My dog Maynard has a fantastic life. He gets to sleep all day long, he snuggles in bed with us at night, my husband bestows fistfuls of treats upon him for things like “barking at the mailman”; his life really rocks. He doesn’t have to pay rent, or brush his own hair, and he certainly never has issues with confidence.
We go outside and he is certain that he’s going to catch a squirrel every time we get the leash on him (even though in 12 years of trying he’s never been successful.) He’s an 11-pound Chihuahua/dachshund mix and he has never doubted that he could take on every Rottweiler he’s ever met. Everywhere we go, every single day, people shower him with compliments about his cuteness, which further reminds him just how awesome he is. He struts his stuff through the park with absolute certainty that he is the king of the neighborhood. King Maynard. Without a doubt in his mind.
Man, I’d love to have confidence like that, wouldn’t you? You’d wake up every day knowing that you simply RULE. Every time you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror the only judgment you’d make would be to say something kind and friendly to yourself. When someone else pays you a compliment, you’d just smile, give thanks and remind yourself how right they really are.
Raise your hand if this is your default setting at all times in life…
My hand is down; is yours? (Well, technically, my hands are on my laptop keyboard, but you get my drift.)
If you didn’t raise your hand to identify yourself as someone who has supreme confidence in yourself 100% of the time, know you’re in good company. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t doubted themselves at one time or another, and I can tell you with all honesty that it happens to me more often than I’d like to admit. Here’s a little secret for you about it too…
It means you’re NORMAL.
For some reason, as we grow up, our experiences in life help to create this crazy little inner committee that reminds us ALL THE TIME of all sorts of nasty, outlandish and unreasonably judgmental things. We hear commentary about when we’re out of line, or doing something really stupid; they chime in to tell us we absolutely under no circumstances should think we could ever wear those jeans out in public; they’re judging what we eat, what we say, how we behave, just about every moment of every day. Man, it’s exhausting!
So how do we get those judgy bastards to shut the f**k up already?
We need to do some “Unlearning”.
At an event last week, Marianne Williamson was speaking about the idea of finding enlightenment. She said something that resounded so distinctly with me that I’ve been thinking about it and sharing it for days since I heard it. She said:
“When we think of the idea of finding 'enlightenment', we think about how we need to learn things to achieve it, right? Wrong. Enlightenment is actually an UNLEARNING of the thinking of the world.”
We weren’t born with the programming of our inner committees as a factory standard. Those little voices telling us we’re wrong, we’re fat, we’re dumb, we’re unsuccessful, they were an aftermarket option that we bought into by having experiences in the world. Maybe someone said those things directly to us and we began to doubt ourselves? Or maybe someone in our life growing up was outwardly judgmental of others all the time? Whatever your circumstances were, they helped shape and mold your inner committee, giving them more and more strength and credibility the longer you allowed them to reign over your thoughts.
But, my friends, all is not lost!
You (yes YOU!) have the power to limit the hold your inner committee has on your ability to feel confident about yourself. We all can attain enlightenment through Unlearning, and here’s what that Unlearning process looks like:
For the next week, try these five UNLEARNING tactics on for size to increase your confidence IMMEDIATELY!
1. Every time you see your reflection (in the mirror, in a window pane, etc…) give yourself a compliment.
SERIOUSLY. Comment on your appearance, your smarts, your sense of humor, your work ethic, whatever. It may feel weird at first, but I want you to commit to doing it, especially if you find that the inner committee in your head is cutting you down in some way when you look in the mirror. And keep doing it even if (or especially if) you don’t believe the complement you’re giving. It’s just for a week. And remember, do it every time you catch a glimpse of yourself.
2. When someone gives you a compliment about anything, practice a little gratitude ritual in the moment:
- Slow time down so you can really take in the energy, intent and sincerity behind the compliment
- Smile a big genuine smile because you know, deep down, that you deserved to hear it and it brought tremendous joy to you that they were willing to share it
- Give them a completely sincere, honest "thank you” and let them know it meant a lot to you that they shared that
- Take a deep breath and let that compliment seep on in to the core of your being so you can remember it later and smile again
- If the inner committee chimes in, notice the thought and say, “thanks anyway, but this doesn’t serve me today” and then replace it with one of the compliments you gave yourself already that day
**Something to keep in mind about compliments, especially if you have trouble accepting or believing them... People don’t offer compliments to give you an opportunity to prove them wrong about their opinions of you. They say nice things because they genuinely believe them to be true. When you let your inner committee tarnish a nice thing someone’s said about you, it’s not just insulting you, it’s insulting the person who paid you the compliment too. By allowing that commentary to go on you’re saying that the person who said the nice thing must be some sort of moron or something, which I’m sure (most of the time, anyway!) you don’t believe. So don’t diminish the other person by allowing your thoughts to diminish you.
3. Act as if...
Is there someone you admire who really kicks ass at being confident? A friend, relative or even a character in a movie? What would THEY do in a situation that leaves you feeling less-than confident? What kinds of things do they say? How do they walk into a room and greet people? I have a client who embodies the spirit of Andy Anderson, How-To Girl from the movie "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" anytime she needs a little confidence boost. Whoever your confidence model is, call them up into your consciousness whenever you feel like your confidence meter is running close to E, and ACT AS IF.
4. Fake it till you make it.
This is one my favorite rules to follow in life. Whenever I'm feeling low on confidence, I decide to PRETEND I've got my shit together for five minutes. I smile big, throw my shoulders back and let any fears I have melt away. I promise myself I'll keep it up for just five minutes to help feel less silly and more comfortable pretending, but inevitably I just get used to it and end up feeling really great about myself for the rest of the day.
5. Make a list of your accomplishments in life and FEEL PROUD!
THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to really downplay my accomplishments in life. From completing a marathon and several triathlons, to riding my bike from Pittsburgh to DC, friends always say, "Wow! That's amazing!" and I think to myself, "uh, I guess. It feels like no big deal to me..." But in reality, that IS a BIG DEAL! I was never a runner or long-distance cyclist prior to completing these life-changing experiences. Did you know that less than 1% of people will ever run a marathon? I should be really proud of these and LOTS of other accomplishments in my life, and so should you. So make a list of the goals that you've met in your life and honor your achievements. And don't worry if you struggle a little bit to start your list. Keep it nearby and add things to it as you go on throughout the week. Consider asking friends and family what you've done that THEY are proud of and begin the list with those.
Try these Unlearning steps for ONE WEEK and report back about how you feel. And when I say “try”, I mean really commit to the process. If it’s important to you to feel more in alignment with yourself, and to get on the road to knowing, without a doubt that you’re King of the neighborhood like Maynard, COMMIT to these steps for a week and see what happens.
Did this story resonate with you? Would you like to do a little one-on-one work to continue building your confidence?
Click here now to book a free A to B Strategy Session with me.
With love and inspiration (and a little dog-sized crown for the King of our hood),
PS… I saw my SIXTH yellow bicycle of the day as I sat here in the park writing this story to you. Little miracles everywhere!