Sometimes, it seems like it’s so much easier to believe the bad things about yourself than it is to believe the good things. This is particularly true for people with low self-esteem. We hear so often how important it is to be confident. Those of us who don’t have that confidence can feel like we’re stuck in a vicious circle. We feel like failures because we have no confidence in ourselves, and then that belief that we are failures makes us even less confident. Most people you see with high self-esteem and a lot of confidence weren’t granted that at birth. Instead, they had to work at it. Just like you need to study to be smarter, and just like you need to work out to be physically stronger, you have to do certain tasks every day to improve your confidence.
Create a mantra
One thing most successful CEOs swear by is a personal mission statement or mantra. This mantra reminds them of their goals and keeps them on track when personal doubt and negative feelings start to set in.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner swears by the mantra ‘next play’*. It mainly means celebrate one success and then move onto the next one. This mantra keeps Jeff moving forward constantly and staying competitive in his industry. His ‘next play’ mantra is good, because it makes it clear that he doesn’t dwell on failure, but he doesn’t rest on his laurels either.
Make a list
People with confidence make lists documenting their wins. Whether it’s a personal goal like weight loss, or the completion of a project at work, they write those wins down. Take the time to make a list of your successes in life. Once you give it some thought, you’re sure to find that you’ve accomplished a lot more than you ever thought you did. Accomplishment makes us all feel successful, so take time to celebrate your accomplishments up until now by getting them down on paper.
Have big dreams
Too many people think too small when they think of success. They might dream of having a higher salary or finishing a novel they’ve been working on. They don’t think of becoming the CEO of their company or making it onto the New York Times bestseller list with their book, because those dreams feel impossible to them.
When you dream, dream big. People are afraid to dream big for one reason; they think it’s impossible to obtain those huge goals. The second you tell yourself something is impossible, it becomes impossible. Confident people are different, because they believe anything is possible.
Take Oprah Winfrey, for example. This media maven is worth $2.9 billion because she dreamed big. Even as a child, she knew she’d be a star. Her personal quote is ‘you are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed.*’ If you believe your big dreams are reachable, then you believe you’re good enough to accomplish them.
Once you have those big dreams, you need to visualize accomplishing them. Don’t just think in general terms. Instead, you need to picture yourself in the role you imagined. Think about the things you would buy or the places you would travel like you actually already have the money. One of the keys to confidence is optimism. Believing big things can happen and that success is right around the corner will help you improve your self-esteem.
Step out of your comfort zone
Comfort zones are best expanded by getting uncomfortable. Trying something you’d never usually try can be intimidating at first, but the feeling of accomplishment afterwards will make it all worth it.
Take the story of Lizzie Velasquez, for example. Lizzie was born with a rare medical condition that made it impossible to gain weight. Her unusual looks led her to be the subject of intense bullying and criticism. Velasquez could have chosen to isolate herself because of this bullying, and admits she considered it. Instead, she used that bullying to help other people. Velasquez is a successful public and motivational speaker. Her confidence is a result of her not being afraid to step out of her comfort zone and her courage has inspired millions.
Make a list of things you’ve wanted to try, but never had the courage to do. They can be small, like talking to a stranger at a party. They can be big, like skydiving or traveling to a foreign country. Then, try to accomplish one of those things a week. By the time the list is done, your self-esteem will be significantly improved because of all your accomplishments.
Avoid thinking in negatives
The average human being has more than 65,000 thoughts a day. What’s concerning about those thoughts is that 80 to 90% of them are negative*. ‘I’ll never get that promotion’ or ‘she’ll never go out with me’ consume our thoughts while ‘I’m going to be successful’ takes a back seat. This might be part of our make-up, left over from our cave dwelling days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change it.
When you have a negative thought, try to reorganize it into a positive one. Instead of ‘I’ll never get that promotion’ think ‘it’s only a matter of time until my company recognizes my value.’ Instead of ‘she’ll never go out with me’ think ‘if I don’t ask, I’ll never know if she would have said yes.’
Don’t let negative thoughts cloud your subconscious. When you assume you’re going to fail before you even try, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Remind yourself that there is no reason you can’t have the things you want. People just like you find success every single day and there is no reason you can’t be one of those people.
Everyone struggles with low self-esteem now and then. The people that stand out are the ones who don’t allow themselves to dwell on the negatives. Instead, they remind themselves of what they’ve accomplished and what they want to accomplish. Having confidence means believing in your ability to be a success. You have just as much potential to be a success as anyone else who has ever existed. There is nothing about you that makes you any less worthy of success. Knowing and remembering that is the key to building self-esteem.