Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. if I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning. – Mahatma Gandhi
Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making his dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of these is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way. – Walt Disney
As I pointed out in the last post, the area I, personally, had the least amount of confidence in was my wardrobe. When I have extra money to spend, one of my “passions” simply doesn’t include clothes.
However, I’ve decided that each month, I’m going to add at least one item of clothing to my wardrobe – in between the kitchen gadgets I can’t live without and the Bath & Body Work’s lovelies that steal my breath away, I’ll grab purple and pink sweaters (my fave colors), and whatever they seem to want to pair up with.
Like most situations, improving one’s self confidence in the area of “dress” can’t be accomplished overnight. It’s something that has to be improved upon over a course of time. But the simple act of moving in the right direction makes you feel 100 percent better.
The same can be true for the other categories we looked at. Below are a few tips for shoring up our confidence in each. And remember, even if you gave yourself a 10 in a category, it doesn’t mean you should forget about it. We should take every bit as much care in protecting our 10’s as we do in raising our other numbers.
If your confidence level with your relationships isn’t a 10, being aware of it (which you now are) is a huge step in the right direction. The next step is to ask yourself, “What’s my role in this relationship’s failure to rank a 10?”
Before even thinking about the other person/people in your relationships, take a little look inward first. If you’re lucky, you’ll be the main problem in the situation – I say lucky because you can fix you!
1. If you’re one of those people who expect too much from people, knock it off… like, yesterday. No one wants to be around someone they feel looks down on them. They’ll resent it AND you. Even if you mean nothing but the best – you may be too controlling and domineering. This is especially a problem in the workplace, but it can extend to your relationships at home.
The problem is, many people fall into a routine. They get so accustomed to treating people a certain way and so used to not showing people respect that they think it’s a way of life. That it’s their right, even! Then, a few years go by and people at work avoid them, they walk into the office and the laughter dies (talk about your modern day Grinches), their kids avoid them at all costs – leaving the house when they come home, coming back home when they leave, etc.
2. If you nag – stop.
3. If you worry too much – dial back.
4. If you yell – shut up. (Sorry, I hate yelling.)
5. If you harp – get a new tune.
6. If you bully – get a life. (Yeah, I hate bullies, too.)
The funny thing is, I believe most people who have traits that get in the way of their relationships are fully aware of these traits. I don’t think bullies, nags, screamers, or worry warts are oblivious to their own charms. I think they KNOW they’re this way and are afraid to change. Do they like being the way they are? Probably not. But they think that backing down (or off) will set them up for disappointment or pain.
The problem is, until they change the way they are, disappointment and pain are all they’ll ever know – they’re simply sharing the wealth, i.e. – making everyone miserable.
Just a little special note to men and women in relationships (from someone who has been very happily married for 25 years, come February): If you are miserable to be around, he/she will find someone who isn’t. If being around you makes them uncomfortable or unhappy – it won’t be long before they tire of the feelings.
If you’re one of those people who “picks” at people, think of the mosquito. He gets swatted for his efforts, and in one way or another, you’ll meet with a similar fate.
[shareable]Don’t be a ‘mosquito person,’ picking at people until they want to swat you away![/shareable]
Conversation and Written Communication
If you lack confidence in either one of these areas, don’t despair – they’re pretty easy to improve upon. The best advice?
- Be yourself
- Practice makes perfect
- Fake it until you make it
First of all, when writing or speaking – just be you. I don’t just practice this when writing, speaking, or living – I immerse myself in it entirely. Maybe it’s stubbornness, I don’t know. But I look at it like this: I may not be perfect, but I am aware of who I am and what I want to say. I know what makes me happy and I know what I believe in. I know what makes me smile and what makes me cry. I will put pictures of animals all over my self help website even when others suggest that it makes it look like a wildlife site. I will not hesitate for one second to say that I’m a Christian and that the Bible holds the answer to every single question we’ll ever have. When writing on my blogs (or e-mail, or articles, etc.) I may start a sentence with “And..”
Look out… rebel on board this train!
Hold on firmly to who you are and to what makes you… well… you.
I guess it comes down to being comfortable with who you are. When you’re comfortable in your own skin, you won’t care who sees it. You’ll adopt an attitude of, “If you get me, fantastic! If you don’t get me, Best wishes!”
Some will get it, some won’t. There are some people who don’t like Shakespeare, the Eagles, country music, Halle Berry (I don’t even want to know these people), John Grisham, etc…
The best way to improve your conversational or writing skills is to practice. Whether it’s conversational or written communication – simply do more of it. Talk up people who you’d normally simply say, “Hi” to. Ask questions, be interested, and look them in the eye. I’d recommend reading, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by the great, great, great Dale Carnegie. Although it was written many years ago, it reads as though it had been written last year. It’s a great book and will increase your confidence by proverbial leaps and bounds.
When it comes to written communication, practice is especially helpful. I wouldn’t even want to guess how many words I typically type in a day. I do know this, though: A few times in my life where I found myself separated from words for a few days (like when my mom unexpectedly died or when I had the flu from hell) I found that the flow of writing got rusty. By contrast, it seems that the more I write, the more I’m able to write. The words practically run over themselves trying to get out fast enough. That’s why you’ll sometimes find typos or little boo boos. I know how to spell and pride myself on my grammar and knowledge, it’s just that sometimes my brain gets ahead of my hands – even though they type furiously trying to keep pace.
I read a blog post by a blogger not long ago that said, basically, “This is harder than I thought it’d be.. This is my last post.” The hard part is that most people either don’t have the time to spend writing daily or they don’t have time that they’re willing to give up for writing. It’s literally something you have to work on regularly if you want to have a good relationship with words.
They’ll leave you in a heartbeat if you make them feel like second class citizens.
As for the last tip – Fake it until you make it – it’ll serve you well until you reach a 10. When talking to someone, act as though talking is what you do for a living. Take on the persona that you’re a cross between Larry King and Oprah Winfrey. When you write, write as though you’re an author with a fan base worthy of Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Dean Koontz, and Maya Angelou.
All put together.
Finally, if confidence in your appearance – for whatever reasons… I mean, I think you look great – is cause for concern, ask yourself, “Why?” Then, ask yourself “How?” and “What?”
Why do I not feel fabulous?
How can I make myself feel better about the way I look?
What is the first thing I need to do?
If you aren’t in love with your hair, change it. If you feel overweight, first of all make sure there isn’t a medical reason and, when cleared, start walking for 30 minutes every day and cut back on the calories you take in.
If you feel underweight, I despise you. Kidding. Sort of.
Seriously, if you feel underweight – make sure there isn’t a medical reason, first. Then, if you’re thin simply because you’re thin (grrrrrr), consider putting on a little muscle.
Either way, joining a gym or finding a great author who deals with your particular subject will help a great deal.
Personally, I don’t think size matters. I find very thin rock musicians, large football players, tiny little fashion models, and full-figured divas all to be beautiful. One size doesn’t fit all and doesn’t look good on all. The trick is being happy with who you are. Confidence is a gorgeous, glorious thing.
In summary (how pretentious was that?): Find the areas in which you don’t feel as confident as you should. Vow to work on improving yourself in those areas. Adopt the mindset of improving yourself and the way you feel about yourself.
mindset – noun
1. an attitude, disposition, or mood.
2. an intention or inclination.
Once you feel good about who you are and where you’re headed, there’ll absolutely be no stopping you. There’s a great deal of power in having an optimistic attitude and mood – you’re liable to find doors opening for you that you didn’t even know existed. What’s more, you’re relationships will be so amazing, that you’ll never have to walk through these doors alone!
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Now, there’s a question you’ve probably read or heard a thousand and one times. You probably even answer the question most of the time.
But, why exactly, do people in the self improvement industry find this question to be so vitally important? And why is your answer even more important?
It all comes down to one of my favorite words: Mindset. Consider the definition from Dictionary.com:
mindset – noun
1. an attitude, disposition, or mood.
2. an intention or inclination.
….an intention or inclination. According to it’s own biography, your mindset will, ultimately, carry you to one of three places: In the right direction, in the wrong direction, or in no direction.
[shareable]Your mindset will, ultimately, carry you to one of three places: In the right direction, in the wrong direction, or in no direction.[/shareable]
If we are optimistic and positive, our mindset will take on a “I can do it!… I must do it!…” attitude. However, if we give in to doubts and insecurities and are pessimistic, our mindset will have more ????s than !!!!s – and that’s never a good thing.
I mean that’s never a good thing!!!
Pessimists will be doomed by gloom – unless they recognize the problem and change their mindset.
We are no greater than our weakest thoughts, no stronger than our gravest doubts and we’ll go no further than our chains of insecurity allow us to.
If we are the walking, talking result of our mindset (and we are), how important must it be to get our optimistic thoughts in line?
Grab a pen and two sheets of paper. You guessed it – here comes a self help exercise.
At the top of one paper, write “WHERE I AM” and at the top of the other page write “WHERE I’M GOING.” Divide the “WHERE I AM” page into categories and write one of these six headings in each:
- WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
Without “over thinking,” go through each one and rate your level of confidence. 1 being, “I am all over this one! Seriously, this is my thing.” A 10 would indicate an area where you feel you are extremely weak – an area that makes you want to hide in your room and eat soup.
Don’t try to talk yourself up a number or down a dumber – just go with your gut feeling. I promise not to look.
After you’ve written your numbers down, go to the “WHERE I’M GOING” page. Start with your lowest number: Write the lowest number and its heading down. Then you’re going to brainstorm and come up with ways to make that number higher.
For example: My lowest number was “wardrobe.” I’ve got more confidence in my pajamas than most of my clothes. The reason for this is simple: I’m just not that into clothes. I LOVE purses, jewelry, perfume, but clothes? Whatever. Maybe it comes from being a mother of 3, a cooking addict, or from being such a homebody – I’d just MUCH rather spend money on my girls, cats, kitchen, or pretty things for the house.
When I wrote down my tiny little numberical score for wardrobe, I thought, “Girl, it’s time to start dressing yourself in a way you’ll feel good about.”
When I was in high school and college (pre-babies, pre-kitchen gadgets, pre-throw pillows, pre-astronomical grocery bills…), I loved clothes. I had more Calvin Klein jeans than Brooke Shields, and shoes in every color. Most of the workers in the mall stores knew me on a first name basis.
Back to your second piece of paper – Keep going, until you’ve gotten to the good stuff – your highest numbers. When you get to those, don’t just write, “Keep on keeping on, baby…” Think of ways to challenge yourself to keep growing in that area.
That way, when you start concentrating on bringing up your weak areas, your strong ones won’t suffer.
Example: If you give yourself a 10 for your knowledge, challenge yourself to start reading more than you do now. It could be as simple as one of the following:
- Find an educational program each week on the Discovery Channel or History Channel to watch.
- Subscribe to a great new magazine. My favorites are SUCCESS, Psychology Today, National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, American Heritage, Discover. My husband gets a couple of interesting historical magazines: Civil War Times and America’s Civil War.
- Dig that library card out of your wallet or billfold and let it see the light of day again. Check out a wide variety of fascinating books.. and read them cover to cover.
When you come face to face with a category in which you scored below 6, asking yourself “why?“ will help you figure out what you need to do. If you aren’t as confident in, say, appearance as you’d like to be, ask “Why?” A new hairstyle, new makeup, or new relationship with food may be in order.
The point is… begin moving in the right direction – one step at a time.
In the next post, I’ll write more ideas for higher numbers in the other categories. I have to take my cat, Alexa, to the doctor right now.
Hmmm, now what will I wear?
Part 2: Strengthen Your Mindset
It’s normal to feel insecure from time to time, to doubt your abilities and talents, and even – on occasion – have difficulty finding any kind words for the person you see staring at you in the mirror! Even the most self-confident people in the world feel uncomfortable in their own skin every now and then.
The problem is, if you let this mindset stick around, it won’t be long before your levels of self confidence and self esteem plummet.
There are actually a few proactive things we can do to boost our self esteem and confidence. Use these tips whenever your own confidence begins to slip.
- Make a list of your attributes – physical, emotional, spiritual, educational, etc. Are you a good listener? Write it down. Do you have pretty eyes, a great smile, or great looking hands? They all count. Do you make people laugh? That’s far too important not to write down!
- Write down every compliment you’ve ever received. This, alone, may just do the trick. I was told not long ago that I look like one of my daughters and I’ve been flying on that one, alone, for months. Remember the last time someone told you they loved being around you? That’s a great compliment. How about the fact that people trust and confide in you? Some “compliments” such as this aren’t actually said out loud but they certainly count.
- Come up with one quick, fairly easy task you want to accomplish and then set out to make it happen right away. Even if it’s as simple as cleaning out a closet, accomplishing something always brings about a feeling of self esteem.
- Think about your personal accomplishments – things that you personally were responsible for. Whether it’s getting a high school degree, getting a B in a college class, writing a bog post that someone enjoyed, cooking a great meal…whatever! Linger over each accomplishment as though it had just happened. Soak up the good vibrations.
- If you tend to compare yourself to other people, realize that this is almost as dangerous as eating rat poison. You do not have to be like anyone else – you’re YOU. The things that make you unique are the things that make you special. Embrace the things that separate you from everyone else.
- Pay close attention to “triggers.” These are things that cause you to feel self conscious or to feel that you don’t quite measure up. It could be as simple as wearing a certain color or putting yourself into a particular situation. Make a habit of identifying these “triggers” each time you feel down on yourself. Get rid of the trigger and you get rid of the problem.
- If your self esteem issue is a physical one, as yourself, “What is within my power?” If you feel self conscious about your weight, for example, start a program of exercise and healthier eating TODAY. Being proactive with a problem takes the sting out of it immediately. It’s as though your brain says, “No worry. I got this.”
- Do something right now that’ll make you happy: Whether it’s going for a walk, eating ice cream, having a cup of coffee, having two cups of coffee (sorry, now I’m transposing my wishes on you), grabbing a Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks, taking a long hot shower, letting chocolate work its magic on you, etc. Treat yourself to something that’ll make you smile… because you deserve it.
- A pep talk from someone may be just what the doctor ordered. Talk to someone you’re especially close to – someone who seems to have a way of picking you up when you’re feeling down. They may have just the words you need to hear. If a human isn’t available, never underestimate the power of a pet! Seeing yourself through the eyes of a loving dog or cat can leave you walking on air.
- I saved the best for last – Go out and do something great for someone else. When you put a smile on someone else’s face, you’ll find that the one on your face will be even bigger. Go by Starbuck’s and grab a Latte for you and one for someone else, then surprise them at work or home with both a visit from you AND an awesome treat. It’ll leave both of you smiling all day. There’s something uncommonly fulfilling about making someone else happy. It leaves you feeling great about yourself, which may be just what you need.
If feeling unhappy in your own skin is pretty much the norm rather than the exception for you, you (obviously) fall into the category of having low self esteem. I know you don’t need me to tell you that. Just like you don’t need me to tell you that it can greatly interfere with your life and happiness. You have to really concentrate on taking the above suggestions and running with them. When you begin to feel better, you will, only then, realize what all you’ve been missing out on.