Instant Confidence: The Power to Go for Anything You Want by Paul McKenna PH.D. (2016)
DEVELOPING THE CONFIDENCE HABIT
Use Your Body to Change Your Life
The Posture of Champions
Your mind and body are intimately linked in what is known as a “cybernetic loop.” That means whatever you think will affect the way your body feels, and the way you use your body will affect the thoughts in your head. Put simply, the one is always affecting the other.
“Nothing is more revealing than movement.”
Think about someone you know who is depressed. You will notice that their body posture is hardly ever upright. They tend to slouch and their movements are slow.
Now contrast that with champion sports people, business leaders, and the most successful figures in show business. Notice what their postures have in common. Most of the time you’ll see them “standing tall,” but in a relaxed way. They move their bodies in bold, confident ways.
Try this experiment:
Imagine a silver cord running up your spine and out through the top of your head. Now imagine that cord is gently pulling up on the back of your head, making your body more and more upright.
For the next few days, practice sitting and moving in this new way. By making this one simple change in the way you carry yourself, you will send a whole new set of messages to yourself and the world about how naturally confident you really are. Soon, you will have reset the muscle memory and this new confident posture will become your predominant habit.
One Point of Power
Many years ago at a health exhibition I walked past a small, nerdy-looking man in a martial arts outfit. My friend and I began a conversation with him about “Aikido.” He explained that Aikido is a defensive martial art where the main focus is upon using your opponent’s energy against him while staying centered in yourself.
“The key to good technique is to keep your hands, feet, and hips straight and centered. If you are centered, you can move freely. The physical center is your belly; if your mind is set there as well, you are assured of victory in any endeavor.”
MORIHEI UESHIBA, FOUNDER OF AIKIDO
To our delight, he agreed to give us a demonstration. He asked me to gently push him, and as he was more than a foot shorter than me I had no problem knocking him off his balance.
Then he smiled and said, “Now push me again.” I did as he asked, but something had changed—he didn’t move at all. He told me to push harder, so I pushed as hard as I could, but it felt like he was made of concrete.
He smiled again and said, “Ask your friend to help you.” Me and my burly friend were now both putting our backs into it, but to no avail. Someone even stopped by to ask him a question, which this tiny man calmly answered as we groaned and pushed in vain against him.
When we finally gave up, I asked him how on earth he had just done that. He explained that when we move our attention to the very center of our body, we become physically and psychologically stronger.
He then asked me to think about something or someone I found stressful—my boss at the time came instantly to mind! Then he told me to forget about the room and people around and to “put my brain in my tummy.” I thought what the hell, and gave it a try, moving my attention directly into my stomach. He pushed hard on my shoulder, but I could barely feel it. I not only felt physically stronger, I felt calmer. When he asked me to once again think about my boss, I noticed that I no longer felt stressed—I felt strong.
Here is the very same exercise for you to learn and master. You can use it to prepare for a potentially difficult situation or as an “in the moment” tool to center your mind and body for confident success …
Read through the exercise before you do it for the first time … A quick note: it can be useful to do this for the first time with the assistance of another person, but if you don’t have anyone to do it with, you can always do it for yourself …
1. Stand up and put your attention on your “One Point”—about an inch below your navel and roughly halfway between your navel and your spine. This point is known in Japanese as “hara,” and is believed to be both the physical center of your body and the central storage point for your “ki,” “chi,” or life force. If it helps, place one hand over that area of your stomach—I find that if I line my thumb up across my navel that works well for me. You may also like to visualize a ball of energy radiating from that spot.
2. Now think about a situation coming up in your life that you are worried or upset about. (This is not the time for major phobias—start with something relatively minor.) If you have someone working with you, have them push you gently on the shoulder. You will find you are very easily pushed off balance.
3. Continue thinking about that difficult situation. Give your discomfort level a score from 1 (at peace) to 10 (aaaargh!).
4. Now bring your attention back to “One Point.” Place your hand over that area of your stomach to help guide your mind. If you have someone working with you, have them once again push you gently on the shoulder. You will know you are at “One Point” when it is very difficult for them to push you off balance.
5. Finally, holding “One Point” attention, think about the situation you were upset or worried about and notice the discomfort drain away from 10 (or wherever it was on the scale) down to 1. Again, if someone is working with you they can monitor your attention by pushing gently against your shoulder as you do this to make sure you are holding “One Point.”
6. When you no longer feel discomfort thinking about the situation, you can use your “One Point” attention to mentally rehearse performing at your best. When you are actually in the situation, you can hold “One Point” as you perform to ensure you will stay centered and peaceful throughout.