‘How to build self-confidence’ was a topic that came up regularly when I asked you all what sort of things you wanted blog posts written about. As self-confidence is essential in helping us live an enjoyable life, I thought I would bring in an expert to educate us on how to make true change, along with some practical tips on boosting your self-confidence. Today we welcome Eileen Lenson, who has a wealth of knowledge – she holds a Masters in Clincial Social Work and prior to becoming a Board Certified Coach, she was a psychotherapist for over 20 years. I absolutely love what she’s come up with and think you will too!
Why you must find a strong self-confidence
It accounts for our “can-do” optimism and defense against adversity. When our self-confidence is strong, we have a good image of ourselves. We trust in our ability to make decisions today, and have optimism for tomorrow. This positive attitude helps us feel both motivated and comfortable taking on new ideas and experiences and capable of making realistic plans.
Silences the inner critic
Our self-confidence also serves as our guardian by silencing our inner critic; that voice in our head that peppers our thoughts and decisions with feelings of anxiety, critical self-judgment and pessimism. When we find ourselves questioning whether we’re good enough it is our inner critic that has hijacked the good feelings we have about ourselves, making us vulnerable to negative thinking.
Frees us from negative thoughts and actions
Such negative thoughts keep us scared of failure and prevent us from being motivated to approach our problems or try new tasks. Stepping outside our comfort zone might seem daunting, and we will prefer to struggle on with what is known because it feels safe and familiar, even if it doesn’t help us deal with our adversity.
Provides inner stability and strength
A strong belief in ourselves provides an inner stability, which is a buffer against ongoing difficulties. Fortunately, self-confidence is not an innate characteristic, but is something we can control and boost by making intentional, healthy lifestyle choices in our eating, exercising, communicating, and company we keep.
Food Makes Mood
Food affects our emotional wellbeing
The adage ‘we are what we eat’ has application for self-confidence because food nourishes our brain, and our brain is linked to our emotional well-being. Before indulging in an extra scoop of ice cream we would do well to think more about what the food is doing to our brain than our waistline. The right food can boost our sense of happiness and confidence while the wrong food can increase our anxiety.
What should our diet look like to support emotional wellbeing?
Research has shown that some foods supply the brain with energy, which in turn gives us more energy. A diet high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, fish and seafood has a positive impact on our anxiety, stress, and general mental outlook. Carbohydrates, along with vitamin D (found in egg yokes, mushrooms, oily fish and fortified dairy products) enable the brain to receive more serotonin, a hormone that makes us feel confident and calm. Omego-3 fatty acids and food rich in selenium (such as lean meat, brazil nuts, oats, beans/legumes, seafood, nuts and seeds) help prevent low moods.
Which foods should we reduce or avoid to support our emotional wellbeing?
Some food, such as those high in refined foods and sugars, caffeine and alcohol, deceive us into appearing to help boost our self-confidence while in reality, can impair our brain function, contributing to depression. Sugar and caffeine offer a short-term reward followed by a disappointing negative feeling. Alcohol may initially make us feel more confident, but it too is a depressant and can contribute to increased feelings of anxiety and sleep disruption.
Suggested Exercise: Write A Letter To Yourself As A Child
Write a letter to yourself as a child. Express to the child that to grow strong, both physically and emotionally, wise choices have to be made with regard to food. Think about what that child is eating. Does he or she ever go hungry? Is food used as a reward or punishment? Are there significant reasons why food choices are made?
Pay attention to the tone of your letter. Is it compassionate or harsh? Reflect on the emotions that arise when writing this letter, and how it impacts on your present-day relationship with food. That child is still within you, and you can now choose to respond in a way that benefits your food choices and ultimately, your self-confidence.
Physical Exercise Strengthens Moods And Muscles
Physical activity helps our body and mind. It offers benefits to our self-confidence as well. When we stick to an exercise plan we find ourselves pleased with being able to exercise the self-control necessary to meet our goals. We also tend to feel good about the changes to our strength and body tone, which boosts our self-confidence.
Exercise also impacts our brain in a good way by producing the feel-good chemicals like dopamine and endorphins, which blocks pain, increases feelings of pleasure, and lowers our cortisol level, the hormone associated with anxiety. In turn, our stress is reduced while our sense of competence is increased. We function better mentally, which gives us confidence in managing our feelings and impulses.
We would never get into the car with the goal of driving to a destination without first thinking about the roads we will have to use to get there. Failure to plan for the trip would result in aimless driving. Creating a vision board accomplishes the same purpose for any goal we set for ourselves.
Collect the necessary supplies: a large poster board, scissors, tape or glue, and magazines. Cover the board with colorful paper or paint if you wish. Select a goal involving exercise that you would like to accomplish. Visualize what specific tasks would be required to make that goal a reality. Imagine what you will be wearing, thinking, and what you will be seeing and feeling when engaged in that activity. Now search through magazines and newspapers and select any words of encouragement, sayings that are funny or motivational, or pictures that stand out as representing what you need to make your goal occur. Cut them out and adhere them to your vision board. Add items to your vision board on a continual basis. As days go by, you will look at your vision board and receive daily reminders of what you want to accomplish in your life. It will help remind you of what you want, what barriers may be in the way, and what you need to do to make them happen.
When we are passive we are shut down. We tend to stuff our feelings because we think we have to agree with others or that we don’t have a right to our own opinion. We lose our personal power and in turn, our confidence.
When we speak what is on our mind we’re honest with others and ourselves. This spontaneity helps us to live life with authenticity. Our communication is healthy, and our self-confidence soars. We find ourselves having the courage to be the person we are meant to be, and living our lives as we want to live.
Suggested Exercise: Self-Affirmation Notes
A way to quiet your self-critical inner voice, the one that erroneously has distorted beliefs about your worth or value and tells you to be quiet, is to instead focus on self-kindness. Spend a few minutes once a day appreciating your strengths. In doing so, you will learn self-compassion, which will improve your self-confidence.
Find a time each day, perhaps when you first wake up, or when the house is quiet and you are about to retire for the evening, to write down a comment or two of appreciation for who you are or what you have said or done that day. It can be a small thing, but write it very detailed and specifically. Make that list available where you can review it, perhaps when brushing your teeth, and experience gratitude for your unique capabilities and goodness.
Surround Yourself With Positive Influences
We are influenced by the company we keep. Surrounding ourselves with others who are self-confident helps us build new strengths, develop healthy coping skills and develop resiliency.
Fortunately, self-confidence is socially contagious because we like and naturally want to model the confident actions of others. Being around people who exhibit the attributes of self-confidence, who are supportive in allowing us to make mistakes while encouraging us to keep trying, are important people in our support system. If they set goals for themselves and try to overcome obstacles, we will find their positive energy to be contagious. We will find ourselves to be empowered: calmer, learning, growing, and better able to persevere towards our goals.
Suggested Exercise: Make A List Of Supportive People
Make a list of the most supportive and successful people in your life. Schedule them into your calendar so that you are spending time with one of them at least weekly.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is my group of friends who I love dearly!
About the Author – Eileen S. Lenson
Eileen S. Lenson, MSW, ACSW, Board Certified Coach, is author of Overcoming Adversity: Conquering Life’s Challenges (published by Australian Academic Press, purchase here), She has a life and business coaching practice in California, and speaks to groups on the topic of adversity. She can be contacted at Eileen@LensonLifeCoaching.com.
Win 1 of 2 copies of Eileen’s book Overcoming Adversity: Conquering Life’s Challenges
Eileen’s book is written to help anyone who finds themselves in a painful place – regardless of social background, culture, religion or intellect – it gives readers new skills to reduce emotional suffering and ways to replace unproductive coping skills with healthy thoughts, feelings and behaviours. For your chance to win one of two copies, enter below!
Win 1 of 2 copies of the book Overcoming Adversity: Conquering Life’s Challenges