I’m sure we’re all aware of the impact that stress is having on the UK.
The news is full of statistics and stories about how many working days are lost each year to stress.
At the moment, it seems to me, that there are a lot of people living in fear: fear about their jobs, the economy and their futures.
Fear causes stress.
Fear stops people from taking action; it paralyses them.
Fear roots us to the spot, robs us of our dreams and makes small people of us.
Fear teaches us to live in the shadows of life, to expect second best and to suppress our voices.
It’s tyranny wields a terrifyingly strong grip on even the most hardy.
Fear tells us what we feel we can’t do – and prompts us to ignore what we can.
It encourages us to hide behind the parapet, shut up, and endure situations we would love to change…it fills our lives with ‘if only’ wishes and hopes.
It’s a depressing thought…
It’s time to fight back at fear
But I have a secret weapon for combating fear and stress.
And that secret weapon is building your confidence and self esteem.
If you feel confident that you can handle the consequences of whatever happens to you in life, then you are far more likely to try things.
You’ll take more risks, make better decisions (make a decision), speak out, value yourself and feel more resilient.
And it’s when we feel like this that fear begins to melt away.
We know we can handle whatever life throws at us because we feel confident in our abilities to bounce back. We are self-aware, flexible, realistic and optimistic. We are less likely to do what psychologists refer to as catastrophising or awfulising.
This refers to our tendencies to react to events with phrases like ‘I can’t stand it’ or ‘It’s a nightmare, the worst thing that could happen EVER!’ or ‘It’s just awful, my whole life has collapsed’.
It is argued that these are reactions that are based on what we think about the events, not the events themselves. People who are more confident tend to have a more realistic picture of their lives and understand their strengths and weaknesses, so know that they have all the resources they need to be able to cope. The fear may still be there but they know they can handle what comes.
So, how can you begin to build confidence and self-esteem with a view to managing stress?
Here are 7 techniques that are particularly useful and very powerful.
1. Build more self-awareness
This helps you to develop a fuller picture of yourself and alerts you to your strengths and weaknesses. Try identifying your core values and live them in your daily life. Say to yourself ‘I am the kind of person who…’ and hold your head up high. Learn to recognise your emotions and manage them so that you begin to develop the ability to stay calm. It’s amazing how much easier some situations are when we feel confident that we can be in control.
2. Carry out a life audit
Then use it to identify areas of your life where things are good – there will be more than you think! Focussing on what’s going well rather than what’s not can help put things in perspective for you.
3. Review your past achievements and successes
And particularly notice when you handled a challenging situation well. Identify what personal traits and attitudes helped you to come through it, so that you build a solid picture of your capabilities.
4. Measure each ‘stressful’ situation on a scale of 1 – 100
Where 1 represents no stress and 100 is the most awful thing that could possibly happen (for most people this is usually the death of a close loved one or something similar). Plot your event/situation along the scale realistically. Where does it really sit? The chances are it won’t be as bad as you first thought – how does diminishing it’s effects impact on your confidence to handle it?
5. Plan to fail (or at least not do very well the first time)!
Understand that one way to build confidence is to face our fears and be prepared to have a go at what we are finding stressful. So if the thought of attending an interview strikes fear into you – do it anyway! Not getting a new job is a great sign because it means that you are beginning to conquer your fears by exposing yourself to the situation and feelings that you want to change.
6. Get inspired
Talk to people, or find examples of people who are doing the kinds of things that you want to be doing. If they can do it, so can you. don’t let the fear of the unknown or the ‘What if…’ hold you back.
7. Understand that ultimately, YOU have the ability to choose
Choice gives us back the power to make decisions – and doing nothing is still making a decision. It puts us in control of our lives. With practice we can choose what to think and believe and with and this ultimately frees us from feeling powerless. We can choose our response and focus in any situation. Begin to recognise and practice this and you will be amazed at how much more in control and confident you begin to feel.
Developing your confidence will help to become more resilient and help to remove the inertia that can come with stress.
How have you used confidence to combat stress? What other ideas can you share? Please let me know in the comments below.
Today’s Micro Action
How does stress hold you back in your business? How could you use these confidence building tools to take back control and ensure you continue on your path to micro business success? Take some time today to work through these seven powerful techniques and identify which will work for you.