Moodzone: Low confidence and assertiveness 

Dr Chris Williams gives you tips to help build your confidence. This podcast is one of an eight-part series for Moodzone.

How to feel happier

Transcript of Moodzone: Low confidence and assertiveness

NHS CHOICES MOODZONE

Low confidence and assertiveness www.nhs.uk/moodzone

I'm Dr Chris Williams,

and I'm here to help you help yourself through some common life difficulties.

In this session, we're focusing on tackling low confidence.

And also on building our assertiveness.

By the end,

you'll have hopefully rediscovered some really good things about you,

so you have a more balanced view of yourself.

Have you ever felt that you're just not good enough?

Most people feel this way at one time or another.

Perhaps when going for a job interview, or going on a first date,

being compared to siblings and so on.

Low confidence can hold you back because you talk yourself out of things.

This often leaves you feeling low or anxious.

But you weren't born thinking that you weren't good enough.

It's an idea that you may have picked up at some point in your life.

It's most certainly not true.

You're OK. You really are. You really are OK.

One of the big reasons for thinking badly about ourselves

is that we have our standard set impossibly high.

We couldn't live like that all the time, neither could most people we know.

So remember that good enough is good enough. Don't beat yourself up.

In the real world, you don't have to be a perfect ten

to be happy, successful and popular.

Millions and millions of people are OK being just good enough.

In fact, the world's happiest people

are those who know to be content with themselves just as they are.

Whether thin or fat, whether they've got no job or a great job,

whether they've got a small flat or a large house,

whether they're a sports star or someone who just enjoys the odd walk.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do things to our ability,

but it does mean not to beat ourselves up

over things we just can't change right now.

In fact, some very apparently successful people don't seem that happy at all,

as we read in the papers every single day.

And what makes people happy seems to be more about how we see ourselves

and really connecting to things and people around us.

Things don't always have to be perfect.

You don't need to finish top of the class, or to win the race.

Instead, say to yourself, "Ten is too many."

Five, or six, or seven or so are just fine.

We have to start recognising that we're all works in progress

and recognise our strengths as well as our weaknesses.

And here's a typical example of someone who has low confidence

and lacks assertiveness.

Mia has just had her first baby and is having serious doubts

about whether she's cut out for parenthood.

She feels like everyone around her knows so much more about babies,

and her sister is always correcting her.

She thinks she isn't good enough and needs to build up her self-confidence.

Mia has always avoided confrontations,

so she lets things build up and it really gets her down.

She feels useless as a mother, and at times, angry at her sister.

But she isn't actually telling her sister how she feels

or asking for what she needs.

Many of you will have been in similar situations,

where you feel unsure and full of self-doubt.

There are many things you can do about this.

So, let's get some positive ideas going with these five easy steps.

Step one.

It's hard to believe "I'm OK" when you don't think you have the evidence.

But you wouldn't believe the Earth was flat

just because somebody said so, would you?

So, the first step is to spot some OK things about you.

Things that you know are true

and which challenge those negative views of yourself

that you've picked up over the years.

Try and think of at least five things about you that are OK.

Things you do well, things you're interested in,

times when you help others, that sort of thing.

And if you feel stuck, then think what others would say.

Sometimes other people are better at noticing our strengths than we are.

So, what do your friends say they appreciate about you?

Write them down as your "OK things" list,

a list of things that are OK about you.

Write them down and put it where you'll see it.

And remind yourself of them regularly.

Especially at times when you doubt yourself.

As these things are true,

it will help really boost how you feel about yourself.

Step two is to use your "OK things" list,

so that you can change what you think about yourself.

For example, try not to think like this,

"I just can't do it. I'm ugly. I'm no good at anything."

Instead, remind yourself of the things on your "OK things" list.

And say it to yourself whenever you feel small.

Choose to think things like this instead,

"I can do it because I did... something from my list."

"I'm not ugly, I'm normal like everyone else

with attractive and less attractive bits."

"I'm just like everybody else with strengths and weaknesses."

And take time to write these down,

so you remember the positive things and you don't forget them.

Step three is to change what you do, as we're all acting really.

Everyone has an outside and an inside, and they can be very different.

You know those people that seem so confident?

They're actually just like you inside.

But they know a trick, which is how to walk confidently and talk confidently,

to stand confidently and dress confidently.

And with these tricks, you can slowly, slowly become more confident yourself.

Here's where you need to take up some acting lessons.

It's easy to act confident, just copy someone who is.

Maybe a friend, a colleague, a neighbour.

Or maybe a famous actor, or someone at church or the mosque,

temple or synagogue. Or a favourite sports or pop star.

Or anyone else that you look up to.

Here are some tips. Don't do this.

Speak quietly. Instead, turn the volume up a notch or two.

Don't stoop. Instead, walk tall and keep your chin up.

Don't look away or look down.

Instead, make eye contact with others as much as possible.

Don't frown. Instead, smile and you'll find that people smile back at you.

Step four, and here are some dos.

Do practise being assertive.

Assertiveness is about putting your point across whilst respecting others.

It's not the same as aggressiveness.

Be assertive in the right way and people will have more respect for you.

And here are four rules of assertion.

Firstly, I have the right to say no.

Secondly, I have the right to change my mind.

Thirdly, I'm not responsible for other adults' behaviour.

Fourthly, I have the right to ask for thinking it over time.

That means you don't have to agree to things right on the spot.

And step five is to ask some questions to help get people talking.

Who? Where? What? Why? And when?

Maybe asking things like, "Tell me about your holiday."

"Who did you go with? Where did you go?"

"What was it like? Why did you choose that place?"

"When's your next holiday?"

These questions all help get people talking.

But don't forget to listen. Be interested in what they're saying.

Nod and smile.

You'll find it gets easier and easier to talk.

And if you find that you lack confidence talking to people, here's a tip.

Try to look just past the person to start with,

so it looks as if you're looking at them,

but you're just missing eye contact.

All of these things should help you build your confidence bit by bit.

Some of the skills may take a little bit more practice than others,

but you'll get there.

Just don't forget, you're already OK, so do go for it.

And thank you for listening.

Thank you. For more like this visit: www.nhs.uk/moodzone

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