Do you want to feel more confident, fulfilled, and successful? Maybe you’ve been succeeding out there in the real world, but you’re still feeling empty inside. If so, then you’ve come to the right place, because today, we’re going to be diving into three negative habits that are detrimental to your confidence development—three habits that you must change, starting today!
Most of us think of confidence as something that’s locked into place. What we don’t realize is that this is just a mental pattern that we’re constantly reinforcing with the stories we tell about ourselves:
– I have social anxiety;
– I’m a shy person;
– I don’t do well on dates;
– I’m not good speaking in public.
These patterns are run so frequently and with such a lack of oversight that they become part of our identity . . . but they don’t have to continue to define you.
Let’s look at an example from real life:
Recently, I was working with a client, Gerald, who desperately wanted to be able to walk up to a group of people and start a conversation without anxiety. Gerald had convinced himself that he was just a shy person who had too much social anxiety to make conversations like this possible. On top of that, he would get frustrated with people giving him tips and telling him to just go for it—he would say that those people just didn’t understand him or what he was going through. At that point, he’d also start comparing himself to the people who made it sound so easy, and he’d feel inadequate on top of everything else.
This is a classic example of how useless stories can take over your life and eradicate your confidence: not only had Gerald lost his identity to his anxiety and locked himself into a belief about how far his confidence could go, but he had also begun to distance himself from other people.
So, how to we break those patterns to move forward and achieve higher levels of confidence?
Well, to begin with, let’s get our bodies ready! I never like to sound like a broken record, but the physical work is just as important as the mental work in all of these exercises.
In other words, rigidity in your body will just translate to rigidity in your mind.
The fact is that there is no way you’re going to let this information in if you can’t even force yourself to get up and move around a bit . . . so, let’s get up, stretch out, and give yourself a little shimmy to work out the kinks.
Now that our bodies are a little more open, let’s dive right in.
Habit One – Negative Focus
When I ask most of my clients what they’re thinking about when approaching a group of people, the answer almost universally has something to do with being judged negatively or not knowing what to say.
Whether we realize it or not, our focus in these moments shifts entirely onto ourselves—and that’s exactly what we DON’T want.
Let’s take Gerald, my client from above. His work required that he attend networking conferences regularly, so being able to start conversations with strangers and casual acquaintances was a huge part of his career success. But every time he’d try to strike up a conversation, his would feel his chest tighten, start to get anxious about what to say and how to act, and generally worry that he was not good enough.
When I asked him who his focus was on in those moments, he thought about it a moment, and said, “Me!”
When our focus is solely on ourselves, we struggle in just about every aspect of our lives.
What if, instead, we shifted the focus off of ourselves and onto the people we wanted to engage in conversation:
– I wonder what they’re talking about . . .
– I wonder who they’re here with and what brought them to this conference . . .
– I wonder if I could provide a service they need in their business right now . . .
With this new mindset in place, I asked Gerald to imagine himself in the same position at one of his conferences, about to approach a group of people . . . then I asked him how he felt. Interestingly enough, he said he no longer felt anxious—on the contrary, he felt curious and tempted to go meet them!
This is a practice you can take into all areas of your life.
Whether you’ve been fighting an uphill battle in your love life or your career, you can usually pinpoint an increased internal focus as one of the culprits.
Simply shift your focus from yourself to the people around you, and you should start to see an immediate shift in your view of the world.
Habit Two – Act Versus Halt
When you spend years putting a negative identity onto yourself—whether it be shyness, social anxiety, or awkwardness—you also typically train yourself to halt, rather than taking bold action.
If there is a group of people you want to approach, a little voice pops up in your head and shouts, “Halt!” When you want to raise your hand to ask a question at work, the voice screams, “Halt!” again. When you want to ask an attractive person on a date, the voice cries, “Halt, for the love of God, HALT!”
Once again, this is just a negative thought pattern that trickles down into your behavior patterns and destroys your forward movement in life.
Fact: you were not born this way.
There is nothing in your DNA that says you can’t learn to approach that group, ask that question, or ask someone out—it’s just habit.
So, here’s what I like to do with my clients when I see that this habit has settled into them: challenge them to an experiment! For one full week, I want you to train yourself to notice
when you have the impulse to halt . . . and just once per day during that week, I want you to take action instead.
Now, I’m not asking for anything crazy here: just one decision per day to act instead of halting, for just one week. You don’t have to take bold action 20 times per day at first—just a simple course correction is all we’re after. And these don’t have to be monumental actions—even small actions can make a big impact over time.
At the end of the week, re-evaluate how things are going for you. Maybe some actions go nowhere, and maybe some actions are a success.
The important thing here is for you to realize that it’s a pattern that you DO have control over.
Habit Three – Express Versus Inhibit
If you’re in a habit of halting when you should act, then chances are that you’re also in a habit of closing off your energy, voice, body language, physicality, and emotions when you talk.
When our focus is internal and we’re worried about being judged, we tend to alter ourselves to become smaller and less “noticeable.”
That muted persona that you’ve created to go along with your inhibited identity is not helping you get all of the wonderful things you want out of life.
Instead, we should be learning to let more of our authentic self out—that part of ourselves that is willing to fight for what it wants.
Hence, another experiment! Once again, for just one week, let’s see what happens if you turn up the dial on your expressiveness just 5%.
What would that look like for you?
Would your hands move a little more when you talk? Would you let your eyes light up when you’re happy? Would you make more eye contact? Would you make a joke every now and then? Would you show your enthusiasm about various subjects more freely in conversation?
Again, this does NOT have to be a radical overnight change! All I’m asking for is a 5% boost for a period of one week, just so that you can prove to yourself that:
1) YOU CAN DO IT; and 2) this is a habit you can break for good and rewire permanently for continued success in your life.
If that sounds like a win to you, then don’t wait! Break that cycle of halting and take bold action starting TODAY!
If you feel that you need a bit more guidance in this pursuit, then I highly recommend any of the programs you can access through Confidence University. These powerful online training courses offer additional support through exercises that will help you renovate your social confidence and transform your life. If you really want to internalize this stuff at the deepest level and make those small, impactful tweaks that will lead to a radically new you, then there is no faster or more intensive way to do so!
Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments so that I can continue to engage with you directly. How does it feel to shift your focus away from yourself in social situations? What small actions have you been taking to replace that urge to halt? How have you challenged yourself to become more expressive? Whatever it is that you find most valuable in this learning process, let the community know so that we can grow together.
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.