There is a wonderful phrase in Zulu “Sawubona” meaning “I see you, the true you.” Far too often, the first things that we see in the mirror are all the things that we aren’t as to all the things that we are, all the things that we haven’t achieved as to all the things that we have, all the things we have done wrong as to all of the things that we have done right! And that is not surprising.
Our brain is actually designed so that we notice negative things first – it is what kept us alive when saber tooth tiger roamed the earth! But fear not – we are all not destined for a life of doom and gloom.
The great news is that with a little bit of effort, we can retrain our brain to focus on the positives! And whilst it takes just a little bit of practice, I have found that just a few little steps can help us shift our focus to the positive side of life, build our confidence and enable us to shine as brightly as we can:
Positive: Always approach the day or an activity with a positive attitude. One of the best ways I have found is to great everyone I meet with a smile and a simple statement, “I am great!” Sounds simple, it is, but trust me it works. And it not only makes me feel better, it makes those around us feel better too!
Power: Do something to give your confidence a boost – a great dress, fabulous shoes, whatever makes you feel strong. Former Australian Cricket Captain used to carry his late grandfather’s red hankerchief in his pocket when he batted for Australia for good luck! For me, if I have a challenging day ahead, I wear a beautiful necklace which my husband gave me and a killer set of heels.
Perspective: Write down each day 3 things that you are grateful for. And if you are having a particular tough time, sometimes the only things that you will be able to think of is that you are alive, have food and shelter! But there are many people in the world who don’t have those three things. It will allow you to put your challenges into perspective.
Play to your strengths: Each of us has great talents and strengths. Focus on the things that come naturally rather than those that don’t and build upon these. After all, if you were an awesome runner as a kid and hopeless at swimming, you wouldn’t dream of entering the 100 backstroke at the Olympics – you would dream of being part of the track and field team and wouldn’t beat yourself up if all you do was the dog paddle!
Pamper: Talk to yourself as you would talk to your best friend. You wouldn’t speak badly to your best friend and point out all of their faults so why would you speak to yourself that way. Speak with kindness and compassion to help silence any negative self talk.
Put the lid on: Acknowledge any negative thoughts, or doubts that you have but then put them into an imaginary box in your head, place a lid on it and focus on your strengths!
Proud: Be proud of all of your achievements and the fabulous person you are – sometimes it is important to look back at the mountains that we have already climbed to remind us that we capable of overcoming the challenges ahead.
Practise: Practise makes perfect! Former English Rugby Player Jonny Wilkinson became the best English kicker of all time not just through natural ability but through hours and hours of practice. This gave him the focus and confidence to perform at his best, even under extreme pressure!
Put your hand up: Be proactive and give anything a go and don’t expect perfection! The first time we do something can be scary but it gets easier and easier each time – promise!
Pose: Stand tall with your head held high, shoulders back, make eye contact, smile. Research has shown using a power pose can increase testosterone making us feel more powerful and decrease cortisol to make us feel less stressed.
Perspire: 3x30 minutes of exercise per week will do a lot to make you feel better and give you more energy!.
Persistence: Never ever ever ever give up! At times, things are going to be tough and it is going take some hard work, You have only failed when you give up so don’t and you won’t! A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. Try to view any challenges as part of the tapestry of your life and the person you are meant to become.
Pause: Do something that energises and invigorates you! Be in nature, read a great book, whatever enables you to renew and reconnect.
People: Surround yourself with people who energise you and recognize how brilliant you are. Find a mentor, coach and sponsor
Joanne SPOKE AT THE 2017 i4 tales conference
Courage from Within
When things do not got so well in our lives, it is easy to get our brain to notice all the difficulties, the negative situations and the obstacles. Learning to recognise how to turn our thoughts around and retrain our brain to focus on the positive aspects of a situation is a skill that we can all learn and apply in our personal and professional lives.
In this incredible session, Joanne Keen will share her strategies to build the courage we need to face the adverse events in our lives so we can shine as brightly as we can.
Check out our website and stay tuned for our upcoming event!
Carney DR; Cuddy AJC; Yap AJ; Power Posing:Brief Nonverbal Display Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance; Psychological Science 21(10) 1363-1368.