Note- this article originally featured in http://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/mental-health/15-simple-steps-to-confidence-31451959.html
Do you end up shaking in your boots at the mere thought of being assertive or taking a risk? If so, don’t panic. Most of us suffer from a lack of confidence at one point and you can learn to build confidence at any age – regardless of your past.
Check out these 15 tips below to boost your self-esteem from the inside out.
1 Like yourself
Learning to like yourself is one of the most valuable things you can do for your own self-esteem and confidence. Seriously, despite what you may believe, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you! You may think deep down that you are fatally flawed or not as good as everyone else, but this is simply not true.
Acknowledge that you are just as worthy as everyone else and that you deserve your own love and attention. Remember, you deserve the best, just like everyone else on this planet, so put some effort into liking yourself a little more.
2 Learn to please yourself
Many of us spend our lives trying to gain approval from other people, whether it is family, friends or even complete strangers! In doing so, we often put ourselves second or hold back from saying or doing what we really want. Instead of putting all your energy into pleasing other people, start to please yourself and focus on what you want, rather than what other people want.
An important fact to remember is that some people are simply unpleasable, so stop turning yourself inside out trying to please them. Approve of yourself rather than working so hard to gain approval from others.
3 Make your happiness a priority
Make a decision that your happiness is important to you. Change your focus away from keeping other people happy and move towards making yourself happy. Try writing a list of 20 things that you enjoy doing and aim to do at least one a day. It could be something as simple as taking a warm relaxing bath, having a good cuppa in the evening or making the time to go for a nice walk in the fresh air.
Taking steps to make yourself happy is good self-care, and remember, you alone are responsible for your happiness – not anyone else.
4 Give yourself a break
Quit beating yourself up. Many of us treat other people far better than we treat ourselves, so quit being so hard and critical on yourself.
If you do lack confidence, instead of getting angry and frustrated with yourself, find some kind and soothing words which will encourage to feel good instead.
Self-critical thoughts will knock your confidence while kind words will give it a well-deserved boost. Be your own best friend and cheerleader!
5 Banish negative thoughts
Most of us have been thinking the same old negative thoughts for most of our life and we simply keep repeating them over and over again each day. Most of our negative programming stems from our younger years and are simply old spam and old programming.
Decide not to let these thoughts have any power over you anymore. Okay, you may not be able to ever get rid of all these negative messages but you can practice choosing more nurturing and kinder thoughts each day instead.
It will take some practise, but over time, it will get easier and the new healthy thoughts will replace the old mouldy programming.
6 Stop scaremongering
Many of us lie awake each night worrying about the worst that could happen. Our minds play tricks on us, making us believe that things will not turn out well. Challenge these scary thoughts – most of them are just based on speculation rather than facts.
Remind yourself that even if things don’t go according to plan, you will be okay! Seriously, what is the worst that can happen?
Aim to assume that things will go well for you rather than making frightening assumptions. If you are a worry wart, try writing your worries down in a notebook before you go to bed in order to get them out of your head.
7 Give yourself a pat on the back
When is the last time you said something nice about yourself or gave yourself some well-deserved praise? Most of us find it easy to say something negative about ourselves, but rarely do we take the time to say something nice or praise ourselves.
Get yourself a nice notebook and write something nice about yourself in it every day. Do this for at least a month and it will boost your confidence.
8 Stop comparing yourself to others
It would be a very boring world if we were all the same. Don’t get into the habit of thinking just because someone is different from you, it means they are ‘better than you’ in some way. Each and every one of us has our own unique personality and talents, so why not celebrate them instead of keeping them hidden.
Be proud of who you are – you were born to be different, so don’t try so hard to fit in and be like everyone else. Why not write a list of some of the things you have achieved in life and celebrate being you!
9 Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Whether it is taking a risk, learning to be assertive or simply saying ‘No’ to your boss at work, recognise that you may go through a period of feeling uncomfortable or anxious. Don’t let these uncomfortable feelings hold you back or convince you that you have done something wrong.
It is perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable after doing something new or being assertive for the first time.
10 take responsibility for yourself
Confidence is an inside job. If you want to build confidence, you need to start from within yourself. Quit blaming your parents, boss or partner for your lack of confidence and take responsibility for building confidence yourself.
Nobody else can do it for you and nobody is coming to save you! If you want things to change, you need to change.
11 Avoid toxic people
Be clear that some people are toxic and there is nothing you can do to change them. Release people from your life who don’t make you feel good and surround yourself with people who nourish you and make you feel positive. Remember, it is perfectly acceptable to walk away from people who continually hurt you or put you down. Don’t try to work out why they are like this – just care about yourself enough to walk away.
12 Stop worrying about what other people think
Seriously, you are not a mind reader so do you really have any evidence that people are thinking negatively about you? Does it really matter anyway if someone doesn’t like you that much? We often even worry about what strangers think of us but get honest with yourself, does it really matter?
Learn to like yourself first rather than worrying about what people think of you.
13 Ditch the Guilt
A small amount of guilt can help you do things more positively next time, however, many of us feel guilty for simply turning down a request or forgetting to call someone. Rather than obsessing over what you should have done, be proactive.
Make amends if you need to but also forgive yourself and lift the weight from you own shoulders.
Also, don’t allow other people to dump guilt trips on you – you don’t need to take it on!
14 Practise being assertive
Practise being assertive. Being assertive takes courage, so first create a mindset of safety. Good assertiveness skills show the world that you care about yourself and that you respect your own needs.
Don’t allow the fears of how other people may react to you hold you back from speaking up and asking for what you want.
Practise assertive statements in the mirror so you get comfortable in saying them out loud.
15 It’s okay to make mistakes
Remind yourself that you are human.
It’s normal to have off days and make mistakes. Don’t set yourself up for failure and believe you need to be perfect every time. Give yourself a break and recognise that it’s not possible to be perfect all the time! Learn to laugh at yourself when things don’t go according to plan and lighten up.
÷ Lisa Phillips is the author of The Confidence Coach: Take Control of Your Life and Wellbeing. Published by Exisle Publishing at €19.50. For more information, see www.exislepublishing.co.uk