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How to improve your confidence

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Yesterday I stood at the front of a room of 45 advertising execs and their teams, and buggered up the first 15 seconds of my workshop. I started out ok, then 1 sentence in, my tongue got stuck in my mouth, and I paused for a millisecond too long. A mini panic ensued and Neville (my mind) leapt to attention and screamed

“Farrrrrk, you’ve just paused too long!”

I scrambled to work out what to say next as Neville continued “…for the love of God, stop pausing!!… Shiiiiiit, say something!”

“Getting realllll awkward now Andrea…”

And then I actually said out loud, as I desperately scanned my presenter notes, “Er, no, I won’t say that…” “FML!” exclaimed Neville, and went and hid himself in a dark corner of my brain. There watching my workshop were two CEOs, both of whom were there to decide, largely based on my performance, whether they’d sign up to run loads more corporate mindfulness workshops across their Australia-wide organisation.

Neville was so stressed that he took over my brain to try to control the situation.

As usual, his behaviour only served to make me more flustered. I realised, in this awkward 3 seconds, that if I couldn’t reign Neville in, it could all easily go downhill from here.

It was time to practice what I was about to preach,

and bring my attention back to the present rather than getting yanked into panic by Neville’s rapid-fire insults. I stepped back from of Neville’s rant, and anchored my attention right into my panicky emotions using the “CEO” technique that I teach in my Bloody Good Life mind-taming programs. Neville slunk off and let me take the wheel again. I got my sentences back on track and rest of the workshop went swimmingly, the audience seemed engaged the whole way through, they laughed a lot at my shit jokes about amygdalas and pessimism, and there were only minimal moments where my nervousness mingled with my speech. At the end of the workshop I received the most incredible feedback, and both CEOs came up to tell me they loved the workshop and would definitely be rolling out the rest of the mindfulness workshop series across their organisation. One participant mentioned he had been struggling under the stress and pressure of work lately, and was so relieved he could now understand what he could to do about it. Apart from my very awkward kick-off, I think people probably perceived me as pretty confident throughout the workshop. I joked with the audience, laughed a lot, and even managed to enjoy myself.

But on the inside, I was simultaneously nervous as all hell,

couldn’t eat properly leading up to the workshop, and had a bit of background anxiety all afternoon the day before. Even though I’ve been running these workshops for yonks and know them like the back of my hand. Even though I love facilitating corporate mindfulness workshops. Even though I now feel (mostly) at ease in front of big groups. When it comes to mindfulness facilitation, I’m pretty confident.

But confidence doesn’t mean that I’m free from nervousness or self-deprecating thoughts, I still have a tonne of those.

Confidence, in my books, is not about having a complete lack of anxiety, fear or nervousness.

It’s about having the jitters, and stepping up to do what it is you want to do anyway.

Over and over, until it gets easier. That’s what courage looks like. Imagine a bagful of confidence is lying on the other side of an abyss. If you want more confidence, all you have to do is cross the bridge, step by step.

Fear is the bridge to confidence – there’s no other way to get to it.

The more times you jitter your way over the scary-ass bridge and go after what you want, the easier it gets. The more you wade through your fears, the more confident you become – not only of your brilliant bridge-crossing skills, but of your ability to handle any situation, any emotion, and any thought that your mind throws at you.

Don’t wait to be fear-free before you do what you want to do – you’ll be waiting forever.

Learning to allow fear rather than running from it is the single most powerful thing I’ve ever learnt.

When your emotions no longer control you, anything is possible.

Bloody Good Life LIVE reopens in April, I’ll teach you all my ninja tricks for regulating fear, reducing negative self-talk, and getting clear on what you really want. Get on the BGL waitlist here!

Pst — for more tips to help your mind calm the fuck down so you don't jitter through your day like an anxious hampster, download the free g-book here: How to Stop a Bad Day in its Tracks  It’s free, and brill.

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