If you have read a few of my other posts, you will notice that I mention periods of low self-esteem. I attribute that to my achiever mindset and the constant feeling that however good it is that I could have done better.
My daily experiences exert an impact on my well-being as my thoughts and feelings about myself go up and down like a yo-yo. Sometimes the impact is only temporary, other times…
How do you build self-confidence when your critical inner voice tells you that you are inexperienced, fat, could have done better or whatever else?
It’s estimated that your critical inner voice makes between 300 to 400 critiques each day. For the majority of us, those critiques focus on self-criticism. For the average person, research suggests that only 20 percent of self-evaluations are positive.
Following this through, if 80% of self-evaluations are negative, then your inner critic is active 240 to 320 times a day. Putting it in different terms that is 15 to 20 times each waking hour. Or one critical comment every 3 to 4 minutes.
How could you be so stupid?
Some of us possess the ability to make a simple mistake worth 30 or 40 minutes of self-abuse. I know my inner critic can abuse me for even longer. “How could you be so stupid? What a ridiculous thing to say.”
And If that is not bad enough, when we ask ourselves a question we provide an answer.
Ask yourself “How could you be so stupid?” and our brain responds to this attack by checking the evidence. “While consulting the ‘stupid’ file we see that yes indeed you are stupid. In fact, you have always been stupid, but now you are stooping to new lows. Congratulations dumb ass.”Most of us possess the skill of being able to make ourselves feel worse and not better. Click To Tweet
Would you talk to anyone else the way you talk to yourself? If an employee were spoken to like that, they would either resign or file a grievance and win. You deserve to treat yourself the same way you would treat a friend.
If we allow ourselves the luxury of feeling positive about a success it tends to get discounted. “Anyone could have done it. I just got lucky. It took me long enough.”
We all know self-confidence is essential, but how do you build and maintain robust self-confidence?
This time I am not talking about a quick fix for a confidence issue but a more permanent cure. However, if you want quick fixes for your confidence they are available.
A permanent cure can’t be achieved in an instant. It takes time and persistent action to change the thinking patterns and the belief systems that feed our insecurities.
Today, I want to explore the nature of resilience. If we gain a better understanding of resilience, we can develop greater self-confidence and self-esteem.
Our life experiences prove that self-confidence is crucial to living an OUTSTANDING life. Our level of confidence tends to dictate our actions, and it is our actions that generate the results we experience in our lives.
It looks like this:
belief → feelings → actions → results → revised beliefs
What we believe (our level of confidence) drives our emotions or feelings. This, in turn, drives our actions which drive our results. And from the results, we adjust our beliefs.
Too nerdy? Stick with it, and the later examples will make it all fit together.
Self-confidence and self-esteem
A lot of people confuse self-esteem and self-confidence. Of course, confidence is essential in self-esteem, but it is much more than that.
We see individuals do incredible things. Outwardly they appear confident but internally suffer with poor self-esteem.
Many actors, comedians and singers, who seem to resonate assurance ‘on stage’ feel desperately insecure off-stage.
People think I am confident due to me addressing a room full of delegates. The reality is that before I perform, my time is occupied feeling that I am not good enough. After I perform, I spend several days thinking about the errors I made and how I can improve.
Both self-confidence and self-esteem relate to how you perceive yourself.
Self-confidence relates to your perception of your abilities. Think of it as your belief that you can be successful at something. Click To Tweet
Self-esteem relates to your perception of your worth or value. Think of it as your opinion of yourself and your value as a person. This includes the thoughts we have about ourselves and our abilities, the kind of person we think we are and our expectations.
If you have a healthy or high level of self-esteem, your beliefs about yourself will generally be positive. Conversely, if you have low self-esteem, your beliefs about yourself will often be negative.
There is not one straightforward cause of low self-esteem that applies to everyone. The beliefs we form about ourselves occur over extended time frames and are affected by many things.
Self-esteem is made up of all the interpersonal relationships and experiences you’ve had in your life. Everyone you’ve ever met has added to or taken away from how you see yourself!
Common causes of low self-esteem include:
- Temperament – difficulty relating to other people or a tendency towards negative thinking.
- Childhood experiences – having a hard time at school, bullying, or complicated family relationships.
- Life events – long-term illness, the death of someone close to you, the end of a relationship, or being unemployed.
- Relationships – other people making you feel like you have little worth or being negative about you.
- Excessive stress – if you are under a lot of pressure and finding it hard to cope.
- GNATS – generalised negative affirming thoughts that reinforce low self-esteem. Such as setting unachievable high standards for yourself or comparing yourself to others.
To build your self-esteem, the first step is to change the negative beliefs you hold about yourself. And you do that by challenging them.
On reading those words, it might strike you as an impossible task, but we will cover many different techniques to help you.
Be mindful of your needs and wants
If your bum is telling you that it is numb from sitting for too long, then stand up and move. If your brain is telling you to play some music or unclutter your bedroom take those thoughts seriously and act on them. Or, if your soul is telling you to reach out to a special friend, then do it.
Take the best care of yourself
When you were growing up, you may have missed a few lessons on how to take the best care of yourself. Your attention may have been on “behaving well”, getting by or perhaps on taking care of others.
Start today to take the best care of yourself. Treat yourself as a best friend might treat another best friend or as a nurturing parent would treat their child. If you work at taking the best care of yourself, you will find that you feel better about yourself.
Physical activity releases endorphins, Those are the ‘feel-good’ hormones that improve your mood. Doing it outdoors seems to instil an even more significant benefit.
To feel healthier and happier it helps to eat at regular intervals through the day including plenty of vegetables and water. Reducing or stopping your alcohol intake, and avoiding tobacco and recreational drugs will also help.
Sleep deprivation causes negative feelings to be exaggerated and means you feel less confident. It’s important to get enough sleep, and this post will help.
Do something you enjoy
Sometimes life gets so busy, that you spend very little time doing things you enjoy. Do a have a list of things you enjoy doing? It could be anything from a craft project, volunteering, or going fishing. Then do something from your enjoy list every day. You can add any new activities to your enjoy list as you discover them.
Help another person
This does not need to be a significant undertaking or be expensive. It could be as simple as sharing a few kind words with someone in the same queue. Aiming a smile at someone who looks sad. Helping your partner with an unpleasant chore. Or sending a thoughtful card to a friend.
Break with procrastination
We all have a task that we put off and delay. When you set yourself realistically achievable goals and work towards achieving them, you develop a sense of satisfaction. You can rightly be proud of achieving your goal. And who doesn’t feel more positive when we accomplish a goal? So start going to that exercise class. Wash your car. Clean out that closet. Write that email.
You are probably doing some of these things right now. And there will be a few others you might choose to start doing. One of the beauties of life is continually learning new and better ways to take care of yourself.
As you become more aware of your needs and wants and act to fulfil them, you unconsciously incorporate these changes into your life. And your self-esteem will continue to strengthen.
Changing Negative Thoughts About Yourself to Positive Ones
Earlier, I wrote that the first step to building your self-esteem is to change the negative beliefs you hold about yourself. And you do that by challenging them.
Here comes a question from left field. Do you find Gnats annoying? They are the tiny flying insects that fly in large numbers called clouds, especially at dusk.
What do you do about them?
If you are like most people you swat them and kill them. You murderer! You kill gnats.
And I congratulate you for doing that.
I want you to kill gnats. To be clear, I want you to kill GNATS!
The GNATS I want you to kill are generalised negative affirming thoughts. The thoughts that pop into our thinking and reinforce low self-esteem.
Your critical inner voice
We all have an inner voice that judges us and also attacks us – your critical inner voice.
This inner critic blames you when things go wrong, and finds you wanting when it compares you to others. It sets impossible standards for you to attain and then beats you up for the measliest of mistakes. Continuously reminding you of your many failures but never mentioning your successes.
Some examples of GNATS that people repeat over and over to themselves include: “I never do anything right,” “I am a loser,” “No one likes me,” “I am so uncoordinated.”
Most of us believe these thoughts, no matter how unreal or untrue they are. GNATS come up in just the right circumstances, for example, when you get a wrong answer you think “I am such an idiot.”
Kill GNATS by asking yourself the following questions about each negative thought:
- Is this true?
- Is this really true? Challenge yourself to come up with exceptions when this is not true.
- Would a friend say this to another friend? If not, why should I say it to myself?
- Who would I be if I did not believe this thought? Would I be happier? More relaxed? Performing to a higher level? So why persist in thinking it?
The inner critic steals any good feelings you have about yourself and is the enemy of good self-esteem.
Our critical inner voice gets our attention because it is coming from inside us, it is familiar and seems to make sense.
Take control of your inner critic
You have a choice. You don’t have to believe the crappy things your inner critic says about you.
There are several ways you can choose to do this:
- Get mad. Decide that enough is enough. Stop with the put-downs right now.
- Remind yourself that you control your inner critic and not the other way round. That critical voice is created by you.
- Point out the deception of the critic. How does criticising yourself motivate you to do better? (READ: Learn how to motivate yourself) It doesn’t. What it does is makes you feel bad so you can’t function. How does anticipating failure and rejection make it easier to handle if it happens? It doesn’t. What it does is makes you feel rotten before and after.
- Order yourself to find the uplifting moments you have and savour these.
- Ask yourself how much does believing this rubbish cost you? Do you want to keep paying the price on your relationships, on your work, and on your level of well-being?
Developing robust and resilient self-esteem is vitally important to overcoming the challenges that life places in our path. If you would like more help with killing GNATS click here.
Time to get after it and live an OUTSTANDING life. And as always, I would love to hear what you do to remain resilient.