Happiness comes from within and we all know, once we’re happy, it shows through from our words, our thoughts and our actions. Unfortunately, for many of us our self esteem and confidence seem to wax and wane much like the waves in the ocean … one minute you’re riding the crest of a wave of good self confidence and happiness; the next minute something might happen and you’re crashing back down into a sea of doubt. For some people it may even feel like they can never get back up again, but rather continually get pounded and start drowning in low self-esteem and poor self-confidence. This cycle all too often can lead to constant anxiety, self-loathing, and unhappiness with life. It’s not a very productive nor enjoyable way to live. So, what can we do to build a healthy level of self esteem and self confidence?
We talked to different professionals on different ways we can achieve an optimum level of confidence and self-esteem. Here’s what they have to say:
Claire Schrader, Dramatherapist at MakingMoves
MC: How does dramatherapy aid in developing self-confidence?
Drama has been established as a very effective means of building confidence. Many famous people who lacked confidence were able to transform their lives through participating in drama. However going to a drama class is not a solution for many women lacking confidence – because it is far too confronting turning up at a class where everyone loves doing drama.
This is why dramatherapy is so effective at working with people with confidence issues – it provides a safe space for people to do drama. Most people who come to my sessions are extremely anxious – but because of the way that the session is structured, are able to participate in a way they would never have been able to do. It also helps being in a really supportive group with other people experiencing the same issues.
In The Self-Confidence Myth I demonstrate that it is a myth that most people lack confidence. I specialise in helping quiet people break out of their shell and express themselves with confidence based on my experiences of being a shy introvert – using the tools and techniques that really worked for me (which includes dramatherapy) – no matter how inhibited they believe themselves to be. Drama was the last thing that I wanted to do – but it was the thing that worked the best in overcoming my inhibitions. It will work for people even if you have little or no drama experience – or even any aptitude for drama.
This is where dramatherapy differs. Dramatherapy enables the client to connect with their true, and often lost, authentic self and, by this means, by-pass their adaptive response (shyness). Dramatherapy calls on a very basic human skill, the capacity to imagine yourself as another, drawing on development skills that are innate in every human being[i] (Jennings 2011). Playing the character in a dramatic situation gives permission to express emotions and behaviour that is not normally in the client’s range of expression. This, ironically, feels more “real” than practicing a technique, since it enables the embodiment of the characteristics and behaviour that the client is seeking to emulate. This is expressed naturally by the client in the dramatic situation and is therefore sourced within and by the client.
MC: Tell us a little more about the process, is it step-by-step, is it a long process, etc.?
Most people attending my courses achieve a dramatic improvement in confidence levels in just 12 weeks. Thus I run 12 week courses as these give participants an opportunity to come out of their shell and develop a natural self confidence over a period of time – and then go back into their lives and put it into practice. Some people overcome their issues in a remarkably short amount of time – some in just one 2 hour session, a one day workshop
It depends a lot on how deep the blocks are to the person’s confidence – obviously someone with a horrendous family background which has undermined their confidence is going to take longer. So I have different course for different stages in people’s development.
MC: Is there a reason as to why some women are not confident as others? (Is it due to their social backgrounds, are they born that way)?
There are many reasons for this. Yes can be social and family backgrounds. Can simply be that they are quieter people, introverts have a tendency to lack confidence. Can also be due to a difficult life experience – very common is abuse at work, bad management styles, being shamed, etc. Many, many people (including women) struggle with self-consciousness in some form or other. They may describe it as a lack of self-confidence, of feeling inhibited, feeling stuck, confused, depressed, or a feeling that they are not fulfilling their potential.
An excerpt from Claire’s book, From Wallflower to Sunflower explains this further:
“We are becoming an increasingly head-based society, with the emphasis on left-brain functioning as we progressively move through the digital age. We have been educated from an early age to operate principally from our analytic left brain, to the detriment of the vastly superior emotional intelligence that lies in our intuitive right brain. Those working on computers day in and day out, and in sterile working environments, can also find themselves numbed by the negative ions that are constantly being pumped into their system. They become more and more head orientated as the computer requires them to put their thoughts into writing instead of verbally communicating them; as a result emotions and energy become depressed and then they wonder why they feel so depleted.
On top of this, the growing popularity of electronic communication is having a significant impact on socialisation skills for many people, who are finding it harder and harder to communicate verbally. If feeling awkward, it is only too easy to dive into your phone and to appear busily preoccupied, rather than meet another person’s gaze, or strike up a conversation. Wallflowers love their phones because they keep them safe, and they can live in a métier that they are more comfortable with: texting, writing emails, surfing the internet, listening to music, watching the world go round whilst they safely sit on the sidelines, protected from the attention of others. It is the wallflower’s first love to be observing what other people are doing without any pressure to participate. “
In fact, there is no stigma to lacking confidence. Almost everyone goes through some kind of confidence crisis through their lives – and if they don’t they are missing out. These are often very important times when it seems everything in your life gets shaken. There are small crisis (which crop up from time to time) and really big crisis when you don’t know who you are or what are really important to you – or when the things that seem really important slip away from you or are stolen or just lose their meaning. These are testing times, when you can feel acutely vulnerable, lost even – and where sometimes you don’t know where to turn, what to do or how to get from day to day. However, when you come out the other side of these experiences, most people refer to such a crisis as life changing – or one of the most important times in their lives.