Author: August Clarke
High self-esteem is quite possibly one of the most difficult things in this world to attain. Of all the people I have met, there are very few that can claim to say they have it. I’m sure you can think of a few people who appear to have a perfect life: good-looking, smart, popular, and so on.
They have insecurities too. No matter how confident some may seem, everyone struggles with self-image at times. So how can you change the way you think about yourself? There are many ways to go about it, but the following are three tips that I find to be most useful.
Tip #1: Make Fair Comparisons
I once read that one of the most common self-destructive habits that people with social anxiety possess is making constant comparisons between themselves and the most outgoing person in the room. This causes them to feel inferior and focus in one on their flaws, making them even less likely to engage with others out of the belief that they just aren’t as funny or interesting as other people.
The thing is, it’s not only socially anxious people who do this. We make comparisons between ourselves and others all the time, but people who have low self-esteem often don’t make fair ones. It’s only natural for our attention to be attracted to the most beautiful, talented, and exceptional person in the room. This only becomes a problem when we start comparing ourselves to these people instead of the dozens of other people who are more like us.
This isn’t to say that you aren’t “exceptional,” but we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. You might think you’re a great track star, but if you were placed in a heat against Usain Bolt, you might feel differently. It doesn’t mean you’re slow, it just means that it’s ridiculous to compare yourself to someone with years of training and stamina ahead of you. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone you believe to be miles ahead of you, take a step back and refocus. If you take a look around, you may find that you have more strengths than you previously knew.
Tip #2: Frequently engage in activities that make you feel confident
As previously stated, we all have unique strengths and weaknesses. No matter how insecure you may feel about your abilities or performance in one area of your life, I’m willing to bet that there is something else you can do pretty darn well. For instance, when it comes to contact sports, I’m probably one of the least-skilled and coordinated students in my gym class, but if you put me in a five-kilometer race against any one of my peers, I could totally leave them in the dust. The key is to place less importance on your weaknesses and make more time for the things that you are good at.
The key is to place less importance on your weaknesses and make more time for the things that you are good at.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t work on improving in areas you aren’t strong in, but that you need to make sure you renew your confidence by consistently reminding yourself of your strengths.
Tip #3: Focus on where you are in the context of where you’ve been
To do this, start by taking an inventory of all your qualities. These could be anything, from the aspects of your life you are happy with, traits you like/dislike about yourself, things you’re good at, and things you’re not. Now go through each point and try to think about the person that you were a few years ago.
For example, you might think you’re not good at basketball. No matter how many practices you attend, you still can’t shoot threes consistently, and you’re just not tall enough to dunk like some of the other players on your team. These kinds of thoughts probably don’t make you feel very good about yourself, but that’s because you’re focussing on all the places in which you are lacking, rather than all the things you have already gained. Instead of criticizing yourself for weaknesses you have now, focus on all of the weaknesses you have overcome. If you compare your current skills to what they were a year ago, it’ll give you a better idea of the kinds of self-improvement that you are still capable of achieving.
In some cases, you may feel that you have regressed. But this realization doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Instead of concluding that this means you are destined to continue on a downward spiral, use this as proof that because you were good at something in the past, it means that you can tap into that success again in the future. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again.
Believe it or not, self-confidence isn’t something that we are born with or without. It can be taught. By using some of these methods, you can start to improve your self-esteem greatly over time.