There aren’t many things that are more important to your well-being than your self-esteem. I describe self-esteem as the reputation your consciousness has with itself: whether you think you are worthy of happiness or not depends on your self-esteem—it dictates how much you value yourself and your life.
For you, as an individual, there is nothing more important than valuing yourself and your life. Everything depends on it. The happiness of your family depends on it. It determines how you will interact with your environment, and whether or not that interaction is going to be mostly positive or mostly negative.
Here are three things you can start doing today to increase your self confidence. These are’t quick fixes; they will work, but it’s going to take a little time. It’s worth sticking it out to the end because when they do work, the changes in your mindset and your self-esteem will stay with you for life.
Get to Know Yourself
Who are you? What motivates you? What saddens you? Why are you driven by one thing but not another thing? Why do you feel upset in one situation and not in another situation? What are your values and beliefs? Where did they come from?
This introspection is going to be exhausting at first, but once you make it a habit to question every emotion that you have and validate it, you’ll begin to see a pattern. This pattern will be a map to the source of any negative emotions.
Once you find the source, kill it and have no mercy. It has no business bringing you down. It’s important to be hard on the gremlins that want to destroy you, but you also need to have compassion for yourself. Never talk down to yourself or abuse yourself. Repeat this process until you know yourself inside and out; until you understand everything you feel and why you feel it.
Then repeat it again until you understand everything you do and why you do it.
When you discover something poisonous, you have to get rid of it. It takes a while to eliminate a behavior/thought/habit you’ve had for a long time, but it’s not impossible, and doing so is essential to the quality of your life and the lives of those around you.
Put Yourself First, Always
I know that this sounds counter-intuitive to everything you’ve been taught about being a good person, but I promise you that if you want to build your self-esteem and keep it for the rest of your life, then the first thing you have to do is put yourself first. Before everything.
When you put yourself first you acknowledge that you’re worth it. Whatever “it” is.
For example, if someone asked you to watch their cat for a weekend, and you hate cats, then you should say no. If the benefit you are going to get out of watching the cat (seeing your friend happy/feeling good about doing a good deed) is not going to outweigh the problems that it’s going to bring you (you hate cats with a fiery passion) then don’t do it. Take care of yourself first.
On the other hand, if this person is your daughter and making her happy outweighs the agony of the cat’s presence in your house, then do it.
Do what makes you feel the best without hurting anyone else. Don’t let anyone call you selfish—they cannot expect you to sacrifice yourself for them. Asking you to do so means they are telling you that they are worth more than you are, and that will bring down your self confidence.
The most confident people in the world take care of themselves first. After they’ve done a good job with that, then they start to give.Happy people give naturally. Don’t underestimate the greatness that is the human being—we are inherently good; you are inherently good.
Don’t accept undeserved guilt.
One of the worst things that you can do for your self-esteem is to accept guilt for something when you did nothing to deserve it.
Let’s take the example from above. Say you told your daughter that you would absolutely not watch her cat, because her cat scratches you, pees in your air ducts, and smells like a garbage can. You hate it and you just won’t do it. Don’t let her make you feel guilty for not wanting to do it, even if she says, “But you’re my mom! Who else am I going to go to but my mom! You’re supposed to be there for me!”
Being there for her does not include allowing yourself to suffer because she wants to go away for a weekend. Put the dang cat in a kennel and be done with it! Your daughter isn’t going to die or suffer any major injury. Put your foot down and make her respect your limits and boundaries—you’re not a doormat.
It all boils down to how well you know yourself and how well you treat yourself. As I said earlier, your self-esteem is the reputation you have with your inner self. Make sure that reputation is good by taking care of it and treating it with respect. Never put it on the backburner, never make it feel bad for no reason, and make an effort to get to know it.
If you do those three things consistently, your reputation will skyrocket.
Featured photo credit: Adorable small girl with dark hair in grey dress hugs her toy bear via Shutterstock