Monday, 31 December 2012

Improving your Confidence and Self-esteem


Confidence and self-belief are both hugely important in virtually all aspects of our lives, yet though many of us aspire to have more of each, we often struggle to find them. 

Our confidence and the belief we have in ourselves (or lack of) shows in many ways; in our behaviour, our mood and even how we walk and talk. 
Individuals who lack confidence and self-belief will often find that various areas of their lives begin to feel the effects, with relationships, career, lifestyle and state of mind all begin to suffer unless positive action is taken to build upon and improve these important qualities.

Do you lack confidence and self-belief?
If an individual doesn't believe in themselves, who else is going to? The good news for individuals suffering from low confidence and self-worth is that they are both things that can often be developed through confidence coaching. 
The first step is to acknowledge the current level of self-esteem and then find a way to build upon this until confidence and self-worth become deeply ingrained qualities.
Self-confidence and self-esteem are usually considered to be made up of a variety of factors, including social confidence, physical presence, status confidence, stage presence and peer independence. Your body language, your behaviour, how you speak and how you react to different situations can often portray to others how confident you are and how much belief you have in yourself. 
Those with confidence are generally more positive about themselves, whereas those lacking confidence often think negatively about themselves and could benefit from some confidence coaching.
If you are lacking confidence and don’t have much self-belief you may feel:
  • shy and uneasy
  • uncertain of who you are and what you want
  • sense of worthlessness
  • negative thoughts about yourself and your abilities
  • uncertain of yourself
  • unable to relax and enjoy certain situations you’d like to
  • little sense of direction in your life.
Alternatively, if you are full of confidence and self-belief you may feel:
  • comfortable facing new challenges
  • at ease in social situations, and able to be yourself
  • excited about new opportunities
  • great sense of achievement
  • confident about your ideas and opinions
  • greater enjoyment of life in general
  • respected by other people
  • sure of yourself and what you want.
Confidence and self-worth can be developed through confidence coaching either with a professional or by yourself; however it may take some time to build up your current level. The benefits of this are usually enormously rewarding and well worth the effort.

How can life coaching improve my confidence and self-belief?
Life coaches can often help individuals learn different techniques for developing their confidence and self-belief. Coaching is designed to raise an individual’s self-image and help them create a more positive outlook of life and themselves. Life coaching will help you to help you assess your current levels of self-esteem, challenge your beliefs about yourself and help you build a new, positive self-image, with indestructible levels of confidence.
If you truly believe in yourself, so will others. Deeply ingrained confidence and self-worth will make life more enjoyable, exciting and satisfying.

Self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image
While all of these terms combine to describe the way you feel about yourself and your abilities they do have subtle differences and some people can possess different levels of each. For example, you may have high self-confidence, but low self-esteem. 

Self-confidence or self-belief
Self-confidence or self-belief are generally considered to be the way that you feel about your abilities, skills, behaviours and looks. Someone who has a high level of confidence may trust and be happy that they can complete tasks to a high standard, learn things quickly, or appear attractive to others. By definition, self-confidence means to trust or have faith in you. 
However, confidence can also be described as the way that we project ourselves to the outside world. We don't have to truly feel confident in our abilities, looks or capabilities in order to appear confident to others. Many people can portray an image to others of complete confidence while shaking with fear on the inside. This is an often used protection method used by many to cover up for a lack of self-esteem or other feelings about themselves that they would rather not acknowledge or show. 

Self-esteem or self-worth
Self-esteem or self-worth describe the way that you feel about yourself regardless of your achievements, looks or other things you may feel confident in. It is closely associated with self-respect and pride in your yourself. If you have high self-esteem you have a good or favourable opinion of yourself and are happy in your own skin. 
Self-esteem can be to do with the way that we rate or appraise ourselves against others. This can cover many desired things such as whether we think we are as attractive, intelligent, loveable, worthy or successful as others.
Having a low self-esteem can cause havoc with your mood. Feeling that we are worth less than others may lead us to strive for perfection but never feel we have achieved enough, or constantly trying to please others. Those with low self-esteem or low self-worth may feel depressed, guilty, low and they may try to prove their worth to others. They may avoid situations that could cause fear, anxiety or challenges they feel unable to cope with or conquer.

Self-image can be explained as a mixture of the above (confidence and self-esteem). It encompasses the impressions you have of yourself, covering things like abilities, skills, looks, age, sex, intelligence, successes, career and more. It also covers how you feel about yourself and the impression you have of yourself.

The power of a positive mental attitude
"Whether you think you can or you can't, you're probably right" - Henry Ford
There are countless ways to improve your self-confidence and some may work better for you than others. The main principle to remember is that you need to truly believe in yourself in order to start making a difference to your confidence levels. It has been proven many times that if you lead with your thoughts then your body will follow. This can be seen in successful sports people, medical miracles, and in children who are usually more open about their self-belief.
Most self-confidence improvement techniques are based on the power of the mind and body to work in unison in order to achieve good results. A positive mental attitude will carry you through many obstacles by enabling you to do things, create change and heal yourself with the incredible power of your mind.
In contrast, a negative attitude will create negative actions, results, feelings and low self-confidence levels.
The beauty of any technique based on a positive mental attitude is that you don’t need to know the outcome of an action in order to be able to do it, you simply need to believe you can do it and your body will loyally follow the situation your mind has created for it. This may not always happen straight away and will take a lot of practice but is a proven technique that can produce (so called) miracles.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Understanding Stress

Stress can be both positive and negative. As a positive influence, stress can motivate individuals into action and increase productivity levels. However, as a negative influence, feeling stressed can have the opposite effect and actually lead to adverse physical symptoms. Each individual will have different stress thresholds, and what is stressful to one person may be exciting to another, and vice versa.

What is stress?
Stress is caused by the body’s natural reaction to protect itself, so in an emergency stress will force us to exert maximum effort to defend ourselves. However if no emergency happens, all the extra energy has nowhere to go and negative stress can lead to anxiety, anger and depression, as well as headaches, high blood pressure and insomnia.
Stress can occur in different areas of our lives, such as work or our personal lives. Being stressed is recognised to be one of the main causes of absence from work, and research suggests about half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress that they believe is making them ill.
Changes in personal lives such as the birth of a child, a relationship or the death of a loved one can cause stress as individuals adjust to changes. Negative stress occurs when a person feels they are unable to cope with the level of stress facing them, presenting the need for stress management or help with stress levels.
Stress symptoms - Are you stressed?
If you are stressed you may have emotional, physical and mental stress symptoms which may benefit from some form of help, advice or stress management coaching. These stress symptoms may include but are not limited to:
  • depression
  • irritability
  • low moods
  • anxiety.
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • pounding heart
  • insomnia.
  • loss of concentration
  • negative thoughts
  • lack of interest
  • poor judgement.
Stress management and the ability to de-stress is therefore important, and although stress cannot be eliminated completely (as it’s a natural response), it can often be effectively managed. Some quick tips for managing stress are:
  • prepare to the best of your ability for stressful events
  • ask for help from family, friends and professionals
  • set realistic goals
  • exercise
  • meditate
  • eat a well-balanced diet
  • try to get about 8 hours sleep per night.
Stress management from a qualified life coach involves helping an individual to understand why they’re feeling the way they are and understand how thoughts can be modified to help manage their stress. Exploring an individual’s personal stress levels can also help them to identify their own stress threshold, and identify when they are feeling negatively stressed.
Types of stress, causes and symptoms
Stress can take on many different forms and be caused by a number of things individually or a build up of multiple issues. Working out how to cope with your stress levels and experience less stress will mean identifying the causes and symptoms. Here are some common types of stress, possible causes and symptoms:
Work stress
Something which is becoming increasingly common as a cause of stress in the UK is work related stress. As a nation we are now working longer hours, and recent statistics (2011) show that 6 out of 10 workers are working overtime with 79% of these hours going unpaid. This sort of pattern is a perfect platform for work stress problems, and stress is now the number one cause of long term absence from work in manual and non-manual employees.
If you are experiencing work stress it is definitely worth seeking help or advice. Whether it comes from a friend, colleague, manager or professional life coach, talking about what you are experiencing and the feelings you have will be the first step towards a happier life.
Some of the symptoms you might experience with work stress in particular are:
  • dreading going to work each day
  • finding it hard to concentrate at work
  • low productivity levels
  • trouble switching off from work
  • breakdown of relationships outside of work
  • feeling overwhelmed and can’t cope
  • lack of enthusiasm.
There may be other factors outside of work which are causing or contributing to your work stress, so ensure you think carefully about where your stressed feeling is coming from before you are able to start addressing it.
Being in a relationship with someone else can cause every day pressures for all of us, but sometimes this goes even further and you may experience high stress levels which you can pin down to being caused by the relationship you are in.
Relationship stress doesn’t only occur within couples (married or otherwise) but is also very common between family, friends, colleagues, bosses, employees and strangers. A lot of the time the stress in a relationship can be caused by arguments between people, however, there is also an awful lot of stress which is brought about by lack of communication. When you feel aggrieved or annoyed with someone or something they have done and you don’t express it the pressure and stress caused stays within you and can eat away at you. This is why it is extremely important to communicate within your relationships. This doesn’t mean you have to tell people about every single thing that annoys you, but if you think it is likely to cause an argument in the future, perhaps it is best to address it swiftly with a calm discussion. This simple action can make a massive difference to stress levels within your relationships.
Often your stress in a relationship is not coming from the other person or people in the relationship, as many people perceive it to be. A lot of the time, our own actions and thoughts which we are not fully aware of cause stress to us and addressing this first will enable you to feel less stressed.