By Aleksandra Plazinic
Self-confidence is a complex category that often predominately plays a role in our professional and personal success and happiness.
The way we see and evaluate ourselves and our capabilities does not often lead to the steps we should take to pursue the goals dear to our hearts. The level of confidence we have will show us the level of trust we have in ourselves and our actions. If the belief in ourselves is shaken, then the results we’ll get will reflect that image.
1. Immediate environment
“Before you develop depression and low self-esteem, be sure that you are not surrounded by idiots” – Freud.
Our surroundings and the people with whom we spend the most time with significantly influence: our opinion about ourselves, what we can or cannot do, how much we think we are capable of, and how much we are not.
We are the average of the 5 people that we spend the most time with.
“The environment is stronger than willpower” – Yogananda
You can be intelligent and successful, but if your environment is not supportive or pulls you down, you can hardly rise from all that with any willpower.
I often see people leaving a small town, their day-to-day jobs, or a relationship that is not in line with what they want to become, and that makes sense.
A famous writer, when asked what was his most tremendous success since he received the Bestselling Award, said that his most outstanding achievement in life was that he came down from the mountain where he was born. And that is the beautiful Awareness of an inadequate environment. If that author had stayed where he was born, he would have probably never been a recognized creator. It would not have been because he would not have written, but because the rural environment would not have understood or valued it and thus would not have supported his work.
It would have been the same for one of the most outstanding scientists of all times, Nikola Tesla, if he had remained in his home, the small village Smiljan. Most of his inventions were futuristic, and he was considered a weird boy back home. If he had stayed there, he would probably not have been appreciated for his inventions.
The solution is not always to simply leave your surroundings, move away from your friends, quit your job or break a long-term relationship. However, it is helpful to keep checking-in and asking yourself these two questions:
- Is my immediate environment in line with what I want to achieve and who I want to become?
- How inspiring is it, and how much does it support me to move forward?
If you are surrounded by people who constantly tell you that you cannot do something or that you are not enough, like it or not, it will affect you. At some point, your mind will be tired of arguing and proving others wrong because it requires a lot of energy and time, and at some point, you will give in and believe in everything this environment provides you.
If you start doing something, surround yourself with people who are already doing it. How do you expect to have self-confidence if you have friends who always lower your energy, who have a hundred objections to your ideas, or a partner who overlooks your successes and constantly criticises you?
The only solution is to move out of the environment.
You may not have to move away to connect with people who boost your self-confidence. Start by hanging out with people who have similar interests and who encourage you into new endeavours. Watch content that inspires you. Stay in touch with people who do what you would like to do. Surround yourself with pictures, videos, and things that empower you!
Reduce contact with people who make you feel stressed and miserable, and do not inspire you. If you don’t have the confidence to start your own business, surround yourself with people who already have their own business or who have an idea to develop one.
The founder of a start-up lived in Utah,United States, where almost no one was involved in new technologies, and that was his dream business. The only person who supported him was his wife. His friends and family didn’t even understand what he was trying to do, so they didn’t even encourage him. As a result of such an environment, he hesitated and was unsure that he could do something like that. Then he moved to San Francisco, where he was surrounded by the right crowd. Every other person had created a start-up, so the question was no longer if he should do it or not, but how to.
This example shows us the incredible power that the environment has, which we consciously or unconsciously choose ourselves. If there is noise around you and you want to rest, you will certainly not continue to try to sleep in the room where there is loud music playing, you would turn it off or go somewhere else to rest. Above all, eternal disharmony with our environment and the people around us creates discomfort. It harms us long-term, not to mention the level of stress that has been scientifically proven today. So, surround yourself with people who like you, support you, sincerely praise you, are there for you, and encourage you with a good feeling and self-confidence.
The power of affirmations.
If you listen to a mantra all day, one sentence will become a belief from one of our only thoughts. Because it has been said many times by so many people, the brain will believe it must be true, and we will adopt that. And unfortunately, it will become a part of our lives, habits, and even deeper beliefs about what we truly believe about ourselves, which will ultimately unconsciously govern our lives.
Remember that the environment is stronger than willpower!
Sometimes we have all the support and the circumstances are in our favour, but we still don’t have enough self-confidence. The reason for that lies in ourselves. We are sometimes our OWN enemies.
The reason for low self-esteem is often broken internal dialogue.
We have convinced ourselves that we can’t do something and don’t appreciate our values and abilities enough, which often makes us unnecessarily afraid. What exactly do you say to yourself in a particular situation? And the answer is what most affects the level of our self-confidence.
No one can lower our energy and self-confidence as much as we do ourselves. Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself. Are those statements supportive or not? If they are, keep using them as affirmations. However, we often hear negative internal dialogue – we blame, rebuke, condemn or intimidate ourselves.
The second step is awareness. Just notice where those thoughts actually come from? Did you perhaps pick up those statements along the way from someone else? Often, these are sentences we’ve heard from our parents, teachers or relatives. These were what we were told as children and often repeated multiple times. Since a child’s brain is like a sponge, it absorbs everything and accepts it as the absolute truth. Other people created those statements about ourselves and told us or even to other people in certain situations, in which we now find ourselves.
We have only adopted them because our mind has adopted them as the only truth and thus, governs our lives again by frequent repetition. When you say a condemning sentence to yourself, is it said by you or someone else? Maybe someone who is close to you? First, become aware of your internal dialogue. Second, ask yourself who actually talks like that. And lastly, change it to the supporting and caring self-talk that serves your self-confidence.
Our relationships and conversation with ourselves have the most significant impact on our lives. If you do not talk supportively to yourself and do not encourage your self-confidence, you cannot expect others to give you what you are denying to yourself.
3. Body posture
The connection between our body, mind, and emotions is proven by embodied cognition. What you think becomes your reality. We feel our self-confidence in our bodies because otherwise, if we did not have a body, we would not feel the emotions.
If I told you that there was a person behind you bursting with self-confidence, how would you describe them? What do they look like? I’m sure we envisioned a similar person. And now think of a person who lacks self-confidence. How do they walk? Are they standing upright, or is their back hunched? How do they address others?
If you are constantly with your backover, looking at the floor, and have a sad facial expression, you can neither think positively nor nicely about yourself. It is the connection between our body and mind, which consequently connects to our emotions. People who think poorly of themselves, play negative scenarios, are sad, depressed, and often look down, the posture of the body will follow the thoughts and emotions. And vice versa. How do people who have self-confidence sit or walk?
When you stand with your legs and arms straight and spread a smile, you will immediately have a much better opinion of yourself because of the embodiment response. Your body position affects both your thought and emotional process and your level of self-confidence. If you do not feel confident at this point, have self-confidence; be aware of how you stand or sit. And change your body posture with a simple movement.
Straighten up and Head-Up!
Edited by Angela Azuar
About Aleksandra Plazinic
Dr. Aleksandra Plazinic is Executive Communications Coach, Trainer, Keynote Speaker, and University Lecturer with a Ph.D. in communications, two master’s degrees, and certified NLP master coach trainer and consultant. She gained vast international professional experience in international organizations: European Commission, United Nations, business consultancies, and university settings.