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Uncertainty undermines your sense of purpose

Uncertainty undermines your sense of purpose. You’re not sure what’s going to happen, what direction to take, or whether you are doing the right thing. You feel disempowered, no longer in control, at the mercy of other people or events, or prey to your mind and its fears.

It might be that this is due to events. Brexit could have put a halt to plans. Your organisation might have put investment and hiring on hold. You’re not sure whether you’ll have to move countries or whether you’ll have a job. Business conditions might have turned unfavourable. Maybe your landlord wants you to vacate your flat but you are sure where to go, or what you want.

Or, its personal. Your partner isn’t committed or is hinting at getting out. Or you’re not sure if you want to be in this relationship. Should you jump ship or stick around? Perhaps things are unstable and you’re not sure where you are.

You might lack a clear sense of direction yourself. You find it hard to commit when you don’t know what you want. Many people spend whole chunks of their lives sitting on the fence.

When we hesitate and hold back from action, the universe goes on hold too. We don’t say what we want. So how can the universe send you what you want? Uncertainty gets mirrored back to you, in the lack of commitment from others. We get back what we put out, or don’t put out. Doubt and confusion takes its place.

It doesn’t have to be like this: we have choice

What can be hard to recognise is our own part in our process. We are at cause in our lives, though it feels like we are at the effect of it. In other words, we feel things, events or other people cause what happens for us. In reality, we are the cause of what occurs, strange though that can seem.

This is about our thoughts and in particular our beliefs. What we think and believe is what occurs. It creates a state and that emotion goes out there and comes back in certain configurations.

Thus if we feel uncertain, that is what we get. And we disempower ourselves.

But we can choose. Even when it seems like we can’t. We can choose to think and feel differently.

It might take working on, which is why people do personal development and learn skills in managing the mind. But we can learn to step back from our egos, witness them, and enter a calm, peaceful state.

Anchored in your Self

When anchored in your Self, you are at peace. You have then stepped aside from the whirring of the mind, and your state, which in this case is uncertainty. It isn’t you.

When we are in this space, we can choose. We can let go. We can take charge. We can create our own purpose and have our own intentions. We are once again aligned to the creative force of the universe, who can now send you what you know you want!

Doesn’t that feel better?!

To feel better, plan how you can take charge of your life, and get some coaching.

Contact me

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Have you lost confidence recently?

Confidence – that ability to believe in yourself and your capability – can be present one moment and gone the next. It can help us to sparkle, impress and be effective at what we aspire to do, and its absence can weaken, undermine and inhibit our potential and what we accomplish. When we’ve lost confidence in some area of our lives, we really know the difference because there’s a gap between what we really want and what is occurring right now. We can feel undermined, held back and limited in some way. And it’s likely we don’t know what to do about it, otherwise we probably wouldn’t feel like this for long.

You might have lost confidence recently because something’s happened to undermine it. It might be some knock-back, a blow that affected your belief in yourself, like losing a job or some severely negative feedback that led you to doubt your abilities and your worth. It might be that some change has occurred that might be unexpected or you’ve only just woken up to, like you’ve always flourished at what you do but you’ve now noticed that the world has moved on and somehow you are behind the curve. It could be that something has changed in your environment, like you’ve fallen out with someone and broken up with them, and the old certainties have gone, or so it seems. You might have reached a certain stage or age in life and in reviewing your situation you might have realised that all is not so comfortable as you had imagined.

Thus people lose confidence for a whole manner of reasons, both in their work and their personal lives, like redundancy, change at work, a new role, divorce or breakup of a relationship, operating in an unfamiliar environment, reaching a certain age or an awareness of aging, illness, an accident or some other health issue, not coping with stress, moving house, bereavement – there are many possibilities. Yet these can focus our awareness in on our capabilities and our faith and trust in what we can accomplish.

Yet how we respond to it can be crucial to our future. It might be that we are otherwise limited in what we can accomplish unless we deal with the challenge. It might be that we just need to let go and move on. It’s not obvious and we can feel left in some no-mans-land where we don’t feel so good.

It’s a classic reason why people come to me for life coaching or business coaching. There is something they want to accomplish and yet, when we explore the underlying issues, one that comes out is that people want confidence to do what they want to do. Confidence to take action, confidence in dealing with people, confidence in presenting themselves, confidence in public, confidence in managing high-profile situations, confidence in developing their careers, confidence at being at the top of their game, confidence in staying on track and accomplishing what they really want, confidence in completing what they set out to do and in taking the profit from their endeavours.

If you are at a point in your life when you feel you’ve lost confidence recently and need help to re-build it and succeed in what you are trying to accomplish, and you are interested in coaching to help you, contact me here.

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Being in the public eye can be terrifying but it needn’t be so

Despite the jokes made about Michael Bay’s exit from his own presentation, some might be surprised and some amused but others more sympathetic about a very common fear that is likely to have driven Bay away, the fear of being “upfront”, being in the public eye, in front of other people, vulnerable and exposed, as when something wasn’t working in his presentation. I would add to it, for many of us, the fear of being upfront in itself.

We’re thankfully becoming more candid about such things, as witnessed by a well-known book, And Death Came Third, by Lopata and Roper, where the writers found that public speaking and walking into a room full of strangers were rated by very many as their first two fears. Apparently PM Tony Blair was scared witless before every Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions time in the UK Parliament. Even a very publicity-savvy person as he could find aspects of his role daunting.

In coaching executive clients, I have often met people who needed help with their presentation skills in high-profile situations, such as to stakeholders, Board colleagues, shareholders and other important occasions. They are not alone. It occurs for very many people where their work brings them to places where they need to stand in front of others and speak. Many give themselves a very hard time about this, often feeling ashamed that their otherwise great abilities seemingly desert them and they are left as if a gibbering wreck, inside at least. People speak of feeling dread, shaking, sweating, loss of voice, having diarrhea beforehand, catastrophising, rehearsing in their minds for hours beforehand, not being able to sleep, and so on. People dream of losing their notes, of the equipment not working, of not being sufficiently prepared, and of all sorts of things going wrong, not just before the occasion but for weeks and months afterwards.

This taps into a wider fear, of being upfront in general, of self-disclosure, vulnerability in front of others, the fear of how others may react, being shamed, feeling ashamed, embarrassed, ridiculed, and as we see it as not being liked or approved of. We live in an acutely publicity-conscious age, where you sink or swim according to your ability to “perform”, as it seems, in the spotlight. People sometimes describe it to me as the fear of “being the centre of attention”. Would the earth swallow them up if that occurs!

Despite many years of teaching, training, facilitating, and speaking “upfront”, I can certainly resonate with this myself. At one level I find I enjoy the buzz of a good session, of stimulating discussion, of good interaction with the audience, of bright faces, alert attention, strong engagement and satisfied outcomes. At another I also find myself feeling nervous before an event. I’ve certainly got masses of techniques, “tricks” and methodologies to ensure all goes well, and certainly learned to flex and adapt when they don’t. The nervousness is a throw-back to my early teaching days  and the fear of not “being in control” or “losing control”. For many a teacher this occurs, and it also wonderful when the fear is replaced by the deep satisfaction gained from the strong engagement achieved, the great learning that people get and the wonderful relationships that are built.

However what is key is what one can learn about oneself. All most people have come for is to hear what we have to offer, which is of course our knowledge and expertise. It is for us ourselves to make it work or not, and that means moving through and letting go of fear. Fear is an illusion, F.E.A.R., False Evidence Appearing Real, and we can learn to manage it and in fact turn it to our advantage. The solution is just a breath away.

I coach people in developing their public confidence, and I also run a program that can greatly help too by helping people become more mindful.

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Self belief involves developing inner strength

It can be a prevalent theme in one’s life, fluctuating in one’s opinion of oneself between self doubt and positive self belief. At one moment we can be plagued by low self esteem and confidence, worrying about whether we’re “up to it” and “can make it”, what people must think of us, whether we’ve “got what it takes”, and whether we’re really OK. Then in another moment, for some reason, it shifts and we know we can do it, that we’re fine and OK, and it doesn’t matter what people think because we know we’re OK.

Whole groups, organisations and countries can do this too, and so it can be a collective thing, each in our own way, outside of awareness supporting each other in self doubt. The UK is an expert in self flagellation and we seem to be going through a mega-phase of beating ourselves up, finding fault here, there and everywhere. Nothing’s sacred.

And this is the point. The Self is sacred. At our essence we’re love, beauty and truth. Who can find fault with That? Yet even those that hold some understanding of the essential worth of the Self can indulge in periodic bouts of self flagellation. No wonder religion has a field day of it in certain cultures.

Of course we do need to be easy on ourselves, but somehow people can miss this. Self blame and thinking ill of ourselves might be where we’re at, but it isn’t who we really are. Yet, we can flip so violently into the other polarity and not believe in ourselves that it might seem that we’ve lost it, and that what we believed wasn’t true. Some people can even go so far as to ditch their whole belief system in their rage, fury and upset and some kill themselves in the process, the ultimate in retroflection.

What is important is that we have our own recovery mechanisms, and the process of self awareness and self development through some practice can help grow this strength. And inner strength is often what this is all about. We need to forgive ourselves for the hard times we’ve been having, let go (which is real forgiveness), and re-connect with our inner strength. In doing this we’re developing resilience.

I’ve been seeing a lot about resilience in the organisational development literature and practices. Businesses have been seeking ways to build resilience, both as organisations and for their people. There’s this awareness that so tough have times been that pepole go down and can’t get back up. So too in people’s personal lives.

Inner strength is a journey, not a quick fix, much though people continue to seek the latter out. The latter often is about avoiding the inner journey and yet the inner work needn’t be a hard one but needs more a sustained process to become aware of and let go of those tendencies we have to think ill of ourselves when times get difficult, become more aware of our core of inner positivity and self belief referred to above, and develop the will to bring ourselves back in touch with that core. The more we know that inner core, the stronger we get. So commitment and steadfastness is the name of the game.

I have a workshop that is designed to help you develop these abilities around self belief that I am referring to. Click here.

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It’s hard overcoming low self esteem after a knock to confidence

It’s a big challenge for people at present in these difficult times, maintaining self belief, confidence and self esteem in the face of knock-backs and rejections. I’m thinking particularly of job seekers, but it can also apply to the self employed and to those with financial difficulty, illness or other challenges that life can seemingly throw at us. Overcoming low self esteem in the face of difficulty can feel like it’s too much, particularly if your self esteem wasn’t that great to begin with.

It doesn’t help when you get a bad day. If you keep getting bad hair days, it can feel like a pattern has set in. Even if you pull yourself back from the precipice, another setback can occur and it can seem like you’re back on a treadmill to nowhere. These occasions set you back and your confidence takes a drop. Then you start to beat yourself up and your self esteem falls. It’s a vicious circle.

Let’s say you’re a job seeker and you’ve been putting a lot of energy into job hunting, with not a lot of success. A bad day could be a string of rejections coming all at once, and calls and approaches you’ve been making seemingly getting nowhere. Then your health starts playing you up and you’re struggling to get going and make things happen. And it’s holiday season and those fortunate enough to be in work are taking their summer holidays, whilst you aren’t. So you feel even worse about yourself.

This is where in recession times developing your recovery and self belief skills are so important. The point of awareness is to get that you’re going back down on one of those slides, and to say “stop”, and stop yourself going back down into a pit. This takes practice, I know, but we have to start somewhere, and as good a place as any is to recognise this keeps happening, and to work to stop it keep repeating itself. What reinforces the decline is low self esteem, because we can so easily slip back into a negative pattern. It’s like it’s the ego saying, “I told you so, you’re no good”. This is where we need positive things to be saying to ourselves to challenge this negative cycle. None of it is true in any case. It’s more illusion, maya, a function of the ego, not who we really are. The mind is much bigger than this.

There’s a big point here in recognising how powerful the mind is, and how it can lead us to great positivity when we take charge, manage these mental patterns, and over and over again re-focus ourselves on to what uplifts us.

So, when you get another rejection or another set-back, this is a clue to immediately re-focus on your task and take action, and not to allow the sirens of doubt to start to get a hold over you. Working on the mind in this way is like treating the mind like a muscle that needs strengthening. Psychosynthesis says a lot about the will and how it needs to be built up. So too in these situations. When we’re in a positive, purposeful state, then we draw more positivity to us, and better things start to happen, as per the Law of Attraction. Stuck in negativity and we get nowhere and draw more of that to us.

I help people who need help with their careers. You can find out more here.

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Building self confidence can mean building self belief

Self belief is often at the core of work one might do for building self confidence.

When things don’t seem to be working out, or when we doubt our capability, or in other ways don’t feel up to it, we can doubt ourselves in some way. It can go to the core. When we doubt ourselves, all sorts of things dissolve or don’t work. It’s an incredible self-destruct mechanism. And if others sense we don’t believe in ourselves, then they don’t believe in us. And so the process become self-reinforcing. If others aren’t believing in us, then we think we’re not up to it, so much are we used to measuring ourselves by what others think of us (or we think they think!).

Yet, one clue to change lies in the very word belief. It is of course very powerful, because belief can be deep-rooted, even unconscious. Yet once you root it out, using self awareness, you then know what you are addressing. Awareness is the first key step to change. By noticing it, you are drawing new possibilities to you. The reason why belief is a clue is that beliefs are just that, something we’ve decided or adopted, and therefore something we can change.

One big key is to start with a new, more positive belief, one that you are at least willing to say to yourself even if you don’t believe it. By holding out for a new belief, you can then learn to challenge the old belief and say the new one to yourself. More importantly, it is also to act it out, to take action based on the new belief. “Acting as if” is a powerful positive psychology tool. “Faking it to make it” releases positive chemicals in the body: we’ve shifting the energy around the old pattern, re-wiring the neural pathways, re-orientating our thinking, planning and carrying out new strategies. In Law of Attraction terms, we are lifting the scale of emotions to more positive ones and drawing to us more of what we want.

This is why when we’ve had a bad day, it’s to let go of it, stop thinking about it and resolve to make the next day be different and better. Then we need the will to help us take action in the new direction the next day. This way we build up our recovery mechanisms. OK, there’ll be times when it doesn’t work or we flip back into the old pattern. The key is to train ourselves to let go and recover our momentum.

Self belief can be learned and built up over time. It has to be worked on. The key is to commit and continue working on it. After all, as the saying goes, “you’re worth it”!

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There are two sides to self confidence

There are two sides to self confidence. There’s how we feel about ourselves and then there’s confidence in others, which is closely linked to trust. Confidence in others can take quite a lot to build up but can easily and rapidly be lost. It can be very easy to make self confidence “other-person related”.

This is very evident curiously enough in the current furore over banking in the UK. Banking is built on confidence. That’s why you put your money in a bank. But because of the slump since 2008, confidence has been severely lacking. And it’s spread out to include politicians and journalists. When we find the trust has apparently been betrayed, as with the alleged fiddling of interest rates, there’s an explosion, all the worse when it appears politicians were involved too.

So too with our relationships: having confidence in your partner is crucial. If we find out our partner has cheated on us, it gets very hard to trust them. Yet a relationship is based on trust. You need to know they’ll show up for you, they’ll be there for you, they’ll honour your confiding in them, they will respect your space, they’ll reciprocate when you put yourself on the line for them, and so on.

A betrayal of trust is like a rejection. It can hurt deeply. If someone’s proven not to be there for you, you can feel abandoned. You might also feel like it’s an injury, depending on what’s happened.

Confidence in life, in its ability to deliver for us is profoundly important. For those who have such confidence, it’s like knowing that in each step you take, the ground is firm and steady and it supports and sustains you. Things show up when you need them to. All sorts of things appear just when needed. Life works. Without this trust, there’s a doubt and a questioning. Will this happen OK? Will I be safe? Will the road be OK to drive along? Will that car drive past me safely or will it do something dangerous? In my job, will others respect me when I speak up and go for what I want? Will they think I’m worth it if I go for that job? Will people see my value? To those that have self confidence, they just believe it will be OK, until they get evidence to the contrary. To those that lack self confidence, there is often fear, anxiety and doubt. There is a doubt that the world will show up for them as they need it to, and there’s also an inner doubt about themselves. This will vary according to the context of course.

Whatever the challenge and the level, contemplating an action can give us anxiety and we’re not sure we can do it and that it will work. Very often this involves a question of whether others will respond as we need them to. Will we get what we want?

This is why a key aspect to self confidence work is to learn to face our fears, and to build up trust by experimentation, taking action and trying things out, often in the process challenging the inner dialogue that can so easily undermine us. It can sometimes be like we’re learning anew certain life skills, like for example the art of communication and influencing, but this time with an inner faith and an inner power, one we hold true for ourselves whatever seems to happen in the world “out there”. That’s when we need to go within and decide that “in here” is OK. That’s when we take action based on inner confidence.

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How much are you who you say you are?

How much do you live your life in honesty and integrity? Are you who you say you are? It’s a very useful question, all the more relevant in the light of the recent scandals in public life. It’s a good time to check with ourselves. Do we practice for ourselves what we insist of others?

We’ve had a week of devasting revelations about the UK banking industry, whose reputation must have reached a new nadir. Now we have news that the bankers were dishonestly fixing their interbank lending rate, the LIBOR, and artificially inflating their performance. The press have been full of words like honesty, integrity, corruption in corporate culture, and trust. There have also been wider comments about the conduct of the press itself in the light of the News of the World hacking scandal, and its interlinking with politicians right up to the Prime Minister of the day. Not long before we had the MPs’ own scandal of dishonest expenses claims. Let’s hope that enquiries into all this have generated a healthy self-searching amongst people in public life.

To enquire of ourselves too is important. It’s not uncommon for people to practice one thing for themselves and expect another of others. Moreover, people may hold a set of beliefs about being in integrity but fail to practice it, or find reasons why these needn’t apply in certain areas of their lives. The law court records will be full of stories of people who’ve lived like that. The classic example is of course the person who in public is the paragon of virtue, like for example a priest or the judge, but who in their private lives abuse others or themselves. It’s that while the shadow in us is unexplored, owned and dealt with it must find a way to leak out and express itself in some way. People who work with others in a helping role particularly have this challenge, in that otherwise their shadow side can impact their dealings with others. This is one big reason why therapists, coaches and others should receive their own personal development: go for yourself first on the journey that you aspire to lead others along.

Hence it is hardly surprising that there is a howl of outrage when more banking misdeeds are exposed, since at essence people need to trust bankers with their money. So it’s a breakdown in trust. However, this crisis of trust in relation to the powerful is much wider, with concern being expressed about the powerful and wealthy in general. It’s as though the established order itself is in question, since somehow it hasn’t worked for huge numbers of people in many countries. Again, this will have it’s impact at the micro-level too, in a crisis of trust in others and in established arrangements. “Will I be OK,” people wonder, “and will I be OK with this person?” Safety and security are bottom-line concerns, at the base of the Maslow hierarchy of needs. When feeling threatened we revert to these thoughts and feelings.

Yet, this can be dealt with, when we remember to have faith, trust and belief in ourselves, confidence in ourselves, self confidence. Our own “failings” and those of others are ego behaviours, not who we are. Here again is another challenge to re-member.

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The search for how to be more confident

Having worked with very many people about how to make changes in their lives and work, I’m always fascinated when people make the shifts necessary to achieve what they want. One clear shift is when their search for how to be more confident in their chosen path finally pays off. Somehow all the work and effort comes together and what had seemed a barrier and a difficulty melts away in the face of the smooth flow of the effectiveness of what they are now doing.

When we’re in the middle of our struggle in life, it can seem that all we’re aware of is what we can’t do, can’t make happen, can’t see what to do, can’t understand what’s needed. It’s all full of “can’ts”. When we’re in the flow of it all working however, what we know is that we “can”. The barriers no longer exist.

How we get there, how we learn how to be more confident, to believe in our own capability, to work our magic and to achieve our goals, can of course be down to many things, like learning and practicing new skills, letting go of old beliefs, habits and patterns, learning to make connections with people, breaking out of our fear box, our own inner trap in which we can get stuck, shaking loose the boundary conditions of our thinking, discovering our own hidden talent, talent we couldn’t see because we were so full of “can’ts”, finding by experience what works and so building our confidence from that, building up a track record that reinforces our self belief, getting feedback from our environment that also serves to reinforce what we’re doing, all this and more helps.

Yet so often, within this learning and confidence-building work that is our project for change and growth, there’s still that magic inner ingredient, that shift within us when somehow we know that what we’re doing works, that it’s OK and somehow we’re OK too. We can call this shift many things. Yet so often people say that they somehow finally learned to believe in themselves and at some level feel good about themselves.

This inner belief is so massively powerful. When developed, it can move mountains, sustain you in difficult times, bring hope out of despair, let go of perceived hindrance, see possibility when logic speaks limitation, opens up fields of exploration out of seeming nothingness, and turns dark into light.

In the midst of a renewal of economic difficulty, when people’s endeavours are seeming being constrained once more, or haven’t really got going still, it’s perhaps time to go within and find and connect with that inner belief in who we are and learn to make our choices based on our inner knowing.

Our training is very focused on helping people build their inner belief, to help them find how to be more confident in their journey.

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Building self confidence that works for you

Like a lot of personal development, people start to turn things around in relation to self confidence firstly when they become aware that something isn’t working and it might in part be to do with them, and secondly when they develop the will to make changes. I have written at length on the process involved in turning your life around in my e-course, The Seven Proven Steps.

Depending where you are at in the self confidence journey, the distance can be quite short and for others it needs working on over time and with persistence and determination. It’s one thing to learn and master a particular skill and another to shift a long standing pattern.

There are however certain key areas that stand out along the way.

A lot of self confidence building is about behaviour change, doing things that take us out of a stuck state, often despite our fear and reluctance. It is often by pushing through the comfort zones that we discover something new, dispelling illusion and finding that it’s often quite different from what we feared. Hence often people decide and work on specific actions to move them on. There was a great TV series a few years ago in which people who struggled to create relationships were supported by coaches to improve their appearance, to start getting out and meeting people and arranging themselves dates, and then to turn those dates into success. These were a series of actions that took them outside their comfort zones and into doing things that they previously would have avoided, building skill along the way, and of course confidence! As things began to work and people saw they could make a change, their belief in themselves and their capability rose, and their self esteem rose too.

Hence a lot of confidence building is about self efficacy, one’s belief in one’s capacity to do certain things and to succeed. This needs working on over time to develop confidence. So much mastery of a skill involves practice and perseverance. In this blog you will read a lot about the importance of practice.

Therefore it is to clarify your goals, what you are seeking to accomplish and what other goals might together make up the overall desired result, so that you know where you are going. The important thing would be to not undertake something that is too global and massive that, unless you have great determination and capability, can potentially be self defeating. However there’s a lot to be gained by really working on your vision and your goals, and to support  these goals by some strong action steps that will take you towards where you want to go. Often people need to build up their self confidence.

At the start and along the way we also need to learn about managing the mind, a prevalent theme in this blog. Here we develop our self awareness and start to become highly effective at noticing and interrupting those negative thought patterns that undermine is, challenging our inner dialogue and refocusing on that which uplifts us. As long as we keep thinking we “can’t” for example, we wont. Instead we focus on what is possible and what we have going for us and what we are seeking to achieve and what we doing to get there. It’s like in a way that we are rising above ourselves, our ego self that is.

Hence it also helps to become aware of your strengths and capabilities and what you have accomplished in the past. Even small things can hold vital clues.

This is not a comprehensive treatment of what is possible but more to introduce you to some key aspects of the journey. As I wrote before, using a coach is one classic way to build self confidence and therefore actions can be tailored to this.