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  • Writer's pictureTed Bradshaw

Something to think about, something to do

Forgive me but: this one is going to be all about me.

 

I was stopped in my tracks recently when someone told me that they really admired my confidence when it came to some teaching work I was doing. It stopped me because I noticed that they were right: I did feel confident. For a long time, when people had told me that I seemed confident, I would sort of bat it away, because while I might have come across as confident, I didn’t really feel that way inside most of the time.

 

Being able to recognise that I actually do feel it inside made me stop and think: hold up, when did that happen? Because I certainly didn’t start with it. Whether it is teaching, doing the videos that I do, or writing this blog, I started out absolutely shaking with nerves, and overwhelmed with the assumption that I would be rubbish, that everyone would laugh at me or hate what I was doing.

 

Now I feel differently. I know that generally speaking, what I do will be useful to someone. I know that people generally like my teaching style. I also know that some people won’t or will take against some of the things that I do, but I also know that I can cope with that.

 

I knew none of those things when I started (I actually started writing a blog over 10 years ago but gave up because someone found it and commented “boring” on a few of my posts and I was absolutely devastated).

 

I was training and working as a therapist, all this time, so I know there are some internal thought processes that have helped me along, but I also know that there is no way you can build towards confidence without actually doing something. Here is how I would explain how it works:

 

Getting better

 

When I started teaching and writing, there was something there, but it wasn’t what it is now. I was enthusiastic, but I didn’t know how to slow myself down. I had some ways of putting things across, but it could be hit and miss. I occasionally got things wrong and while it was often mortifying, it always taught me something. I also got feedback, which I found excruciating to read, but again always gave me something to think about for next time.

 

You can’t get that without actually doing it.

 

Repetition

 

The concept of “habituation” is used a lot in cognitive behavioural therapy. It is the thing we use to treat most anxiety issues: the idea that if we face the thing we are scared of and sit with the fear, it will go away on it’s own. The more we repeat that, the quicker the anxiety starts to fade. I definitely recognise this. I had come a long way up until about 2019, but then I got a teaching job and I was teaching all the time. It is the couple of years from then that I really started to physically be able to feel more relaxed about being in front of people.

 

Trust in myself and others

 

Through doing this repeatedly and meeting a lot of people, I got to learn two things:

 

Most people are really nice and want you to succeed.

 

Some people won’t like what you do, and some people are actively mean, but when they are, you can cope with it better than you thought you could.

 

I could say that to myself all I liked before I published my first blog post, but there is no substitute for going out and actually experiencing it.

 

I wanted to share this because I think about other areas of my life where I haven’t taken that approach. Where I was tempted to give something a go but didn’t, because I was afraid of messing it up or not being good at it. I also see my kids wrestling with the same thing sometimes. It might be performing or something like that, or it might be something just for fun: being afraid to join in with the singing or the games, because it feels like we might mess it up.

 

When we know we don’t need confidence to get the ball rolling and we know that the confidence will come with time, maybe that helps us take the first step.

 

Something to think about 

 

If you knew that you could cope with being a bit rubbish and a bit anxious for a while, (knowing that both of those things would improve), what new things would you try?

 

Something to do

 

Try out setting yourself a little challenge of doing something slightly out of your comfort zone. Not expecting it to be any good or to go particularly well, just to set yourself the challenge of being uncomfortable for a bit, and see how that goes.

 

Thanks for reading! Until next week,

 

Ted

 

P.S. let me know if you do give something a try!

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