Issues with self-esteem and self-confidence plague everyone at some point during their existence. It is natural to question your abilities, your value to others and your level of importance. Even the most cocky, conceited and self-assured narcist experiences flashes of insecurity.
Although most issues with self-esteem and self-confidence are innate and natural, there are some external forces that can deepen and exacerbate these feelings. Things such as:
- Disapproving or overly harsh authority figures
- Childhood bullying
- Academic failures
- Learning disabilities
- Delayed or slow development (physical, mental, social and/or emotional)
- Abuse (physical, sexual, mental or emotional)
- Societal norms/media influences
It is important that you identify the sources of low self-esteem so that you can launch a targeted attack. Pinpointing the root of any issue is the pivotal first step in defeating your demons.
Stick yo’ chest out
Self-confidence is a bi-product of and directly related to your levels of self-esteem, self-worth and self-acceptance. In other words, if you don’t love, value and accept you—just as you are—your confidence in your skills, abilities, intellect, and talent will ALWAYS be in question. And, although you should always strive to be the best version of yourself, you are loveable, valuable and enough just the way you are.
Let that sink in for a moment.
You are absolutely perfect. Just. The way. You are. Period.
I see you smiling. Go ahead. Stick your chest out.
3 Steps to Gaining Self-Confidence
Before you move on and read and begin to apply the steps below, you must first understand, embrace and accept the fact that you are amazing. You must also accept and EXPECT that self-doubt will arise from time to time—especially when you are facing a daunting experience. Truth be told, if you don’t feel a bit of uncertainty and doubt your ability to achieve something, the task or endeavor may not be hard enough.
A true challenge stretches you beyond your level of comfort and that stretch brings with it self-doubt.
The key to winning—at anything—is learning how to silence that inner-voice telling you what you can’t do. Your greatest achievements are on the other side of your doubt. Self-confidence is fear wrapped in courage. You can’t win if you don’t try. The more you win, the more confident you become.
Here are 3 steps to boost your self-confidence:
1. Engage in Positive Self-talk.
What we tell ourselves—or our self-talk—is the “X” factor in winning and losing. If you tell yourself you can’t accomplish something—guess what? You can’t. Here’s why.
When you begin telling yourself you can’t do something, subconsciously you begin to sabotage your own efforts. What you tell yourself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is any positive or negative expectation about circumstances, events, or people that influence a person’s behavior toward them in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled. What you believe and tell yourself is what manifests.
The worse thing about self-talk is that it is largely unconscious. You repeat patterns you saw growing up and if you were exposed to large amounts of negativity—especially during difficult times–you tend to exhibit the same behaviors and thought patterns.
Engaging in positive self-talk must be a conscience and intentional act. Here are a few ways you can recognize and attack negative thinking and self-talk:
- Journaling: Whenever you are aware of negative thoughts pervading your mind, pause and take stock. Where are you? What are you doing? Who is around you? What were you thinking about, watching or who were you talking to prior to the mental negativity? Track all of this information in a journal. Doing this allows you to see patterns and locate your triggers. Once you’ve located your triggers you can counteract the negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Challenge and counter your negative thoughts: Challenge and counter every negative thought with three positive ones. Write the negative thought in your journal and then write your three positives around it. This cognitive exercise highlights your thought patterns and will assist you in becoming more aware of what you are thinking.
- Tell yourself positive things—even if you don’t believe it: This is based on an interesting phenomenon. If we hear something enough times, we begin to believe it. A person that has to repeat a lie over and over, will eventually convince themselves that the lie is true. Crazy, right? Psychologists call this the illusory truth effect. This brain trick– also known as “misremembering”–is employed by the media and propaganda spinners world-wide and it works. Use it to your advantage.
2. Focus on things you can change
A major component that feeds and perpetuates low self-esteem is focusing on things that can’t be changed. You can’t change your skin color, ethnicity, who your parents are, etc. We all have limitations and situations that we can’t change. Instead of wasting time lamenting over things that you have no control over, spend your time, energy, effort and resources working on those you can control.
When you change what you can, you win. No, you haven’t changed the entire situation or demolished the obstacle but you did what you could. These little wins build confidence. The more little wins you experience, the more self-confidence grows. Little wins, eventually turn into big wins.
Winning also effects your self-talk. The more you win, the more you believe you can win and the more you tell yourself you can win. You create a winning cycle.
3. Keep good company
There is an old adage that says “show me your company and I’ll tell you who you are.” This is such a foundational truth. The people you surround yourself with directly affect who you become. If you surround yourself with unmotivated, uninspired, mediocrity—that is exactly what you will be. And, more importantly, that is all you will believe you can be. You’ve got to develop an inner sanctum which only a few people can access. It is your inner sphere of people. Your inner sphere should contain people who support, challenge, advocate and cheer for you. Those in this circle directly impact your level of self-confidence. Within your inner sanctum, you should have three relationships.
- A mentor: You need someone who is older, wiser, more experienced and seasoned. This person is not a peer nor a buddy. They are there to provide you with sound guidance and to mentor you. This relationship should be revered and should be valued
- A confidant: A confidant should be a peer on the same level in life as you. He or she is a best friend that loves, supports and looks out for you. You should be able to freely unburden yourself without fear of exposure or judgement. This person should be able to keep a secret and should value you and the relationship on the same level that you do.
- A mentee: Becoming a mentor is a huge confidence booster. It helps you to see yourself from a different perspective. It allows you to see and share what you have that is of value with someone else. We grow and thrive when we help others. An interesting thing happens when you help others—you help yourself. Pouring into others fills your tank.
Healthy self-confidence is steeped in your perception of yourself. Positive self-esteem is dependent on your ability to accurately assess and accept who you are. This means being able to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and focus on changing what you can. You must become adept at rebutting your critical inner voice and actively engaging in positive self-talk. Your inner circle should only include those who add value and validate who you are as a person.