How confident are you, would you say? Super confident? Not at all? If you had super powers do you think you would be more confident? I have been doing a lot of thinking about mindset recently and how that relates to our confidence. I wonder how much more we could achieve in life (even if that was just more happiness) if we just believed in ourselves. I think, however, that I’ve found a way that you can get in touch with your own super powers and improve your confidence – are you up for the challenge?
I was in sunny/cold/hot/windy Melbourne last week (seriously, that is how is should be known from now on). I was there for a course on Emotional Intelligence, which was a kind of a get to know yourself and start the year with a bang kind of experience. It was run by The School of Life, which is built on the premise that the world would be a pretty amazing if people were more emotionally aware – of themselves and others. I concur.
One of the classes within the five day course was How To Be More Confident and while all the content was worthwhile the thing that stuck with me was the notion that confidence isn’t necessarily a permanent state. For example, I am pretty confident talking to people about financial planning. I could probably even get on stage and address a room full of people on it. If, however you asked me to speak to a room of toddlers about how to fold origami I would probably go to pieces (of paper, haha, geddit!). My point is that you probably are confident in some area of your life already, so labelling ourselves as ‘not confident’ is not really a true reflection of us as a whole, complicated being.
On the surface you could assume that the reason I am confident talking to people about financial planning is that I have accumulated a lot of knowledge over the loooong time I have been doing it (did you have to point that out) and it may be the same for you in whatever area you are most confident in. But if you look a little closer, the real reason we feel confidence is how we feel about ourselves. Having that knowledge gives you a level of trust in yourself and your ability to cope with unknown future outcomes, which is essentially what confidence is. What if you trusted yourself to cope with any outcome in any situation, even if you didn’t have all the answers?
It seems like a big ask, doesn’t it? Actually mindset is something that isn’t that difficult to change. But like anything, it takes practice. I heard a fantastic story from a colleague of mine recently about how his mum changed her mindset almost overnight – and how you can do it too.
Shirley was a country housewife who dedicated her life to her family and her responsibilities. At the age of about 55 she decided that she wanted to change her name. Throughout her life she said she had never really felt like a Shirley and so at a time in her life where her family were grown and no longer relied on her quite so much, she announced that she was changing her name to Nina. From that time onwards she became Nina. Nina was adventurous, she was fun, she prioritised herself instead of always sacrificing herself for her family. She had found her super powers! And all because she had decided to. The funniest part of the story for me was that Nina would often talk about something great that she had done and comment “Shirley never would have done this!”. Gold.*
I loved this story so much when I heard it. For me it proved that any change we want to make, anything that we want to do or anyone we want to become – WE have the power to make it happen, if only we change our mindset. For a short while after hearing this story I considered changing my name, but I actually don’t feel like a Nina, or anyone else. I still feel like Jane. But I did take a couple of steps to try and reap the benefits of this strategy, I encourage you to try it on for size and see if it fits.
Create Your Own Superhero
First you’ll need a name. Get creative and name this Super Hero version of yourself. Go by feel, see how different names fit. Maybe think of who your favourite super heroes are and try some version that feels right for you. For me personally, Super-Jane felt right.
Now, take out a piece of paper and a pen. Think about what you consider to be the very best version of yourself. Write it down. Describe in detail how that person feels (yes, try it in third person), how they act (and react), what they believe in and how they present themselves in the world – yes, do it in third person. For me, this manifesto style document spanned two A4 pages of about 15 bullet points. So as you can imagine it was quite detailed. Some examples from my own Super Jane Manifesto are below, for reference.
- Super Jane is strong but gentle, she is calm, patient, open and friendly but also focused and determined.
- Super Jane understands and accepts herself, allows herself to fully feel her emotions, even the negative ones, without judgement of herself.
As you are writing it you may be thinking “But this isn’t me.”. The important part is knowing who you WANT to be and trusting that you can become that person. You should include any areas that you want to work on and include any of the qualities you know you already possess and are proud of.
Now, the next time you are in a situation where you are not feeling as confident as you would like to be, channel your inner Barney (Neil Patrick Harris, NOT the purple dinosaur) and suit up! Then think to yourself
“What would _________________(insert super hero name) do now?”
and actually become that person. Feel it, act it out, embody that confidence and believe that you are that person. If you practicing for long enough, you will find that you naturally become that person.
I know that this seems like a bit of a flippant and crazy exercise, but believe me it is powerful beyond what it seems. YOU are powerful beyond what it may seem right now. I believe that everyone has a super hero inside them, it’s just about defining the very best version of ourselves and then tapping into that each time we forget. It’s definitely not an overnight job and it’s only one tool in your self development toolbox, but I encourage you to keep your Super Hero Manifesto somewhere close and read it regularly. Confidence isn’t a permanent state for anyone, but it can be cultivated with practice and called upon in times of need. You too can be a super hero, of that I am confident.
To infinity and beyond! Buzz Lightyear