As you may know, I had a massive breakdown a few years ago. I’ve suffered with depression for most of my life, and although I tended to call myself a realist, others would probably have been more likely to say I was negative.
I was so shy when I was a teenager, I would cross the road or duck into a shop, to avoid speaking to someone in the street – even if they were a friend, someone I would have quite likeed to see. I was really nervous of the different, unplanned situation; standing in the street, in public, outside… what would they say? What would I say? I avoided speaking to people for most of my teen years.
I had low self esteem. I had zero confidence. I felt fairly rubbish about myself, my life and my prospects for the future. I was miserable and depressed and lonely and fed up.
So what changed? How am I now writing a blog post where I’m sharing my number 1 tip for a happy and confident life?
There was no one life-changing moment. No lightning bolt from the sky changed me. There were a million little things. Being a single mother is a massive part of it, but also things like watching The Secret several times, reading about positivity and confidence, watching that amazing Amy Cuddy Ted Talk, talking to various inspiring and interesting people.
Last week I shared this quote on my social media; it’s something I’ve been reading a lot about lately and I found the responses it got very interesting.
My number one tip for becoming more happy and confident is this:
Change what you say about yourself.
How often have you said,
I’m not very confident…
I’m not very good with people…
I have really low self esteem…
I’m a naturally depressive person…
And not just out loud to real people, but inside your head, to yourself?
I don’t know about you, but I used to say all of these things and more, every single day. And then I wondered why I lacked confidence, why I was bad with people, why I had low self esteem.
When we say these things, we’re labelling ourselves. As much as telling anyone else we’re unhappy or lacking in confidence, we’re also telling ourselves. Over and over and over. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I started trying to catch that voice in my head whenever it started, and changing what I said.
Instead of I’m not very confident I say I’m becoming more confident.
Instead of I’m not very good with people I say I’m getting better at being sociable.
Instead of I have really low self esteem I say I’m working on my self esteem.
Instead of I’m a naturally depressive person I say I’m working on being more happy.
It’s a really simple change. It won’t cost you any money; it just takes a certain amount of awareness, to catch yourself thinking or saying these things, and correct yourself.
If you’re struggling with confidence, or feeling a bit rubbish generally, I would really recommend watching The Secret. I go through phases where I will put it on TV and have it playing in the background all day.
In her Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy talks about faking it til you make it, and she’s right – you can just keep telling yourself things are good, and eventually you’ll believe it and so will the people around you!
I know if you’re drowning in a pit of despair, something like this sounds trite and condescending. I can’t tell you something this simple is going to cure a massive depression. I can tell you that for me, changing the way I speak to myself and about myself has completely changed my mindset. And now I am happy, and I’m confident.
I no longer hide from my friends in the street; in fact, I give presentations to groups of strangers, and train business owners, and run a networking group. And you can do all of that too – or at the very least, you can start to feel better about yourself.
You are amazing; you just need to figure out where your particular strain of amazing is hiding!
Thanks for reading! If you’ve enjoyed this post you may also like: 6 Ways to Build Your Confidence
martyn · 07/08/2015 at 18:25
I’m good at the confidence and how to speak it to others. I can ooze positivity and confidence, Especially if the other person is struggling. My inner voice is another matter. When I’m good I’m fine. When I’m in a less good place (there is no bad place) Then I struggle. I’m more likely to beat myself up and say negative things to myself all the time. I read a great article by Mind this week that I am hoping to write up about, which states that you should acknowledge your inner voice and be kind to it. I think the premise was that a dog if beaten enough will always bite back but a dog that is loved can be your best friend. Acknowledge it’s there and look after that inner voice. I suppose then adding that to what you have said; don’t mean mean to yourself and change what you say.
The strangest thing with me though is that if you gave me something that I knew I could do then I am fine. Drawing, playing instruments, some kind of quiz, writing or anything educational then I am your guy. Am confident and bold and know that I am Amazing. Just out of those tick boxes that I need to work on.
Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 17:05
Thanks Martyn. “be kind to yourself” is about the best advice I was ever given.
I think this is about labels, and how dangerous they can be. Often we label ourselves and keep saying it -to ourselves and other people – and it just makes things worse and worse.