Confidence: Develop Superhero Confidence in Therapy

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What is Confidence?

Confidence is a skill anyone can develop.  Cultivating a more confident air is much more accessible than you may think. Many people use the terms confidence and self esteem interchangeably, but they are quite different.  Self esteem is relative to self worth.  Confidence, is a state of feeling capable and skillful.  Self esteem can take years to build, but confidence can be fostered at any time you decide to intentionally put the skill into practice. 

To learn more, read on and watch a fun clip about confidence from Ted-Ed here:


Behavioral Approaches to Boost Confidence

Stand up for yourself.  Of course, perpetual habits like people pleasing aren’t so easy to change, but try saying “no,” even just once.  Pick a person and situation that doesn’t carry too much weight in your life, and simply say no.  Negotiation is ok too here.  If a friend wants to go out to dinner on Friday night, but you tend to be drained at the end of a work week, offer a Saturday dinner date instead.  

Give yourself credit.  Another potential chance to fake it ’til you make it, is noting your wins.  I often point out to clients how quick they are to acknowledge their failings and never their successes.  Even if it feels hokey, look at your successes in one area of life (i.e. professionally) for a moment or two. Folks will sometimes report this feels tough, because the feelings don’t always connect, but much of this work is about not over identifying with our feelings.  Just because you don’t feel intensely accomplished, doesn’t mean you aren’t!

Tell the truth.  Be authentic in your answers to people in regards to questions like, “what do you do for fun?” Not only does giving a generic answer diminish confidence, I find that it perpetuates people’s feelings of being antisocial.  You likely aren’t as antisocial as you think, you just don’t like small talk and disingenuous relationships.  You are in control.  If you like weird stuff, talk about it- likely you’ll find an interesting dialogue in the least, and at maximum, leave the exchange feeling good about being yourself.


Therapeutic Approaches to Boost Confidence

Challenge crippling trauma.  A lot of confidence problems stem from trauma.  More often than not, little t trauma can perpetuate a negative feedback loop about ourselves.  For example, if an ex boyfriend told you that you looked pudgy over 20 years ago, in spite of being in amazing shape, you may get incredibly overwhelmed when clothes shopping.  For most, this connection isn’t clear and unweaving these internalized narratives in therapy is helpful.  Then, we can reclaim our confidence by announcing “that’s not my shit.” 

Identify core beliefs and rules for living.  Here, we can use CBT strategies to ask ourselves what evidence we have for thinking about ourselves in a negative light. When lacking confidence in doing something new, such as presenting a new concept to our class, we can ask ourselves questions like “what if this turns out better than I ever thought?”  Therapy can help us sort out the ABC‘s (activating event, beliefs and thoughts, and consequence of CBT to get in a well versed habit).

Hear your inner monologue repeated back to you.  Conversations in therapy sometimes look like: client: “I’m a loser for not finishing college,” therapist: “what do you think about all the other people you know who’ve not completed college?  Are they losers too?” People tend to get so stuck in their negative stories about themselves that they don’t even realize it.  An attentive therapist will help point this out as it comes up. There’s often something powerful in even just listening to yourself trying to rationalize your bullshit limitations. 

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