Well the season of the big matches recently concluded and there were as usual a lot of excitement before the matches and then a lot of analysis of why something happened and what should have happened during and after the matches. Much of this analysis would be to do with someone’s performance or under-performance.
In the corporate world as well – we see lots of people being quite technically sound but when they are asked to speak up at a meeting, make a presentation, or do something outside their comfort zone we see them ‘choke’ or ‘freeze’.
We also see so many going for language improvement classes and in particular English classes – but again they seldom seem to speak to others using English.
What is the common factor?
Is there a common thread linking the under-performing cricketer who get out for a duck, the corporate executive who doesn’t speak at a meeting, and the person who goes for English classes but doesn’t want to speak using the language in public?
Could one of the reasons for all the examples above be a reduction of confidence? Haven’t we too stumbled in a task which we would have normally had the skill to do – when we are scared. Thinking too much of what can go wrong can reduce our own confidence before the event.
Why do we lose confidence anyway?
I think most of us lose confidence before something important due to fear of failure, fear of the unknown and really because our imagination sometimes works overtime and to our detriment. It’s all about the thoughts we have isn’t it? Thoughts about success would breed confidence and thoughts about fear and possible failure would breed a huge lack of confidence.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way we could switch on confidence whenever we needed an extra boost?
Well I think there is a way – actually a simple series of actions that anyone could do – even a child.
Tricking the mind into being confident by sending conscious signals from the body
Controlling our body is something we should all be able to do right? Nothing fancy here but things we can all do! What happens is that our body sends signals to our mind the same way the mind sends signals to the body. So each can influence the other! If the mind is feeling less than confident because of the thoughts we have been having … we can consciously turn things around by simply doing things with our body. An easy way to remember what to do is by doing what I call ‘FEBB’. 4 actions we can take consciously with our bodies to force ourselves to become more confident.
F – Face
Put a bright smile on – with lots of teeth in the picture. When we force a smile – after sometime the smile becomes genuine. An article I read described that when one smiles – the brain increases the production of the neurochemical oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurochemical that when present increases our feelings of being loved, security and comfort. So when Oxytocin increases as we feel more secure – so does our levels of confidence. The rational is that we are tricking the brain by changing the muscles of the body, i.e., the face by smiling. When we smile we cannot be depressed or worried so the brain thinks – ok we are smiling to we must actually be more confident than we seem and so reduces our feelings of anxiety and fear. Makes sense? I have used this myself and with hundreds of students over the years and have seen positive results every time.
E – Energy
If we consciously energize ourselves we cannot be feeling low on confidence. High energy translates to high confidence. One way to get energized in a hurry is to jump up and down on your toes. Just a couple of minutes should do it. Another way is to clench fists and say a powerful statement to yourself in a commanding voice, like ‘I am really confident and am going to nail this’!
Again the rationale is – when one is low on energy we tend to also feel a task is not achievable and lose confidence. On the other hand – we can consciously increase energy and thereby help to bring confidence levels up as well. Just watch the start of a race or a tennis match – or the New Zealand all blacks doing the ‘haka’. All the great players consciously increase their energy.
B – Body
Put your body into a posture and position of power. How do we do this? Well square shoulders, hold yourself up high, thrust your chest out, raise your chin – and basically stand tall, and as proudly as you can – also making sure your posture is ‘open’ and not ‘closed’, so no folding hands across the chest for example. This is extremely important as a vital message is then sent to the mind. That of confidence and pride in self! Something else we can do is to consciously walk faster with arms swinging – emitting an aura of confidence.
B – Breathing
As soon as we lose confidence or get scared our breathing becomes very shallow. Deep breathing can therefore immediately turn things around. So take a few minutes to consciously take deep breaths – of course this should be breathing be expanding the tummy and not the chest or shoulders – this is diaphragmatic breathing which immediately de-stresses and relaxes. The best way to do this is to inhale for 4 seconds – hold your breath for 4 seconds – and then exhale for 4 seconds. Do this around 20 times very slowly and we should immediately start feeling much better.
FEBB – Simple Formula for Fast Results
These simple steps should give us an immediate boost of confidence. The best thing is that it can be accessed and put into practice in a matter of seconds. So we never need to feel low on confidence again! It’s simple – it’s easy – and can be done fast!