When I was a teenager one of my idols was Bruce Lee. I actually knew nothing about the guy other than the fact he could break wooden doors with his bare fists and defeat a large group of weapon bearing ninjas single handed. As a teenage kid this was more than enough to trigger a deep fascination that left me keen to emulate him in some way.
After much persuasion I managed to talk my parents into taking me to karate lessons...
I went in on the first day with a sense of excited anticipation...just think...soon I'll be able to kick and punch just like Bruce Lee...ahh such useful enthusiasm takes me back...:-)
I was, however, grossly misguided...During the first lesson we didn't do any fancy kicks and punches...in fact, we didn't do any karate moves what so ever!
It pretty much consisted of us running round a gym hall, stretching vigorously in pairs and then, towards the end, some breathing and postural exercises.
I left slightly disappointed wondering why I hadn't been magically converted into Bruce Lee within the space of one lesson. (Naive...I know!)
Thankfully I decide to stick at it and I soon began to realise how important the running, stretching and breathing and postural exercises were.
Because if it wasn't for these fundamentals I wouldn't have been able to learn all the fancy, kicking and punching that came later. These provided the solid base for which everything else was built on...They provided a sense of power and strength from the inside out that allowed me to move, act and behave in ways I wouldn't normally have been capable of...
The most important of these, for me, were the breathing and postural exercises. Not only did they increase my sense of physical strength they made me feel emotionally stronger and more stable and in control.
When it comes to being socially confident the lessons learned from martial arts can be very useful.
Part of the Social Confidence Cycle is to learn ways that enable you to feel more confident, comfortable and strong, in the moment, when you are around people. One incredibly powerful way to do that is by changing the way you breathe and where you put your attention when you move, sit or stand.
Your Magical Centre of Gravity...
In martial arts your centre of gravity is called your Harrah. To locate this place three fingers below your naval and the spot just below the third finger is your centre of gravity. When you feel out of balance emotionally usually what happens is, you unconsciously put your attention high up in your body, often your head.
This then, in turn, creates a feeling of imbalance in your body and it's much easier to be physically knocked over. However when you focus your attention on your centre of gravity, your Harrah, it's virtually impossible to not feel physically strong which, in turn, makes you feel more mentally strong and balanced. One of the most important things you learn in martial arts when it comes to increasing your physical strength (without using weights) is to purposely focus your attention on your Harrah and breathe from your diaphragm as you do.
This is also true when it comes to Social Confidence. By focusing on your centre of gravity and breathing from your diaphragm when you are around people you can significantly increase how strong and powerful you feel. You will also come over as stronger and more powerful in the eyes of others. Repeat the following exercise daily to reap the benefits:
Exercise: Feeling Mentally & Physically Stronger...
Locate your centre of gravity by placing three fingers underneath your naval. Just below the third finger is your Harrah. Now place your attention on this spot as you breathe. You may notice that your breathing starts to feel as if it's happening lower down, in your stomach.
Now imagine a gold ball of light in the spot where your Harrah is. See it shining out and notice what feelings you feel from this spot as you continue to place your attention on it.
Place the palm of your hand about an inch away from your centre. The warmth of your hand will make it easier to establish what it feels like on this spot.
Now concentrate on your breathing. If you aren't doing so already allow your stomach to expand naturally taking air in. Don't force it...just allow it to expand when it feels the need to take in air. During this stage you will see your stomach expand out you may also feel your sides and lower back expanding.
Repeat for 5 minutes and notice the growing feeling of physical strength.
Once you have got used to it, try it our when you are walking, talking and then socialising with people. You'll notice a huge improvement in how comfortable and strong you feel.
Steven Burns is known as 'The People's Coach' and is an NLP Trainer, Coach & Hypnotherapist. Following the end of his 9 and 1/2 relationship he decided to specialize in helping people let go of social anxiety and become more confident and skilled in all aspects of socializing. You can find Steven's latest work at The Guide to Social Confidence