Self- (confidence, awareness, respect, preservation…)

“Last year, selfie was named International Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries, so how about self- as Word of the Age? That’s not self on its own, but self- the prefix, as in self-portrait, self-parody, self-referential and maybe a little self-obsessed. It expresses the zeitgeist. It runs like a red thread through the words that are written, spoken and read everywhere, by everyone from self-made pop culture icons and self-appointed bloggers to the self-satisfied guardians of high culture.

Trends from Havas

“Creating a positive self-image is now recognized as a vital task for everyone, boosted by good measures of self-confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline, self-respect and self-regard. Getting those right sets off a self-reinforcing process, especially for energetic self-starters. On the other hand, people who are prone to self-doubt or self-pity might want to try a little self-compassion and self-acceptance as part of a self-directed self-improvement program. Self-conscious or self-critical people might find this all a little too self-absorbed, whereas others could find it positively self-aware.”

In continual disagreement with Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and in continual agreement with the quote above (from the Havas Worldwide white paper on the top 10 trends of 2015), I see self-confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline, self-respect and self-regard as vital qualities in today’s world. OK, maybe I am biased, but I still think that the Law of Attraction has got it sorted and that whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

So what are YOU doing to self-improve? How are YOU growing your confidence? Here’s 3 ways for people with little confidence in a particular area:

1) Decide, for no better reason than you have decided, that you will be more confident today.
Just deciding to be confident gives you confidence. Confident people don’t look for reasons to be confident, they just decide they are confident. The reason why you choose to wear that particular T-shirt, pair of trousers, skirt or hat is just as valid as the reason you choose to feel confident. It is all in the mind.

2) Reduce the tension.
Fear creates tension and tension is not helpful in overcoming lack of confidence. So with that new-found confidence (from deciding to be confident today), let go of the nervousness. Take a deep breath and let the tension go. Do it several times, until the tension has gone. Now you are ready to:

3) Take a (calculated) risk.
Confidence is the memory of past successes. If you want to build your past successes, you have to take risks. When you realise that those risks paid off (that you didn’t die), you can count it as a success and add it to the bank of past successes on which to build your confidence.

So now you can go out and conquer the world. Failing that, at least conquer your fear of talking to a stranger. Or that girl/boy you have the hots for. Or your lack of self-confidence!


Why Fear is Like Sickness

I have been sick these last two days. Low energy, lying around, watching YouTube, not eating much… And of course, not getting any work done.

Fear is a sickness

That got me thinking, that these are the symptoms of when I procrastinate. When I feel fear. If Fear is in control, it takes my energy away and forces me to lie around, not doing any work. The difference, is that if I am sick, I notice it, because I am not always sick. I also do something about it: go and see the doctor, take medicine, get some rest, eat healthy food (if I eat at all)… Whereas with fear, if I notice it, I usually try and rationalise it away: “I really should be preparing that presentation. Why am I walking towards the fridge? Oh well, since I’m here, I might as well get myself a piece of cheese and a gherkin….” I don’t think to myself “This is not normal. I am not usually this afraid of preparing a presentation, I should contact The Confidence Doctor (read Guy) and see if he can tell me what is going on and what I can do to reduce the cause of this lack of activity and general inaction…”

So where to from here?

Well, I’m back on my feet (hence this article, which I could not have written yesterday) and therefore back to work. Does fear still control me? Sure it does! Who can say that they control fear in every aspect of their lives? I would love to meet that person!

Just remember to treat fear as a sickness – find out why you have it, get some help with identifying it (it likes to hide and fight for its survival, like a monster), then treat it, take the medicine and get yourself healthy again!


Confidence to communicate

Some say we have unprecedented communication.

Some say we have more friends than ever before.

Some say we are linked to people across the globe in numbers unseen previously.

I say we are loosing touch with other.

When I see teenagers chatting to each other in the same room, but over Viber or WhatsApp, when I hear that young people would rather text than talk face to face, when I hear that students avoid interviews because they would mean being judged at a real and personal level, it scares me. What is happening to our communication? What is going to become the norm in 20 years time? How many people will still use their mouths to speak and how many will only use their fingers? Even deaf people communicate visually.

Have the confidence to SPEAK to each other. Have the courage to ask a stranger a question and listen to the answer. Experience the JOY of touching someone both physically and emotionally at the same time. Though much can be learned on the internet, relationships cannot. Communication cannot. Life cannot.




What is Confidence?

One of the most emotional moments I have ever had, was a spoken presentation by an 18 year old who had a very bad stutter, in front of a large audience of fellow students, parents, teachers and other members of the community.

All the members of the class of this young man (whom I shall call Sam) had been studying a subject of their choosing for 6 months as part of their final year at school and were now presenting the results of their research.

Public Speaking is scary - now try it with a stutter!

Public Speaking is scary – now try it with a stutter!
– Thanks to JJ for the use of the photo

Despite Sam having a very bad stutter even when not under pressure, there he stood, alone, in front of a room full of people, some of whom knew what an amazing feat it was just for him to be standing there and some of whom had yet to learn. He took a deep breath and started speaking. At least he tried. For what seemed like an hour (but was probably closer to 30-45 secs), he stood there, trying to speak the first word of his prepared speech, without managing. Even after the audience had begun to wonder how he was going to get through the page of writing he was holding in the time he had, he continued to try and do it alone. Finally he accepted that he had would not be able to get a word out, so looked at one of his classmates (I shall call him Jack) sitting in the front row. As obviously prepared, Jack stood up and went to stand next to Sam. Jack then started slowly reading the script that Sam had prepared and as he did, Sam started joining in, bit by bit, word by word, until eventually Jack was able to stop reading and Sam was able to finish his speech alone. I shall leave you to imagine the response of the audience when he finished.

As I hope you can imagine, speaking in front of that audience was way outside of Sam’s comfort zone. But he accepted to seek the help he needed and did it anyway. That is one form of confidence. In this case, confidence is not about how competent you are and how willing you are to do something you are competent at. That is easy. Confidence is doing something you are not good at (with help if necessary – be that in the form of someone supporting you, getting education or practicing it), something outside your comfort zone, being successful at your goal (sometimes it is not all about winning, but just making it across the finishing line) and thereby increasing your ability to try out other new things.

Some people don’t have that confidence. They don’t ask for help and remain in their bubble, their comfort zone, their world of known fears, not ever daring to face the unknown fears that create the boundaries of their world.

But let’s imagine for a minute that a magic fairy could eliminate that fear. What would the world look like?

Think about how your world would look if you were able to step outside your comfort zone and try something you would really like to do, but have never had the courage to do. How would you feel? How much less stress, anxiety and pain would you feel?

If what you imagine is more attractive than what you are living today, if that world seems incredible and if you would like to be there, but you still let fear dictate what you do and do not do, take heart – there is a solution. Taking action despite fear is possible and not as hard as it seems.


Confidence, Will power

Motivation and Insight

Allan E. Mallinger and Jeanette Dewyze write, in “Too Perfect – When being in control gets out of control“, that if the reader is armed with 2 things, they can make significant beneficial changes:

Motivation and Insight

“By Motivation I mean a willingness  and a desire to put consistent effort into changing the attitudes and behaviours that are causing some of your unhappiness. By insight I mean an understanding of exactly how your particular [problems] are causing you harm, and some ideas for alternative attitudes and behaviours.” – page 36, Fawcett books.

That struck me as particularly pertinent and succinct. Is it not so that these are the 2 ingredients needed for ANY change? Want to get fit and lean? You need Motivation and Insight. Want to make more money? You need Motivation and Insight. Want to be happier? You need Motivation and Insight. Want to become more confident? You need Motivation and Insight. Want to change anything in your life? You need Motivation and Insight.

Insight can be found outside yourself: There are countless books, blogs, videos, magazines, articles, documentaries and other informative mediums about every subject under the sun. Anything you might want to do, achieve, accomplish has been described, explained and elucidated. There is so much information available that is is actually more often a case of trying to find the most relevant bits. The things which speak to you. Which resonate as true inside your very being. The ones which make you say, “YES! I can relate to that. That person has gone through what I am going through. They know what to do. I can trust them.”

Motivation, on the other hand, can only be found inside yourself. No one can give you motivation, not even your mother (if only she realised this!). But when you find motivation, it can move mountains. It can even change how you behave. The only possible thing which can maybe still hold you back is fear. If you still have fears which stop you from taking the action you know you should be taking, then all the motivation in the world will not help you to take that step, do that action.

If, however, you set your sights on reducing your fears and increasing your confidence, what can hold you back? If your motivation is to reduce your fears to the point where you have them in control and you achieve this, then it becomes possible to do ANYTHING!

Good Luck!


Can acting confident make you confident?

I was boarding a half hour flight from Brussels to London last month, when I decided to play a joke on my fellow passengers. I decided to pretend I was scared. So using my tremendous ability (!) as an actor, I constantly thought, “what would I think and do if I was scared?” then thought and did it: I sat in the aisle, not my usual window seat, I sat at the back of the plane, I didn’t get up during the flight, I nervously asked the hostess why the plane was so bumpy, I didn’t talk casually with my neighbour, I just stared straight ahead the whole time, gripping the armrests. I was hoping to get lots of attention from lots of beautiful hostesses, have the privilege of being the first one off the plane and get an extra bag of peanuts. As it turned out, none of these things happened. But I was having fun, laughing inside – until we begun the descent. That’s when I realised that I could no longer let the armrests go. I could no longer get rid of the tension in my stomach, I could no longer bring the colour back into my face, I could no longer stop thinking “I hope we land in one piece!” I could no longer stop the tears which were rolling down my cheeks – I was absolutely petrified and had absolutely no control over my emotions. Within 30 minutes, I had instilled in myself a fear of flying.

“Nonsense!” I tried to convince myself. “I’ve flown all my life! I’m not scared of flying!” But when I next had to get onto a plane, my stomach tightened. My hands grew cold. I started sweating. My heart rate quickened – I was scared.

Can acting confident make us confident?

Acting afraid certainly made me afraid. And not just on the day. It impacted my emotions next time I was in that situation. I obviously didn’t want that fear and knew I had created it, so as I boarded my next flight, I acted confident and became confident again, but what about people who don’t know that they have control over their emotions? People who have been told to be afraid of something and started doing so before being able to make up their own mind?

Can acting confident make us confident?

What if it can? What if by pretending to be confident we influence our thoughts enough to have an impact on our feelings. What if these new feelings are strong enough to influence our actions? What if these new actions have an impact on our thoughts? Where does confidence start?

When I was at school, I was once on stage in a woman’s bathing suit (the old kind – with the skirt), which had cushions inside to make me fatter and on which had been stapled a whole lot of eye-shaped bits of green and yellow paper. Although I looked like a tree in summer, I was supposed to look like Papageno, the bird catcher from the magic flute. When I saw myself, prancing around in this costume, I almost died. Both of shame and of laughter. But in a very useful moment of shunting responsibility, I thought: “This costume was not my idea, I was against it the whole time – I accept no responsibility for it whatsoever.” Then ignored the little voice inside my head that was trying to convince me that the audience all thought I looked ridiculous. That made me feel detached from the potential ridicule associated with it, which in turn allowed me to act/pretend to be more confident. This fake confidence led to me acting better, which led to people congratulating me, which led to a boost in self esteem and a rise in my ‘real’ confidence (as we all know, confidence is merely the memory of past successes).

So, can acting make us more confident?

It can for me. Why not try it?

What would you do differently if you had more confidence?

As a Keynote speaker, trainer and coach, Kanuka helps people increase their confidence, thus increasing not only their bottom line, but also their quality of life, what they get out of relationships and how they feel about themselves.