Becoming confident and improving your self-esteem can be a scary task. Gillian Jones, co-founder of Emerge Development Consultancy, gives us some advice on how to overcome the fear and do it anyway.
I have coached many people over the years whose irrational fears continuously aggravate their low self-esteem issues and stop them from achieving greatness. It makes me sad when I hear the opportunities they have missed and the things they would have loved to do but never found the courage to. It may have been something fun, or maybe it was standing up to someone. In each of these situations what is consistent is the absence of sparkle in their eyes and the dullness in the tone of their voice. It’s not really living, but simply existing.
So where do these fears come from? What make us feel this way? How did we get to the point where we are so terrified of something that won’t hurt us, and certainly won’t kill us? You may not like this, but the answer is you. The fear comes from you, your imagination and your internal programming. That may be hard for you to accept, but aside from those who have tried something and have real reason to fear it, i.e. a bungee jump where the cord came loose, or the surfing incident where a shark cruised by, then your fears are simply your own mind playing tricks on you.
In life, everything we do we have programmed ourselves to do, whether that is a positive programming, like a sports person who has persuaded themselves they are capable of scoring an amazing goal, or negatively, like the person who has persuaded themselves that they are terrified of flying. Unfortunately, once we take our brain on a journey to programme a new neurological pathway, it is very happy to continue that journey and provide evidence for you that your fear is correct. So, if it was you who programmed yourself to have this fear, then it makes sense that you can programme yourself to be confident and not fearful.
Let’s focus on your fears. If you take a long look at the things you haven’t done, or don’t do because of your fears, why not take some time to analyse them in the cold light of day and see what is really holding you back? Lay them bare on the table in front of you and see whether you can isolate the fear and put some shape to it. Then reject it! Face that fear off. Square up to it and tell it to do its worst, because whatever that is, it will never be as bad as you thought it would be. And once you have isolated it, put it back in the box and don’t over analyse it. Keep telling yourself “I have recognised it, I have seen what the fear looks like and I am ready to do it!” Start programming your mind for success. Every time you think about what you want to do, use positive language, tell yourself you are looking forward to it – that it will be exciting/fun/interesting/a great challenge – whatever feels appropriate to you. If anyone asks how you feel, use positive language to tell them, such as “I can’t wait to have a go/I am looking forward to it…” When you use negative language either internally or externally, like “I am so nervous, I am dreading it”, the brain searches for this state and gives it to you, so only give it positive states to search for.
Once you have adjusted your programming, just do it, in true Nike style. Have a go and see what it feels like. It’s quite exhilarating to march into a situation that you previously thought you couldn’t handle and coming out the other side achieving something fantastic. Or even if you don’t achieve what you set out to, just trying is an achievement in itself.
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R eflect on your life, needs and goals, and focus on your personal vision
E nergise yourself to make changes
S tart to see yourself differently, and others will follow
P lan the changes you need to make and the support you will need
E ngage positive thinking – know you can be whoever you want to be
C hange your behaviour and keep reflecting on the impact of the changes
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