I’ve met many people in my lifetime. People from all over the world.
Some seem confident, self-assured and happy. Others – not so much.
The difference, it seems, comes down to one thing: How people feel about themselves.
I’ve heard it said;
“I am not who I think I am. I am not who others think I am. I am who I think others think I am.”
It’s a bit of a mind twister, but consider this:
You have a certain idea about yourself – what you look like, how you engage socially with others, how intelligent you think you are, how confident, brave, strong, beautiful, funny you think you are…. All these things combine to make up your perception of self.
Then, there is how others see you. Do they see the same things you do? You might think your thighs are way too chunky and that everyone is judging you because of it – yet the girl sitting next to you is suffering from major thigh envy over YOUR gorgeous thighs.
I’ve noticed on my travels and my interactions with people – from either counseling them or simply listening to them – that most people have warped perceptions of themselves. Usually they are negative misperceptions such as ‘I’m ugly’ or ‘I’m a coward’ or ‘I’m such a loser’. As the outsider looking in during these times (and having many of the facts at hand) I can usually tell that these negative perceptions are lies that are being believed. And once something is believed- whether it be positive or negative – it has a huge amount of power in that persons life.
To make things even more complicated, once you believe something, you will find that that belief will be confirmed over and over again. For example, if you believe that your boobs are too small and your butt is too big – GUARANTEED you will consider every comment about your butt or boobs to confirm what you already think is true (whether or not that comment was intended as criticism).
Plus, by making something a negative focus in your life, you will unconsciously draw negative attention to it… and so people will probably pick up on your insecurities and tell you that you have a big butt and no boobs.
I don’t know exactly why this happens… but it does.
This is why what you think about yourself will affect what others think about you.
And, how you think others think about you will affect how you see yourself… and how you act.
So now the question is: How do you overcome your own insecurities and create a healthy self-perception of yourself?
It sounds like a lot of work… but actually…
I’ve developed a three-step method to achieving genuine confidence and self-love. I’ve seen major breakthrough in people’s lives (including my own) in learning to love and value themselves from doing these simple and quick exercises:
1) Break the lies
We have all had negative things spoken over us, and believed negative things about ourselves:
It could be the passing comment you heard when you were 5 and it’s haunted you all your life.
It could be the critical statement that was spoken over you about your physical appearance or character, and that has now defined the way you see yourself.
It could even be a certain ideal that you hold and compare yourself to, but you do not feel you can meet the standards (like air brushed models in magazines).
The problem with lies is that we believe them to be true.
For this reason, I consider every negative thing I believe about myself that holds me back in some way to be a lie.
On a piece of paper (or just in your head) think of all the negative things you’ve believed about yourself or had spoken over you.
Things like “I’m ugly”, “I’m too fat to be loveable”, “I don’t deserve happiness”, “I’m a coward”, “I’m weird”, “nobody likes me”, “I’m stupid”… ANYTHING you can think of – write it down.
Then think back to the first time you remember believing each particular negative thing about yourself. Allow yourself to feel the emotion of the memories.
Forgive the people or things that made you feel that way. Forgive yourself.
Then recognize these negative things as lies, and declare the opposite over yourself as your new truth. (For example, if your lie was “I’m ugly” then the opposite would be “I’m beautiful” or “I’m handsome”.)
Confident people love themselves. People who love themselves believe the best of themselves. It’s not vanity to believe in your own greatness… it’s necessary.
2) Speak and believe only good things over yourself
You get to design your own life and create your own world. But it all begins with what you believe. What you believe is heavily influenced by what you read, what you hear and what you speak.
On my mirror at home, I have dozens of pieces of paper with words on them- words representing things that I want to be. Words like ‘beautiful’, ‘successful’, and more specific things like ‘successful writer’, etc.
Every time I look in the mirror, I make a point of seeing those things and saying them over myself. Every time I catch a negative thought trying to wangle its way in there (like: “ugh if only I could lose 10 pounds, then I’d be pretty.”) I stop myself. I retract whatever negative thought there was, and declare the positive opposite (“you’re beautiful just the way you are.”).
Write down every thing you want to be, and every truth you want to believe about yourself. Put it somewhere you will see every day (like your mirror) and when you look at it, read those things and declare them over yourself every day.
I wont lie – when I first started doing this, I felt pretty stupid. I also thought it was kind of weird and out there. But doing this little exercise has helped me and many, many people I know build confidence and belief in themselves, and helped them learn how to love themselves. Because when you begin to see the wonderful things about yourself, you will naturally love yourself.
Every time you have a negative or self-destructive thought about yourself, then banish it. Replace it with an empowering truth.
3) Call out the goodness you see in others
True confidence is paired with humility. Humility is the ability to recognize your own greatness while seeing the greatness in others too. You will notice that truly confident people do not feel threatened by the greatness they see in others – rather, they call it out and acknowledge it.
I believe that the more you seek out and find the value in other people, the more you will discover the value in yourself.
Take your focus off yourself. Actively look for the best in others you come across. When you see something good or wonderful or beautiful about someone, then tell them! Everyone in the world needs encouragement and needs to be set free of some or other lie. You could hold the key to that persons healing.
And the ultimate key to confidence is:
Knowing that what YOU have to offer the world is an entirely unique package of skills, talents, gifts, life experience, quirks, beliefs, world-views and personality. No one else in the world can offer what you can. No one else can be you.
YOU are the best thing the world has ever seen – because you are the only you that the world will get to see. That makes you rare, invaluable and desirable. When you learn to love yourself, you will be the best version of yourself.
So start to value what you’ve been given and quit comparing yourself to others. Because that’s like comparing a bird with a fish… it makes no sense.
And that is your very simple tool kit on how to learn to start loving yourself and gain confidence.