Self-confidence can make or break a person’s spirit. It can mean the difference between accepting your lot in life and pushing against the world to see how far you can truly go. Basically, you either survive or thrive.
So, how do you achieve higher self-confidence so that you can soar like the eagles?
1. Know Who You Are
This may sound simple and you’re probably thinking, “I know who I am and I’m still not self-confident.” Well, it’s a little more complex than that.
You have to know the specific qualities that you have that are good. Create a list. It’s not being arrogant to know what you’re good at. It’s being confident. There’s a difference, so quit shaking your head and make the list.
Are you a good listener? Write it down. Do you help others when they need it? Make sure you add it. Are you prompt to work and put forth as much effort as you can? Include these too.
Create as complete a list as possible. If you truly have difficulty with this one because you’re so used to only focusing on your ‘bad’ qualities, enlist the help of a friend. Ask them to name what they like about you and write it down.
In addition to knowing who you are, it’s just as important to know who you are not. This is where the process becomes a little more complex.
Now that you feel good about yourself, you need to make a second list. On this one, you’ll write down all the negative things that your inner voice says to you. If it tells you that you’ll never lose weight, write it down. If it says you’re too ugly to find that special someone, write that down too.
Once this list is complete, take a look at each statement and objectively ask yourself if it’s true 100% of the time. So, for instance, if you tell yourself that you’ll never lose weight, ask yourself if that’s true all the time. No? You’ve lost weight before and know you can if you truly put your mind to it. Then cross it off your list.
Go through the items one by one and cross off all of the untrue statements. Chances are that you will be left with very few, if any, on what was once a pretty lengthy list. This should help remind you how wrong your inner critic can be.
2. Accept Who You Are
Now that you know who you are, and who you’re not, it’s time to accept yourself just the way you are. Are you perfect? Nope. Name one person that is. You can’t? Exactly. So, why do you think you have to be?
Sure, you may have some habits or things you’d like to change to better yourself, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have lots of great qualities right now. Accepting that you have good qualities doesn’t mean that you’re conceited or arrogant. It just means that you recognize your strengths. You know where you excel. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The true test of whether you accept yourself? When someone pays you a compliment, how do you respond?
If you tell them thank you, then that’s great. But, if you either try to deflect the compliment or tell them why it isn’t true, you have some work to do in this area.
When someone gives you a compliment, accept it graciously, even if you don’t quite believe it. Remember that the person is sincere in what they’re saying. If you just shrug it off or tell them they’re wrong, it leaves you both feeling awkward. Say thank you, accept their kind words and enjoy the fact that someone else thinks you’re pretty special.
3. Love Yourself
This is probably the hardest of the steps to conquer. You made a list of your positive qualities. You may even accept who you are. But how do you make the leap to loving yourself, faults and all?
First, quit talking negatively to yourself. When you notice that you’re beating yourself up or belittling yourself for certain behaviors or thoughts, verbally say, “STOP!” If you can, say it loud and stern. It’s probably not a good idea if you’re in the middle of the store unless you want someone to think you’re ready to rob the place, but at minimum, say it under your breath.
Once you’ve stopped the negative thought, immediately replace it with a positive thought. It doesn’t have to be out of this world and something unbelievable, but it does have to be positive.
For instance, if you’re out to eat and you want to order chocolate cake for dessert, you may hear your mind starting to tell you how you’ll never lose the twenty pounds because you have no self-control. The minute that thought comes into your mind and starts to formulate, say stop (under your breath as you’re in public), and replace it with a more positive thought. Maybe you’ll remind yourself that you are capable of losing weight, as is evidenced by the ten pounds you’ve already lost.
You may decide at this point to order a piece of cake and fully experience and enjoy it, thereby satisfying your craving. Or, you may opt to order it and only eat half so that you can taste it, but still stay on the path to achieving your goals. Perhaps silencing your inner critic and acknowledging that you can order it if you want to without guilt and shame causes you to no longer desire it. No matter what decision you make, you will make it based not on self-loathing, but on self-love.
Just as a parent loves their child every day of their life, despite not always liking their behaviors, the same is true with self-love. You are a person that deserves love and respect. Make sure you get it, starting with you.