So much can be said about this topic that you could probably fill hundreds of pages in a book. It’s a topic many people think about, and frequently talk about, but that still feels enigmatic in many ways. Why are we wired the way we are? Why do we react the way we do when faced with obstacles in life?
Confidence invokes envy, and even anxiety, for those who don’t have it, and abundance and success for those who do. It creates a dividing line between the haves and the have nots, and seems to be randomly handed out at birth as part of our gene pool or DNA. Some get it, some don’t. Right?
Nope. Not at all. Like most things in life it’s a skill, one that anyone can learn. From scratch if need be. In fact, there are things you can start doing today that will immediately start building up your self-confidence. Just remember that it’s a journey, not a destination. More of a way of life, a choice if you will. Something you incorporate into your life that becomes a good habit.
The moment you realise how incredibly rewarding a deep sense of belief in yourself really is, that’s when you also realise that no one, including yourself, will ever drag you down again. It’ll be like receiving the key for all those locked doors that you previously couldn’t open, but now have access to. A smorgasbord of goodies!
But before diving into the pond of possibilities, we must look at the root cause of low self-confidence, and where it comes from.
The challenging world around us can seriously deflate our confidence. Our failures and shortcomings are more than enough to set things in motion, and if paired with gleeful and harsch comments from others you’ll find yourself in a situation where you drive through life with the hand brake on. Well-meaning but sometimes unkind comments from those closest to us can also hit us hard.
But the real elephant in the room is you. Yes, you. Your inner critic is your own worst enemy. He/she is responsible for all those times you never approached that person of interest because you were too ugly or not interesting enough, and also reponsible for quitting that sport you liked, and maybe also the reason why you never had the balls to start that company you always dreamed of.
Lack of confidence also comes and goes, and can sometimes manifest when we least expect it. Or just work in really weird ways, where for instance you can be really confident and attract love and passion in your life, but struggle with your career, or vice versa.
Wherever you are on that scale, or which ever phase in life you’re in, just know this: Grow a thicker skin, and tell your inner critic to f*** off, and you’ll see change coming around the corner pretty fast.
And here are six effective ways of doing just that.
Affirmations are a powerful tool to deliberately install desired beliefs about yourself. To completely reverse the effects of your inner critic, get your headphones on and start listening to affirmations every night before you fall asleep. I know it sounds cheesy, but it works. Remember, it’s about gradually changing the perception of who you are.
Visualize yourself as you want to be
Visualization is the technique of seeing an image of yourself that you are proud of, in your own mind. When we experience low self-confidence, we have a poor perception of ourselves that is often inaccurate. Try to visualize a phenomenal version of yourself daily, you will be surprised what happens after a while. It goes hand in hand with affirmations and pretty much works the same way, as it gradually alters your perception of yourself. Be patient!
Question the voice in your head
I’ve already mentioned the inner critic. If you’re struggling with low self-confidence, chances are this guy is a bit over energetic. Look for evidence that either supports or denies what he’s saying, and very often you’ll see it’s unsubstantiated garbage. Compliment and reward yourself often, even for the smallest success.
Set achievable goals
One thing that really kills our confidence is the lack of success and results. If you set your goals way too high, chances are this is exactly what you will get. By setting achievable goals you’re setting yourself up to win. You will get tangible results to reflect on, which gives you that warm feeling of accomplishment. Believe me, setting new goals after that is something you will look forward to.
Take care of yourself
This one is perhaps my favorite. Self confidence is truly built on a foundation of good physical health, emotional health and social health. It is difficult to feel good about yourself if you’re not comfortable with your physique or constantly have low energy. Creating the good habits of excercise, eating well and sleeping well is going to take you a long, long way.
Face your fears
This is quite possibly the hardest one of them all, but the truth is, as scary as this one sounds, it’s something that works extremely well for building confidence. Leaving our comfort zone is often difficult, and is something most of us dread. Doing it though, and as often as you can, will make your confidence soar.
In fact, about two weeks ago I took the entire family to the beach, and my 11 year old daughter decided she wanted to jump into the water from atop a rock, no more than 1,5 metres high. However, she immediately hesitated, and just couldn’t bring herself to jump. She stood there for a while, and grew more fearful the longer she waited. After a while, one of the other kids nearby said something about “not having the guts”, and laughed a little, and my daughter walked away, arms crossed in anger and tears welling up in her eyes. In the car back home she was so incredibly frustrated she never made the jump.
The next day was also very warm so we decided to go back, and yet again my daughter got on top of the rock to attempt another jump. When she remained frozen in the “almost jump” position, I walked up to her and took her hand and said: “Lets jump in together, I promise it’ll be ok” She looked at me with only a tad bit of increased confidence, but on the count to three we both jumped in. Almost screaming with joy over this remarkable feat, she went back on top of the rock and jumped in five more times. On her own.
Valuable lessons were learnt that day, for both of us. To truly have your confidence north of “good” at all times, you always have to be wary of these six things. Create the good habit of doing them daily (or at least as often as you can), and the battle against low self-confidence is going to be a thing of the past.