Life Mental Health

Thursday 2 October 2014

The knowledge: How to be confident...and take risks

Barry Michels, author and psychotherapist

Published 17/08/2014 | 00:00

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Be your own best ally says Barry Michels.

Advice on the key steps you can take to be confident and possibly find your new potential.

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Be prepared to take risks

A key part of being confident comes from stepping outside your comfort zone. Many people avoid doing new or scary things, even if they know that they are fun, or will expand their minds. They are stuck in the same routine. If you never try anything new, how can you possibly find your potential?

Put in the hard work

People who are confident measure themselves by the effort they put in, not by the results. As a therapist in Los Angeles, I treat a lot of performers. Just say that there are two singers of equal ability; the first pours her heart out at every show, 
and the other just goes through the motions. The second singer won't feel good about herself even if she's worshipped. What makes you confident is knowing you've done a good job.

Accept your responsibilities

All of us have a list of things that we know we should be doing, be it at work or at home, and we need to do them to feel confident. If you don't, your self-esteem will suffer. If you're a writer, you should be writing every day or, on some level, you will know you're avoiding your responsibility to yourself. If you're a father and you work a lot without spending much time with your kids, you may feel that you've failed, and that will greatly affect your confidence.

Let it go

You have to learn to get over little fights and injuries quickly. Hurtful, unfair things happen all the time. Your boss blames you for something you didn't do, or your spouse is mean to you - people who are confident get over things like this quickly. They feel the normal reactions that anyone does, such as hurt or injustice, but they process the feelings quickly and move on. That reinforces their confidence, because it means nobody has that power over them.

Love your alter ego

Everybody has an emotional 'shadow' - it is everything we don't want to be. The emotional shadow is the feelings that we have never let go of, usually the insecurities we feel in our early adolescence. For example, powerful men who feel they can't speak to women, or beautiful women who feel ugly. This shadow affects our confidence in adulthood. You will never get rid of your shadow, so embrace it instead.

Be kind to yourself

You have to be your own best ally. You 
will face rejection, but don't beat 
yourself up about it. The world is hard enough on you, so don't add to the pain 
by turning against yourself - it will just erode your confidence. You might be tempted to quit your new, confident self if things don't work out straight away, but stick at it.

Sunday Independent

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