We face struggles in life that affect our self-confidence. They bring with them a great deal of pain, cause us to question ourselves, and even break us down over time. We all want to be confident and feel confident, but what if you are starting with little to no confidence? What if those struggles you have faced in life have taken it all away from you?
Confidence plays a big role in our overall happiness, and it is something the majority of us lack. As we struggle in life, as we aim to find ourselves and our path, we sometimes lose this very important part of ourselves… But the good news is, confidence is something you can get back.
True self-confidence is not an overnight venture and just as it takes time to break down, it will take time to gain back. There are a few basic steps that will help you rebuild your self-confidence, hopefully speeding up your journey to a happier, more fulfilling life.
The Unwritten Rules of Building Self-Confidence
The first step in building your self-confidence is to listen to yourself. It is important that we are in tune with that small voice deep within our minds, and that we learn to not only listen to it but to control it as well. We tend to be far harsher on ourselves than we are on others. This arises from the fact that we are constantly comparing our lives to those around us. We all do it. We are all guilty of envy in some form. It is good to aspire to improve ourselves, but it is also important that we see the big picture and truly know what ‘improvement’ looks like.
So many times we look at other people and see only the surface, like comparing a ‘first draft’ with a ‘final edit’. What is on the outside is not necessarily what is truly there. You must train the little voice in your head to be objective and avoid comparisons. Focus instead on what you have done that is positive and moving you in the right direction.
“There was a long period in my life where I envied an old high-school friend. She seemed to have it all; the nice house, the adoring husband, the good job. She was everything that I wanted to be, everything that I wasn’t. I wanted her life, but I found out that what I saw on the surface was nothing close to reality My old friend was unhappy. The beautiful house had put them in debt, the adoring husband was not what he seemed, and the job was far from glamorous. Everything that I envied about her was a façade. For the first time in a long time I was able to see how truly blessed I was with my life.” – Amy Harris
When you look beyond the surface, not just within others lives but also your own, you will often find things that you did not see before. Take time to consider this when you feel envious and count your current blessings.
The second step in building self-confidence is to accept your own faults. Once you have heard your little voice, it will be easier to change. This is where the work really begins. You need to focus on that little voice and find where it is placing blame.
Too often we pick ourselves apart little by little, wearing ourselves down over time. Have you ever had those days when you get dressed and feel great, but the minute you leave the house you begin questioning your outfit or the way you did your hair? That is the little voice pointing out your insecurities and trying to drag you down.
Imagine it like a little devil and angel sitting on your shoulders, like in the cartoons. The angel is your self-esteem and the devil’s goal is to knock her off your shoulder, permanently.
It is important that we listen to the positive angel on our shoulder, and not only ignore the devil but evict him completely.
The devil comes from our envy, our pain, our insecurities and many other negative places. He grows stronger and louder over time. You are not going to be able to evict the devil instantly but you can use break him down over time – just as he does you. Each time you find yourself pointing out your faults, or questioning a decision, simply STOP. Take a moment to remember what you love about you. Show that negative devil you’re the boss and take back control of your mind. Each negative thought should be replaced by a positive one. Positive thinking is a strong tool that plays a major role in the way we see ourselves.
The third step in building self-confidence is to surround yourself with positive people. This is especially important while you are working on rebuilding your self-esteem. Find a friend or a family member that you feel comfortable talking openly with, or arrange to see a counselor. Talking to someone about how you feel is a big part of building self-confidence. People are social by nature and talking to someone can help you work through the issues that have dragged you down in the past.
“I find that most of the time when I talk with a friend about my problem I am not actually looking for advice, I am just trying to clear the clutter from my mind. In fact, 95% of the time I come up with a solution on my own and simply needed a sounding board.” – Jenni.
When you are in the process of rebuilding your self-confidence it is important that you find someone to talk to that is both positive and disconnected from the situation. If you think your lack of confidence stems from your mother’s negativity or your husband’s lack of affection, talking to them may not be the best choice at this time (you will get to that eventually as a way to move forward and truly be happy) . Instead turn to that friend that always seems to know what to say or someone who can stay bias to the emotion you face.
It is important though that while rebuilding your self-confidence you surround yourself with positive people, and do what you can to avoid or separate from the negative ones. Other people’s negativity can have a huge impact on our self-esteem, so try to avoid them until you are sure you are strong enough to handle it. If that is not possible then simply utilize the positive people to combat the negativity.
* There are groups available online where you can create a profile and talk with others. This is a great option if you find you are not comfortable or able to talk with family or friends.*
The fourth important building block is forgiving your mistakes. We have all made mistakes in our life, some big some small. It is through these mistakes that we have learned lessons and grown into better people. When we are on the road to regaining our confidence one major step is accepting our past mistakes and letting them go. No matter how big or life changing the mistakes of your past it is important that you let go and accept them as lessons. If the mistakes hurt someone then send a letter of apology, or right the wrong where you can. Otherwise, you need to remind yourself ‘the past is the past’ and is meant to be left behind.
No one is perfect, and we all face obstacles, bounce over bumps in the road, and even drive directly into walls. The point is, we must take these mistakes, these poor choices, and use them to better our future. If there is something that you just can not seem to let go of no matter how hard you try, then don’t be afraid to seek counseling and try to work through the reasons you are holding on to these issues. Usually, there is an underlying factor that is deeper than the situation itself.
“I had a relationship in the past that I could not seem to let go of, despite the fact that it was extremely abusive and there was no real love there. Through counselling I learned that it was not the person, that I was actually holding on to, but instead the failure it represented to me. We shared a child together and I felt scared, alone, and rejected. Most of all I felt as if I failed my child by not giving him the father I thought he deserved. Years later I see that his father was not what ‘he’ deserved and I did the best thing for him by letting go of an unhealthy relationship.” – Tammy-Lynn
There are going to be aspects in your past that are more difficult to let go of than others, but it is so important that you take your time with this step and really focus on all the benefits it holds for your future… and there are many to be found.
The fifth lesson is self-confidence is celebrating your successes. I truly wish that every day could be a party. If before we went to bed at night we could celebrate all the ‘small successes of the day’ we would all be much happier people. This is something that we do not do enough, celebrate our success. Somewhere along the line, someone said ‘bragging was bad‘ and people took it way too far. There is nothing wrong with bragging about the things that you have accomplished. Odds are that (as long as it is not all you talk about) if it bothers someone it is only because they are suffering from envy or their own personal regrets, which is not your problem and should never stop your success.
Take time to celebrate when you accomplish something, even if it is something as small as clearing out a closet that has overflowed for months. When we focus on the positive things that are happening in our lives we are less likely to find (or fabricate) any negative ones.
So heck, if you’ve made it to this step then call up your friends and celebrate that tonight!
A small secret when it comes to confidence; if you don’t have it, fake it. Now, this does not mean you have to strut your stuff like Cindy Crawford, or even pretend to be something you are not, but it does mean you should be positive even when you don’t feel it inside.
How many times a day do you complain? I am betting it is a lot more than you think. When you are opting to build confidence it is important that you radiate it as well. Cease all complaints and focus on sharing your positivity with others. When people see that you feel good, they want to be closer to you, which in turn will help lift your spirits.
Confidence is contagious. This is because confidence is positivity and people like positive people. Period. So give a co-worker a compliment, share a positive outlook, and avoid complaining about the weather, the commute or the long hours. Replace those too common coffee break complaints with compliments and positive conversations, you will be surprised by the results.
*A final note*
Other people play a major role when it comes to our self-confidence, especially when we are starting out on the journey to rebuild it. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking what others say with a grain of salt and looking at the source.
You must not allow what other people think or say become your reality.
All that matters in your life is the level of happiness you feel towards yourself. The truth is, people can be cruel and their own envy can be your undoing. Do not let someone else’s insecurities bring out yours.
Having high levels of confidence is something that takes time to achieve, but it is well worth the effort involved.
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Until Next Time…
Go Forward With Confidence!
(Originally posted on Inspired Every Moment – which has now merged with this site)