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⚡️ 4 strategies to unlock your Confidence and Clarity for a life of success (and less stress)!
Hello friend! 👋
If you’ve joined us from LinkedIn, a warm welcome from the Super Sunday community - it’s good to have you! 🙌
A densely packed letter today, covering two of the most important mindsets you can use to lead yourself (and others).
Confidence and Clarity.
How do you cultivate them?
Let’s unpack that together.
Psychology of confidence
Positive psychology has studied confidence with much detail - it is called self-efficacy.
While there is a validated framework for developing self-efficacy (which I have covered previously here), I want to first bring your attention to the origins of the word - there is usually much wisdom to be unpacked from the meaning of the word alone
Confidence, from Latin confidere, meaning intense trust.
Intense trust in what? In your ability to do what is needed to be done to get to where you need to get to. This may be a specific weight target, or a professional goal, or even mending a damaged relationship.
Putting in the work, keeping a commitment, and having trust in yourself. How can you do that?
I believe the fastest way is through preserving and enhancing your own self-image:
Keep commitments you make (so don’t make too many!)
Be compassionate to yourself when you fail
Discover, and respect, your values
Treat yourself as you would a dear friend
When self-image is strengthened, trust is built.
The opposite is painfully true as well - I’ve been there before judging myself for mistakes, not prioritizing my self-care, consistently missing commitments I make (daily snooze?), and many other things we do without paying attention to the damage they make.
Just like how positivity compounds, neglect does too (and it is usually very costly).
Prioritize your self-image and invest in yourself, because the relationship you have with yourself is as alive and true as the closest relationship you have with those you love.
Bonus: When your mind isn’t fighting to find (or prove itself) it is able to settle down, to see clearly.
Physiology drives psychology
I started with psychology because that’s usually the only place people look at when we speak of confidence.
But the reality is we all are a product of our physiological biochemistry. We feel happy, sad, excited, focused, afraid, and in love (to name just a few) simply through patterns of neurotransmitters and hormones firing and moving about in our bodies.
Confidence, like all other states of mind, lives in the body.
When the body builds physical strength, this transforms into higher resilience, capacity for taking on risks, and even an ability to recover faster.
It’s simple - your body is designed to stay active. So, when you activate it, it rewards you with a fresh set of endorphins and neurotransmitters that literally give you a 12-hour mood boost, as per research.
And you know you’re more confident when you’re in a good rather than fearful mood.
On the physiological front when the body is active it also keeps the pipes clean, so to speak. By ensuring a fresh flow of blood to keep organs healthy, keep arteries free of build-up, and balance out free radicals (that have been shown to be one of the biggest contributors to creating cancer cells).
So, boost your confidence by building inner strength (literally):
Ensure weights or resistance workouts are embedded into your routine.
15 minutes a day is easy to start, build your way to 30 minutes as you build the habit.
When time is short, don’t skip - do the bare minimum you can to ensure the exercise checkmark is earned (I like to do sets of 10 burpees throughout the day to compensate)
Design opportunities to move throughout the day (park farther, take the stairs, do a walking meeting… be creative)
Remember, take care of your body and it will take care of your mind.
Build insight and self-awareness
Clarity isn’t an outcome you magically wake up with, it is an active practice of inquiry and dialogue.
We seek clarity of understanding a subject by reading books about it, studying it full or part-time, and even pursuing academic degrees to become experts in it. But we rarely ever do the same in learning about ourselves.
We leave self-discovery to a reactive by-product of random experiences of life.
That simply doesn’t cut it if we wish to live our best lives and unlock our best potential today. Not someday, but this very moment.
And how can we unpack that? By spending time in our inner world - exploring and uncovering our values, our fears, our motivations, and our intentions.
But in a world full of distractions and comparisons, it is very hard to focus inward. And it never was easy, because an aware and awake mind is dangerous. Socrates was put on death row for telling people to examine their lives. His crime was that he was “poisoning the minds of the youth”.
So, to build clarity you gotta train for it.
I’ve found that mindfulness is the best way to train the mind (this is the reason I decided to study it from a scientific perspective under academic structures within Brown and UCSD).
Have a mindfulness practice, it is not for relaxing the mind, rather a true mindfulness practice is an active training of the mind to operate in the midst of distractions. (and we have more of these today than ever before)
Think of it as mindfitness, not mindfulness, maybe you can then allow yourself to explore and benefit from it.
Reflect to learn and celebrate
This one is almost always overlooked when it comes to building clarity, and much less for building confidence.
But here’s the catch when it comes to confidence - you are a lot stronger than you think, you just don’t spend enough time to see, acknowledge, and appreciate it.
We usually zoom through life going from one thing to the other, without enough time spent in the transitions. But those transitions are so critical to stop, look back at where you’ve come so far, and most importantly, celebrate the wins (and the failures, because they provided learnings) no matter how small they were.
If you’re like me, you’re always excited for what’s next. What’s bigger, better, more ambitious.
But I’ve learned that this can slowly become exhausting. The chase can deplete you of energy, which naturally makes you lose motivation (the body has a fail-safe system: I will force my rest if you don’t give it to me - whether by making you sick, demotivated, or simply distracted).
And when you lose motivation, the self-judgment and self-doubt start to creep in, and that’s a downward spiral into a world stripped of any confidence.
Clarity, too, thrives on reflection. Here’s how.
Your mind is estimated to go through 6,000 thoughts a day (with some research stating it is 60,000 thoughts!), but quite frankly you and I both don’t need any data to validate how much thinking (and overthinking) we do every day.
The mind’s nature is to wander and jump from one idea to the other. This is not technically bad, in creative thinking, this is actually a blessing. However, in everyday life, this can add clutter and noise.
Journaling, especially handwriting, can slow this process a little bit. With slowness there’s less jumping around, the dust settles, and we can see a little bit more clearly what we want, value, and how to get there. So:
Reflect on your prior wins, they help you build confidence
Don’t forget your failures, they’re your medals of honor (you survived and got a learning)
Journal in free form by simply writing what comes to mind
If you find it hard to journal, here’s something that may help you:
Start with using your journal as simple bullet format points on your “highlights of the day”. Start by reflecting on what worked, what needs work, and what will you do next to do that work.
In time you will find that conversing with yourself is a lot less foreign, and you then can transform your journal into a powerful self-discovery ally.
Remember, make it fun. Life’s a game that can be rewarding if played well.
Have a Super Sunday! 💪
With much joy,
PS. I am opening the pre-registration for the next MBSR class enrollment - this is the gold standard in the science of stress reduction. Keep an eye out for the registration links to secure an early bird discount.