Self confidence was the overall theme over the past few weeks in my coaching conversations in Antwerp. Important enough to share my thoughts about it on a broader scale, and give you 5 techniques that will help you in simply feeling better about yourself.
On a very personal note. The fact that we now have two teachers on most yoga retreats, finds its roots in my own lack of confidence when I started offering the retreats and started pursuing my dream.
From the start of Revealing Vajra, I wanted to offer high quality yoga lessons during the retreats. And back then, my lack of confidence was centered around the thought that a good teacher should have a lot of experience. And, how could I, with barely 1 year of experience in actually teaching, offer this kind of quality? The fact that very early on, a very experienced yoga teacher subscribed to my very first retreat didn’t help either… So, I teamed up with teachers who had at least ten years of experience and had their own studios. My reasoning was that if you had been teaching for so long, and had your own studio, you must be good.
I’m absolutely psyched and enthusiastic about the teachers I worked with on the past retreats, but I also know, from simply looking around a bit and following a lot of lessons, that I was wrong in both aspects. I’ve learned that the years of experience have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of teaching. I’ve seen teachers with 20 years of experience, just going through their routines, having lost all passion and teaching like they were on autopilot. Owning your own studio doesn’t make you a great teacher by definition either. I’ve seen many teachers, owning a huge studio with 250 students (that’s huge in Belgium) with little or even no knowledge about the true philosophy of yoga.
The teachers I teamed up with so far had the experience and the studios but they also have a very cool personality and I simply love the fact that we create all these wonderful experiences together. What is a good teacher anyway? What does it mean to give quality lessons? Above all, I think the right attitude will get you a long way and then it’s up to the students to simply experience your lessons.
So, in the beginning I convinced myself that I was probably ‘ok’ as a teacher but simply not qualified or good enough yet to be the only teacher on a retreat. There was nobody who ever told me that it takes at least 10 years and have your own studio to become a good teacher; it was all in my own mind!
Looking back I’m happy to have had that little slip of confidence in the beginning as it allowed me to work with great people, and now I have the unique offer of having two teachers on a retreat, as I kept this formula in for most retreats, simply because I love the co-creation and cooperation.
Fortunately, self-confidence can be learned and here’s how:
Technique 1: Sit up straight
As the first “technique”?! Yes, I am not kidding! Research suggests that people with good posture have more confidence in their thoughts than slouchers. Just try it and exaggerate in sitting up straight and afterwards slouching. You will know what I mean!
Technique 2: Focus on your breathing and meditate
Again and again, and again. Observe you breathing, you don’t even have to change a thing about it. Listen to your breathing, ‘be with the breath’ as we like to say and relax.
It’s not a secret that I’m a big fan of Oprah. A month ago, a friend sent me a picture of him, posing with Oprah! Wow, I’m overly happy that he had the chance to meet her in person, like I will, some day soon :).
I can highly recommend the Meditation series that Oprah set up with Deepak Chopra. When you subscribe you will receive a guided meditation for 21 days in a row. It’s just 20 minutes, long enough to tune out and take some time for yourself. When you start your day with this little meditation, no doubt you will feel different after a while.
At the time of writing we’re at day 9 but you can still join in, and the best thing is, it’s free!
You can check it out yourself here.
Technique 3: Visualise
In doing something for the first time, imagine that you have already done it in the past. Close your eyes, then vividly imagine you succeeding wildly at what you are really going to do for the first time. The mind does not know the difference between something vividly imagined and something real.
Even Yogi Bhajan reminds us to “Think only in prosperous terms and think big!”.
Technique 4: Go the extra mile
Not in working hours, not in trying harder – don’t get me wrong on this one!
Go the extra mile by staying longer in a pose in yoga or by doing 10 extra crunches, lunges, pushups, squads or whatever activity it is you like. This was even proven in a study led by Jaclyn Maher at Penn State University. It’s well documented that a workout improves mood, but Maher says that making the extra effort when the ego is weak, may also strengthen a feeling of control—which leads to self-confidence.
Technique 5: Disarm the nagging, negative internal voice
That negative internal voice serves you no purpose. To disarm the internal voice, imagine a volume control and lower the volume. Change the voice to a clown’s voice, a little child’s voice or any other voice that makes you laugh. The point is to disarm the voice by altering the way it nags at you. If I hear my own voice nagging me, it stops me. If I hear a clown’s voice, I laugh and continue onwards.
This might sound utterly impossible to you, especially if you’re used to beating yourself up. Many of us treat ourselves like the enemy. We regularly judge, criticize and condemn ourselves.
One simple question: Would you say these words, the words you say to yourself, on a daily basis to a person you really love or a young child? No? Then stop beating yourself up, there is zero advantage, and it’s really a waste of time too.
If you’re interested in reading more about how words can influence your subconscious in a positive manner, you can check out another blog post about this topic here.
There you go, 5 techniques to boost you self-confidence.
Feel free to try them out, I’m pretty sure, as in: a 100% sure, that it can’t hurt!
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I would love to hear your story.