Get Confident Stupid
Ok so just to clarify, that’s Troy McClure (from the Simpsons) I don’t think you’re stupid. I just think it’s a genius line. Anyway, now that you’re no longer drafting a complaint letter to me, let’s get on with the blog...
I have been a personal trainer and Yoga teacher for over 7 years and it seems to me that one of the biggest underlying factors that stops people in their pursuit of health is not a lack of drive, ambition or even time - it’s a lack of confidence.
"I’m not confident enough to attend that yoga class", "I don’t know how to work that weight machine", "I’m not sure of that exercise" … In my experience, it is that lack of confidence and self-arssurance that becomes biggest killer of motivation.
The irony here is that we need confidence in order to get to the gym/yoga class/dance class, but we often don’t get confidence until we have been doing those things for a while - right?
The truth is, you need to have confidence first, you need to see value in yourself and your body first. So with that said, I want to share with you some of my top 'perspective-shifting' tips to help you gain the confidence you need to stay active, healthy, motivated and above all happy.
1. Confidence is a feeling, not a product:
It is a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. So it can not be bought or given to you. I believe that we are sometimes sold this idea that confidence is ours if we just buy that bag, or that supplement that will make us skinny, or have that boyfriend (or girlfriend) - but the truth is, confidence is an inside job. Do not seek to gain internal confidence through something external to yourself. It will be a never ending cycle (and often an expensive one). The best confidence boosters are absolutely FREE.
2. Worthiness is the BFF of Confidence;
If you don’t value yourself, your life or your body and instead feel a sense of self loathing then chances are, your confidence is going to waiver. How do you know if you’re practicing self-loathing? Well, I hate to say it, and we all do it, constant self-criticism, continuous negative dialogue about your life or your body, waking up every morning pinching in disgust at the ‘rolls’ you have on your body without a single moment of appreciation for all that your body does for you … yeah, that stuff is self-loathing. It’s not easy to change, you have to train your brain to stop going there. When you catch yourself doing it, change the subject, or think of something you ARE grateful for.
3. Develop Skills:
Are you sick of me saying this yet? Train towards a skill (like a chin up or a push up or a heavy squat or a backflip) rather than just aesthetics. We all want a six pack or a lean body, that’s fine, I’m not saying it’s not a motivating factor, but it shouldn’t be the ONLY motivating factor. It should be the last one in fact. Training purely so you ‘feel’ more sexy (in accordance with societies current aesthetic standards, governed by the fashion industry that usually is interested in the androgynous look) is not conducive to constant motivation. In fact, you will not only be at the mercy of society and it’s frequently changing definition of beauty, but also at the mercy of your self esteem, which we know can dip during life occurrences like break-ups, job changes, family deaths etc. If your motivation to get in the gym comes from wanting to be able to get your chin above that bar, unassisted, you will feel AMAZING after every session because you’re getting closer to that goal e’ry damn day.
4. Meditate on Body Love;
Thich Nhat Hanh describes a beautiful meditation in which you focus on your breath and certain body parts in appreciation. It goes a little something like this;
Inhale: I feel my legs
Exhale: I smile at my legs
Inhale: I feel my hips
Exhale: I smile at my hips
As you can see it’s very simple. But the simplicity of just appreciating all your various, hard working body parts, smiling from the heart at them generates some seriously great feelings about your self. Try it (and let me know how it goes). I do this one in the morning sometimes before I hit the shower and it just puts me in the best mood. It’s also stress relieving and we all know that switching off that stress response as much as possible is a great way to ensure balance throughout the body, including hormones. Hormonal health leads to better body composition (lean, energised and happy).
5. Know when to stop scrolling through instagram;
Instagram and Facebook can be as curated as a magazine. If you’re feeling low and you start scrolling through all these aspirational pictures of people you know (some you don’t know) assuming that their lives are as perfect as their favourite filter of choice, you are going to feel like shit. Excuse my crass language but it’s the truth. If you’re feeling low, sad, unworthy, then read a book, talk to a friend, spend time in nature, go to the gym, do some yoga, but DO NOT scroll through social media. Everyone always gives the advice of not comparing yourself to others, but the truth is we’re going to do it anyway - aren’t we. There is a famous theory called the Social comparison theory. It was originally proposed by social psychologist Leon Festigner who suggests that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. He says it’s part of our human nature. I believe the best way to get around this, is to just know when to put the phone down. If you’re feeling inspired by what you see on Social media, great, keep scrolling, if you start to get that sick feeling where you heart sinks into your gut and you feel a little anxious, then you know … it’s time to PUT. THE. PHONE. DOWN.
I hope these help, don’t feel disheartened if your confidence muscle isn’t strong straight away. It takes practice, and it will waiver, that’s normal.
I’d love to hear if these helped, or even better, if you have any techniques to lift your confidence game!
Big phat yogi love.