Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Comeback: Swimming's Four Step Program for eliminating insecurity!

STEP I: Recognize the general problem. Swimming's first step requires identifying whether or not you are insecure/not confident in general or in a particular instance. We all have insecurities in certain aspects of our lives. Some people are social butterflies, but completely shy in school or at work. Others are the exact opposite and have no issue vocalizing their thoughts in an academic or professional setting but struggle establishing social connections with others in a non-business forum. The first step to eliminating insecurity is to identify when and where it occurs. If you're struggling with identifying it then check out if any of the characteristics of low self-esteem creep into your life/conversation and then back-track to specifying when/where.

STEP II: Identify the characteristics of insecurity. There are some tell-tale signs of insecurity.
-Body language: do you shuffle your steps and hold your head down and look down when you walk? Do you try to cross your arms and legs and make yourself smaller in certain situations?
-Language/conversation: what kind of language do you use to describe yourself? what language do you use to voice your opinions? Is it surrounded by positive language? Or does your language begin with apologies or uncertainty? Do you easily get defensive or yield to/conform with others opinions?
Here are some classic characteristics of low self-esteem:
Heavy self-criticism 
Hypersensitivity to criticism  
Chronic indecision  
Excessive will to please and unwillingness to displease any petitioner. 
Perfectionism, which can lead to frustration when perfection is not achieved. 
Neurotic guilt, dwelling on and/or exaggerating the magnitude of past mistakes. 
Floating hostility and general defensiveness and irritability without any proximate cause. 
Pessimism and a general negative outlook. 
Envy, invidiousness, or general resentment

STEP III: Create an action plan. First practice, then create the habit, then transform into second nature!

Phase 1: Get creative on reminding yourself to be confident. I made cheat sheets to post around my apartment and posted positive words ("Fearless" and "Powerful" are two but there are many more) to constantly remember the mission. I also employed reminders on my phone throughout the day and worked with a few different affirmation apps for iphone along with power posing daily and being aware of when I'd slouch or cross my legs. Whatever mechanism you choose make sure you are constantly reminding yourself of what you want to be throughout the day and set that intention first thing in the morning. Fake it till you make it. 

Phase 2: Hand-in-hand with #2, be constantly aware of language that wreaks of insecurity. These are things that allude to guilt, self-deprecation/pessimism, perfection, appeasing others/yielding to others, indecision, overtly defensive. Create new vocabulary to speak positively about your position, yourself, and others. This is where the real legwork comes in. It's difficult to catch insecure language but it is imperative to change since anything you vocalize is physical energy that is getting sent out to the world and will eventually manifest itself in some way back into your life. I first started with reviewing the conversations I had with people each day, then listing everyday for one month all the things that fit the low self-esteem profile from #2 and then spent the following months attacking each to make peace and finding positive language to displace the insecurity.
-Be certain about what you want. It's infinitely more difficult to vocalize your opinions or thoughts if you are internally unsure of what you want. Be sure to establish real goals and sort out what you want for a certain endeavor and make sure that those things are measurable to some extent so that it can be quantified. (SMART goals!) This will help with indecisiveness.
-Be positive about others. I cannot emphasize this enough and this was something that came easy to me since I love giving kindness to others. In general, be kind, be interested in others, be positive about others. There are many ways to get ahead in life, but I believe that when all is said and done the kindness you share others is everlasting since it also inspires others to pay it forward. Make gratitude and compliments to others a habit to eliminate pessimism. I know many pessimists who masquerade as just being realistic. Truth be-told they may be buzz-kills but to cope with this I do the follow:
-If you find yourself getting defensive, the best strategy is to calmly ask questions and truly understand where the other person is coming from. The ability to empathize with others is important in life (but don't give up your own position on a matter.)

STEP IV: Employ action plan and hop to it!
A major aspect of this is being ok with constantly not being in your comfort zone. Where you are uncomfortable is where real growth is so embrace it.