“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” – Anonymous
Confidence. Most of us are lacking it in at least one area of our lives. Self-confidence is a key trait of highly successful people. Increasing your confidence is your first step towards happiness and a more fulfilled life. Confidence is something I had to work very hard to learn myself as I was not a naturally self-confident person. The good news is self-confidence can be learned and built upon.
Here are five ways you can increase self-esteem today.
1. Identify. What are you lacking self-confidence in? People are confident in different things, some are confident in public speaking but are not socially confident meeting new people and others are the complete opposite. Are you not happy with your looks, intelligence, sexual performance or career prospects? You can’t change what you won’t admit, so being honest with what you would like to improve is your first step. Take a few moments to write down what is holding you back from feeling confident. How long have you felt that way? Was there a specific event that triggered it? Comments by our family, friends and peers can traumatize us and cause us to form beliefs about ourselves that aren’t even true. Finding our limiting beliefs is the key to changing them.
2. List your good points and achievements. Everyone has qualities to be proud of. If you are not happy with certain attributes, focus on what you do like. Do you have a nice smile, are you a caring person? What have you accomplished in your life so far? List everything you have done so far like learning to walk, to talk, ride a bike, swim, read, write, maths, finished school, travelled, bought a house, raised children, as well as any personal achievements. This may seem trivial, but as the list gets longer you see how much you have done in this lifetime, how much you have to be proud of. So many of us focus on what we don’t have, what we haven’t done, when we have so much to feel good about. Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it.
3. Visualize. Close your eyes and picture how you would like to be. Do you want to lose 10 kilos, have job you love, be in a fulfilling relationship? Imagine yourself having achieved that goal. What do you look like, who are you with, how do you feel? Use all five senses while doing this. See it, hear it, feel it. Your mind cannot tell the difference between something vividly imagined and something real. With concentrated visualization, you will experience a sense of confidence that what you are imagining will actually become reality.
4. Stop negative self-talk. Inside you have an inner judge who is more critical than anyone you’ve ever met, and it’s ruthless and destructive to your self-confidence and success. Our families may have said horrible things to us but it’s nothing compared to what we say to ourselves. A helpful exercise is to look at a picture of yourself as a child. Would you say such horrible things them?
Become aware of your inner dialog, when that negative voice starts, tell it to be quiet. You can try talking to it, asking it why it feels that way. We all have several different facets of our personality. An inner child, a rebellious teenager, a critical parent. These parts can take over at any given time during your day. They may be triggered by certain interactions or feelings. Finding out how these parts of you personality feel and what they need will guide you to a level of self-awareness that will transform all aspects of your life.
We have enough people telling us we can’t do it, why the hell are we tearing ourselves down too. Be your biggest advocate, your own cheerleader, affirm the crap out of yourselves and surround yourself with people who will join in on supporting and validating each other. You are amazing, you just need to believe it and it’s your differences, your unique traits that make you interesting and inspiring.
5. Persevere. Watching a toddler learn to walk is a lesson in persistence. No matter how many times they fall down, they keep getting back up. You don’t see them trying to walk a few times and then giving up. Confidence comes from the belief that we can do something, and to do something with confidence come from practice. Confidence is a skill and you have to keep practicing to master any skill. One of the best examples of believing in oneself is Thomas Edison. Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t “invent” the light bulb, but instead he improved a 50-year-old idea. Thomas Edison envisioned a lamp that could be run by electricity. In spite of more than 10,000 failures, he finally perfected his vision into reality. As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Are you going to lie on your deathbed reminiscing about all the chances you didn’t take, because you might have failed?
It’s up to you decide your own self-worth; everyone else will accept what you decide it to be. Stop making assumptions about what other people may think. As my grandmother used to say “What other people say about you is none of your business.” Your assumption of what people might think is distorted by your own beliefs. There is only one of you in this world; no one else has the amazing combination that makes up you. As soon as you realize it, everyone else will too.