NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Increasing Your Self Confidence and Resilience By Challenging Yourself

In prior articles, I've written about particular aspects of developing resilience (see my articles: Developing Emotional ResilienceResilience: Bouncing Back From Life's ChallengesDeveloping a More Resilient Self in PsychotherapyNavigating Life's Transitions, and Staying Emotionally Grounded During Stressful Times).  In this article, I'm focusing on how to develop resilience and self confidence by challenging yourself (see my article: The Power of Making a Commitment).

Increasing Your Self Confidence and Resilience By Challenging Yourself

Resilience isn't an all or nothing thing.  If you've survived in life until now, you've built up a certain amount of resilience.  And every challenge that you overcome builds even more resilience (see my article: Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone).

Increasing your resilience increases your confidence to face whatever obstacles might come your way, and it allows you to bounce back from setbacks more easily (see my article: Opening Up to New Possibilities in Your Life).

It's never too late to increase your resilience and self confidence by challenging yourself.

For instance, athletes, who are striving to be more competitive and to win bigger prizes, keep pushing themselves to beat their best score.  Or actors, who want to hone their acting skills, keep working on a part until they're satisfied.

But you don't have to be an athlete or an actor or, for that matter, in any particular field to increase your resilience.  You also don't have to wait until a catastrophe occurs in your life to be challenged.

You can find ways in your every day life to challenge yourself to go beyond where you are now, overcome the obstacles involved and build resilience and self confidence.

Increasing Resilience and Self Confidence in Your Everyday Life:
Here's an example:

Reframing Adversity
Looking back on an adverse situation that you overcame in the past, look at the positive aspects that helped you to learn and grow rather than focusing on the negative aspects (see my article: Developing a Positive Perspective By Reframing and Turning Lemons Into Lemonade During Life's Ordinary Disappointments).

For instance, if you were fired from a job in the past, instead of dwelling on all the negative aspects of that situation, think about what you learned from this challenge and how you grew as a person:

A Fictional Example of Reframing Adversity:
Bob lost his job without warning when he and his coworkers were suddenly called into their boss's office and told that it was their last day due to the company's financial problems.

Bob was just as shocked as his coworkers.  He went home, told his wife and then he was tempted to spend the rest of the week in bed with the covers over his head.

But Bob was determined that he wouldn't allow this situation to make him feel defeated or diminished.

So, even though he considered himself to be a shy person and networking was very difficult for him, he challenged himself to make five phone calls a day everyday to former supervisors and colleagues to reconnect with them and find out if there were job opportunities at their current workplaces or if they knew of anyone who might be helpful.

On most days, Bob found this to be a humbling, tedious and fruitless process.  But he kept telling himself that he needed to keep plugging away.  He didn't have the luxury of not working.

Over time, he also realized that he was getting to spend more time with his wife and children, which he really enjoyed.

He also had time to write the article that he had been meaning to write for months for his professional organization.  He was thrilled when it was accepted for publication.

He also had more time to spend on his hobbies.

By the fourth week, Bob reconnected with a former colleague, Joe, who suggested that Bob call one of Joe's former colleagues, Dan, for a possible job opening at Dan's company.  Joe said he would put in a good word for Bob.

When Bob called Dan, Dan said he didn't know of any openings at his company, but he knew for sure  that there was an opening at another company and since Joe was recommending him so highly, Dan would give his contact, Ed, a call.

Increasing Your Self Confidence and Resilience By Challenging Yourself

Two months later, Bob was in a new job that paid more than the job that he was laid off from.  It also offered him new professional opportunities.

When Bob reflected back on his job search process, he felt good that he remained steadfast in his purpose.  Even though it was very challenging for him to keep plugging away, over time, he felt more confident and he bounced back from setback of losing his prior job.

Looking back on the experience, Bob realized that there were many positive aspects to his having lost his job--including spending time with his family, getting an article published, and working on hobbies that he enjoyed.

He also realized that he was able to overcome the fear and frustration of losing his job to find an even better job by being persistent and not allowing negativity to drag him down.  Not only did this build his self confidence in terms of facing other challenges in his life, it also allowed him to feel that he could bounce back from future setbacks.

Setting an Intention For Yourself and Sticking With It
Setting an intention can be a powerful tool in succeeding in a particular goal.  Sticking with your intention, even when you're tempted to give up, can help you to build your self confidence and resilience, especially when you see the results that you desire (see my article: The Power of Starting the Day With an Intention).

A Fictional Example of Setting an Intention and Sticking With It
Here's an example:

Nina rose through the ranks at her job because of her hard work, diligence and creative problem solving.

At her current level, she was supervising three people, and she hoped that she would be promoted to a managerial position within the next year.

But when a managerial position opened up and Nina applied for it, her director told her that he was very happy with her work, but the managerial position required a Master's degree and she only had a Bachelor's degree.

He encouraged her to get her Master's degree if she wanted to be considered for managerial position.  Needless to say, Nina was disappointed.

Nina looked into various Master's programs that had evening programs because she couldn't afford to stop working.  She hesitated, at first, because she saw how daunting it would be to work full time and attend a Master's program at night.

But she also knew that, whether she stayed with her current employer or left for another job, her lack of a Master's degree would be an obstacle for her.  So, she applied to a Master's program, took out loans, and resigned herself to having very long days and weekends filled with work.

She was surprised to discover that, even though it was a tremendous amount of work and a financial sacrifice, she really liked her professors, her course work and her classmates.

During the time when she was working full time and attending the evening Master's program, she had to turn down many social invitations because she didn't have the time to socialize.  It was lonely.  She also wondered if the debt she was incurring would be worth it in the long run.

There were times when she considered giving up and being satisfied with where she was in her career, but she knew she wouldn't be satisfied for long, so she persevered.

Increasing Your Self Confidence and Resilience By Challenging Yourself

By the time she received her degree, another managerial position opened up, and her director offered her the job.  He also met with her to talk about her career path at the company and other possible promotions if she did well in the new managerial position.

Looking back on the experience, Nina knew that she gave up a lot in terms of socializing, getting enough rest and taking on student loans.  But she felt proud that she was persistent and diligent enough to put aside other concerns so she could accomplish her goal.

Nina also knew that by setting an intention and sticking with her goal, she felt more confident about herself and resilient in terms dealing with future challenges.

What's Getting in the Way of Your Facing Challenges and Accomplishing Your Goals?
Many people, who have experienced early trauma, have difficulty dealing with adversity and accomplishing their goals (see my article: Understanding Why You're Affected By Trauma From a Long Time Ago and Overcoming the Traumatic Effects of Childhood Trauma).

People who have been very traumatized also have difficulty even setting goals.

Early traumatic experiences affect how they feel about themselves.  They often lack confidence in themselves or feel undeserving, telling themselves:  "I'm not good enough" or "Who am I kidding?  I'll never amount to anything" (see my article: How Our Expectations and Beliefs Affect Us).

Often, these are messages they received as children, either directly or indirectly from their caregivers, who might have also felt beaten down by their own early experiences (see my article: Overcoming the Internal Critic).

For people who are weighed down by emotional trauma, it's especially hard to overcome these negative messages that they have internalized from a young age.  This also creates, at times, insurmountable obstacles to facing challenges.

Getting Help in Therapy
There are times when you can't overcome the emotional obstacles that you're facing on your own.  You need the help of a skilled psychotherapist to overcome the trauma that's holding you back (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy and How Psychotherapy Helps You to Open Up to New Possibilities in Your Life).

Many people, who need help, never seek it out.  They feel too ashamed, and they remain weighed down by their early trauma throughout their lives (see my article: Looking at Your Childhood Trauma Through an Adult Perspective).

If you're aware that, despite your best efforts, you've been unable to overcome the emotional trauma that keeps you stuck, you owe it to yourself to get help from a licensed mental health professional (see my article: Overcoming Self Doubt That Keeps You Stuck).

Freeing yourself from a traumatic history gives you a chance to live your life in a more fulfilling way without the obstacles that are keeping you down.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.