What does mindfulness have to do with self-confidence? The quick answer is mindfulness is the switch that can turn off the automatic thoughts running in your head. You know, the ones spewing out the constant flow of negativity. If you could turn THAT off do you think your self-confidence would improve? I do, and science does too.
According to science studies outlined by psychologist Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain, we are hardwired to be impacted more from negative experiences than positive experiences. So, it is not your fault that you are prone to negative thoughts. This is our primal brain’s way of keeping us safe. At least it was thousands of years ago. Nowadays this primal tendency just causes us stress and worry. The good news is we don’t have to give in to this natural tendency. When you’re able to incorporate mindfulness into your life and quiet the negative monster in your mind your confidence will start to grow. Why? Because you are changing the neuropathways of your brain. You are literally changing your mind and the effects can have a lasting positive impact on your life.
The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive experiences. -Rick Hanson, Psychologist
Try out these 5 science-based strategies to boost your mindfulness and self-confidence
That’s right, just stop. Pause what you are doing and thinking and allow yourself some space in your thoughts. This may be the simplest AND hardest step with mindfulness. Having the ability to stop both your actions, your thoughts, and your emotions takes a lot of effort. You won’t be successful every time, but with practice, this starts to get easier and easier. If you want some help to get started just ask someone close to you (that loves and supports you) to alert you when you need to stop and take a mindful moment.
Step 2—Take a deep breath
Breath is a powerful tool that can help you focus your thoughts to the present moment and decrease your stress response. It helps calm you down and allows your body to relax. Take a moment to try this breathing exercise.
Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).
That’s it! Pretty easy, right? It is amazing what simple mindful breathing can do for your wellbeing.
Just notice what is going on without judgment. Approach this with a childlike curiosity. What is happening around you? Notice the people the places the sights and smells. Take a moment and just be aware of your five senses. Now ask yourself, what is happening in you? How is your body responding to you right now? Are you in pain? Are you holding tension in your jaw, shoulders or chest? Just notice how your body is feeling and listen to what it is trying to tell you. Notice your environment and listen to what it is also trying to tell you. We can learn a lot when we stop and notice what going on around and in us.
Step 4—Take Perspective
Are the negative thoughts in your mind necessary? Would you say this to a friend? How can you learn from this situation? Mistakes are not character flaws. In fact, mistakes are the best tools for learning. My philosophy is, bricks are your successes in life and your mistakes are the mortar. You can’t build anything substantial in life without both. So, celebrate both your successes and failures because life is full of both. And don’t forget to give yourself credit for how much you have accomplished. Sometimes we get so caught up in how far we have to go we forget to look back and see how far we have come.
Step 5—Take Action
Now you take what you are learning and apply it to your life. Sometimes, myself included, we read or hear amazing tips on how to improve our lives but we don’t take action on what we have learned. Mindfulness is about taking action. It is about being present in the moment and taking what we can gain from that peace of mind and spreading it around in our lives.
Practice Make Perfect
By practicing these 5 mindfulness techniques you start to counter the effects of our primal programming, and you start to create more peace and compassion in your life. Once you turn your negative thoughts off…well at least turn them down a couple of notches…you can start opening your mind up to a greater understanding of yourself and others. As understanding takes root you develop more compassion, and compassion can change the world. Again, this applies to the compassion you have yourself and your compassion for others. Compassion is the birthplace for just about everything, including CONFIDENCE. But remember, this is not a change that happens overnight. You are rewiring your brain. So, don’t give up and if you want more tools to help you might want to try meditation or seek support through counseling. Check out my blog next week on meditation to find out more.
If you are in need of one on one support and guidance to help you develop more self-confidence contact LifeLinks Counseling today.