Grow your con­fi­dence in 21 days

GET con­fi­dent in less than a month.

People (South Africa) - - Contents -

THEY say it takes 21 days to break a habit. But what if we told you it takes the same amount of time to de­velop a whole new level of con­fi­dence? En­ter the step-bystep guide to a much more pos­i­tive you.

Be­ing the most con­fi­dent girl in the room is some­thing a lot of women aspire to be. That co-worker who puts her hand up for ev­ery project, the en­tire front row at an aer­o­bics class, the girl at a party danc­ing like she doesn’t care about any­thing – in a crop top!

But how can these women be so sure of them­selves while the rest live in a world of self-doubt? Here’s the good news: “Con­fi­dence isn’t some­thing that’s fixed for life,” ex­plains Michelle Landy, a mo­ti­va­tional coach and author of The Con­fi­dence Work­out (avail­able on Ama­zon). “We all strug­gle with self-doubt at dif­fer­ent life stages or in new sit­u­a­tions.” How­ever, you can slowly, in­ten­tion­ally change that. “You’ve just got to want it,” Landy says. So su­per­charge your con­fi­dence with these easy, prac­ti­cal daily tips and have your hot pants and mi­cro­phone handy.

WEEK ONE: In­side Job

IF you had a bet­ter job, a boyfriend or a hot­ter bod you’d be more con­fi­dent, right? Deep down you know that’s not how it works. Con­fi­dence comes from within, but the prob­lem for a lot of us is our worst critic lives there, too. The first step to con­fi­dence is learn­ing how to take down your in­ner mean girl.

DAY ONE: What Up, In­ner Critic? In­stead of en­gag­ing with your own per­sonal hater, start feel­ing sorry for her, nur­tur­ing and treat­ing her with kind­ness. It seems a lit­tle crazy, but if ev­ery time the in­ner critic pipes up with ‘shame, all your friends hate you!’, you can re­spond with a sooth­ing, ‘wow, you are feel­ing re­ally in­se­cure at the mo­ment’, or ‘who hurt you?’ – that harsh voice can’t es­ca­late. With daily prac­tice, those lit­tle thoughts start to lose their power.

DAY TWO: Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion When we’re a lit­tle (or maybe a lot) low on self-con­fi­dence, we tend to be­lieve ev­ery neg­a­tive thought that pops into our heads. But these thoughts aren’t re­ally ours; they are a re­ac­tion to fear. Dis­con­nect­ing from them can be as sim­ple as adding a few choice words to what­ever crazy BS is loop­ing through your mind, says psy­chol­o­gist Dr Gemma Munro. So to­day, when you think, “I’m cr*p at my job,” be sure to add this: “No, my mind is hav­ing the thought that I’m cr*p at my job.” See? It’s not you, it’s that an­noy­ing old in­ner critic again.

DAY THREE: The Power Of ‘Yet’ An­other tiny word with huge power? ‘Yet’. Stan­ford psy­chol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Carol Dweck says tak­ing state­ments we make about our­selves

– like ‘I’m no good with money’ – and adding ‘yet’ re­minds us we’re a work in progress. Re­peat these words: ‘I’m no good with money... yet’.

DAY FOUR: Gram­mar Time To­day’s les­son: trad­ing our nouns for verbs. Life coach Saman­tha Kra­jina ex­plains, “In­stead of say­ing ‘I have a bad re­la­tion­ship with my ex’, which makes that sta­tus seem fixed, you’d say, ‘I am re­lat­ing badly to my ex right now,’ which opens you up to change and progress.”

DAY FIVE: ‘I’m Awe­some’ List “Con­fi­dent peo­ple know what their strengths are,”

Kra­jina says. Most of us can eas­ily rat­tle off five qual­i­ties we’d look for in a part­ner, but list­ing five qual­i­ties we have to of­fer is hard. Write a five-point (non)hum­ble brag.

DAY SIX: Story Time If there’s a neg­a­tive thought you’ve been loop­ing for years, it’s prob­a­bly be­come a nar­ra­tive – a story we tell oth­ers and our­selves about who we are. “From where you are now to be­ing a more con­fi­dent per­son is all about al­low­ing your­self the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate new sto­ries,” ex­plains Kra­jina. Think about your nar­ra­tive: Do you want to live by it? Or is it maybe time for a new one?

DAY SEVEN: Vic­tory! Look at that, it’s been a week since we started this! Go, you! An im­por­tant part of grow­ing this new­found con­fi­dence is ac­knowl­edg­ing all of the progress you have made up to now. Notic­ing what the neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Ian Robert­son calls ‘tiny vic­to­ries’ ac­tu­ally changes the land­scape of your brain – in­creas­ing the num­ber of re­cep­tors in its re­ward-and-mo­ti­va­tion area and (psych!) help­ing you be­come more sen­si­tive to testos­terone, the power hor­mone. Don’t panic! You won’t grow a mous­tache, but you will feel bolder next time you’re faced with a sim­i­lar tricky sit­u­a­tion.

WEEK TWO: The Out­side World

OR, it’s time to baby-gi­raffe-walk this new­born con­fi­dence into the out­side world. And whether it’s friend­ships, re­la­tion­ships or work, this week is all about mak­ing it with­out fak­ing it. Au­then­tic con­fi­dence, com­ing at you!

DAY EIGHT: Friend Check Spot quiz: Name one friend who makes you feel amaz­ing. And one who doesn’t. Ugh, her. We all have a self-es­teem sucker on standby and we seem oddly drawn to them at our weak­est times. “We for­get we have a choice about who we spend time with,” ex­plains Landy. You don’t have to cut these ladies out al­to­gether, but limit the amount of con­tact you have with them – es­pe­cially when you’re go­ing through a rough patch.

DAY NINE: So­cial Me­dia Cleanse When it’s good, it’s great. Although, when it’s bad, so­cial me­dia can be a stonecold con­fi­dence killer. But you don’t have to switch off (and then sign out) al­to­gether; how­ever, those two or three ‘friends’ who rou­tinely zap your self­es­teem on­line act like holes in your bucket of con­fi­dence. Block, de-friend and fil­ter your way to feel­ing bet­ter about your­self in real life.

DAY 10: Run To The Pain An awk­ward, un­re­solved sit­u­a­tion in your life – es­pe­cially one of your own cre­ation – is not just ex­haust­ing (hello, ev­ery wak­ing mo­ment think­ing about it!) but is a con­fi­dence zap­per too. In­stinc­tively, you know when the fix is on you, so run to it. Yes, it’s go­ing to be hor­ri­ble, but then it’s go­ing to be over. “Tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for a mis­take and not deny­ing it is one of the most free­ing ex­pe­ri­ences you can have,” ex­plains Kra­jina. “Whether or not it was in­ten­tional, deal­ing with it is ul­ti­mately bet­ter than avoid­ing it.” DAY 11: Re­jec­tion – A Love Story

When the Planet Needy is in as­cen­sion, the idea of be­ing re­jected is ter­ri­fy­ing. But re­jec­tion is a nor­mal part of life, and rarely fa­tal.

If fear of be­ing de­nied some­thing is your thing, visit re­jec­tion ther­apy. com and sign up for a (hi­lar­i­ous) 30day treat­ment pro­gramme, which will to­tally

de­sen­si­tise you to it by set­ting you up for one tiny, mi­nus­cule re­jec­tion ev­ery day. “Hey, can you drive me to the air­port at 05h00? No? No prob­lem, that’s to­tally okay.”

DAY 12: Nar­row The Beam When you’ve messed up (we’re talk­ing hy­po­thet­i­cally, as per­fect peo­ple who never have...), it’s easy to blow the sit­u­a­tion out into a to­tal catas­tro­phe of life-end­ing pro­por­tions. To pro­tect your self-image af­ter a stuff-up, Landy says, “Keep a spot fo­cus on the prob­lem.” Mean­ing, don’t let one er­ror flood­light your en­tire life. One mis­take at work is to­tally fine, not an ir­re­deemable ca­reer-end­ing dis­as­ter. DAY 13: Dare, Dou­ble Dare

If you’re an all-or-noth­ing sort of lady, you may de­cide to tackle this con­fi­dence prob­lem once and for all by sign­ing up for that half­marathon, even though you’ve never run more than five kilo­me­tres in one go in your life. Hold up! Small, achiev­able chal­lenges are a surer way to build up your long-term self-con­fi­dence. Those un­fin­ished fun-runs, on the other hand, have a funny way of re­in­forc­ing the old ‘I al­ways fail’ story. DAY 14: Get Ready, Get set... But know this, con­fi­dent peo­ple don’t wait to feel ready be­fore tak­ing on a new chal­lenge, what­ever the size. “Wait­ing to feel com­fort­able ac­tu­ally holds you back,” says Landy. “Con­fi­dence grows out of tak­ing ac­tions, small ones to be­gin with, ac­knowl­edg­ing that you feel ner­vous but know­ing that’s okay.” So what’s your home­work for to­day? Pick some­thing you’re scared of (in a good way), go do it, and watch how it doesn’t kill you.

WEEK THREE: Quick Fixes And A Bag Of Tricks

YOU’RE work­ing on your core, but a few easy go-tos can help you in tricky sit­u­a­tions. No, these aren’t cheats, they are long-haul con­fi­dence-build­ing habits. And hey, you’re on the home stretch. In just un­der a week, you’ll be ready to run the world just like Bey­oncé.

DAY 15: Power Bal­lads Rocky was right – play­ing Eye Of The Tiger at high vol­ume works. “Mu­sic lifts your con­fi­dence,” ex­plains Dr Munro. “Lis­ten­ing to a

song that makes you feel ex­cited and full of an­tic­i­pa­tion – even if you just go into a toi­let cu­bi­cle at work with your head­phones on for two min­utes – de­creases the cor­ti­sol stress hor­mone.”

DAY 16: Gossip Girls You know that grubby feel­ing you get af­ter a back-stab­bing ses­sion? (We can’t be the only ones.) A study by re­searchers at Stafford­shire Univer­sity found, on the flip­side, spread­ing pos­i­tive gossip about a per­son gives your own con­fi­dence an in­stant boost. (Don’t tell any­one, but my col­league is se­ri­ously hot at Ex­cel.)

DAY 17: Quit Com­par­ing Taller, richer, clev­erer... what­ever. There will al­ways be peo­ple who seem to have ev­ery­thing. And com­par­ing our­selves is a no-win game. “Train your­self to no­tice what you tend to com­pare,” says Landy. “Looks, job, money, re­la­tion­ships

– and ac­knowl­edge that’s your con­fi­dence gap – and over time, min­imise that trig­ger.” DAY 18: Power Pose Turns out, Won­der Woman was onto some­thing with that stance. The ‘power pose’, ac­cord­ing to stud­ies by Har­vard and North­west­ern uni­ver­si­ties, pre­pares you to face risk, de­creas­ing cor­ti­sol and rais­ing testos­terone. Plus, oth­ers re­spond dif­fer­ently to peo­ple with strong pos­ture.

DAY 19: Work­out Plus When you’re in a self­es­teem slump, cut­ting your work­out short

(or out) seems ob­vi­ous. But re­searchers at Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity found that putting in a tiny bit ex­tra – just 10 more squats than usual – en­hances your sense of con­trol, which in turn, boosts your con­fi­dence. DAY 20: Wardrobe 101 It might look like an in­no­cent black dress with the tags still on, but your favourite LBD hang­ing on your mir­ror is kind of judg­ing you. Go through your wardrobe and af­ter you’ve tossed the haters, try on ev­ery­thing you own that makes you feel like a hot rig. What’s the com­mon theme? A cer­tain length, a cer­tain shape? There’s your sar­to­rial es­teem boost right there. DAY 21: Be A Begin­ner Stretch­ing your­self and tak­ing your­self be­yond your com­fort zone builds up long-term con­fi­dence, whereas stick­ing to what you’re al­ready good at nar­rows your skillset over time. Learn­ing new things all the time, such as surf­ing, tak­ing Span­ish lessons and even knit­ting, gives you a nice sense of achieve­ment and progress. “De­vel­op­ing con­fi­dence in one area car­ries into other ar­eas. You learn re­silience and bounce back, so al­ways be a begin­ner at some­thing,” says Landy.

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