“Inhale confidence, exhale doubt”. It’s a breathing exercise that will make you feel more confident. But, wait? Confidence is something you either have or you don’t, isn’t it? And what about the people who just fake it? Are they onto something? Should I be working on developing my confidence?
At Blue-footed Booby, we’re all about incremental steps. And we believe that you can improve your confidence, one step at a time. But first, let’s get to the root of what confidence is and where it comes from.
What is confidence?
Confidence is a feeling of trust or belief in yourself. According to Psychology Today it comes from the conviction that you have the ability to meet life’s challenges and to succeed – and the willingness to act accordingly. For some people, it’s about being comfortable in social situations. For others, it’s about asking for what you want or need. Whatever it is to you, confidence comes from the assurance that you being you is good enough and that you’ve got what it takes to handle what life throws at you.
How to develop confidence
So, wonderful as that sounds, how do you develop confidence when you feel insecure? Or how do you feel confident in a new job if you’re learning on the fly (and don’t want anyone to know how much you’re worrying about your lack of talent/capability/wit etc)? Or how are you supposed to be confident in a new relationship if you have a history of bad breakups or if you’ve never been on a date?
Most of the time, being insecure and lacking confidence translates into situations where you’re not liked, not accepted, and don’t get ahead in life. It’s a vicious cycle. The more you feel like you don’t fit in, the more you don’t fit in.
I remember working at an upmarket pub in London. I was shy and awkward and till then, I’d never lived abroad or travelled on my own. The staff had a policy of eating lunch together every day. Feeling embarrassed about joining them (and anxious about what I was expected to do), I grabbed my lunch and went to sit on the opposite side of the lunch area. Of course, this just called attention to me because everyone else naturally flocked together – it was the norm for everyone to eat together.
Sitting apart was either a) rude, b) aloof or c) weird. None of which inspired confidence. It took me a long time to get accepted or to feel like I was fitting in – and the problem wasn’t with them. It was all me. I was so worried about what people thought of me, that I wasn’t able to relax and just be me.
Let’s face it. We all feel doubt or fear about so many things. How will this be received, will I be liked, will he/she love me? It’s a conundrum. To be happy, loved, or successful you need to be (or at least appear) confident. But to be confident you need to first be happy, loved, or successful (or so we think).
Understanding why the inhale confidence and exhale doubt technique works
The first thing is to realise that people who are happy, loved or successful are often not confident. Just because they have loads of friends or appear happily married or run a successful business or whatever it is you see on the outside, that doesn’t mean they’re confident.
Models lack confidence in their appearance. Millionaires lack confidence in their business or wealth and celebrities and influencers still try desperately to be liked. So, confidence clearly doesn’t come from any kind of external proof. It comes from our own belief in ourselves (which is why sometimes the least attractive guy can be the most confident person in the room).
Yes, it works to inhale confidence, exhale doubt, because both come from within
If confidence can’t be linked to any external attribute, improving any external factor won’t build confidence. Getting a promotion doesn’t make you more confident in your abilities – it can make you less confident. Imposter syndrome, is a good example of how working your way up the ranks doesn’t make you any more confident – it’s prevalent among CEOs and high-level executives!
Confidence is an emotional state. It’s a state of mind that influences how you interact with the world. It’s the perception that you are okay as you are and have everything you need to function in the world. A person who is confident will feel that they lack nothing, even when they do! It’s almost like, despite any lack, they’re able to imagine that they can achieve success. That they’ll figure it out somehow – and because they believe they can, they do.
To be confident means accepting what you lack and being okay with it.
Those who succeed in business are comfortable with failure.
People who are socially confident are okay with rejection. They don’t care if everyone likes them or not.
Someone confident in a relationship is comfortable with getting hurt. Their boundaries are clear and they’re not afraid to express themselves or be vulnerable – even if it means being uncomfortable or getting hurt.
So many of us let our thoughts run away with us. So even if you see yourself succeeding, you worry about failure. I love this metaphor: It’s like driving a car while pushing the brakes at the same time. No matter how many times you catch yourself worrying or feeling doubt, just keep focusing on the image of your success. Here’s an exercise that will help you do just that.
Blue-footed booby success formula: Inhale confidence, exhale doubt
This is an easy deep breathing exercise that is both calming and confidence-boosting.
- Inhale deeply through the nose. While doing this, push as much air as possible into your diaphragm (watch your stomach expand outwards) for about 5 seconds. As you inhale, imagine yourself breathing confidence into your very being, allowing it to infuse you with a deeper sense of self
- Now hold this breath for 5 seconds. As you hold it, imagine this sense of confidence expanding into every cell of your body
- Exhale doubt, letting it go slowly and inexorably, imagining that you’re purging yourself of self-doubt and the anxieties that accompany it, releasing it into nothingness where it can no longer affect you
- Repeat this exercise five times in one sitting. You’ll be refreshing your cells with oxygen and your mind will seem clearer and less foggy. Your heart rate will slow down and you’ll feel lighter and more focused. And now you can continue the next part of your day feeling relaxed and more at peace, because you’ve taken the time to inhale confidence and exhale doubt.
- Repeat as often as needed throughout the day.
Inhale confidence, exhale doubt,
inhale confidence, exhale doubt,
inhale confidence, exhale doubt.
You’ve got this. Keep telling yourself: I am confident, I have released all doubt.
If you have tried this and it worked for you, please share your experience in the comments below or shoot us an email.