Many times lack of confidence comes from disconnection. We perceive something to be unattainable. We think we are not ready, and we will certainly fail, or worse, we think that others will judge us if we fail. Often confidence manifests in disconnection between the brain and the body. For example, I cannot lift that weight because I am not strong enough, even though I have trained for that weight. I cannot give that presentation because I am not articulate enough, even though I am an expert in that subject matter.
In reality, we often possess exactly what skills we need and only fear moving forward because of self-doubt. The idea of “faking it until you make it” sounds trite, but it can be immensely helpful if we use it to connect the body to the mind. As Amy Cuddy notes in her excellent TED Talk, tense sensations in the body signal the brain to avoid the thing we fear. But if we create a sense of openness, what emerges might surprise us. The following practice should take about 15 minutes:
(1) MOVE (about 3 minutes)
Think about something you are afraid to do. With that thought in mind, hold a modified yoga pose, called five-pointed star pose, for 2 to 3 minutes. It is what Amy Cuddy coined as a “power pose.” Standing tall, take your stance as wide or narrow as is comfortable for you. Place your hands on your hips. Close your eyes (if that’s comfortable for you) and breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can play with how you position your hands—fists, fingers spread, or fingers together—but try to not to create too much tension anywhere in the body. If you get tired at any point, simply lower your hands to your sides.
(2) MEDITATE (about 5 minutes)
Lower your arms to your sides if they were raised, and narrow your stance back to a neutral position. Close your eyes, and focus on taking deep breaths. Try to make your exhales longer than your inhales (e.g., inhale for a count of three, exhale for a count of five). If negative thoughts come up, allow them to pass through, but return your focus to your breath. If you need help focusing further, imagine a bright yellow glow emanating from your core on your inhale, and drawing back into your body on the exhale.
(3) MEDIATE (about 7 minutes)
Come to a seat. Grab a writing instrument and some paper or a journal page. Free write a response to following: I embody….Continue for 5-7 minutes, or stop whenever feels right for you.