People who suffer from low self esteem and confidence will often avoid the situations that they assume will make them feel uncomfortable, anxious or self-conscious. Things that most of us take for granted and see as an ‘easy’ situation can leave another person feeling full of dread and anxiety. For example, when a person has low self esteem or self-worth even something as fun as a party can leave them feeling so fearful it can make them so ill that they will do anything to get out of the situation. Low self esteem and confidence can mean that people are missing out on the fun things in life.
Often in therapy we will use a simple technique, ‘coping imagery’. It has been long documented that the brain will not know the difference between that which is imagined and that which is real. When we dream our brain is convinced that what it is experiencing is real life. Whether our mind is consciously or unconsciously active, our emotions will be running wild. When we hear a bump in the night and our mind goes in to ‘over-drive’ our bodies react as if there is ‘real’ danger as opposed to the reality of the situation. So why am I telling you this? Well, using the power of our imagination we can start creating a scenario, which is so real that our brain will believe that we have experienced this situation already. Conjure up images where anxiety, nervousness and low self-esteem do not play a part and the body will store this information for later use.
Using the example above we might start rehearsing a party we have been invited to but instead of imagining the ‘old’ us, we start creating a new way of being. We use the power of visualisation to practice coping strategies and new skills. We predict different outcomes and feelings and we visualise ways of coping with all eventualities.
If you have an event coming up and you are not feeling as confident as you would like, try the following:
- Imagine you are walking into the event, look around you, who is there? What can you see? What can you hear? What is the temperature like? Can you smell anything? What can you feel? How do you feel inside? What is your posture like? Visualise yourself there, feel it, live it!
- Now imagine that your confidence is growing inside you, imagine it as a small warm glow in the pit of your stomach, imagine it growing bigger and brighter. Imagine that your self esteem is so high people can literally see it in your eyes. Watch yourself, How are you behaving now? How do you sound? How are people approaching you? How are you approaching people? How do you react to people? What do you say? What is your posture like?
- Now imagine that something doesn’t go to plan, how do you deal with this? What techniques do you use? How do you react? Remember it is the ‘confident’ you reacting to the situation.
- Do this exercise as many times as you can before the event. Imagine all the above and more…. get the picture as clear in your mind as you can and then practice, practice, practice and when the time comes and you are in the situation you have been feeling nervous about, you will be ready, you will be prepared and you will have coping strategies at your disposal. Now go have fun!