Yes, you can change your life. I know this is a very profound statement and I say it because I have done it myself. Until I was about 30 years old, I was so shy that I hardly ever spoke, and I lived a lot of my life in my head. My only self-expression was through my physical body, as an excellent sportswoman.
I started to wonder why I could express myself naturally as a sportswoman, but not in my personal and professional life. This was a challenge to me because at that time I spent a lot of my life worrying about my past (which I could not do anything about) or thinking about the future (which had not even occurred yet).
As I observed myself in my sporting arena, what stood out the most was that I had to respond to the plays spontaneously in the moment, otherwise the opportunity was lost. That was my breakthrough! I was 100% present in the moment on and off the field as the captain coach, leading the team and holding on to the higher purpose of the game. Obviously, I had trained my level of fitness and skills to respond quickly.
My greatest challenge in my personal and professional life was living in the present moment. Once I started to practise being present, I began to hear my predominantly negative self-statements, which were obviously based on my fears of all the ‘what ifs’ (which, by the way, never happened). What a waste of energy and time in my life that was!
I decided it was time to get serious about this positive self-statement stuff! I admit I was still a little apprehensive about affirmations because I had attempted to do them a few years before, without success. Now I realise that I had always done them in a very reactive state when I either felt negative or frustrated and that I’d soon given up, wondering why affirmations never worked for me.
Once I began to do my affirmations more effectively, I decided to keep saying them, as I knew the conscious mind would only take on the thoughts and words I consistently told myself. This eventually became a natural part of who I am and how I live my life, as a new and rewarding habit.
I will take you through the steps I took that helped me make the changes. To get the maximum from my experience, why not go through the steps with me now? I have used the true-life example of developing my self-confidence in my personal and professional life.
Step 1 I wrote down the negative head talk and became conscious of what I was automatically saying to myself, about myself and others.
E.g. “I am not confident” . . . “I wish I looked and acted confidently like her or him” . . . “I am not very good at . . .”
Step 2 Then I changed the wording of those negative self-statements into positive present tense affirmations and wrote them on palm cards to keep in the office, car, fridge etc. as a reminder.
E.g. I am confident
I act confidently
I am great at . . .
Step 3 I chose to say the affirmations as many times as possible during my day no matter what. I said them with feeling, emotion and belief, as though I had already achieved them.
Tip: Choose a maximum of three affirmations to say each time. If you do not feel comfortable with the affirmation, you may need to change the wording to suit you. Keep saying your chosen affirmations until you feel you own them and your life begins to show up that way.
Step 4 I asked myself, “Who do I need to become to achieve this?” Then I made a list of what confident people do, how they act, what they wear, how they walk. I started taking on all those actions, like walking tall down the street looking people in the eyes, smiling and acting confidently (yes, fake it until you make it – definitely works), speaking to people even when I felt nervous.
With daily commitment in practising to be confident, I built a new habit, which changed my life, and I naturally became confident. The new me went from being a shy person to becoming a public speaker, moving interstate and developing my first business, stepping out of my comfort zone and participating in adventurous events such as jumping out of a plane; skydiving, white water rafting, half marathons, travelling the world, just to mention a few.
I cannot tell you how long or short a time it took because there was no line to cross over that marked the difference between ‘shy’ and ‘confident’. I remember one day just noticing how confident I now was and it felt so natural and humbling.
We are all made up of our habits. I decided to make being confident a new habit, purely by taking on new behaviours and acting out ‘confidence’ until it became a part of who I naturally am today.
If I can do it, I know you can too. Think about what habit you would like to change and start taking on the new actions until they are a part of who you are. Does a little part of my shyness still pop up in my life every so often? Yes! Of course, it does and in that moment I remind myself that I am not committed to being that way.
Who are you committed to being in your life?