In Part 3 of this series of blogs on #confidence I talked about a young man who lacked the confidence to give a presentation at work. Although he had prepared the content for this presentation, and was confident he knew his stuff, he was not prepared for it mentally. His imagination was running riot, predicting all sorts of things going wrong and this was sapping his confidence. No-one is a mind reader, so we just can’t say what will happen in any future situation – good or bad. However, we can learn to manage whatever happens in a successful way. This is what gives us confidence – learning to deal with and effectively manage the uncertainties of life, knowing that whatever happens we will be ok. This young man was using his powerful imagination to foresee things going wrong and could even make himself feel sick at the thought of standing up and presenting. Many people do this – perhaps you know someone who avoids meeting new people or is too nervous to go on a date, or someone who dreads holiday times because they aren’t confident flyers – or perhaps you recognize yourself here? What my client didn’t realize is that this powerful imagination is a great gift – he could learn to harness this ability to imagine himself coping well with whatever may happen. Instead of sabotaging himself, he could use his imagination to develop his own confidence.
The easiest and most effective way to do this is using #hypnosis. Did you realize that hypnosis is a natural phenomenon that we all use every day? It is a state of highly focused attention that we have all experienced. This young man had already inadvertently been using negative #self-hypnosis to convince himself that things would go wrong. He was worrying about his presenting style, the obvious physical manifestation of his nervousness and what his colleagues would think of him when he started shaking and his voice faltered. He was using his powerful imagination to scare himself about something that hadn’t even happened!
I talked with him about anxiety and how this affects the way we think and behave. You can find out more about this here: http://www.yorkmindmakeover.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/anxiety-what-is-it-and-how-do-i-make-it-go-away-part-1/
In the therapy room, he learned how to use hypnosis to turn this around. He learned techniques for staying relaxed and calm including using deep abdominal slow breathing or a one minute meditation to feel instantly a little better. Using hypnosis, I encouraged him to travel forward in time and imagine himself really there on the day of his presentation. He pictured himself getting up in the morning feeling relaxed and calm, going to work and leading up to the time before his presentation slot. He experienced all of this whilst remaining calm – just as he had told me he wanted to feel on this day. I then helped him imagine his presentation going really well, remaining in control of his body, standing steady, even to see himself handling challenging questions from his colleagues, remaining calm and his voice staying steady and clear, and then to feel the sensations of pride and achievement in a job well done. He imagined and experienced a wonderful feeling of confidence. This happens because your brain doesn’t differentiate between what is real and what is imagined – the feelings are the same. If you doubt this just watch a scary movie or a weepy movie – it’s not real but you still have the same emotional reaction as if it was really happening. He finished the session with a huge smile on his face. He was encouraged to go through this exercise again and again at home to strengthen the new neural pathways he had established. Building confidence needs practice and reinforcement, just as in building any new habit.
I wonder if you are now becoming aware of the way you may be using negative self-hypnosis to sabotage yourself? We are all guilty of this from time to time and usually completely unaware of it. However, the good news is, in the same way, you can use positive self-hypnosis to develop your confidence. Why not give it a try? Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and allow yourself to become calm and relaxed by slowing your breathing and relaxing any tension in your body. Imagine yourself in a situation where you would like to have more confidence. Make the scene as real as you can – bring it to life and picture yourself there feeling calm and optimistic, expecting success in whatever it is you are doing. Remember, confidence is all about feeling that whatever happens you will be ok. Picture yourself coping well and feeling confident – allow that feeling to grow and develop. Just experiencing this sets up new pathways in your brain and the more you practice, the more you reinforce this new behaviour. After all – hasn’t your unwanted behaviour developed in the same way? When your new confident behaviour becomes a habit, the old unwanted behaviour will fade and disappear. Eventually this decay means you will find it difficult to remember how it used to be.
In the final 2 blogs in this series I will be talking more about Confidence and what you can do to encourage it to grow and develop. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you can learn anything useful?
I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com