Years ago, I lacked self esteem – although I had lots of encouragement from my parents I was a shy girl, who felt inferior to others. Over the years, with effort and with each ensuing success, I have gained self-confidence. It helps me be happier and it helps me step up to challenges.
Neel Burton, a psychiatrist and author of Psychology Today article Building Confidence and Self-Esteem puts it this way:
“People with long-term low self-esteem generally see the world as a hostile place and themselves as its victim. As a result, they feel reluctant to express and assert themselves, miss out on experiences and opportunities, and feel helpless about changing things. All this merely lowers their self-esteem even further, and they end up getting caught in a downward spiral.”
If you are among those who lack self-esteem, take heart. You too can be more confident. Here are a few suggestions to try.
Tell yourself a good story.
We all talk to ourselves continually (some of us even do it out loud!). We tell ourselves stories about ourselves. If we continually berate ourselves, we will internalize that and believe it so thoroughly that we can accomplish nothing. When you tell yourself a good story, it builds up your confidence and helps you gain the courage to accomplish great things.
Surround yourself with those who build you up, not those who tear you down.
My biggest boost in self confidence came when I had babies. Having a tiny person totally dependent on you, totally connected to you and pretty much totally idolizing you (at least for that first year) is a real ego booster.
The people around you can make a huge difference in how you view yourself. Expect to be treated with respect. Expect to be encouraged. Expect praise when you do a great thing. If your expectations aren’t met, look elsewhere for companionship or start training those around you to meet them.
Every body has a defect, not just yours.
Many of us are not at ease in our own bodies. We are uncomfortable with one or more aspects of how we look. I used to think that others around me were close to perfect and didn’t worry about anything related to their bodies.
Years after an Aunt of mine died, I found an entry she had written in a diary. In it she bemoaned the way her skin looked and described the great lengths she had gone taken to try to fix it up the way she wanted. This Aunt was a beautiful person and had never hinted in conversation that she had this discontent.
Pretty much everyone has something on their body that doesn’t satisfy them, you aren’t alone. If you can work towards being satisfied in your own body, you will be much more self confident. If it isn’t something to fix, remind yourself that it isn’t important (if it is just cosmetic) and that other people have similar issues.
Prepare for uncomfortable situations.
Self confidence can get pretty shaky when we have to try something new, or something that we find challenging. Over preparation can help you get ready and can build your confidence in your performance.
If you are giving a speech or asking for a raise, for instance, design what you want to say, prepare any visual aids that will help you convey it, and then practice, practice and practice some more! It really does help.
If you have trouble speaking up for yourself, start small. When your spouse makes a derogatory remark, don’t ignore it. Start by frowning when you hear it. Show your displeasure. Step up to telling him or her that the remark hurt, and finally, when you gain enough confidence, ask them to refrain from that type of comment.
Don’t allow others to limit your behavior.
Lots of people have expectations of you. Some are valid and important to fill, others are arbitrary and can limit your behavior.
When you find yourself modifying your behavior due to someone else’s expectation, stop and think about why that person is expecting you to do or believe such and such. Is it valid? Is it right for you? Will your life be miserable if you don’t meet that expectation? Is it moral and just for you to meet that expectation? If the answers are no, don’t let that person limit your behavior with his or her expectation.
Remind yourself that you are every bit as important as the next person.
When I was young, I was very shy. I felt that everyone else in the world was more important than I. When I walked through the halls at school, I would duck and dodge to get out of the way of others that were striding purposefully down the hall. Later in life, I gained confidence and realized that I am just as important as the next person. I have a right to occupy space and stride out on my own path, just as they do.
Each of us have our own unique contribution to make to the world while we live. None of our efforts are less valuable, less important or less significant.
What tips can you share on building self-confidence?