you, but I have a prior commitment.” That commitment is your commitment to yourself to set boundaries so you don’t over extend yourself.
Isolates themselves. Rather than retreating into yourself when you’re hurt, be present in your feelings without judgment. Acknowledge them and own them without letting them alter the kind of life you want to live.
Stop learning. Rather than wondering if the other person thinks you’re boring, continue being excited about learning new things about the world around you, about the people in your life and about yourself. Your confidence will rise as you have interesting things to talk about.
Compare to others. Rather than comparing yourself to others, “I’m not as pretty as her or I’m not as smart as him”, think about the kind of man or woman you want to be – your ethics, your loyalty to friends and family, your honest and integrity and strive to be true to those ideals.
Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation will empower you to let go of self-judgments. Many people have found that private coaching and group coaching sessions helps them become more mindfully engaged in life. If you’re ready to stop judging and start assessing as you embrace this new way of being, please contact me and let’s talk.
“Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” ~ Samuel Johnson
Women have been trying to break through the glass ceiling for years. They struggle for equality in the workplace and in society. Historically women have played a supportive role. They’ve been the behind-the-scenes nurturers. In the business world, cultural and institutional barriers often define success or failure for businesswomen. Yet there’s an even bigger reason why women sometimes struggle to succeed. What is it? Many women lack confidence.
What is self-confidence? It’s the feeling of trusting your abilities, qualities and judgments. Many believe that self-confidence has to do with positive affirmations. Although, that is partly accurate, what truly builds confidence is experience – setting and achieving goals – thus building competence.
What makes so many women lack confidence? There are five basic reasons why women and men have lack of confidence:
- Unrealistic expectations. Many people are perfectionists. To illustrate: a number of years ago, Hewlett-Packard discovered that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications. Men, on the other hand, applied when they felt they could meet 60% of the job requirements. If you wait to be perfect to reach for what you want, you’ll never get it! Your self-confidence comes from doing your best now. It’s a process of daily approximation. Start where you are!
- Harsh, self-judgmental, negative thoughts running through our minds on an endless track. Some people feel they’re never good enough, never attractive enough, or never smart enough. Often this is a misguided attempt to improve their performance. Your thoughts have power. If you put yourself down, you’ll feel, well, down. The next time you hear negative talk in your head, ask yourself: How can I motivate myself to reach for what I want? Focus on an earlier accomplishment, be kind to yourself knowing that when you feel safe on the inside rather than under attack you will increase your motivation and perform better.
- Preoccupation with fear. In the book, The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self Doubt, Russ Harris offers this wonderful advice, “Rather than trying to ‘get over’ your fears, form a new and wiser relationship with them. Paradoxically, it’s only when we stop struggling against our fearfulness that we begin to find lasting freedom from it.” When you can peacefully embrace every one of your human emotions, including fear, as part of your daily occurrence, you’ll view life as a fascinating journey not something to dread. (I highly recommend this book as a valuable addition to your self help library.)
- Lack of experience. There is no such thing as failure, only useful feedback! Feedback enables us to learn from our mistakes, refine our plan, change our behavior or adjust our priorities. Failure, on the other hand, erodes confidence, negatively impacts self-image and reduces our motivation to improve, which inevitably leads to low level of achievement. So, embrace “failure.” Because if you are failing, you are learning and if you are learning, you are gaining experience. And experience is really what confidence is all about.
- Lack of skill. Never stop learning. Learn something every day about your field, job, hobby or presentation – whatever you want to feel more confident about. Nowadays it’s so easy to gain knowledge and information through YouTube tutorials, free online classes, mentoring. When you’re prepared, your self-confidence soars.
What can you do to build your self-confidence? Make an honest assessment of yourself. If you need to, ask a trusted friend to help you with this exercise. Make a list of all the things that have been gifted to you because people value you – close relationships, words of praise, loving gestures, kind deeds. Then make another list of your accomplishments that make you feel proud. Place these lists where you see them daily to remind yourself what an amazing person you are.
Isn’t it time that you stop missing out on opportunities in your life? I’m here to help you. Through private coaching and group coaching sessions you can embrace your fears and discover your inner strength as you reclaim confidence in yourself. Please contact me and let’s talk.
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” Omar Khayyam
Happiness is something we all want but how much control do we have over it? Even if you have tendencies toward negativity, you can create a happier life by (1) opening your eyes and seeing the good around you, (2) expanding your heart to appreciate each beautiful moment and (3) focusing on responding to each life circumstance that arises instead of simply reacting. It’s your choice to be happy with where you’re at in life at this moment in time.
To achieve a happy, positive attitude, it’s beneficial to incorporate mindfulness practices in our daily routine that boost a positive outlook. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. who’s responsible for bringing the practice of mindfulness to mainstream medicine, defines it as: paying attention in a particular way – on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.
When you allow yourself to be relaxed and aware of the present moment, you can extend openness and curiosity toward your feelings rather than making judgments about them. And more importantly when you extend that to others in gestures of giving, compassion and gratitude, it causes your happiness to grow.
Try these simple mindfulness exercises…
1. Take Pleasure in the Moment. Calm your mind and heart to become aware of the good that’s already present in your life.
How can you do this? Savor the experience in the moment. Hold good thoughts as long as possible. Notice the somatic resonance in your body. Anchor those sensations to be able to access them at will. We’re surrounded by beauty every day. Take the time to really look for and appreciate the good in each moment of life.
2. Express Gratitude. Feeling gratitude and expressing gratitude are two separate things. Research shows that having an attitude of gratitude is good for us. However, expressing gratitude increases happiness levels by 25 percent. Researchers are seeing how cortisol levels, stress levels, heart rate and brain activity are all affected by expressing gratitude. Science is showing that we can actually rewire our brains and develop new neuropathways.
How can you do this? Daily look for times to say “Thank you.” Gratitude journaling makes you aware of past kindnesses. Make a point of sending a card or making a phone call to let people know how they’ve touched you.
3. Connect Your Purpose. Having a sense of meaning in your life may become a defense from life difficulties. This, in turn may preserve your physical and mental health, promote self-acceptance, and ultimately increase happiness.
How can you do this? Focus on your values, how you make the world a better place for your family, friends and neighbors. Think about how you make their lives fuller and richer.
4. Connect with Others by Giving. Humans are not meant to be isolated. We’re meant to interact with others. Giving of your time and resources without expecting anything in return is the best way to connect with others.
How can you do this? Seek out someone in need. And remember that one of the greatest gifts you can give is to listen to them without judgment. The best gifts are not necessarily based on things or money. Love, kindness, concern, thoughtfulness are all gifts. And if someone wants to give back to you, graciously accept their gift.
5. Walk in Their Shoes. When you’re able to empathize with others, you become more compassionate and understanding. Barriers dissolve and relationships flourish as you treat others as you would like them to treat yourself.
How can you do this? Always ask yourself, “If that happened to me, how would I feel and how would I want people to treat me?”
We cannot wait for happiness to find us. We can mindfully cultivate happiness every day. I’d be honored to partner with you in private coaching and group coaching sessions as you expand your ability to consistently make choices that contribute to your personal happiness and that of others. If that sounds good to you, please contact me and let’s talk.
“Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!
…just throw away all thoughts of
and stand firm in that which you are.” ~ Kabir
Can anyone achieve excellence? How do high achievers attain their success? Is it because they’re born with some special power? Not at all! They achieve excellence because they are able to channel their energy effectively under extreme conditions.
Many would say that they consistently tap into their inner strength, their self-control, or self-discipline. I like to think of them being very intentional and deliberate. Rather than getting caught up in checking emails or social media, watching TV, surfing the web, they choose to use their time for developing what really matters to them, enhancing their skills, improving their health and inner being.
Being centered undoubtedly helps you become more intentional. However, don’t be surprised at the beginning if learning to center yourself is challenging. It will involve some effort as you develop new muscle memory. You might be used to being slightly off-balanced!
Also, once you are centered you can’t expect to stay centered for very long! You deplete your energy resources throughout the day, especially during stressful situations. This is why you need a committed practice that keeps you refueled and replenished. Over time you’ll even expand your reserves so you can live life more richly. Consistency is essential to your centering practice.
To illustrate: What happens if you center yourself at the beginning of the day and then stress arises? Will your early morning centering carry you through? It will help, but consistently centering yourself throughout the day is essential to maintaining your balance. Even when you are not feeling particularly emotional or in need of centering, you’ll find that it deepens your practice.
What can you do to begin a steady centering practice?
Anything that helps you feel still and aware can become your centering practice. It’s a way to connect with that space within you that is always calm and at peace. This space is often referred to as your “calm center”. Decisions made from this calm center will be more in alignment with your values; actions taken from this place will be more deliberate and purposeful.
I personally have several practices that help me with centering. A few times a week I practice Aikido at a local dojo. The name Aikido is composed of three Japanese words: ai, meaning harmony; ki, spirit or energy; and do, the path or the way. Aikido is the way of the spirit of harmony. Through this weekly practice, I continue to explore ways to stay centered in my body, to use my center to interact with others and to harmonize with the world in ways that are both self-promoting and life enhancing.
I also practice archery. I’ve done so for the past four years and just recently I’ve started training as a horseback archer. To me horseback archery is not just a cool and fun sport. It’s the harmony of four elements – horse, rider, bow, and arrow – into a powerful center. It’s about moving forward with purpose. It’s a centering practice and a metaphor for life.
My daily Feldenkrais practice also aids centering time to my life. When I lay on my mat or table and I sense into my self through slow, mindful movements. I cultivate that center that’s so useful when I need to be calm, resourceful and perform.
What these three practices have in common is that, in order to perform them, you have to find, develop and express your center. It’s not necessary to spend hours cultivating a centering practice. You can start small, exploring what you enjoy and can practice consistently with ease and pleasure.
Would you like to develop your own customized centering practice to help you cope with stress and live more fully? If you live near Ashland, Oregon, please contact my office and learn how somatic coaching helps you engage your whole mind and body in achieving excellence.
“If you are centered, you can move freely.” ~ Morihei Ueshiba
Have you ever experienced a tense or stressful moment when your heart starts pounding, you’re short of breath, you start sweating and feel light-headed? I think we all have. Maybe you took a deep breath to calm yourself down. You probably didn’t realize that this is a natural way of “centering” your body!
There’s more to centering then an occasional deep breath but the good news is it’s one of the simplest and most helpful forms of calming practice. The “center” refers to a relaxed yet focused state of mind. Being centered means remaining in your calm center amidst the busyness of everyday life. Being centered means not allowing your inner being to be overshadowed by stressful circumstances or negative thoughts and emotions.
When you are centered,
you are in a state of clarity, focus, peace, flow and balance.
When you are not centered,
you are unclear, unfocussed, stressed, and off balance.
Centering is especially helpful in the midst of strong emotional states like excitement or anxiety. It’s often used by athletes, public speakers, actors, or anyone who wants to feel stable and prepared before a potentially stressful event. When life becomes chaotic and demanding, the ability to maintain a relaxed body and focused state of mind can be VERY valuable.
The reasons for cultivating this ability are immense, so start where you are and increase your skills over time. You don’t need to begin with daunting, time and energy consuming activities at first. As I often say, “Start Small!”
You don’t want to wait until you’re confronted with a stressful situation to get started. When practiced often, good centering techniques will require only minimal attention, allowing you to keep some of your attention on the activity at hand.
I personally find that the quickest way to center my mind is through my body. When my spine is alert and soft, my heart is relaxed and open and I stand midway between my back and my front leg, I feel more centered.
I invite you to use centering as your practice for the next three weeks, every day. You’ll need daily intent, discipline, and a curiosity for deepening and learning from the practice to follow through. I suggest a minimum of 5 minutes each day, working up to 15 minutes a day toward the end of the three weeks.
Here are the centering basics to get you started:
- Focus your attention on your sensations and aliveness.Feel what is present in this moment.
- Purposefully bring your attention to your center (2 inches below your navel). What changes in your body as you do this?
- Center in Length. Drop into gravity and your lower body and lengthen up the spine. This promotes dignity, self-worth and your highest vision.
- Center in Width. Balance left to right. Widen from your centerline. Fill out and beyond your edges. This promotes connection, community and interdependence.
- Center in Depth. Fill in, feel the space behind you, inside of you, in front of you. Don’t pull back, nor push forward. This connects you to your past, present, future.
- Center in Purpose. Speak your commitment to yourself. Or center into your calling or longing. Say out loud, “I am a commitment to…”
Are you interested in learning how to center yourself to improve your quality of life? If you live near Ashland, Oregon, please contact my office and learn how somatic coaching can help you engage your whole mind and body in achieving greatness.