Understanding Insomnia – how you can help yourself!

Here are some tips to help with insomnia, look at the causes and effects and what else sleep can do for you.

Understanding Lack of Sleep (click on the link for more information)

Insomnia is a very common occurrence and affects people of all ages for a variety of reasons. It should be taken as a serious disorder and the root causes determined to find an effective treatment, as if insomnia continues for a long period, it can have seriously detrimental effects on both physical and mental health.

Effects of No Sleep

Most of us can get by on a few hours’ sleep a night for a few nights here and there and the effects of this should be temporary and fairly minor, both for those who are suffering in the grip of long bouts of insomnia the long term effects can impact on others areas of life and may take some time to overcome. The common consequences of a lack of sleep include poor concentration and memory, lethargy, irritability, a decrease in co-ordination skills and low mood and sometimes depression though this may depend on the cause of the insomnia. If these symptoms are not addressed and treated it may be dangerous for the individual to use machinery, drive a car, care for dependents and generally carry on with their normal life. It is easy to see how this can have such a negative impact on work and personal life. In order to treat the symptoms and the insomnia it is important to determine the cause of the sleeplessness in the first instance.

Causes of no sleep

The causes of insomnia are wide and varied and each person will have their own experience of their sleeping difficulties and the reasons behind them. For many of us this is the demands of small children and babies but most of us cope with this fairly well as we understand that our dependents need us, enjoy taking care of them and realise that this period of disturbed sleep will not continue indefinitely and should pass as the child ages.

For many others the cause of the insomnia is pain and discomfort,. This may be because of a personal injury that has been diagnosed, chronic back pain and back ache, disability or other problem that causes any degree of pain. It is vital that the source of the pain is diagnosed as pain exists as a way of telling us that something is wrong with our body and we shouldn’t ignore it as it may be something serious and treatable. Occasionally back pain can be lessened by changing the mattress on the bed or indeed changing the position that you sleep in entirely. There are no hard and fast rules that suggest that people should sleep flat on their back in a bed, if it solves your pain try sleeping in a chair or in a more upright position. There are many new models of bed frame on the market that can actually be altered by remote control until a more comfortable position is found.

It is also common for insomnia to be caused by worry. This worry and stress may be work related or personal and this type of issue can have a negative impact on mental health alone without the added detriment of any sleep. Counselling or debt management cans often help individuals worry less about their personal circumstances, while your human resources department or occupational health personnel may be able to help you with any work-related problems. If you have any trouble sleeping that lasts for long periods of time, please see your GP who may be able to refer you to a specialist, help you determine the cause of your insomnia or even prescribe a medications that can help in the short term.

A lack of sleep can initially sound like a small problem, but after a long period of time with little or no sleep the consequences to other areas of life can be quite significant. It is important to find out why you are not sleeping and address the issues that arise.

Insomnia is a very common occurrence and affects people of all ages for a variety of reasons. It should be taken as a serious disorder and the root causes determined to find an effective treatment, as if insomnia continues for a long period, it can have seriously detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. (source: http://www.insomniacs.co.uk/understanding-lack-sleep.html, accessed 17 March 2011)

Also check out this website, full of information regarding sleep, with specialised support and training courses.

Sleep helps with weight loss (click on the link for more information)

If you want to lose weight, experts say you need to get enough sleep. Specifically, researchers have reported that women who sleep 5 hours or less per night generally weigh more than women who sleep 7 hours per night.

These findings, presented at the 2006 American Thoracic Society International Conference, showed that women who slept 5 hours per night were 32{5aab48c0ceab8741cc5e1b3637a0d930ede57d31081a536cd0d11b2818162fd7} more likely to experience major weight gain (an increase of 33 pounds or more) and 15{5aab48c0ceab8741cc5e1b3637a0d930ede57d31081a536cd0d11b2818162fd7} more likely to become obese over the course of the 16-year study, compared to those who slept 7 hours a night. Taken from http://thyroid.about.com/od/loseweightsuccessfully/a/sleepdiet.htm.

Lose weight while you sleep. It sounds like something you’d hear on a late night infomercial — just around the time you are reaching for that bag of cookies because, well, you can’t sleep. But as wild as the idea sounds, substantial medical evidence suggests some fascinating links between sleep and weight. Researchers say that how much you sleep and quite possibility the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite.

“One of the more interesting ideas that has been smoldering and is now gaining momentum is the appreciation of the fact that sleep and sleep disruption do remarkable things to the body — including possibly influencing our weight,” says David Rapoport, MD, associate professor and director of the Sleep Medicine Program at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

While doctors have long known that many hormones are affected by sleep, Rapoport says it wasn’t until recently that appetite entered the picture. What brought it into focus, he says, was research on the hormones leptin and ghrelin. First, doctors say that both can influence our appetite. And studies show that production of both may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep.

In fact, have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of leptin and ghrelin.
Source: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/lose-weight-while-sleeping (accessed 17 March 2011)

Check out June Whittle’s page if you are keen to try a new way to help you sleep, she has a great CD available that has a lot of positive feedback.

10 top tips for coping with insomnia [click on the link for the original article]

1. Keep regular hours

Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will programme your body to sleep better. Choose a time when you’re most likely to feel sleepy.

2. Create a restful sleeping environment

Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep. Keep it as quiet and dark as possible. It should be neither too hot nor too cold. Temperature, lighting and noise should be controlled so that the bedroom environment helps you to fall (and stay) asleep.

3. Make sure that your bed is comfortable

It’s difficult to get restful sleep on a mattress that’s too soft or too hard, or a bed that’s too small or old. If you have a pet that sleeps in the room with you, consider moving it somewhere else if it often makes noise in the night.

4. Exercise regularly

Moderate exercise on a regular basis, such as swimming or walking, can help to relieve some of the tension built up over the day. But don’t do vigorous exercise too close to bedtime as it may keep you awake.

5. Less caffeine

Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee, especially in the evening. They interfere with the process of falling asleep, and they prevent deep sleep. The effects of caffeine can last a long time (up to 24 hours) so the chances of it affecting sleep are significant. Have a warm, milky drink or herbal tea instead.

6. Avoid over-indulging

Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night. Also switch your computer off at least an hour before bed if you are prone to staying online for hours!

7. Don’t smoke

It’s bad for sleep. Smokers take longer to fall asleep, they wake up more frequently, and they often have a more disrupted sleep.

8. Try to relax before going to bed

Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation CD.

9. Write away your worries

Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day. If you tend to lie in bed thinking about tomorrow’s tasks, set aside time before bedtime to review the day and make plans for the next day. The goal is to avoid doing these things when you’re in bed, trying to sleep.

10. Try and avoid worrying in bed!

If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then return to bed.

Smoking Cessation

Why is giving up smoking so hard to do?  Nicotine is an addictive substance, smoking is physically and psychologically addictive.  Many believe that the psychological addiction is more powerful than the physical effect of nicotine.  A craving for a cigarette – can been likened to that feeling you get as a child when you are anticipating opening a present at Christmas time.

In order to want to give up smoking successfully a combination of psychotherapy and hypnotherapy can help you.  Firstly it may be a good idea to look at those parts of you that are keeping you smoking.

What do you enjoy about smoking, what does it give you?  A list of feelings such as:
– stress release
– camaraderie (chatting with your other smoking friends, resolving world crises, changing the company, etc. etc… what your partner said last night)
– a break

Ok, so that’s one part of you – let’s call it your left hand
Now look at:
Why you want to give up smoking?
– it’s bad for you (yes, I know, everyone knows that!)
– it’s cancer-causing
– it’s getting more expensive with each budget
– you smell of cigarettes, it gets in your clothes and hair
OK, let’s get these two parts of you to have a little discussion.  How can the positive part of you meet those negatives, that “I find it hard to stop smoking” part of you?

Stress release: what other methods can you use to help relieve stress?
Camaraderie – can you chat to other people who are non-smokers and get the same level or healthier level of camaraderie?
A break – what healthier types of breaks can you enjoy?

A good psychotherapist can help you to give up smoking with a range of NLP, person-centred techniques; sometimes even basic relaxation methods can be as good as a hypnotherapy session.  By talking to the authentic you that wants to give up smoking and discussing it with the part of you that finds it hard to give up, why / when you first started and reasons why you find it hard, together we can find a way forwards that is totally right for you to enable you to stop smoking quickly, painlessly and without cravings.  All it takes is your willpower, openmindedness and commitment.

By using a combination of diaries and cognitive behavioural therapy we can work together to look at cutting down and perhaps understanding the root cause of your smoking. Highlighting awareness of the substances in nicotine.  Psychotherapy for smoking can help reveal the underlying factors and reasons behind why you started smoking and look at wonderfully positive reasons for using a future-focus on you as a non-smoking.

I have personal experience of smoking and then giving it up!  Make an appointment with me today and I can help you look towards a happier, healthier future!


The “Pleasures” of Smoking

Many people succumb to the “pleasures” of cigarette smoking – sometimes not even sure why they do it – after all, their clothes smell and it can be an anti social occupation.

There are social benefits.  If you are in a group of people, it can mean taking time out from what you are doing to connect with others, anti socially social, in a way!  Then surprisingly you might find that these people, gathered together outside, in the rain, wind, snow, dark weather etc., look at someone who is not smoking and “wish” they didn’t smoke, or have tried to give up several times and it just didn’t work.  Something stressful occurred and they re-started.  Or there is drink – it seems a natural combination to have a cigarette, cigar or roll up with a drink.

Do you have the will power to give up?

It’s all very well people saying “it’s your will power”, then other “clever people” say things like “I have the will-power, it’s just the won’t power I lack”.  Either way you can convince yourself you enjoy smoking, you’re going through a rough patch and next thing you know several more years have been shaved off your life – you’ve spent them smoking and you cannot get those years back, and you’ve also shortened your own life.  “Oh well, I’ll die happy”.  But will you?  “Oh, but my uncle smoked till he was 94 and had a long life” – so that proves it then, does it, that cigarette smoking is good for you?  Does the exception prove the rule?  Perhaps we can also find many more people who died “prematurely” due to the collapse of their lungs from cigarette smoking or associated nicotine-cancer-related diseases.

The (obvious) bad news

How much do you want to add years to your life and find that there is happiness out there?  When would you like to understand that you “chose” to be on this earth (this will have been a subconscious choice) and you have actually also chosen to “kill yourself” slowly by the using of nicotine? Do you actually deserve a smoke free life where you can live the life you were destined to live?

Nicotine inhaled – as any medical person will suggest – is more dangerous than nicotine applied to the skin.  Nicotine does two things – it can make you more anxious and it can also make you less anxious.  It depends on *how* you smoke.  Ultimately, inhaling several ingredients through smoking – including formaldehyde as is present in most commercially bought cigarettes – surely cannot be doing your body any favours in the long run.  For some smokers, it is also an appetite suppressant.

Do you want to give up smoking?

Just how much do you really want to give up smoking? If you don’t want to, and you enjoy the whole aspects of smoking and it’s not harming anyone around you, carry on.  It will affect your health negatively as well you know.  It will affect your pocket too as prices and taxes rise.

But if you do want to stop and feel yourself to be powerless in the actual stopping, then I have got news for you.  You are far more powerful than you believe…..  yes of course you have to “want” to stop.  That’s the first part.  And secondly if you really want to stop, then eventually you actually will stop.  Then it is a question of when.  After that comes the question of HOW.  Firstly an understanding of the chemicals that are poisoning your body each time you have a cigarette is  important even though as a smoker you  may well have turned a blind eye to that fact!

Cause of lung cancer

Cigarette smoking is the biggest known cause of lung cancer.  You give up drinking – which is no mean feat.  Giving up cigarettes seems trickier – yet that seems illogical – giving up drinking must be harder – it is socially pervasive, socially acceptable, it’s all around – people give bottles as presents at Christmas, the adverts crop up, happy hour is “cheap booze”, people go on booze cruises.  So what is it about giving up cigarette smoking being harder than giving up alcohol?

Nicotine is addictive

Nicotine is far more “addictive” than drinking – it could be argued.  It doesn’t “kill” in quite the same way.  Nicotine was widely used as an insecticide in the past (Wikipedia).  The substance acts as a stimulant in mammals and is the main factor responsible for the dependence-forming properties of tobacco smoking.  [NB the rest of this article has been taken from Wikipedia, I make no claims as to its validity but found it very interesting reading]

Nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break, while the pharmacological and behavioral characteristics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine.  Nicotine content in cigarettes has slowly increased over the years, and one study found that there was an average increase of 1.6{5aab48c0ceab8741cc5e1b3637a0d930ede57d31081a536cd0d11b2818162fd7} per year between the years of 1998 and 2005. This was found for all major market categories of cigarettes.

By binding to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, nicotine increases the levels of several neurotransmitters – acting as a sort of “volume control”. It is thought that increased levels of dopamine in the reward circuits of the brain are responsible for the euphoria and relaxation and eventual addiction caused by nicotine consumption. Nicotine has a higher affinity for acetylcholine receptors in the brain than those in skeletal muscles, though at toxic doses it can induce contractions and respiratory paralysis.

Nicotine as a mood-altering substance

Nicotine’s mood-altering effects are different by report: in particular it is both a stimulant and a relaxant.  First causing a release of glucose from the liver and epinephrine (adrenaline) from the adrenal medulla, it causes stimulation. Users report feelings of relaxation, sharpness, calmness, and alertness.  Like any stimulant, it may very rarely cause the often catastrophically uncomfortable neuropsychiatric effect of akathisia.  By reducing the appetite and raising the metabolism, some smokers may lose weight as a consequence.

When a cigarette is smoked, nicotine-rich blood passes from the lungs to the brain within seven seconds and immediately stimulates the release of many chemical messengers including acetylcholine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, vasopressin, arginine, dopamine, autocrine agents, and beta-endorphin. This release of neurotransmitters and hormones is responsible for most of nicotine’s effects.

Nicotine appears to enhance concentration and memory due to the increase of acetylcholine. It also appears to enhance alertness due to the increases of acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Arousal is increased by the increase of norepinephrine. Pain is reduced by the increases of acetylcholine and beta-endorphin. Anxiety is reduced by the increase of beta-endorphin. Nicotine also extends the duration of positive effects of dopamine and increases sensitivity in brain reward systems. Most cigarettes (in the smoke inhaled) contain 1 to 3 milligrams of nicotine.

Research suggests that, when smokers wish to achieve a stimulating effect, they take short quick puffs, which produce a low level of blood nicotine. This stimulates nerve transmission. When they wish to relax, they take deep puffs, which produce a high level of blood nicotine, which depresses the passage of nerve impulses, producing a mild sedative effect.

At low doses, nicotine potently enhances the actions of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, causing a drug effect typical of those of psycho-stimulants. At higher doses, nicotine enhances the effect of serotonin and opiate activity, producing a calming, pain-killing effect. Nicotine is unique in comparison to most drugs, as its profile changes from stimulant to sedative/pain killer in increasing dosages and use.

Nicotine is not significantly addictive!

Technically, nicotine is not significantly addictive, as nicotine administered alone does not produce significant reinforcing properties.  However, only after co-administration with an MAOI, such as those found in tobacco, nicotine produces significant behavioral sensitization, a measure of addiction potential. This is similar in effect to amphetamine.

Nicotine gum, usually in 2-mg or 4-mg doses, and nicotine patches are available, as well as smokeless tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, which do not have all the other ingredients in tobacco.

Taken from Wikipedia, accessed 05.02.11.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine

So the question is – do you want to give up smoking, if so how do want to give up?

Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Stop Smoking” has achieved global notoriety with many people saying “It really works”.  I challenge you to purchase one of his books, or attend classes locally and see how it can work for you. You could try cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnosis, NLP – all of these methods have been shown to work for SOME people. What works for you depends entirely on who you are, how you learn and how you change behaviours that you want to change. I personally believe a true understanding of all the chemicals involved in the process of cigarette smoking is enough to make anyone want to give up!

Please note I do not endorse any specific method – the way to achieve success is to find what works for you, but decide what you really want to do first and then take it, step by step, to the next level.

Are you feeling depressed? A few tools for you…

Some internet sites claim to help you manage your depression.

These tools aren’t a substitute for medication, psychotherapy or counselling, and if you have been feeling more than just a “little down” for days or weeks and just can’t shake it off, then please visit your GP.

Through what we now know about the aetiology of depression, research shows that if you are chronically or clinically depressed, a combination of anti-depressant medication, counselling (or psychotherapy) together with a programme of exercises can make you feel better. Download my Ten Top Tips to beat depression fast!

The combination of interventions will help raise serotonin levels – low levels of serotonin are believed to cause depression amongst other brain chemicals and associated neurons within the brain. There is no one best cause or ingredient that will help everyone. Research also indicates a link between exercise and mood, also certain foods that can boost serotonin levels (see my earlier article, “Support between sessionson this page).

A website entitled Living Life to the Full is a website you can sign up to which will give you certain exercises to work through to best understand you and how you can self-manage your feelings of depression. Another website entitled “Beating The Blues” is utilised by various agencies such as MIND as a valuable tool for helping people with depression.

Furthermore, if you look at this website entitled “Five Areas Resources” there are some interesting tools and books that you can check out. I particularly liked the look of this “little book”. (please note these are all clickable links that will take you to the pages mentioned – you can come back to this page when you have finished looking at them.)

How to Stop and Control Obsessive Thoughts?

How to Stop and Control Obsessive Thoughts? (website accessed 31.1.11, written by Tim on 23.7.10)  (you can download a .pdf version to print out here)

If you have reached a point in your life where you want to be rid of the continuous torture of the “thought generating” mind then it’s your good fortune. Obsessive or negative thoughts can make living miserable when you are plagued by them, but this very situation can become the invitation to transcend mind and be free of suffering forever.

The mind is the root of all suffering. By its very nature the mind is negative. 80-90{5aab48c0ceab8741cc5e1b3637a0d930ede57d31081a536cd0d11b2818162fd7} of the thoughts that the mind generates are fearful or stressful. For some it might be 95-99{5aab48c0ceab8741cc5e1b3637a0d930ede57d31081a536cd0d11b2818162fd7}. That’s when you can’t stand it anymore.

Can you stop obsessive thoughts? – If you could it would have great, but the truth is that you can’t. No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop thinking – may be for a few seconds you can stop and control thoughts but not more than that. Suppressing thoughts is even worse than enduring thoughts. It builds up a lot of negative energy inside.

So how to stop thinking horrible thoughts? The secret to stopping obsessive or negative thoughts is to detach from the mind. You cannot fight mind with the mind. That’s what this article is about. Let’s look at this in more detail.

What causes obsessive thoughts?
If you generated thoughts, you could’ve controlled them too. The truth is that you don’t generate thoughts, the mind does. It’s on auto mode most of the time. You can see this for yourself, can you predict what you will think 30 seconds from now? If you can’t how can you assume that you are generating the thoughts?

If you believe that you are your mind, that’s a false notion again. If you are your mind then how can you observe the thoughts? So you must be separate from the mind to see what the mind is doing.

So the mind generates thoughts, which are mostly just energy forms. These thoughts pass through like clouds. We identify with some of these thoughts and obsess about them. So in truth all thoughts are just neutral energy forms, it’s “your” interest or association with the thoughts that makes them obsessive. If you can understand this truth, you have taken the first step towards getting rid of obsessive thoughts.

How to stop and control thoughts?
If you are asking this question, ask yourself another question – “is this question not another thought? It’s a thought about killing thoughts”. All your attempts at controlling and stopping thoughts will fail because you will be using the mind to stop the mind. The police man and thief are both the mind, so how can the police man catch the thief?

So you cannot kill the mind by force. The mind dies its own death by the poison of disassociation.

What gives power to a thought? – Your interest. If you have no interest in a particular thought then it loses its hold over you. You can try this out now. Let the thoughts flow through your mind but don’t take interest in them. Just stay as a bystander or a watcher and let the thoughts float.

Initially you might have a hard time watching thoughts because of your inherent habit of associating with each thought that arises. It helps to know that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just energy forms created in the mind. Why does the mind create thoughts? No one knows – it’s just something it does, why bother. Do you ever ask why does the heart beat?
With a little practice you will get really good at watching thoughts and not involving yourself with them. You will stop giving power to thoughts by not giving them your interest. Thoughts die immediately when they are deprived of this fuel of interest. If you don’t associate with the thought or give power to the thought, it will wither away quickly.

Thoughts have no reality or truth to them
Past events get stored as memories. Your mind conditioning and beliefs are also stored as memories. All this is unconscious storage, the mind does all this in auto mode. Thoughts are then generated based on the past happenings, beliefs, conditioning and present life situation. It’s like a computer trying to predict or conjure up projection based on the data it has collected so far.

As you can see thoughts are just mind creations. Is there a truth to them? Not one bit. There is no such thing as a “true thought”. It’s all just perception, conditioning and belief, none of it is real to start with. Your thoughts are coloured by your conditioning; they have nothing to do with reality.

Do you believe that what happened in your dream is real? Did you know that thoughts create dreams? So if you don’t believe in your dreams, how can you believe in your thoughts? They are just “illusion creating” energy forms. Let them be and they will lose their power on you.

You are far more powerful that your mind because you have the power to watch your mind. The mind becomes inconsequential when you see through its antics. It’s like an old grandfather trying to scare little children by the fireside by telling them horror stories with no reality.

The practice of watching the mind
All you need to do to get rid of obsessive thoughts is to watch the mind without getting involved. You will get really good at this with just a little practice. This practice, or “sadhana” as called in Hindu scriptures, is the root of awakening from the illusion of mind.

Without trying to understand this practice just implement it. The more you try to understand the more mind gets involved. Just watch the mind and you will soon see that you are not the mind at all. That the mind is like a machine on your head that has gone a little insane because of all the interest you gave it. Be free of your mind by depriving it of your interest. This is the only direct path of controlling the mind or rather killing the mind.

Tips to build self-confidence

Sometimes I am asked questions such as “how can I build my self-confidence”? The first question I might ask in return is – “what do you mean by self-confidence”?

There is a difference between having “social” confidence (i.e. confidence when chatting to friends, or confidence when chatting to individuals 1:1 or confidence in groups of people we may not know or not know very well), or confidence in giving a speech or giving a performance. Being clear about one’s needs is the first part.

If this is the case, what is it about you that might make you wary of meeting other people? Is it about you, or them? Do they strike you as a group of nuclear physicists who might laugh at you for being a humble gardener, cleaner or check-outs assistant or graduate drop-out? Are the nuclear physicists somehow “better” people than you? No, they are simply different. I repeat, they are *simply* different.

If you went into a room full of people wearing sweat shirts and jeans, you might make a generalised assumption that because you are also wearing sweat shirts and jeans, that you are from similar walks of life but of course clothing is simply a badge or a uniform of sorts that perhaps helps us fit into a specific social sphere. When one goes to a job that requires certain professionalism, your clothing marks you out as one of those professionals. When one meets people socially, if you meet in a café – you might wear jeans and a sweatshirt, you might dress up a bit more – depending also on your age and gender. Accessories can mark people out – are you carrying a handbag or a rucksack? A camera or a briefcase? A wheelie bag or a changing bag? I am aware that as a therapist, I tend to dress casually, comfortably but clean and presentable. People who may come in for therapy often attend from work and are wearing suits or smart office wear. I am mindful of our differences yet it doesn’t mean either of us are any “better” or “worse” than other other, nor would I take credit for being an expert inasmuch as this is a possible scenario and a potential mismatch if you simply took our attire into question. In fact the client is the expert of their life, not I.

Value judgements are being placed constantly on people by the clothes they wear and what they are carrying with them. Take note, watch. Are they wearing trackies that hang down their backside? Is Vicky Pollard in town? Fingernails – clean or polished? How is their hair? If they are balding that could signify a range of things; balding as a hereditary factor or a cancer patient. Rings, bracelets, necklaces. Some men wear chains around their necks; I am aware of me placing an involuntary judgement on men who wear jewellery – but that is based on me and my own personal background. Do you find yourself doing likewise? Before being self-conscious as to who you are, think about who you are meeting and dealing with.

If you went into a room and half were wearing jackets and ties and half were wearing jeans with holes in and sweatshirts that needed a good wash, what would your mind set be?

Social confidence isn’t just about you the individual – this is the point; it is the value judgement we place on being with “certain” people and how we might assume they perceive us. The point is we don’t know! So why place a value on something when we are simply making assumptions?

If everyone in a group speaks and sounds clever, with degrees coming out of their ears (or so you might assume), or they speak with “posh” English, how do you know WHO they really are, what their true values are, simply because they speak differently to you? Would you reject them because you have assumed they would never be interested in you because for one thing you find it hard to explain who you are, and even if you did, they would probably think you stupid?

Self-confidence comes from within; if someone makes a comment to you that clearly is not you, why bother arguing? If it’s their perception and you know it to be untrue, simply either ask if they could explain what they meant or just walk away. It comes from their perception based on their life, their thoughts, and their feelings. You may not know their background; it might be that your face simply reminds them of someone they once knew who did display the character traits they are now projecting onto you.

Another aspect to consider when it comes to confidence is that in order to achieve more confidence, it is about doing more in your life; so you will need to come out of that safe comfort zone and challenge yourself, fail a little and thus learn; once you have achieved that new understanding confidence evolves and develops; it doesn’t just happen on its own. Breathe a little, remember you have to start somewhere – maybe think back to when you learned to ride a bike; perhaps you fell off to start with or perhaps you just got on and rode; where did that confidence come from? If you drive, remember when you first learned the different parts of learning to drive, mirror, signal, manoeuvre. Eventually it became an unconscious exercise and you simply drove to where you needed to get to. There was no magic pill, it happened and you can congratulate yourself!

These simple social tools will help build your self-awareness and confidence. Think about your assets, qualifications, looks, how you live your life. What is your life like? Do you know what another person’s life is like before you judge who they are and how you might respond to them? If you’re affected by something someone has said, why do you think that is so? What was it about them that affected you, what is it about you that might be affected? Take the focus off the other person who perhaps annoyed or angered you, consider your inner feelings.

Respond, rather than react. Listen rather than speak. Speak then listen. Here are ten top tips to building confidence [click the link for the source].

1. Dress Sharply

Although clothes don’t make the (wo)man, they certainly affect the way s/he feels about her/himself. No one is more conscious of your physical appearance than you are. When you don’t look good, it changes the way you carry yourself and interact with other people. Use this to your advantage by taking care of your personal appearance. In most cases, significant improvements can be made by bathing and shaving frequently, wearing clean clothes, and being cognizant of the latest styles.

This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot on clothes. One great rule to follow is “spend twice as much, buy half as much”. Rather than buying a bunch of cheap clothes, buy half as many select, high quality items. In long run this decreases spending because expensive clothes wear out less easily and stay in style longer than cheap clothes. Buying less also helps reduce the clutter in your closet.

2. Walk Faster

One of the easiest ways to tell how a person feels about herself is to examine her walk. Is it slow? tired? painful? Or is it energetic and purposeful? People with confidence walk quickly. They have places to go, people to see, and important work to do. Even if you aren’t in a hurry, you can increase your self confidence by putting some pep in your step. Walking 25{5aab48c0ceab8741cc5e1b3637a0d930ede57d31081a536cd0d11b2818162fd7} faster will make to you look and feel more important.

3. Good Posture

Similarly, the way a person carries herself tells a story. People with slumped shoulders and lethargic movements display a lack of self confidence. They aren’t enthusiastic about what they’re doing and they don’t consider themselves important. By practicing good posture, you’ll automatically feel more confident. Stand up straight, keep your head up, and make eye contact. You’ll make a positive impression on others and instantly feel more alert and empowered.

4. Personal Commercial

One of the best ways to build confidence is listening to a motivational speech. Unfortunately, opportunities to listen to a great speaker are few and far between. You can fill this need by creating a personal commercial. Write a 30-60 second speech that highlights your strengths and goals. Then recite it in front of the mirror aloud (or inside your head if you prefer) whenever you need a confidence boost.

5. Gratitude

When you focus too much on what you want, the mind creates reasons why you can’t have it. This leads you to dwell on your weaknesses. The best way to avoid this is consciously focusing on gratitude. Set aside time each day to mentally list everything you have to be grateful for. Recall your past successes, unique skills, loving relationships, and positive momentum. You’ll be amazed how much you have going for you and motivated to take that next step towards success.

6. Compliment other people

When we think negatively about ourselves, we often project that feeling on to others in the form of insults and gossip. To break this cycle of negativity, get in the habit of praising other people. Refuse to engage in backstabbing gossip and make an effort to compliment those around you. In the process, you’ll become well liked and build self confidence. By looking for the best in others, you indirectly bring out the best in yourself.

7. Sit in the front row

In schools, offices, and public assemblies around the world, people constantly strive to sit at the back of the room. Most people prefer the back because they’re afraid of being noticed. This reflects a lack of self-confidence. By deciding to sit in the front row, you can get over this irrational fear and build your self-confidence. You’ll also be more visible to the important people talking from the front of the room.

8. Speak up

During group discussions many people never speak up because they’re afraid that people will judge them for saying something stupid. This fear isn’t really justified. Generally, people are much more accepting than we imagine. In fact most people are dealing with the exact same fears. By making an effort to speak up at least once in every group discussion, you’ll become a better public speaker, more confident in your own thoughts, and recognized as a leader by your peers.

9. Work out

Along the same lines as personal appearance, physical fitness has a huge effect on self confidence. If you’re out of shape, you’ll feel insecure, unattractive, and less energetic. By working out, you improve your physcial appearance, energize yourself, and accomplish something positive. Having the discipline to work out not only makes you feel better, it creates positive momentum that you can build on the rest of the day.

10. Focus on contribution

Too often we get caught up in our own desires. We focus too much on ourselves and not enough on the needs of other people. If you stop thinking about yourself and concentrate on the contribution you’re making to the rest of the world, you won’t worry as much about you own flaws. This will increase self-confidence and allow you to contribute with maximum efficiency. The more you contribute to the world the more you’ll be rewarded with personal success and recognition.