Most ladies know that when they have their best undies on, they feel more confident. And this week I saw a male equivalent – a client who normally turns up in flip flops and shorts, arrived suited and booted. He carried himself differently, his focus was more acute and his language was even slightly different. It was the same man but the clothes he was wearing, allowed a different part of his personality out to play.
Somehow, what he was wearing created a change. And I can relate to this too.
I have a pair of boots that my husband calls my scary boots – but when I have these on, I genuinely feel that I can take on the world. The downside is, I can’t wear them all the time (and in some situations they really aren’t appropriate !!)
The answer to this question relates to associative conditioning and anchoring – big words for something that the brain does really easily. It is all about your brain linking two things together. These can be sensory or physical things, that are then linked to an emotion.
So for my client, when he is in his flipflops and shorts, he is typically on his day off and relaxing and so his body also takes on a certain posture that is relaxed, as does his language. However, when he is in his suit, that is ‘work mode.’ In this guise, he thinks more sharply and operates at a different level of energy.
Because this has happened time and time again, the mind links these things: shorts = chilled, suit = sharp.
Then comes the trigger. Having literally programmed the mind to associate one set of clothes with a behaviour, you can trigger that behaviour by putting those clothes on.
How to access confidence when you need it
It may not always be practical to change your clothes to change your behaviour so here is a very simple technique that works in the same way and it is called anchoring.
First of all find one thing that you can carry with you easily. This may be an item of jewellery such as a ring or bracelet, I have known men to carry a small smooth stone in their pocket for example.
When holding or touching this item, now think of something you feel very confident about. This may be the love of your partner, your love of your children, a confidence that the sun will rise tomorrow. For 10-15 seconds really focus on that thought and feel the confidence that goes with it whilst still touching this item.
Then take a few seconds break and change your posture – if you have been sitting down, stand up and move around a little.
New programming is like building a new habit – it takes a bit of repetition before it happens without you thinking about it.
So now refocus on your item and think about another example of something you are confident about – and do your best not to make it the same thought you used last time. Concentrate on this for 10-15 seconds, really engaging with that feeling of confidence. And then let that thought go, change your posture.
Aim to do this 10 or so times – and if you run out of thoughts that relate to confidence, you can start re-using the same ones.
What you should start noticing now is that when you twist your ring, hold that stone – or whatever your physical item is, it triggers the feeling of confidence.
And this brings us right back to where we started. When people say, “I am wearing my lucky socks” or “I have my lucky coin with me,” they have created an association between that item and a feeling of optimism so by having that item with them, the optimism flows. And in my case, in my boots, I really can take on the world – and win!!!
And you can do this exercise with any emotion. By focusing on thoughts that create that emotion, be it happiness, optimism, gratitude – and repeating the same process you anchor that emotion with an item – just make sure it is a different item to the one you use for confidence!
This is also a great technique to teach teenagers. By them having anchored confidence, they have a new resource to combat teenage anxiety; exam stress, low social confidence, performance anxiety….with their anchor, they have a new resource to rely on.
Have a go at this and please use the comments field to let me know what you experience.
Or if you want to have a chat with me about any challenges that you are facing, click here and let’s book a call together.