Iron Man is pretty strong (and generally incredible), so I’ll admit this is a bold statement. But, I’m a bold guy. My self-esteem really is that strong, so why wouldn’t I be that bold? I can only tell you what worked for me. This absolutely, unequivocally worked for me. And if it worked for me, why not you?

I used to want people to like me. Like, I really wanted them to. It felt nice to be liked. I felt like I belonged. I felt like it validated me as a person.  The trouble is, I wanted them to like me (and be happy) so much that much of the time it ended up being at my own expense. I’d do things that maybe I didn’t want to do in order for them to be happy and, hopefully, like me. Be friends with me. And perhaps we would be “friends”, yes… but the whole friendship would be based on me trying to make them happy. The energy would only flow one way. I’m sure you’ll agree this probably isn’t the best recipe for lasting friendship, even though that’s what (I thought) I wanted.

I never used to be able to decide which sock to put on first. OK, maybe that’s not entirely true, but the important decisions always seemed to come down to what someone else said over my own view. I’d sort of know what decision I wanted to make, but I’d talk to other people (my parents, mainly) about it as if I were seeking their permission. And if they didn’t quite agree, then I probably wouldn’t do it. And then I’d get pissed off that I couldn’t do what I really wanted to, because I wasn’t being “allowed’”. Crazy, right? I’m sure you’ve been there too, though.

I thought I needed confidence. I thought “if only I were more confident, I could do whatever I wanted!” But it was a bit deeper than that, as these things often are. It was that I thought other people’s decisions were more important and better than my own. Like I somehow wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t deserve to make that decision. That I wasn’t “allowed”. In other words, I lacked self-esteem.

I actually didn’t realize this until I had self-esteem, and I don’t want that to happen to you, so here’s how you build stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem. Let’s do this:

1. Make a list of what’s important to you

Sit down. Turn off the TV. Get some paper and a pen. Or a laptop. Or a tablet. Or carve it into a wooden table. I just want to ask you one question: what’s important to you about life? Now start writing. Write anything and everything that comes to mind. Even if it surprises you. Even if you don’t really want it to be on there. If it comes to mind, write it down. There are no rules here. Keep writing. Keep writing some more. Write until there’s nothing else left to write. There’s no time limit on this; take as long as you want.

2. Put them in order

What’s the absolute most important thing to you about life? What is so vital that you couldn’t live without it? What else is extremely important? You don’t have to order every single thing that’s written down. Some of them will probably group together anyway, if they’re similar. Write down a top 5 if that will help. Or a top 3. Or a top 10. Remember: there are no rules. These are your values. This is your life. Whatever works for you here, do that. Just make sure they’re in an order that feels absolutely right for you. Stop being embarrassed and stop thinking of anyone else when you’re doing this. Again: these are YOUR values, and this is YOUR life.

When you look at this list, you should feel calm. Confident. Happy. Excited. Intrigued, maybe. Surprised, possibly. But deep down, you know it’s right, and you know this is who you are.

To make this even more powerful, for each thing that’s truly important to you, write down why it’s important to you.

3. Act

Now you know what’s important to you. You know what the most important thing in your life is. You know what kind of life you want. You know who you really are. You know what decisions to make because you know what’s important, what’s more important, and what’s most important. You know you have no excuses to not do what you want now. Because now you know when you’re doing something that’s not aligned with who you are, so why are you doing it? Are you scared? Are you trying to impress someone?

The thing that builds lasting, permanent, stronger-than-Iron Man self esteem is acting on what’s important to you. Doing this shows you trust yourself. It shows you listen to yourself. That you want the best for yourself. That you respect yourself. That you love yourself. Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what everyone wants?

What having stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem will do for you

It will give you confidence. It will give you strength. You’ll stand up for yourself. You’ll know what you want. You’ll care less and less about what others think because you know what you think and what you want is the most important thing in the word. You love yourself. You’re proud of yourself. You realise that you – yes, you – are awesome. You don’t let others affect your mood or who you are. You make decisions. The right decisions. You know you’re allowed to have what you want. You know you deserve what you want. And you set an early alarm, you jump out of bed, and you spend every day trying to get it.

As always, I’ll leave you with some questions, ‘cause I’m generous like that:

On your list of everything that’s important to you, are you even on it?

When you have stronger-than-Iron Man self-esteem, what will you do?

If you lack self-esteem (like I did), will you use this article to help? Or will you, knowing that doing the things I asked will absolutely help, ignore it?

Featured photo credit: JD Hancock via flickr.com

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