Maybe you think, like most guys, that by acquiring the right objects or qualities in life you will eventually become more confident. Nothing could be more wrong than that!
The truth is: oftentimes it doesn’t matter if you are mediocre looking, or conversely, have the posture of a supermodel. It doesn’t matter if your bank account is constantly empty or if you could make bathroom wallpaper from $500 bills.
Life circumstances don’t affect your confidence as much as most people believe. Your physique, degree, clothes, and car, are all only part of your surface appearance. These traits can sometimes make life easier, or quite the opposite — attract superficial people who are only after your looks, money, etc. The long term key to self confidence lays somewhere else.
Confidence is something that comes from deep inside us and either brightens or dims our actions and interactions with the world. You decide if your inner energy works to your advantage or stops you from achieving your potential.
If you want to boost your confidence, you have to look deep inside yourself. More specifically — your brain. This is the tool that either makes you a confident person or not. And there are great mental tools to accelerate your brain power to shape your thoughts and actions in a confident way. One of them is NLP.
NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, is a psychological approach to understanding and thereby influencing our thoughts. It has various benefits in therapy, from boosting one’s confidence to having better social understanding and interactions.
While some studies have disputed the efficacy of NLP, various studies have shown that it does work. NLP uses the VAK model (Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic) to understand how our brain receives input, and if we can control the input, then of course, we can control the output. The iNLP Center explains this in more detail here.
We as humans are predominantly either visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic. To use NLP in your quest to become more confident you need to decide, based on your previous experiences, which of these groups you belong to. Usually we intuitively know which factors are the strongest for us — what we see, what we hear, or what we feel from our surroundings — but oftentimes it also shows in the language we tend to use!
A person who is visual would say ‘I see what you mean’ while a kinaesthetic person might say ‘I feel where you are coming from’. It’s not that they’re really seeing or feeling, but that’s how they process information. In NLP we seek to understand the person so that we can communicate better by reflecting their language.
And furthermore in applying NLP techniques to your life, language should be the aspect you work on. Language is the software that our brains use. In fact, even our language shapes the way we think.
Our brain processes information through the sensory information it receives then applies its own biases and thinking processes. In NLP we basically hack those thinking processes so that negative inputs are not equal to negative outputs. More simply we teach your brain to think in more constructive and positive ways, over time creating a better image of yourself in your head.
Where the lack of confidence is coming from
Let’s say you wake up in the morning with someone shouting at you — that’s negative audio input that is going to probably upset you for most of the day. Hey, things are going to happen that we will have no control over. The point of NLP is not to punch the person making the negative input, even though you might really want to, but to control how that input is received and processed.
For many of us, negative talk happened a lot during childhood, from parents, peers, or teachers. Sometimes bad experiences in life, comparing yourself to other people (which usually can only go wrong!) or natural negative tendencies in your brain thated an inner enemy that sabotages positive images of ourself, and stops us from fully trusting our capacities. All these bad experiences and insecurities become self fulfilling prophecies, making us feel like we already know the action was going to fail. And with that attitude it will!
When you openly ask the universe to fail, and you don’t believe in yourself, a failure is likely what you will get from life. It’s time to change, little by little, for good.
Most of us already know the Pavlov’s dogs story. This Russian scientist had an affinity for dogs and by training them he observed some mechanisms applied later in the modern psychology. Right before feeding his dogs he would ring a bell and then proceed to feed them. He repeated this long enough before starting to realize that the dogs would start to salivate just by hearing the bell – he effectively anchored the sound of the bell to food.
Human brain works in a similar way, associating certain actions with the others. In NLP, such process called ‘anchoring’ can be a life-saver. Using this technique, you can re-wire your brain and instantly boost your confidence (and salivate if you so desire). Thanks to Pavolov’s little discovery you can repeat the process without having to eat any dog food.
The Anchoring Procedure
The process is a simple one, and we will go through it right here in a moment. One word of advice; anchoring is not something that works on the first try, you need to commit yourself to do this and set adequate time aside to go through the process. No pain no gain! But it’s so much worth the effort. You will essentially be re-wiring years of bad programming in your brain so do not give up, keep at it and you will make progress.
First step: Choose your frame-of-mind.
Identify a situation where you want to feel more resourceful. It can be your social interactions, speaking loud your point at the university, conversations with women, job interview or a tennis match. Wherever you feel you could do much more than you are doing at the moment because something inside you is blocking you. Instead of focusing on how it could go wrong or blaming yourself anyhow choose the feeling you want in such situation. For example “unshakeable confidence” while smiling to a cute passing women or “absolute certainty” when speaking loud your point in a work discussion.
Recall a time when you experienced the state when you felt confident. Find a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed and focus on an event that made you feel confident or imagine how you would feel in a confident state. What are your thoughts, how do you see colors? What do you hear? Taste? Feel? Next, adjust your posture to match the state focusing on shoulders, back, legs, and head. Maintain your focus for as long as you can, absorbing everything you feel.
Second step: Intensify
Once you have nailed it down, intensify the state, make it ten times bigger, drill down to as much detail as you can, with each passing moment, boosting your confidence even more. Feel every muscle as you allow your new found super-confidence to wash over you, making you even more confident which each passing second.
Third step: Set the anchor
Once you’re at the pinnacle of confidence, it is time to set the anchor. An anchor can be something you smell, hear, see, or feel. Make it unique enough that you will not encounter it in your daily life yet inconspicuous and mobile enough that you can carry it and use it in public, such as touching a particular spot, using a nasal spray, or a music track you wouldn’t hear in public. Like Nickelback. To actually set the anchor we need to associate the state of high confidence with the anchor so whilst at the pinnacle of the state, activate your chosen anchor – for example drawing together your index and thumb.
When anchoring, you are essentially anchoring the heightened state of confidence to the sensory input of your choice. Once you have effectively anchored the state with the anchor, whenever you need a boost in confidence all you need to do is to perform the anchor and you’re golden.
Like anything else, consistent practice is key to give it time, and your new found confidence will be shooting you to stardom it no time. Little by little get out of your comfort zone in everyday situations.
Speak openly and loud when you feel like, in situations where before your insecurities would have kept you in silence. Everyday is a new day, and treat it as an opportunity to grow and move one step further towards the confident and happy person you want and CAN be.