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3 Ways to Permanently Increase Your Self-Esteem

3 Ways to Permanently Increase Your Self-Esteem

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?

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

Bottom Line

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.

 

 

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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