Q: “I’m a 28-year-old single woman. I don’t feel I have anything to offer to anyone. All my relationships seem have failed and I’m stuck in a dead end job with no prospects of promotion. Nothing seems to work out for me and I’ve lost all faith in myself. I feel useless. Help!”
A: If it’s any consolation, when I was your age I was in a dead-end job, with a string of one-night stands behind me. If I can turn it around, trust me, so can you. The problem is that, the more you focus on failure, the more likely you are to create it over and over again. Everything – work, relationships, the kitchen sink – depends on how you feel about yourself So, before you lurch any further into darkest gloom, get out a pen and paper and conduct an honest appraisal of your life. Let’s get things into perspective.
• Write down every single achievement in your life – every last one, from learning to ride a bike, to having friends, to getting a job in the first place. This should be a good long list.
• Write down five good things about yourself.
• Ask your best friend to describe your strengths; what s/he likes most about you.
• Resist the urge to say, ‘yes but…’ or to compare yourself to anyone else. We are all completely unique. This is your life, not someone else’s – so don’t hanker after other people’s lifestyles.
Ask yourself: ‘What would happen if I were confident?’ Maybe you have subconscious reasons for staying the way you are. Try completing these sentences (without censoring yourself), thinking of both positive and negative effects:
If I had a better job I would have to…………..
If I had a committed relationship, I would need to…………
If I were totally successful, I would……….
Is fear holding you back?
Now start to imagine how you would be if you were supremely confident. What would you do? What would you wear? What would you say? Where would you be? Imagine it in as much detail as you can. Impossible? Pick a person you admire, and step into his or her shoes. Then, with that new knowledge see yourself approaching the same task, challenge or goal. You can do it!
Other confidence boosters
• Feeling good in your body is key to feeling good in your mind, so get physical. Any type of exercise will help, but martial arts (judo, tae kwondo etc) are superb confidence boosters.
• Research has found that massage can actually increase feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. Quite often old memories and the origins of self-doubt and lack of confidence can surface too. So massage can have a strong psychological effect, releasing old traumas and resolving unfinished business.
• Aromatherapy oils have powerful effects on your emotions as well as your physical body.
– Rosemary warms and invigorates both the body and mind; uplifts the spirit and brings inspiration.
– Laurel helps boost low self-esteem; it’s great if you feel you’re not clever enough.
– For low morale, try thyme: it helps overcome feelings of self-doubt and defeatism.
As you probably know, I’m championing Tazeka Aromatherapy* – targeted organic aromatherapy blends that really work. Confidence is the obvious one here but you might also consider Balance and Optimism.
• Our thoughts produce actual physical reactions in the body: we are what we think. So use affirmations to shift your thinking. Try: ‘I love and approve of myself’. Write it out twenty times a day for at least ten days. Also write down any reactions you have to it (whether positive or negative). It may sound cheesy but persist and you should notice surprising results.
• Finding your true voice has a subtle yet powerful effect: when you use your voice fully, you immediately sound more forceful and important. Voice trainers and sound therapists often give workshops but you can do a lot on your own. Start singing: join in with the radio or a favourite CD. Find what pitch you feel happy with and really belt out the songs.
• Flower essences can help too. Australian Bush Flower essence Five Corners is the supreme confidence-booster – it teaches love and acceptance of self. Bach flower remedy Wild Oat helps if you are not sure which direction to take in life.
A good psychotherapist might also help. If you want to dive fast and deep into what’s holding you back, I’d heartily recommend The Penninghame Process – see www.penninghame.org – an intense (and challenging) week of self-exploration.