Guest post written by Priyanka Costa Hennis
The word self-confidence is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” On a typical day we rarely set out to create time to reflect on our own abilities and show love to ourselves. We instead focus on a task or on the negative things in life. This causes a ripple effect of more tasks and more negative events in the day. Meditation is a way to stop this cycle. It allows us to create space so that we can love ourselves and show gratitude for the things around us. So how do we create a healthy dose of self-confidence during the day?
Just like anything that’s good takes time to come, so does confidence. It starts by carving out 15 minutes at least once a day to be with yourself away from all distractions. By doing this you have taken the first step, the next steps involve a series of rhythmic breathing methods. There are many breathing methods, and this one called “4-7-8” developed as Dr. Weil is what I currently use. With this method, I take in a breath through my nose for 4 seconds. Then I hold my breath for 7 seconds. Finally, I exhale quickly through the mouth for 8 seconds, and repeat this cycle during the time of the meditation. The good thing is that it can be done anywhere, sitting on a bus on your way home, in the car before or after work. All you must do is find somewhere to sit down comfortably for that time. You can choose to listen to meditative music or focus on your breathing. The important part is you have created time to reflect. The third steps can be taken in any sequence but here is the list:
1. Bring awareness of your breathing
As you take in each breath focus on the positive about your being, it may be as simple as being alive, or getting fresh water. As you breathe out, focus on releasing the toxic energy you are carrying on your shoulders every day. Do this five times, and loosen up your shoulders to release that burden
2. Focus on your heart
Think of all the people that need your help in this world while you continue to breathe in and out. Imagine your heart getting full of happiness and joy as you help the people. Think of all the good things they will say to you when you have helped them. Expand on this energy to become in love with your mission in this world
3. Ground yourself
As you focus on taking the next few breaths, imagine your feet touching the earth or the grass. Think of the love you have been given to be there today. Breathe out all the fears for the day, as you focus on serving the people with your mission. Visualize getting that promotion or award for all the work you put in.
Come back from your meditative state, hopefully feeling less burdened by lack of self-confidence. By becoming someone who has decluttered their mind from all negative beliefs you can start living a life with a positive outlook.
How often do you need to do this to improve self-confidence?
It is a good idea to start with 15-minutes if you have never done this before, with a goal of doing this daily. Eventually you can do this for longer or multiple times a day. I have seen people make a turn in their demeanor after two weeks of doing this consistently. If you feel lightheaded when you start practicing this, focus on emptying your lungs, and remember you are seated somewhere. The practice of being with yourself and in your mind is a difficult one. I was a non-believer in meditation and its impact on my self-confidence for years. I always believed that I had to sit alone for an hour otherwise it was not going to be effective. I was wrong, what I was truly afraid of was the part of getting started. I did this as it no longer was a choice but to change myself, instead of allowing time to pass. I understood the answer was within me than outside of me. If I didn’t look at myself as a confident person, I could not expect others to see that of me. A lot of our mental and emotional turmoil comes from the way we perceive ourselves. Improving self-confidence is just one of the benefits of doing this small habit every day.
1. Get up early to meditate
You can choose to get up early to do this, but you can also do this at night before going to bed. That’s the good part of meditation. The more important part is carving out the time, rather than the actual time. You can choose to do this during lunchtime in your car with a sleep mask if you choose to.
2. Do it for one hour
You do not need to perform meditation for one hour. When I say carve out 15-minutes, that’s exactly what it is, you may meditate for 2-3 minutes during your first week. This is very normal, and what’s more important is the practice of focusing on how you choose to show up in this world.
3. You need to chant something
In some traditions chanting is a way to meditate as it helps to center your breath and your thoughts. You can choose to chant something if you want, but it is not necessary. Instead by focusing on your breath you create the space to be.
4. I can let go of the rest of me
Taking care of the mind involves taking care of the rest of you as well. Drinking more water, sleeping better, and consuming fresh foods make us feel better. It’s important to take care of your body while you are trying to improve your self-confidence. It is recommended that you drink plenty of water and get restful sleep before you start any meditative practice as well. While improving confidence is a journey, improving sleep and eating better are choices that we have every day. Making better choices keeps our body hydrated and clean.
It is common for those that lack confidence to talk negatively about themselves. By using the meditation practice, you can focus on writing down some positive statements about yourself. You can also record some of these affirmations and have them played back to you through your phone on days you lack self-confidence. Paper and audio journaling are good ways to remind you of worth. A great time to record some of these positive affirmations are right after you have meditated. I try to record affirmations at least once a week, during a weekend typically, so it helps me have a thing to hear during the week. By doing this just one habit, you can imagine you can hear yourself being more self-confident every time you hear yourself.
The science behind meditation for improving confidence
So, what’s the science behind all of this? This is called diaphragmatic breathing, and it is associated with activating the parasympathetic nervous system. When we are stressed, we activate our sympathetic or “fight or flight” response, but with this method we are focused on our “rest and digest” response. Lack of confidence activates the sympathetic nervous system and makes us more reactive rather than introspective. By practicing grounding thoughts through diaphragmatic breathing, we align our mind to focus on our internal definition of self-worth. By doing a shorter inhale and longer exhale we engage our parasympathetic nervous system and increase confidence.
Experimenting for perfection
Remember the saying “practice makes perfect.” However, when it comes to meditation, the saying experimenting makes perfect sense. I encourage you to try different ways such as laying down or sitting up or listening to a guided meditation or relaxing sounds. There are so many ways out there, and you don’t know what is going to help your mind get there more effectively. Confidence is not a threatening problem to our body right away, but it chips away at our mental health and our worth and can even destroy some relationships. It is important to focus on your confidence so that you can show up everyday to serve others putting your best self forward. Remember, this world is created by amazing minds and amazing humans, and we all need to show our best selves to create a better world.
Imagine a life you wish to have, more present, more confident. Thinking about fear of failure is often bigger than the failure itself. By offering help with smaller tasks, you become more confident in offering more of yourself to the things that you care about. By showing up confidently and putting yourself out there, all you put yourself at risk of is rejection. But what if you got that promotion or that deal because you worked for it and asked for it. Wouldn’t you be better off with a de-cluttered mind and without all the negative self-talk?