Confidence-building tools: How to effectively use your body and mind

Authored by: Ms .Geeta Ramakrishnan, Ontological Coach and Author

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We are surrounded by stress, fear, uncertainties, and COVID is not making it any better. It is causing you to feel tired and fatigued, robbing you of your enthusiasm and zest in life. It robs you of your happiness and self-esteem, and self-confidence, even if you are doing well in your career. Developing confidence is about learning to face all the different challenges and struggles in life and coming out a winner, where you know to balance success and happiness.

Let’s start with procrastination. People like to procrastinate once in a while. It gives you a rush, to work last moment. And I have heard many people say they work well under this pressure.  But when you make a habit out of it, the stress will get to you, affecting your ability to give your best and affect your physical health and mental wellbeing. 

The real reason behind procrastinating is not laziness, as one may think. Surprised? It is the pressure, the expectations, anxiety, and fear. Maybe you are a perfectionist and set high standards for yourself. You fear your presentation not measuring up to the mark. Or you worry your team members may laugh behind your back. Maybe you are constantly looking for approval and validation from others.  Procrastination is a natural reaction of your mind to block what you are not ready to handle.

So ok, you procrastinate. And you don’t want to. So what can you do about it? Focus on your ‘Planning and Time Management’ skills. Set your goals and prioritize your action plan with a time attached to it. Make sure it is realistic and achievable. For example, if your presentation requires research, which takes time, instead of working straight on it, break it into smaller workable parts, like maybe two one-hour slots over ‘two days,’ so you are not stressed and don’t feel overwhelmed. One trick when planning time is to write the units of time as minutes instead of hours and hours instead of days or days instead of months. It is a small brain hack that tricks your mind into taking action faster than you usually would. Get the small niggling important but not urgent things are done and out of the way. It de-clutters your mind, reducing overwhelm and allowing more space to think fresh, to look at the bigger picture. 

A deeper reason for procrastination stems from a lack of confidence.  Why do you seek others to validate your work? This mindset stems from fear and insecurity about your ability. Fear of not being sure if your action will be right or wrong, or fear of failure. One can never be sure till you try. Maybe you didn’t get it right as you feared. Have the courage to learn from the loss. That is the only way to face your fear. Take calculated risks, try out new things or try to do things differently. People are often harsh on themselves and set high standards for work. I mean, it is good to set high standards. But if these standards are unrealistic and not achievable, they dent your confidence. 

To add on your confidence-building tools, fortify it with better boundary management and practice an ability to say an assertive ‘No.’ How many times did you take on more work than you can chew, in fear of looking incompetent. The result usually is far from being efficient.  It helps to know and acknowledge your limits. You earn other’s respect in the long run when you can calmly articulate your ‘No’ as and when needed. It adds to your confidence.

Your body and mind are part of your whole self.  If you want to feel confident, start by focusing on your body posture. Stand and walk tall, with broad shoulders, a smiley face, always looking people in their eye when having a conversation. Adapting this posture allows your brain to think that you are on top of things. It helps you feel confident. The smile puts you in a positive mindset. It opens up the problem-solving part of your brain. Now the fears and uncertainties are not going to disappear from your life. But the smile makes an attitude shift, helping you adapt an open, curious mind to face the challenge with confidence.

Building on these tools will add to the ability to improve your work-life balance. There will always be some give and take. By accepting this fact, you will learn the art of letting go of things that pull you down in life. The balance adds more value in terms of confidence, happiness and you re-define your success. It helps you be in a better mood most of the time. You can still be angry, sad, and upset. The difference being, now you will know how to handle the ups and downs of life with confidence.

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