When I turned 25, I decided to move from renting an apartment by myself, to shared accommodation. The first newspaper I looked at (long time ago!) had an ad for the perfect place – a castle in a part of Dublin I loved, beside the city centre, near the sea – not so near my work but I didn’t mind that. I called immediately, made an appointment to meet the girl renting the room and went to meet her. Something happened, she couldn’t make it but the minute I saw the place, I decided I would move in anyway – she had sounded nice on the phone. So I put the cheque for my rental deposit in the letterbox and arranged a date to move in. There were to be three of us living there, all girls around the same age.
I moved in, everything went well. We had great fun, and as we got to know one another, started opening-up to each other. Confidence became one of the many things we discussed. Even though we were having fun, enjoying life, there were some areas where we didn’t feel fully confident. I was running my own business (two retail pharmacies); I found the responsibility somewhat overwhelming.
There were of course, other times, like when we were dressing up to go out and we didn’t feel we looked quite well enough to land a date with whatever guy we currently fancied. We explored the reasons why we sometimes lacked confidence; realised that part of the reason of the Irish cultural habit of never bragging, always being modest, had landed us with these inner thoughts that meant we felt we were never quite good enough.
But at that time, we were good for one another. We praised each other and came up with the great idea that we would look in the mirror every morning and every evening and say to our reflection – “I love myself.” We laughed at this possibility, practiced it in front of one another – embarrassed and guilty at first. We checked in with each other every day to confirm that we had said the “I love myself” that day – and we always said it to ourselves before a night out!
Were there any benefits? Well, sharing our thoughts and coming up with this plan, helped to start us on the road to having more confidence. Of course there were more ups and downs, in our lives after that. I don’t know about the others, but I have remembered those days and that positive affirmation at times in later years when things maybe weren’t going so well – when I needed it.
The first step towards having confidence, feeling confident inside is actually believing that you can. A really useful exercise to do is to choose the one negative belief that holds you back from feeling confident. Ask yourself what causes you to feel this, gather the evidence to the contrary (there is always evidence to the contrary!) Next, write down what you would need to believe about this for you to feel better about it. For example, if you believe people don’t like you and this affects you socially, you worry about meeting new people – list the friends or colleagues you have, who like you and why they like you – it may be because you’re fun, loyal, kind, generous, supporting. Deep inside, you will know the answer to this.
Next, use that answer to formulate a positive affirmation, that you can use every day – one that works for you. It may be ‘I am loyal and likeable’, or it may be something else. Use a short statement, in the present tense, based on whatever makes you feel good about yourself.
It’s easy to forget to say your positive affirmations, yet nothing will change if you don’t actually say them and preferably write them down too. So, set up a routine that will help you. For example, you could write it down at breakfast and before you go to sleep. You may prefer to say it out loud each time you look in a mirror.
A good one, that I use is this: I say my positive affirmation when I get in and out of my car – I use the noise of the car door banging closed as a reminder. Believe me – say something often enough and it becomes your reality. Repeating positive affirmations for even a few weeks can kick start your confidence and banish those pesky, annoying negative beliefs that aren’t even true anyway! The potential increase in self-confidence is well worth it.