People talk about becoming “confident”. They search for “what are the characteristics of a confident person?”, “how do confident people act?”, “how can I develop self-confidence?” etc.
There are several tools to do this. More than the tools, you need to understand the basic foundation for confidence, which is described below.
You cannot control others’ opinions about you
All these questions imply that there is an external onlooker who is evaluating you as confident or not. These are not great questions to ask. That kind of confidence is not confidence. It is a need to feel worthy by validation from others. To be seen as a person of value.
You can never achieve confidence this way. Because people judge you from their viewpoint, they actions are in response to how they view you. You cannot control other’s judgements about you however hard you try.
The only onlooker is the judge in your mind
But there is an onlooker, it is the judge in your mind.
The only way to be truly confident is to intrinsically feel valuable. Confidence comes from within. In fact, it is already there. But you have mental programs that is covering up your confidence.
Internalisation of voices from parents, teacher and friends. After this internalisation, you seek out people unconsciously to give evidence to your beliefs about you. This is called confirmation bias.
Your natural confidence is marred by doubt
Your confidence is marred by your self-doubt, the voices that you internalised from your parents, teachers and your friends. Voices like ‘I am stupid’ and ‘I am not confident’.
Where did you get this idea to begin with? Someone told you right? It was not there before.
When you are a child you see adults as these supreme gods like beings with a lot of power and authority. Whatever they say is the truth for you. You have not developed the mental mechanism yet, to question their views about you. So, you internalise them and start believing them.
You need to cultivate the right form of self-doubt
The right form of self-doubt is to doubt your strongly held belief that impairs your growth. Start doubting the voices “I am not confident enough”.
You ask “Really?”
Just by stopping contributing to these voices by actively agreeing to them will cause them to drop and lose their value. This is what meditation teaches. It is not about becoming non-reactive to others. It is about becoming non-reactive to your own shame, guilt, sadness, anger and happiness. Once you stop agreeing to these voices, they stop.
Say “Bullshit!” when the next voice of self-doubt emerges. That is how you re-claim your confidence.
When you think you are defined by your thoughts, there is no room to question these beliefs.
Mediation is a practical tool to separate yourself from your thoughts. When you think you are your thoughts, there is no room to challenge these beliefs.
It is not about not having your own judgement, it is about not blindly believing that you say about yourself.
Use headspace, calm or insight timer to start your meditation practice
There is an app that I use daily called Headspace. It describes the attitude one needs to adopt towards meditation. And it has a lot of themed meditation.
Some other apps are Calm and Insight Timer.
Vipassana, Zazen, Loving Kindness and Taking and Sending Meditations
I practice Vipassana meditation (using the app Headspace).
There are three ways that you can do vipassana.
There is Zazen that you can practice, it is a zen sitting meditation.
I also practice taking and sending meditation and loving kindness meditation when I feel irritated by others.
Taking and sending is a powerful meditation that you can practice that will sever you from taking things personally when others react badly to you. It will give you the capacity to stay grounded.
Loving kindness is designed to increase your capacity to be compassionate to others.
Meditate for at least 15 mins everyday first thing in the morning
It is similar to making the bed. Two things happen.
It clears your mind and set the tone for the day. And also signals your mind that you are doing something to improve your life. This improves your self-esteem.
Journaling along with meditation helps you become aware of the contents of your consciousness and work on them
During meditation, you will go on several thought trains. When that happens you gently bring back your focus to either your breath or object of your meditation. After meditation, write down the things that you thought about, and you will become more aware of your worries, fears and anything else that stops you from being present.
You can reflect on them. “Are these valid and in my control? If so, how can I solve them and get back to being present”. Often valid fears and worries are places where you have ignored your responsibilities and/or your desires.
Be careful not to reflect on these during your meditation. That is only more thinking.
Is it something that you want but you have not acted towards having them? If so, go ahead and do it.
Is it something that needs to be done but you have ignored and postponed? If so, go ahead and do it.