I’ve heard people worry that learning a skill such as mindfulness will make them so laid back and content that other people will end up walking all over them. It kind of makes me laugh as my experience has been the complete opposite! It’s also interesting considering that research shows that high levels of mindfulness are likely to correlate with high levels of self-esteem (see e.g. Rasmussen & Pidgeon, 2011). Mindfulness is in fact the exact opposite of suppressing your needs. It’s about recognising what is going on for you, moment by moment, and in the midst of difficult and strong emotions. Mindfulness practices actively help you learn to become more accepting of yourself and whatever thoughts or emotions come up for you. It’s this compassion and kindness towards yourself that actually helps you acknowledge and respond to your own needs. Here are 5 reasons why mindfulness is the perfect practice to help you grow in self-confidence and self-belief:
- Tuning into your true emotions – body/physical responses. We can tell ourselves one thing in our minds, but the very first physical responses we have to a situation often give away our true feelings. For example, maybe you’re with a friend when they get news of an achievement. You smile, nod and congratulate them, but inside you heart sinks a bit and maybe your shoulders droop. We so often fight with these kinds of feelings because we think they are wrong. When we start to tune into ourselves with kindness we begin to acknowledge and accept our feelings and responses, whatever they are. This helps us feel like we can go through life without trying to conceal our true nature and this ultimately lead us to becoming more authentic. Perhaps hearing such news from a friend makes us realise that our lives aren’t on the right track. These feelings are valid and by ignoring them we bypass huge learning opportunities.
- It teaches you to look after yourself – what do I need now? (compared to what do others need from me right now?). Many of us are pretty good at taking care of other people, and less successful at meeting our own needs. We learn to take these needs seriously and honour them, rather than fight them and tell ourselves we should be carrying on, working harder, complaining less etc. Whatever our needs are it’s ok.
- You can face whatever life throws at you – you know that the big scary emotions and thoughts are just that, they turn to air when you try and pin them down. You know this because you know the impermanence of our thoughts and emotions. Like clouds in the sky, however dark it gets, light will come again. In this way mindful practice helps increase our resilience.
- We realise that others are struggling, just like we’re struggling. Our practice takes us out of our own minds and we realise that the stuff we think is us and is so awful is actually just being human; we’re not alone or unique in this. When we are able to ‘step back’ in this way and see other’s suffering as well as our own it can transform how we respond to people, even in the midst of the most difficult interactions!
- Your body, your tools – you have everything you need right now in this moment. You don’t need to be fixed, you just need to be present. And that’s an amazing realisation.