Find Confidence With This Simple Embodied Practice
So many of us feel trapped by a lack of confidence.
We have so many ideas and aspirations, and they sit on the back-burner. We want to make a change, start a new job, open a new business, share our thoughts with the world...but we don't have the confidence to make the leap.
The good news is: you can create confidence.
This article will show you a simple framework to do so.
Let's start with a question:
Who do you think you are?
Really. Who is it that you conceive of yourself as? And how firmly are you attached to that idea?
When we get into thoughts of identity and self-stories, it gets to be murky territory because there’s SO much that we simply don’t understand about consciousness.
What we do know, however, is that consciousness is composed of 2 tiers:
Primary consciousness is something like your here & now sensory experience.
Extended consciousness is something like the semi-constant story you tell yourself about yourself based on the your perception of the whole of your sensory experiences.
Chew on that for a moment.
Your perception of primary consciousness shapes your extended consciousness. The things you believe about what is going on in your life shape your self-image. This in turn affects how you act in the world.
So is it possible to shift that?
You better believe it.
Here’s an exercise to go through that clarifies the path a bit.
Think of what you need in order to thrive.
What are the conditions in your ideal life? What’s the overall context? Give yourself permission to think big here, and as you do so: be honest with yourself. What do you really need in order to thrive?
Now take a moment to reflect: what kinds of assumptions about the world would make that outcome more likely? What types of beliefs about “the way things are” would make it a bit easier to attain that?
For example: it’s going to be a lot easier to get out of pain if I assume that pain is simply a sensation, and my nervous system is a plastic, flexible process.
It’s a helluva lot easier to make a change in my body body or my mindset when I assume that change is possible.
Now I know these beliefs and assumptions can be hard to swallow. It’s easy to feel stuck in “the way things are.”
I’m not asking you to believe them. Keep this in the realm of thought experiment.
But let’s take that thought experiment a bit farther. How would you act if you believed each of those assumptions?
Or put differently: how might you act as if you believed that?
The “As If Principle” was theorized and developed by psychologist William James. In essence he states: if you wish a certain quality, act as if you have it.
If you want courage, act courageously. If you want confidence, act confidently.
Is this some sort of wishful thinking or New Age voodoo?
Not at all.
Our emotions are deeply rooted in our physiology. In a sense, our psychology proceeds from our physiology.
The physiological responses of the body are “older” in an evolutionary sense, and they organize themselves faster than the emotional responses, which in turn organize more rapidly than the cognitive responses.
Acting in a certain way triggers certain physiological responses. This in turn leads to emotional responses based on the context of the situation. Then we develop cognitive explanations after the fact.
So imagine: if you acted as if you were confident, what kind of emotional response would you have?
If you “proved” to your rational, cognitive mind that you were a confident person through your actions, isn’t it reasonable to assume that you in fact might start conceiving of yourself as a confident person?
We build cognitive models based on experience.
We change the map by changing the territory.
What shifts can you create?
If you're interested in learning more about this process of embodied change, click here to download my free ebook "Embracing Possibility".