Part one of a four part series.
Confident people know that the key to believing in themselves lies in their ability to handle stress in an efficient and reliable way.
But it is certainly not easy to shift out of a worried mindset into a sense of calm and confidence. How many times have you felt calm only to wake feeling stressed and hopeless the next day — or even the next minute? It’s frustrating and demoralizing. You may even believe that a calm state is just luck or fake and the stressed-out person is the real you.
This roller coaster ride that climbs and dives between motivated and defeated creates an internal pattern of insecurity. How can you trust yourself if you are excited and ready to go on Tuesday and completely stuck on Wednesday? And there are many real-life costs to this stressful cycle.
You may recognize yourself in these common complaints:
- The only way to alleviate stress is to be out of my real life. So, I waste time doing things that feel “relaxing” like surfing the net or playing games on my phone. This costs me precious time that I could be with my children, getting my work done, pursuing a hobby or being with friends.
- I don’t take great opportunities that come to me because I’m afraid I won’t be able to handle the stress. This leads me to stay in a dissatisfying but “safe” job and hating my daily grind.
- I push people away because they take so much energy. Even when I consider making an effort, I worry they will see that I’m a bit of a mess and just reject me anyway. I long for companionship, but I’m better off by myself.
- Every day I reach for “things” to calm me down like food, alcohol and drugs. They work for the moment, but then I feel worse later. The shame I feel when I look in the mirror the next morning is terrible and leaves me even more discouraged.
- I’m getting older. Time is going so quickly and I cannot stand that I’m still struggling and not really living my life. I deeply fear I’ll die unfulfilled.
So, how do you maintain a sense of confidence and calm even when faced with stress? If rising above the fear feels overwhelming and impossible, I truly understand. But right this minute, I encourage you to take a long slow breath in and out and consider how much better you will feel when you can trust yourself even a bit more each day.
You can learn to trust yourself in life and be authentically “you” without unhealthy distractions and loss of opportunity.
It is completely possible. One step at a time and start with the basics.
Two years ago I took what felt like a big risk and enrolled in a yoga teacher training program. It was there I learned the phrase, “Root to rise.” This phrase describes the need to get a firm foundation before you move. Rooting to rise is super important. You must consciously attend to the parts of the body that hold you. Without your feet, knees, or hands balanced and grounded, you are likely to topple over or strain another part of your body.
Rooting to rise creates a feeling of strength and assurance.
When the foundation is set, the rest of the body aligns creating a beautiful scaffolding that holds the body securely in space. When you find this sweet spot, the whole body feels integrated. You can move more deeply into a pose, to play with it and enjoy the body’s capability.
Now picture a child building a beautiful tower on a soft surface with the smallest blocks on the bottom. Crash! Tears are sure to follow! Like the house built on sand, even our most carefully constructed plan will quite quickly fall without a solid foundation.
Remember these images as you begin your journey toward self-confidence. As a human being, you cannot ignore your foundation and expect to feel secure, consistent and confident. Like everything in nature, we require internal stability to move forward, handle changes and reach without collapsing. We must root to rise.
Unfortunately, many of us ignore our basic nature, living in fits and starts only to see our dreams fall to pieces. Then we cannot trust ourselves.
So how do you create your firm foundation? You do it every day. I’ll address each one more fully in the next 3 blogs.
Begin by looking at your most basic human requirements.
Address your physical needs.
So often I hear people say that they will take care of themselves when they have time. Work, family, social obligations and almost anything else comes first. These stressed out folks suffer constantly. They accomplish a lot but feeling chronically unfulfilled, insecure and stressed. They lack a foundation of care to support their own lifestyles. Worse, our society tells them that it is just fine to do this!
Physical needs are primary. They are the bricks as you lay your foundation for lasting stress relief and self confidence. Respect them. Investigate them. Understand them.
- Sleep – No joke. Adults need 7-9 hours. (See the National Sleep Foundation if you're interested!)
- Proper nutrition – Real healthy food and variety (Vegetables are not optional.)
- Exercise – Move your body and breathe.
- Time in nature – Get outside for at least 15 conscious minutes per day.
Now that you have the bricks in place, you are ready to add the mortar that holds you together during stressful times.
Respect and care for your mind and nervous system.
- Get to know your response to stress and what is normal for all human bodies.
- Tone your ventral vagal nerve with simple practices.
- Discover ways to provide your nervous system with gratitude and guidance.
- Create your own personal tools to use when stressed.
Along with the nervous system, the way you emotionally experience yourself in the world needs loving care and attention to maintain your sense of calm and connectedness.
Promote healthy, integrated emotions.
- Remember that your emotions are not all of you and learn how to help them.
- Get to know and offer compassion to the parts to all of yourself, even parts that worry.
- Learn how to love yourself through mistakes.
- Establish a practice to increase your sense of Self.
In the next three articles, we'll look more deeply at how to use your body, mind and emotions to create confidence. You can release what is holding you back and trust who you were born to be: a happy person whose dreams are within your grasp. For more help right now, pick up my book: Calm Your Worries: Unlock Your Secret Code to Lasting Stress Relief and Self-Confidence.