Acting techniques for a stronger sense of self
Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash
Here you will find my two favorite self-confidence building exercises. I have used these exercises to build my self-confidence and I am excited to share them with you.
Building self-confidence is crucial for success: it can make a huge difference to your personal and professional life.
In fact, have you ever noticed that you tend to gravitate toward people who have an aura of charisma and self-confidence around them? Contrarily, don?t you become less attracted to someone (and have less trust in them) if you feel they lack self-confidence?
I do, and I notice this on a regular basis.
The reality is that we all want to be around people who make us feel safe and secure. People who have self-confidence give us just that. Their self-confidence gives us assurance that they are a master of their crafts. They know what they are doing, and we feel that we can put our trust in them.
So if you want to be perceived as a leader in your industry, it is not enough to have skills. You also need to increase your self-confidence ? and to do so using tried and tested self-confidence building exercises.
1. What Is Self-Confidence?
Self-confidence is defined by the scientific community as a belief in one?s abilities to accomplish certain goals or tasks.
Self-confidence is measured by degrees. The more certain you are about your level of skill and abilities, the more confidence you will seem to have. And the less certainty you have in your skills and abilities, the less confident you will appear.
Just like many other attributes, self-confidence comes more naturally to some people than others. Nonetheless, the good news for us is that self-confidence is a skill that one can learn and get better at using the proper self-confidence building exercises.
?It?s not what you are that holds you back, it?s what you think you are not.??Denis Waitley.
2. Visualization as a Self-Confidence Building Exercise
Is visualization a good self-confidence building exercise? Does it boost self-confidence?
I think it helps, but focusing only on visualization to build self-confidence is not the best way to go about it.
The problem with a lack of confidence is the way it?s manifested in your body. It?s easy to know when someone is not confident. You can feel it and see it in the way a person carries him/herself.
People who are shy, unsure of their answers, overthink their steps, seek approval, avoid taking risks, or don?t speak up when they should are all instances of the nervous physical energy that accompanies the lack of self-confidence. These are all emotional obstructions that you experience in your body.
For this reason, I believe that any program that aims at improving self-confidence must focus on what you show with your body, and not simply what you think in your mind. You can?t become confident by somehow thinking that you are.
For example, if you were to believe that jumping across a river bank is within your ability, and you visualize this thought before you jump, that will not necessarily translate into a successful jump. Similarly, when I started this blog and decided to become a blogger, it was not going to help me to simply think that it?s possible. I had to act and start a blog to see that it?s indeed possible.
This is why I think the over-emphasis on visualization at the expense of taking action is harmful. It under-prepares you for the challenge. Moreover, it?s ridiculous to think that you can jump and get to the other side of the river simply by visualizing a new ability. A successful jump requires strong leg muscles, good timing, and hours of practice.
The same goes for self-confidence: overcoming shyness and becoming more self-confident is much more about the steps you take physically than the ones you rehearse mentally.
So let?s focus on action and examine my two favorite self-confidence building exercises.
3. Two Self-Confidence Building Exercises
I want to share with you two techniques that I learned in my acting and improv classes that have helped me increase my self-confidence. They are called:
1. The Meinser Technique, and
2. The Stanislavski System.
1. The Meinser Technique
The Meinser technique is a great self-confidence building exercise. I studied the Meinser technique in my improv classes with one of Saturday Night Live (SNL) former actresses. This is a powerful technique for boosting self-confidence because it gets at the core of the problem.
The Meinser technique helps actors get out of their heads and focus on the present. Getting out of your head is crucial for actors because any internal dialogue (or hesitation) about what to do or how to act will take away from the actor?s presence and charisma. No actor wants that. Actors want to come across as authentic as they possibly can.
In fact, after practicing this technique for months, I realized that since there are no scripts, no routines, and no canned material to protect the actor, actors shift their attention away from themselves and to what the other person is saying, wearing and doing, and they actively look for ways to complement that thing. This vulnerability, which at first seems like a weakness, is actually a strength because it allows the actor to stop dwelling on internal thoughts and let his/her authenticity shine through on stage.
So if you want to become more confident, you need to ditch the idea that you need to know exactly what to say (or do) before you actually say it or do it, and to just put yourself out there.
As a side note, top-tier business schools have experimented with improv acting to help their students become better salespeople, marketers, and excellent presenters and they?ve been having great results.
Applying the Meisner Technique to increase self-confidence
Pay attention to details, colors, textures, shapes, smells, etc. There is so much outside of you that?s worthy of your attention. Ignore the noise in your head and become engaged with what?s going on around you.
Start talking to everyone and make it a habit.
If you are nervous about an upcoming meeting, then try to chat with people right before you enter the meeting room. Notice things about them or the meeting room or the office and spark up a quick chat. Think of this as a social warm-up ? this will help you get talking.
You will be surprised at how much easier it becomes to speak up when you have gotten comfortable with speaking to people beforehand.
The same thing works if you?re interested in speaking with someone on a night out: talk to everyone, from your neighbor before you leave the house, to the cab driver, to people on the street, to the doorman. You can even call some people up on your way to the event. When you?re there, don?t just sit or stand with a drink in your hand. Talk to the bartender and the waitresses. Notice something about them or the place. Do whatever you can to establish momentum. Stay engaged and have fun.
When you act, act. But don?t let the thought step between you and the action.? Aristotle
2. The Stanislavski System
The Stanislavski system was developed by the Russian actor and theater director Konstantin Stanislavski. For many actors, this system contained all the answers because it took a lot of the guess-work out of acting.
This Stanislavski?s system focuses on ?affective memory,? or emotional recall. This is where you try to bring to life the needed emotion by drawing on your memory.
For example, if you need to show courage in a scene, you begin by recalling an experience where you acted courageously. Once you identify the emotional experience that best fits your need, say when you defended your bullied cousin, you must then manage to express yourself using those exact emotions. When done correctly, this technique helps the actor project a realistic and believable courageousness as needed.
Applying the Stanislavski System to boost self-confidence
You can apply this technique to your self-confidence by recalling an instant in which you felt particularly confident.
This step doesn?t have to be complicated.
Feel free to recall any moment in your life, even your childhood. What matters is how clear, strong, and crisp that emotion is. Once you?ve identified that emotion, you must make a conscious effort to lock in the feeling you brought to memory.
I always take a deep breath in as I lock in that feeling. I then slowly exhale and feel my body becoming empowered by that feeling.
Feel free to practice this technique until you?ve gotten comfortable with it and test it out in your desired social and professional areas. I have used it with great success.
4. A Confidence Building Activity (Bonus Tip)
If speaking up is particularly challenging for you, then practice saying at least one thing a day; whether in a meeting, to a stranger (nice things of course), or in a classroom. It could be a question, a compliment, or a fun statement about pretty much anything that can get people to respond to you.
If you can get yourself to commit to doing this for two to three weeks, then you will likely make at least one new friend, or have a date, or get a freebie from somewhere. Yes, it?s that simple. Get out there and talk to everyone.
Happy trial and error!