Shahroo Izadi - Behavioural Change Specialist
"Growing up, I remember that two of the worst things you could be accused of was ‘loving yourself’ or ‘showing off’..."
I can’t help but notice that many of my clients are now specifically asking for confidence tools in adulthood that help them to feel more deserving of their success in a bid to "unlearn" a belief they picked up from childhood that owning their strengths wouldn’t be well received.
When I’m delivering workshops now, I sometimes do a little experiment where I tell attendees that I’m going to ask that they take turns saying one thing they like or are proud of themselves for, out loud, in front of the group. Just to tell me one reason they deserve to feel confident. Almost immediately, you can feel a sense of cringe saturate the room. Once I’ve assured them that this was just a test to help them notice their response, I ask them how they’d feel if someone they loved was as reluctant to do the same exercise.
Without fail, the thought of this makes them sad because they know their loved ones deserve to feel confident and accomplished without apologising for themselves or adding caveats and conditions. They don’t like to imagine those they care for as being self-depreciating. They want them to feel proud, confident and worthy of owning their strengths and achievements out loud.
It’s common to confuse confidence with arrogance. However, it is possible to acknowledge the opportunities we’ve been given and privileges we’ve benefited from while also owning the unique contribution we’ve made to get where we are – and be who we are – because of the work we’ve put in and the qualities we either naturally possess or have put in effort to develop over time.
When it comes to building confidence in our capacity and worthiness, I believe that the way we treat and speak to others about ourselves is important and can set a precedent for how others treat and speak to us. I’ve seen more and more that unapologetically acknowledging our strengths and achievements has a positive impact on other aspects of our lives, such as how much respect we can expect to command and the boundaries we feel we’re worthy of in our relationships.
I’ve found it helpful to acknowledge, with honesty and vulnerability, the inclination I have towards apologising for myself both internally and externally. Not least as I make a concerted effort to remind others – whether it’s my mother, a friend or a colleague – that I never feel they deserve to be minimising their assets and achievements. When I describe the accomplishments of others and promote other people in my work, there are no caveats and conditions, so if I catch myself doing it when I describe myself, I’m keen to note it and ask: "why should I be an exception?".
Shahroo Izadi is a behavioural change specialist, speaker, coach and author of The Kindness Method, which has been translated into five languages. Shahroo’s second book The Last Diet is available now.
Her therapeutic approach is influenced by her experience of working in frontline addiction treatment. During this time, Shahroo developed a knowledge of how to elicit self-led change, even in those who are most resistant to it. Find out more about her work on her website
and follow her on Instagram
You can find Shahroo speaking in The LAB
at Balance Festival 2020
Michael James Wong - Founder of Just Breathe
"Self-awareness is the key to confidence..."
How do you define confidence? Is it a willingness to back yourself or simply a sense of personal promotion? Personally, I’m a big believer that self-awareness is where it all starts from. The first step is an acknowledgement of ourselves and what we are capable of.
From there, the shift is into a sense of self-belief, a positive outlook in ourselves. This can be the hardest part. Many of us have been raised in a culture that pushes us down, creates fears and uncertainties which in turn allows the rise of insecurity, and this is one of the greatest adversities to creating confidence in our lives.
The concept of confidence can at times be taken in two ways. If we have (or show) too much, we can seem overbearing or abrasive, and our confidence can be taken as an extreme showcase of ego. I don’t think there is too much to value about the times when this can happen. There is a lot to say about the way we connect with our confidence, and I believe there is a distinction between the feeling of confidence, and the way we share it, or show it. Now on the other hand, confidence, when grounded in self-awareness and self-belief, can be an amazing motivator and keep us moving forward.
When we start with self-awareness, and we understand our skills, passions and abilities, we can use these as the foundation for how we show up in the world. There are many times in our lives when we can think we’re not good enough, strong enough or ready, and all we need is a little self-awareness to remind us we’re capable and a little self-belief to encourage us we’re deserving.
Here are some tips for creating confidence in your every day:
- Stop comparing and judging yourself against others, yesterday, "the norm" or the expectations from ourselves or others.
- Create solid skills, knowledge and clarity. The more thorough you know or have crafted a subject, topic or skill, the more you’ll feel at ease in any related environment.
- Drop the idea of perfection, be real and authentic in what you know and who you are. There is a beautiful confidence in our vulnerabilities.
- Have a positive outlook on life. Don’t see others as naysayers or people who want you to fail or fall.
- Life isn’t black or white, right or wrong. Life is simple, a matter of right and left, and when we realise this, we can confidently walk any path with certainty.
Recognised around the world as a leading voice in the global movement for modern mindfulness and a man on a mission to turn the volume down and bring a quieter conversation into the real world. A community activist, author, yoga teacher, and the founder of Just Breathe and Boys of Yoga, you can find more about him on his website
Find Michael on the Main Stage, teaching in the Yoga FLOW and leading sessions in the Mediation Dome
studio at Balance Festival 2020