Your Confident Self: Increasing Confidence, Self-Esteem and Self-Belief

Over the last few months I've been busy learning how to play the guitar. Having not even picked up a guitar for over twenty five years, I've pretty much been learning all the notes and chords from scratch. And over the many weeks of practicing with online lessons from Fender, I kind of got to an ok level (think advanced beginner not Hendrix!).

At the end of last year I decided to start some online live guitar lessons with a great guy called Chris. Let me tell you, Chris can really play! Whilst I had a fairly ok level of confidence playing on my own to myself, that first lesson with someone who knows their stuff took me way outside my comfort one. In fact, in that first lesson with a pair of eyes watching me, I struggled to get my hands and fingers to co-ordinate in any sort of reasonable fashion.

Yet by the next lesson, and beyond, I've found myself able to play more confidently and to be ok with the inevitable mistakes that I make as I learn new things, and to feel good about the bits that go well and improve.

It can happen in any area of your life: you start something new, it takes you into a bit of discomfort outside your comfort zone, and then you adjust, adapt, learn and get better from perseverance. You learn that you can trust in your abilities, have faith in yourself and make some good progress.

It's the same whether you train for your first race, meet someone knew, learn a new skill or do anything else new, different or potentially more challenging.

Yet sometimes, people struggle to have faith in their abilities and in who they are. They think they aren't good enough or worthy in some way. They think they don't deserve whatever it is. They dwell on mistakes and failures and things that didn't go well and convince themselves it will always be like that. Their confidence, self-esteem and self-belief isn't where it needs to be, or should be. 

Your self-image, confidence and self-esteem can be shaped and molded by life experiences, people, places and a whole range of other factors. But of course your self-confidence and self-esteem are ultimately down to the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and beliefs you have about yourself, your own self-perception and view of yourself. And whilst your confidence and self-esteem may not be where you want them to be, it is definitly possible to grow in confidence, to have faith in yourself, to feel good being you, to back yourself and believe in yourself and to feel comfortable in your own skin. 

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Confidence: Using Your Hypnotic Hero To Increase Your Confidence

From very early on and throughout our lives we are constantly learning from others around us. We observe what others do in their interactions, with certain behaviours, skills, phrases, responses and we often absorb and integrate things we have seen and learnt into what we do and how we do it.

Recently, I've been learning to play the guitar. The most effective way to learn a new skill like this is through watching someone else play and then practising and learning that for yourself. If you are like me then it can take some practice and guidance, breaking things down into small chunks, and then more practice (and then even more!). Through watching online tutorials and lessons on the internet, and with the guidance and support of my guitar tutor, my playing has progressed massively since I started last year. 

And it's the same on other areas of life. When I joined bootcamp I had to watch what others did so I could learn and replicate it. In running, you watch and talk to other runners, you learn from their approach and attitude and you then seek to take elements of this and incorporate them into what you do.

Watching and learning from others involves a process of attention, retention, production, and motivation. Firstly, you pay careful attention to the person being observed. You then commit the observed act to memory through techniques and go about putting it into practice. To benefit, you need to be motivated to attend to, remember, and practice the observed behaviour in order to perform the skill accurately (Bandura, 1977).

Whether it's a skill, behaviours, attitude or mindset, we can learn from observing others and seeking to replicate positive elements in a way that fits with who we are. If you want to be good at something, then it makes sense to find someone who is already good and observe and pay attention to what they do and how they do it (through observation, talking to them, reading about them and so forth).  

One aspect of life that we can all improve upon in some areas is our confidence and self-belief. Some people worry that if they become more confident then they will become arrogant, but these are not the same things. Being confident involves thinking in particular ways, having certain beliefs, patterns, habits, thoughts and feelings. Sometimes you can get stuck in your own limitations of what you think is possible for you and think you can't do something or that you are not good enough or not confident at that thing.

As I've mentioned we can learn from observing and paying attention to what confident people do and then 'trying it on' for ourselves, in a way that fits with our own values and desires. In this article we are using the concept of a 'hero' or 'role model' to help you become more confident in certain aspects of your life. 

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Worrying What Other People Think - Thoughts From The New Forest

A few weeks ago I was on holiday down in the New Forest with my family and recorded a video whilst out exploring all about worrying what other people think.

This is something that comes up a lot when I work with people on issues around anxiety, low confidence and low self-esteem. It might mean worrying so much about being judged that you don't do something you'd like to be doing, or don't contribute and say what you want to. You might worry when you are actually around those people and find yourself second guessing yourself inside of your head or trying to 'get things right' before you say or do anything. And you may well dwell on things afterwards and either judge yourself harshly for how you feel you did, or else worry that others are thinking badly of you in some way. 

I know I used to do all of these things and more when I struggled with anxiety and low self-esteem. In fact, I almost thought there was something seriously wrong with me because of how I was around other people and for holding back and doubting myself when I should have just got on with it.

And as it's something that has come up a lot in sessions recently, here's my short video where I share some thoughts about worrying what other people think about you:

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Hypnotherapy For Self-Confidence - Latest Good Zing Article:

Whatever your current levels of confidence, there is always room for improvement in at least some areas of your life. Confidence is one of those things that no matter how much we have of it, we know that there is the ability to grow further and to feel better in ourselves. 

Recently I was asked by the great guys at Good Zing, who provide trusted health information through their resources, to write a piece on how hypnotherapy can help you to increase your self-confidence. I'm delighted to say that this has now been published on their site and you can have a read using the link below.

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Do You Worry Too Much About What Others Think About Your Actions and Appearance?

Do you find yourself worrying too much about being judged by others? Certainly it's a common thing where issues of anxiety, social anxiety, low confidence or low self-esteem are concerned. 

You may worry about doing something embarrassing, saying the wrong thing, or making an idiot of yourself in front of others. Or perhaps you worry about your appearance and what people are thinking when they look at you, and you assume it's some sort of negative appraisal they are carrying out. Such anxious thoughts about being judged can stop you doing things you really want to do, can make you wish the ground would swallow you up if you are around others and can mean you dwell on events and feel bad afterwards.

And whilst all those thoughts and feelings seem very real to you, research shows that you will be overestimating the extent to which your actions and behaviours are noted by others. 

In the video below I explain more about this effect and the research showing that people tend to believe they stand out in the eyes of others more than they actually do.

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Why You Should Probably Worry Less About What Other People Think About You - The Research on Fear of Failure and Being Judged:

When I used to struggle with social anxiety and low self-esteem, one of my biggest fears was the fear of being judged by others.

I would worry incessantly about what other people thought about me as a person and what I said and did. In my teens I went through a stage where I was obsessed about my hair looking ok so that people wouldn't think I looked stupid. There were times in later years where I could be on the verge of an anxiety attack if I thought others might think I looked weird, or if there was a chance of messing up. I would massively overthink everything I was saying and doing to try and avoid being judged and I had a massive fear of failure because of the rejection and negative perceptions others may have.

And one of the biggest things that holds people back, as far as social anxiety and low self-esteem are concerned, is that fear of what other people might think. It can stop you doing things, or even attempting to do things. It can lead to anxiety and overthinking that others will notice you aren't good enough in some way. It can lead to worry about what people you know, or even those you don't know, might be thinking about you. And it can mean missing out or feeling bad because of the fear you might look bad to others in some way.

But are people really that focused on what you are saying and doing all the time? Do they really spend that much time paying attention to you rather than thinking about other things? Do you really need to worry about what other people think about you because of the fear of failure and being judged badly? 

If you worry about what others think about you and you fear failure then the research should provide you with some reassurance that your fears are probably far removed from the reality.

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Gratitude and Well-Being: How To Improve Your Well-Being and Self-Esteem:

In my last article I wrote all about the impact of gratitude on anxiety, depression and self-esteem (have a read here: The Impact of Gratitude on Anxiety, Depression, Self-Esteem and Well-being). The research I talked about there shows that gratitude is strongly related to several aspects of well-being and mental health. 

People who have a disposition to notice and appreciate positive aspects in their life and their world tend to be happier, more optimistic, have positive self-esteem and are more positive and they also experience less depression and anxiety symptoms. In fact, gratitude can be considered to offer some protection against depression and anxiety because you are able to encourage and be compassionate and reassuring towards yourself when things go wrong in life and when faced with challenges.

As the researchers concluded, "gratitude is also associated with an improved "relationship with the self," in the form of a more positive and compassionate way of treating ourselves when things go wrong in life, which partially explains why grateful people are also less depressed and anxious" (Petrocchi & Couyoumdjian (2015)).

As I mentioned in that last article, with so many mental health benefits of gratitude, it really does make sense to purposefully apply it in your life. You are more likely to feel happy, have positive self-esteem, a better sense of well-being and experience less anxiety and depression symptoms. 

And if you do want to benefit from these good things then I'll be covering some ways you can do so in this article.

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It's Peculiar People Day so celebrate your individual uniqueness!

Today is Peculiar People Day!! Now I bet you probably didn't know that...and nor did I until an e-mail mentioning it landed in my inbox. Yet it turns out that January 10th every year has indeed been assigned to be Peculiar People Day. So let's celebrate it!

Actually, when I saw the e-mail that mentioned it, I showed it to my wife and told her that they've finally created a day just for her!! I'm hilarious...

I've no idea where the idea came from or who decided that this day every year should be marked in celebration of the strange and unusual. The Days of the Year website describes it like this:

"Peculiar People Day is here to celebrate the leaders of the strange and unusual, those who refuse to succumb to the world’s idea of what is normal and sane. They challenge the status quo and utterly rebuke the concept that that which is out of the ordinary is bad. Whether they simply dress in their own style, or have very clear ideas of what is right and normal, Peculiar People Day is their opportunity to shine."

I'm not sure 'peculiar' is the word I'd use for those who do their own thing and express their own style and thoughts and ways of being. I think it's more about being unique and celebrating being who you are and who you choose to be.

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Self-Esteem: You Gotta Sing Your Own Special Song:

Recently I've been working with a lot of people who are seeking to boost their self-esteem because they believe they aren't good enough or worthy in some way. And of course, whenever they learned this or adopted this, it now affects their sense of self-worth, their belief in themselves and their perceptions of how others will view them and judge them. 

And like all patterns we run, the more you consciously or nonconsciously act, react and think in this way, the more habitual and automatic it can start to feel.

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Comparing Yourself To Others & Self-Esteem:

We've probably always done it, yet comparing yourself to others has hit boom time with the rise of social media. I like to think that, had he been alive today, Shakespeare would have changed his sonnet from 'shall I compare thee to a summer's day' to 'shall I compare how I feel and my own self-worth to your instagram and facebook profiles.'  

Now before anyone accuses me of blaming social media for leading us to compare ourselves with others, I'm not, and I should know it's been around longer because it's something I used to do incessantly before I'd ever heard of instagram, twitter, facebook and so on. There were times I could barely force myself out of the front door because of my anxiety-fuelled comparisons with others and worry about what they might think about me (and it was never something good).

Yet there's no denying that these days it's easier than ever to compare our own thoughts, feelings, perceptions and levels of self-esteem with the filtered, published results that someone chooses to portray online. We compare our inner self worth with someone else's carefully selected public profile. And if you are going through a hard time right now, then those images of smiley, happy people enjoying every moment of life can only make you feel a bit worse (after all, how come everyone else is so happy and you're not, right?).

It's something that comes up in my office, and I can reference a recent client where such a thing was adding to her feelings of low self-esteem.

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