With perfectionism on the rise, it is no surprise that more and more people seek instant solutions to low self-confidence. We know it is a business attribute, helping us make decisions, and commanding respect from others. We believe it will make us happier.
The first problem is that many of us muddle self-esteem and self-confidence. Low self-esteem is a much deeper problem and may not be possible for us to put right without some specialist help. Self-confidence, however, can be hugely increased with some commitment and hard work. Here are some ways you can do it.
- Recognizeyou and you alone are self-sabotaging and shooting yourself in both feet by allowing your mind to feed itself this negativity. Chose to change it.
- Definewhy you want to do this and write it down. For some extra push, write down what you can imagine happening if you don’t change things. With this, and all goal setting, make sure end goals are broken down to bite size pieces so you can get used to celebrating success.
- Changetakes hard work. The patterns you think in become habits and so, as with any habit, you have to learn to recognize when you have negative thoughts and consciously stop. When you find yourself feeling low, feeling defeated or not good enough, recognize it, write it down and examine it for genuine accuracy – is it true, where did this idea come from?
- Challengethe voices with hard facts. More often than not these negatives are not based on reality and can be defeated with logical arguments. Also, offset them by making yourself say “I can” and “I am good enough” out loud, several times over. It will take hold. If you struggle, ask what you would say to your best friend if they were having the same trouble and use that compassion on yourself.
- Bewareover analysing yourself as it is easy to get sucked into negatives. Focus instead on other people and how you can make life better for them. This works with social skills too. If you feel awkward in a group, look round for someone else looking uncomfortable and go over and talk to them to put them at their ease. You can’t worry about you, while thinking about them.
- Practiceappearing confident till it kicks in for real. That means speaking slowly, no panicky, rushed mumbles. It means making good eye contact, smiling and walking with your shoulders back, head high and looking forward.
- Discoverthe power of physiology. If you exercise already you will know how much better you feel afterwards. But if full on exercise isn’t your thing, physiology still works from small amounts of movement. Include deep, slow breaths; smiling for 5 minutes, jumping on the spot, shouting out loud. You may feel silly but that it works.
- Make a listof things you have succeeded at however small. Read it regularly. Concentrate on things you can control and have succeeded at. Accept that the things you fear will need you to work at conquering. That is part of being human.
- Do new things– going to new places, learning new things, meeting new people. Learning is great for building confidence. By practising new things, you are building a belief that you can succeed. Be determined. Know you have the potential – use logic for this rather than let your emotions cloud things. Start with something small and build to the more challenging so you start to recognise your own potential.
- If you find yourself questioningyour ability to do something new, learn to examine it and ask why. Identify what bits of it are scary and see what you can do to make those aspects easier. Can you ask for help from others, break it down to bite size bits.
- If you reach a crisis point, for an important speech for example, again, deliberately change from thinking about you. Focus hard on another object, be it the view outside, the window or a picture on the wall. Talk yourself through every detail of what they are like till the levels on anxiety come down.
- Spend time with positive people. When you spend too much time with negative people, it becomes impossible not to become negative yourself. When we feel negative we naturally gravitate to others who do too, looking for re-enforcement of our beliefs. Seek out positive people instead who will appreciate your good qualities and give you some bolstering.
- Remember no-one is perfect, and you are unique. Don’t compareyourself to others. Accept instead of fear your mistakes, failures or shortcomings knowing they are part of learning and part of being human. Be grateful for the challenges they bring.
Perfectionism is a contemporary scourge. But even if we achieve the much-needed changes to restrictions on photo-shopped images and far better suppression of all the areas of social media that feed perfectionism, we will all still need to boost our self-confidence. Increased self-confidence is within our own control with a little work.
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