Like most meditation teachers, I had a regular personal meditation practice for several years before I became a teacher. The truth is I don’t remember exactly what prompted me to sit down and meditate that first time, but I do know what kept me doing it: the difference it made for me.
After two really bad relationships and several that just didn’t work out, getting laid off from multiple jobs, and even having to give up the beautiful home my parents had helped me build, my confidence and self-esteem were pretty much non-existent. I felt like it was all my fault. Even the things that weren’t my fault (like being laid off, because in both instances it had nothing to do with me or my work, it was simply a matter of budget cuts and my lack of seniority), I blamed myself.
Meditation allowed me to see reality and get past blaming myself. It helped me rebuild my self-esteem and confidence and find new paths for my life.
It can do that for you, too. Keep reading to learn how.
Guided meditation can build confidence
With the use of guided meditations, you can use specific thoughts to build up your confidence. These guided meditations can include affirmations that are tailored to your particular areas of low confidence. For example, if you’re lacking confidence in regard to your job, you can include affirmations like, “I am good at what I do and I am always learning new ways to improve my skills.”
During meditation, you are more aware of what’s going on in your brain, and this can help to embed those affirmations into your mind more easily. Because you’re not trying to force yourself to remember the affirmations alongside a grocery list, to-do list and chore list, you may find that you more easily integrate those affirmations into your day.
You can write your own guided meditations, look for some on an app, or work with a meditation teacher to have some written for you. If you record them in your own voice, you may find that it works even better for you.
Lack of emotion can create freedom
The purpose of meditation, despite the popular misconception, is not to stop thinking. It is to observe the thoughts that come without judgment and simply let them pass.
Many times, our self-esteem and confidence take a beating not because of the thoughts we have, but because of the emotions we have due to the thoughts. We cling to those thoughts that we’re not good enough, not talented enough, not attractive enough, or otherwise lacking. We cling to them, and we tell ourselves they’re true and that makes us sad, angry, or hurt. Those feelings then start us on a negative spiral that leads to more negative thoughts, more clinging, and more bad feelings.
Meditation allows you to take a step back and observe the thought without judgment. You don’t cling to it — you just observe it and let it pass by, like a cloud in the sky, untouchable. You don’t latch on to any feelings attached to it.
By doing so, you’re able to see the thought more clearly for what it is. You’re able to realize that the thought that you’re not attractive or talented is just a passing thought and is not true.
This nonjudgmental observation gives you the ability to start shaking off the negative thoughts. By observing them during meditation, you can try to become more aware of them outside of meditation. When you notice them outside of meditation, you can start countering them with arguments of why they’re not true. You can look for evidence in your life that points to the opposite of your negative thought.
For example, if you feel unattractive, you can look at how many people have asked you out in the last few weeks, the number of dates you’ve been on, or how many people have flirted with you. If you feel untalented, you can look for the areas where your talent really shines: artwork you’ve created, stories you’ve written, a blog you update regularly, or knitting projects you’ve given to family or friends that they actually use.
Play with the subjectivity of your thoughts
Nonjudgmental observation of your thoughts isn’t the only thing you can do while you meditate. Nor is guided meditation to simply push affirmations on yourself.
You can use meditation to play with the subjectivity of your thoughts.
Your thoughts are subjective — they’re based on and influenced by your personal feelings, tastes and opinions. If you think you’re unattractive, unskilled, or unintelligent, your thoughts will reflect that. If you think the opposite, your thoughts will reflect that, too.
It’s not as simple as merely flipping a switch, however. But this is where meditation is helpful. It’s a container in which you can play with your thoughts safely and without fear.
So when you have that negative thought of “I’m an idiot,” you can play with that. What’s the opposite of “I’m an idiot?” “I’m a genius,” most likely. But what other alternatives are there to “I’m an idiot?” Plenty, such as:
- I’m smart
- I have a solid education
- I may not be as book smart as someone else, but I have a lot of street smarts
- I can change my intelligence level
- I’m human, and I make mistakes like everyone else
Changing your thoughts doesn’t have to be as cut-and-dried as going from one extreme to it’s exact opposite. You can think of these thoughts as being on a spectrum, and your goal can simply be to move a little closer to the opposite end of the spectrum. You keep moving a little closer to the other end of the spectrum over time, until you finally get there.
Challenge your thoughts
Another way to meditate and improve your self-esteem and confidence is to challenge those negative thoughts. When one comes up, ask why it’s there. Ask yourself what makes you think that thought. What makes you think you’re unattractive? What makes you think you’re unskilled? What makes you think you’re stupid?
Why do this?
Because many times, you’ll come up empty for answers. You won’t be able to explain to yourself why you think you’re unattractive, unskilled or stupid. And if you can’t explain it to yourself, you instantly take away a huge chunk of the thought’s power.
And if you do come up with some answers?
You challenge them too. If your answer to why you think you’re unattractive is that no one has asked you out lately, ask yourself why that is. Have you gone out to places where people could ask you out? Have you been open to it, or have you given off a “resting bitch” vibe that would send anyone running the other way?
If you think you’re unskilled, ask why. Did you graduate high school? Go to trade school or college? Is there another kind of training you long to do but haven’t? Are you deliberately looking for jobs that are beyond your skillset to reinforce this thought?
This will require some brutal self-honesty. Sometimes, you’re very likely to realize that you are getting in your own way. You need to admit this to yourself, so you can get out of your own way. You need to acknowledge that you’re doing things that reinforce your negative thoughts about yourself before you can stop doing it.
Give it a try
The key to this whole thing is really very simple: don’t believe everything you think. And the key to not believing everything you think is meditation.
It’s what slows you down enough to be aware of your thoughts. It’s what gives you the space you need from those thoughts to observe them objectively, rather than through the biased lens of your own feelings about yourself.
Even if you don’t believe it will work, just try it. Take 10 minutes out of your day and spend it meditating. Choose one of the above options and just see what happens. Be open to all the possibilities. Let your skepticism be proven wrong by the difference even 10 minutes can make.
If you struggle with doing it alone, get in touch for a meditation or coaching session. With either, I will personally work with you, using one of the above methods, to help you overcome the negative thoughts and find a more positive, confident way of believing in yourself.