If you’ve been suffering from low self-esteem or a lack of assertiveness all your life, you may be wondering how this article can teach you how to build self-confidence. My intention is to share how I have evolved from being an insecure procrastinator to the self-confident person I am today, with just a few, very short, weeks of work. If you’ve let your insecurities rob you of your dreams all your life, you owe it to yourself to give these tips on gaining self-confidence, as well as succeeding at anything, a solid try. They’re coming from a formerly highly insecure, panicky and frustrated woman, whose life really turned around when she started applying them diligently; i.e. me.
I have been such a failure at believing in myself for so many years, so let me become your living example. I had worked at feeling confident in any social environment, and had become quite good at it, but it was something superficial. I was insecure, and riddled with fear deep in my bones. I became the queen of faking feeling comfortable, which worked, but only from moment to moment. When faced with need to take action to succeed, self-doubt and fear always took over. I became a PP: a power procrastinator, and unable to attempt to gain my life’s dreams. All my personal power had evaded me, and I was forlorn of ever achieving my hopes and desires.
Let me share my story of how I moved from feeling chronically insecure to really pumped up and excited in just one day. I had worked on myself for about three years, and gained great progress with EFT (emotional freedom technique), so much so that I learned it, professionally. EFT worked wonders at eliminating negative feelings, but not as well for building positive ones. As an EFT practitioner, I saw my clients blossom in my sessions after just two to three hours, but I still doubted myself. I didn’t feel bad about it, because I had enough faith in myself to believe I would find a way out of insecurity, so I kept my eyes open.
A year later, a very good friend of mine convinced me to go study NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming) with Richard Bandler, the man who co-created the technique. I loved everything I learned, but I still felt hesitant about my capacity to achieve what I wanted. I decided to practice NLP on myself as often as I could. Now I have added to my private practice with great results.
Gain Self-Confidence by Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
This summer, I decided it was time for a big change. My fear was paralyzing me and limiting my success. I yearned to expand my capacity to have. Everyone has a personal story about how much they’re worth and how much they can have. I decided it was way time to get a worthiness and deservedness upgrade. So I gave myself something way out of my personal limits: a trip to Bali, the island I had dreamt of visiting for the past four years, where I stayed in a luxury villa with a private pool and staff that treated me like a princess.
It was supposed to be a dream vacation, but what I expected to happen, happened. I had overstretched my capacity to receive. I totally freaked out, and was left feeling stressed and drained of joy. I even got a mouth infection, but I was committed to hold on to my dream. I dream big, so my capacity to handle my dreams must match. That’s one key to success: always keep your dream right in front of you (but more about this in a minute).
Improve Your Self-Confidence by Taking Action No Matter the Fear
I also took action. I forced myself to go out and walk hours on the beach, then go to the fanciest restaurant in Semyniak, a posh area of Bali. I was even afforded the chance to check off one item of my bucket list: drinking the juice of a fresh coconut while on the beach. That was awesome. This helps you build confidence, but I was still hyper nervous. I met the coolest people, so I wondered why couldn’t I just enjoy myself? I was way over my self-esteem’s internal thermometer.
What I didn’t know then is that how big my persistence would pay, just a few days later. Let me fast forward to that moment. I’m in Gili air, my dream island in a dream bungalow with an open sky bathroom, which was just a few meters from the sea. I fell asleep and woke up to the soothing melody of the waves; I’m constantly bathed in a warm and friendly sun. The temperature was evenly snug. I saw the smiles of welcoming staff every day. I ate the most delicious food, and marveled at the sunset every evening. I showered in the sun and the stars, while enjoying listening to exotic animal chanting their songs of love at night. I was in heaven. Yet, I was bedridden in anguish for a large portion of two days.
Always Stay Connected to Who You Are
I had been doing what I preached for the past few days, i.e. monitored my thought process, mental images and feelings along the way, and what I had expected to happen, happened. I was in such pain, not being able to revel in my luscious escape, that I built up a humongous desire to change. My every anxious breath, insecure step and negative thought energized my eagerness to build my self-esteem, improve my confidence, as well as my capacity to receive and succeed. I had watched myself from the viewpoint of a loving friend, and that friend was telling me “now is your time, Laura.”
The first thing I did on the third day on Gili air was to practice a technique based on the Sedona method. Basically, it’s repeatedly welcoming fear, letting it go and focusing on courage. I did that for 20 minutes. I felt so much better. I then moved on to EFT to remove the stress from my body. I then got up and went to the scuba diving school next to my hotel, and signed up for a day of snorkeling.
Snorkeling was sublime. I literally felt my heart burst in joy. I was swimming with the same fish I had seen in an aquarium the almost exact same day the previous year. I was in awe with turtles and treasured watching the sun flickering through the waves and hitting the bottom of the ocean. Everything was flowing and quiet in the sea. It was another item from my bucket list, except this time I didn’t even know it had been there all along. Unfortunately, I badly sunburned my back that day. May my experience serve you: Please do wear a t-shirt when you go snorkeling. I didn’t know yet that something would happen the next day that would change my self-esteem and my life forever.
Next morning, I went to my first scuba-diving experience. I was freezing in the swimming pool, but fortunately the scuba diving instructor was both cute and patient, which made my experience much more pleasant. But as I was going through the motions of the course, I sensed myself drown in a sea of self-doubt. I started recollecting all the sports I had been lousy at, all the failed attempts, all the humiliations, as well as the disappointment in my father’s eye. It was like a freezing spell that was draining myself of energy and strength, or for Harry Potter’s fan like me, it was like having a Dementor sucking away my happiness.
How to Increase Self Confidence: Create a Vivid Mental Picture of What You Want
I knew that you just can’t afford to dwell in such a mental place very long without paying a heavy price, so I was very eager to change. It’s how you breed failure, shame and disappointment. I cast my patronus, broke the spell and sent the Dementors away. In other words, I looked the other way. I put a huge image of the bottom of the ocean swarming with colorful, playful fish in front of me. It was easy as I had seen it the previous day. I started recollecting all my successes even the little ones. I focused on all the time I had found courage to keep on going no matter what the setbacks. That felt good. I started to do better in class, and my self-confidence shot up. Then, I made the image of the bottom of the ocean more vivid, while adding the emotion of pride and intense pleasure. I intensified them as much as I could. Self-doubt tried to resurface, but I ignored it. Instead, I focused on my breathing. I had to breathe very regularly under water any way. I practice meditation, so that one was easy.
…Change Your Internal Dialogue
I also changed my internal dialogue. I kept telling myself “You can do this, ma chérie … Hang on … Look at you. You’re doing great. That’s great. Keep at it. I’m so proud of you. …” at every step. A very soothing sentence, one I still repeat constantly to myself, is “It’s OK to be afraid. It’s OK to be afraid.”
I focused on one step at a time, while never losing sight of my goal, seeking to gain all the physical experience and feelings it would provide me.
Then, it was off to the sea. I was still a bit nervous during the first meters of the descent. My nose and ears were feeling funny, and that was a bit scary. I thought once of lungs exploding and then switched my thoughts to my growing expectation of the bottom of the ocean. For a while, it was still hard to trust all this equipment for my survival. Then, I thought of all the people who had gone safely to the bottom of the ocean, making sure to breath particularly regularly.
…Bask In the Feeling of Success
And all the sudden, everything was flowing. I forgot the fear, the self-doubt: I was doing something I never thought I could do so easily. All I could feel was joy and I could think about was the nearing bottom of the ocean. This moment and the following ones were pure bliss. I was floating in the waters of faith, marvel and delight. Nothing else was there. I had made it. I had conquered my fear, my insecurities, the disappointment in my father’s eyes, the shame, the inadequacies. I was there. It was my life and I felt awesome, powerful and magnificent. I was no longer a body scuba diving. I was me, at last. A me who believed in my capacity to be, do or have anything she wants.
I made the experience as vivid as possible, and reminded my senses of it before falling asleep that night. I dove the next day as if I had done it all my life. I didn’t experience the slightest self-doubt. I was worried, because the currents were very strong that day and were throwing me on corals, so I took care. It was natural survival instinct though, not lack of confidence.
When I returned home, I couldn’t help thinking of what I had accomplished. I was still seeing the bottom of the ocean regularly. I kept wondering that the same principles apply for small and big successes. “How far can I go?” was the question I kept asking myself.
…Expect Internal Resistance
My ego, the part of me stuck in old patterns, was trying its best to protect me from success, which for it meant death, but that’s another story. I had a huge turista for five days and could barely walk, but it was too late. My ego had already failed. I said to myself “as I can’t move, I’m going to define what I really want.” I began to meditate, using the same letting-go method I talked about earlier.
… Dream Big
I realized that my goals didn’t excite me because they were just too small for my ambition. I then asked myself “What would really excite me then?” Almost 24 hours after finding my new goal, my new “bottom of the ocean,” I was out of bed working 12 to 15 hours a day. I knew where I was going.
I have deliberately skipped some steps, because I would need a whole book to explain everything I did. Believe it or not, this happened this summer, just a few days ago, and now when I think back to how I behaved before, I just don’t recognize who I was. For every fear and self doubt that surfaces, I have created a vivid image to counter. And when I can’t focus on that image, I just see the bottom of the ocean to remind myself of what I can do. One of the best strategies to build self confidence is to take action, so I made sure to do regularly what I’m afraid of. Each time, I do I feel proud and I build my self-esteem. My heart is bursting with love, I have never been so honest, assertive, driven, focused and friendly.
Gaining self-confidence and self-esteem has literally made me a better person. This is the most exciting way to live life. I have been looking for this level of personal power and freedom all my life, and I don’t regret all the steps it took me. They all make me more understanding and loving towards others.
I know what it is to be in a mental prison of shame, inadequacies, panic, anxiety and self-doubt.
I know those feelings can make you become defensive, manipulative, blaming and aggressive. I know how it feels — I can have empathy and compassion — but I’m never going back there. If I do, it will be just for a brief moment even more, to build more self-confidence, more self-esteem and personal power to be, do, have anything I want.
I don’t know about you, but looking at both options, I know which one I want to pick. I hope my story will show you that you do have a choice, and that you can totally master your mental processes, so that they start supporting a story of “how awesome you are and how you can achieve anything you want.”
Use all the techniques, tactics I have used here, and let me know what has happened. I would love to hear how you have blossomed into the powerful, loving and magnificent version of you, soon.
Very good post! Love it.
I am so happy and proud of you and your scuba-diving Experience.
It’s great to share it with us.
Congrats, Water Woman !
Well, thank you for your warm comment Noel. I feel proud as well.
Good post.Absolutely I agree with you.
Beautiful + empowering story Laura! I know this will help soo many people. I, too, have come to realize that spiritual practice is not a one-time occurrence; rather, a daily practice – just like exercise and eating healthy. I also like how you described acknowledging the fear, then letting it go. We aren’t denying the shadow or dark side (ego), but choosing not to focus our attention on it.
Awesome… thanks for sharing your story of triumph – you are definitely an inspiration!
Absolutely loved this, I think the mental talk is often the hardest one.
Yesterday I completed my first Olympic Triathlon which was incredibly tough, and the mental talk has been bothering me for 6 weeks, I couldnt train, I felt like its impossible for me to do, even the day I woke up, not wanting to, but a friend encouraged me and when I was there, I was so focused on finishing it didnt matter.
I totally agree with your point of dreaming big, thats crucial 🙂 it defines alot of where we go and what we push ourself to do
Yes and persistence pays! I meditate every day to keep my mental talk positive and I always regret it when I stop. I’m so happy to hear you story. Congratulations!
Thank you laura .. was great to read about your adventure …
You’re welcome Meaghnan! What’s so exciting is that I’m still using the same techniques these days and it’s so simple and powerful. I hope you’ll use at least one or two tips from the article. It’s so exciting.
Wow… an incredible story! I love how you were able to find the courage within and take action.
Thank you Marcy. The courage to take action is all you need to get you want in life. I’m pretty sure now. My conclusion after this trip is that anything can be transformed, overcome and healed.
What a beautiful journey, Laura! Huge congratulations for reclaiming your power and tapping into that courage deep within – that ability to see the fear, and take action anyway!
Thank you Sabrina! Reclaiming power are the exact words….