I think it’s safe to say all of us have met criticism from those around us at one time or another. That’s just a part of life. Even an important one, I may add, as it allows us to know ourselves better and grow as a person. However, when we internalize negative thoughts to the point where we profoundly distort our own self-image, it may have crippling effects on our lives. Our innate ability to meet new challenges with hope and joy may be lost. This is why it’s crucial to undertake the task of facing our fears and re-building our self-confidence. Daunting as it may be, it’s also our path to freedom. Read on to find 7 tips that will help you begin that journey.
1. A work in progress
There’s a key difference between self-confidence and self-esteem: self-confidence has to do with how capable you feel about achieving your goals or expressing your will; self-esteem is more related to the way you feel about yourself: your self-image. The problem with the second concept, as I see it, is that it springs from a dubious concept: the concept of “self”. Even worse, it often leads to the conclusion that you have certain qualities, and that they cannot be changed: you “are” selfish and you will always be because, well, that’s who you are. Unfortunately, in the end, this perspective often leads to suffering. But, what can we do about it?
First of all, we have to realize we can’t say anyone is selfish, in the same way, we affirm a tree is made of wood. What someone judges as selfish, someone else may very well view it differently. Even if you see you tend to behave in a certain way when you’re involved in a particular situation, be certain that you can change the way you act. Ask yourself: what am I really trying to achieve by doing this? Do I do it only under these circumstances, or in other situations as well? What could I do differently next time? Above all, you should always remember: you can change yourself and your reality. You’re truly a work in progress.
2. Be Humble
Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself. What it means is being able to accept those things that you don’t particularly like about yourself. This takes a fair amount of courage, both in order to spot those traits and to change them for good.
3. Be true to yourself
Try to determine the main principles you live by. Those things you care about deeply. What you stand for. All this may come to you after some profound introspection, or you may just find yourself putting them into practice (or painfully failing to do so) in all sorts of situations in your daily life.
Simply take some time to reflect upon your life very day. Discover what you believe in. Live by it, and your goals will acquire a deeper meaning, beyond fear and judgment.
4. Positive thinking and getting rid of negative thoughts
When I first encountered this concept, I believed positive thinking literally meant not having any negative thoughts whatsoever. Soon enough, I found myself immerse in a never-ending battle with my own mind, doing my best for certain dreadful ideas never to surface. This, of course, didn’t work out at all. Has this ever happened to you, too?
Now, let me suggest a different route: Next time you hear your inner voice whispering negative thoughts in your ear, why don’t you just try putting it “on hold” for a while? Then, you can fact-check what this little voice is telling you. Many times, you will find out most of it is simply untenable. This process will naturally make it easier for your mind to focus on positive thoughts.
5. Develop competence
What better way to feel you can accomplish something than actually becoming more competent in doing so? If your lack of confidence right now extends to various realms, then choose one that’s particularly meaningful to you and try to master it. It can be anything, really. From a professional challenge of some sort to speaking in public. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need to do so. The more knowledge and experience you gain, the more confident you’ll become. Start acting differently, and you will feel differently.
6. Think of others
Dissociating your fate and well-being from those of others often leads to a meaningless life. A competitive world, where fear of others and of your own inadequacies take a stand. Being kind and generous, on the other hand, gives a sense of communion where everything’s possible, and your neighbour becomes not your enemy, but your friend and partner in your endeavours.
7. Gain order and confidence will follow
Order is not something objective: it’s a state of things that makes sense to you. Therefore, it gives you a sense of control over your plans, while actually making it easier for you to visualize and carry them out. Establishing priorities and keeping things in order allows you to turn goals into handcrafts, and your life into a work of art.