Sex & Relationships

How to get killer confidence

How to get killer confidence

Job interviews, first dates and public speaking are enough to reduce even the most confident people to a quivering bundle of nerves.

Here, psychologist and fear specialist Anthony Gunn tells you how to overcome your anxiety and excel in whatever you’re doing.

“When it comes to stepping out of a social comfort zone, see your nerves as your body’s way of making you perform at your best,” he says.

“When nerves are accepted instead of fought against, they drop considerably. When we face our fears in this way, we can turn them into success.”

How to spot a nervous person:

You might think other people are more confident than you, but their actions will give them away says Gunn. Watch out for:

Avoiding eye contact

Fidgeting

Speaking fast — to get it over and done with.

Speaking slowly — using “ums” due to a mind freeze, or stalling to rehearse in their mind.

Hiding behind a barrier, for example holding a drink or handbag in front of themselves.

Hands in pockets or held behind the back.

Avoiding the dreaded mind freeze:

We all know the feeling, it can happen when introducing people, when giving a wedding speech… whenever we’re feeling pressure.

“A common example is when someone puts us down or has a go at us in public and everyone laughs,” says Dunn, “Then half an hour or even a day later we come up with all these great comebacks.”

Mind freeze happens because when we’re anxious, the logical parts of the brain are starved of blood and the fear parts are getting too much.

“Our reactions become more primal — we get tunnel vision where our mind will fixate on one thing, for example thinking, ‘I made a fool of myself and everyone will laugh.’ “

When you feel on the spot and your mind is offering up nothing but a blank wall, do not hold your breath, says Dunn.

“Simply using deep breathing puts more blood back to the logical thinking parts of the brain — brain scans have shown this.”

To be on the safe side, if you’re nervous, take a deep breath before you say anything at all.

Can you fake confidence?:

No, says Dunn: “The ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality sets people up for failure because it encourages them to jump into the deep end of the pool if they can’t swim. Our brains are hard-wired to over-react for our own safety.”

Banish self-defeating thoughts:

The average person talks to themselves at over 500 words per minute, and a lot of it is negative, says Dunn.

“No-one likes to be wrong, however it’s important to challenge the validity of our negative thoughts about what we can and can’t do.

“You might believe you could never try a new hair style, travel somewhere different or start studying again. Choose a small, realistic comfort zone to step out of and do it — prove yourself wrong.”

Overcoming nerves:

If you’re nervous about facing a tricky social situation… just practise the whole thing first, Dunn suggests.

“If you have to be cool, calm and confident, but you feel extremely anxious, you will go to pieces. If you practice with a friend a small amount of anxiety will come up and you’ll get used to it.

“Put a video camera on and your anxiety will be increased. Get used to sitting with that anxious feeling and knowing it won’t harm you, and it will drop very quickly. You really will have killer confidence.”

Anthony Gunn is the author of Be confident. For more fear-busting tips, visit his website fearispower.com.au.

Your say: Do you have any tips for beating anxiety? Tell us at [email protected]

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