Gaining confidence through breathing

By Steve Hart

Learning how to breathe properly can help you become more confident and decrease stress.

Knowing how to breathe correctly can help people overcome low self-esteem says Clare Trethewey, a breath integration practitioner, whose work includes helping those who feel bullied and stressed at work.

She says 90 per cent of what we think about comes from our subconscious and once we can connect with those hidden feelings and understand them, they become insignificant - leading people to feel more self-confident and outgoing.

She says: "Fear plays a big part in how people react to situations at work. And when you understand what fear is, and how we create it, then that understanding can be applied to all sorts of situations - not just employment."

Trethewey says the first step to overcoming fear and wiping out the feelings of stress is to understand how stress is created. "You have to avoid thoughts such as 'how am I going to cope', 'they won't want me' or 'I'll probably get it wrong' because these are self-sabotaging thoughts," she says.

"These are the thoughts that are going to cause you stress because they are judgemental thoughts - that we may not be good enough for the job and that puts pressure on ourselves.

"These types of thoughts focus on what 'might' happen. If you focus on what you don't want, then that's what you'll get.

"And that causes fear because you are thinking about the worst possible thing that could happen. That could include being shown up, being exposed, being made to look like an idiot at work. If that's what you are thinking about then you will become nervous, worried and tense."

Trethewey says thoughts such as these cause people to create feelings that make them feel uncomfortable, can overwhelm them and make people panic causing them to hold their breath and lead to shallow breathing.

"Then you feel stressed, powerless and victimised by what you are telling yourself might happen.'

Trethewey calls it the "anxiety of expectation' and says it is caused by people focusing on their perception of how they are viewed by work colleagues, rather than how they want to come across at work.

"People do not show their emotions. You see it all the time. People will put their hand over their mouth when they are upset to stifle their natural emotion and feelings, and deep down it slowly builds up," says Trethewey.

"In addition, nervousness and anxiety are created by what people tell themselves. If they can stand back they will see their true selves and cut through that self-imposed boundary.'

She says a technique called 'breath integration' is a way for people to find their inner confidence and to feel much more comfortable with themselves - and to perhaps understand why they feel like victims when they get out of bed in the morning.

Breath integration has not been scientifically proved to help people, but it has gained popularity on the back of anecdotal evidence and on the word of its founder - New Zealander Colin Sisson who has written a book about his 'discovery'.

Trethewey was taught breath integration by Sisson and has been a breath integration practitioner for five years. She says that the technique is based on yoga, meditation, Taoism and psychology. During sessions with her clients Trethewey helps people bring their anxieties to the surface and then "breathe through them'.

"When we relax and exhale we allow the feeling and the experience to flow through and it dissolves - then the feeling of fear or stress goes.'

She says just because people may not give credibility to their feelings, it doesn't mean they are not there.

"Slowly those feelings overwhelm people," says Trethewey. "If you are feeling nervous then what's wrong with that? Don't make how you are feeling wrong. Feel it and deal with it and keep breathing. And if you can do that then you will feel better and stronger.'

Trethewey says people often feel empowered after one session of breath integration but says that having 10 sessions is normal.

"This work is about how we create stress and how to stop doing it. You learn to stop giving your power away and once you understand you are the creator of your feelings then you can feel however you want."

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Actively choose to pull the inhale in when breathing.

Relax the exhale by letting go all control of the exhale. This is meant to be a passive breath.

Correct breathing is active - passive, not the other way around. If we are not relaxing the exhale we will create struggle.

When we consciously breathe we also eliminate the gaps between the inhale and exhale and then stress begins to leave our body because the balance of the breath is correct.

- Extra, HoS

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