When it comes to happiness (and I’m using the word in a general sense) we have to think about self-confidence. Think about someone you know who is happy…aren’t they also confident?
For instance, if someone is happy in their job, I bet they have confidence in their craft, whatever it is. And if they don’t I’d bet you they are not very happy in their career. Think about any context of life and where you see someone happy, you’re going to see a confident person to one degree or the other.
I’m not saying that everything has to be going well in every context or even a certain context of life to be happy; I’m saying we have the confidence in to improve what isn’t going as well as we like. At the very least, we have faith (confidence) in our ability to accept a circumstance we cannot improve, which ironically, improves the situation by bring peace of mind!
If you don’t have confidence in your ability to make a "not great” situation better (at least by accepting what is) you’re not going to be happy in that context of your life. So confidence is important. Happiness and confidence are intertwined.
Helen Keller was an amazing human-being, so let’s take a look at her. She had to deal with some mind-boggling challenges and she did so with grace…and confidence. She believed in her ability to learn, to change and to grow throughout her life. I think she was a happy person and her self-confidence was key. It wasn't the only key to her success, but an important one.
Now, back to you. If you want to be more confident and therefore happier, here are four secrets to building and nurturing your confidence:
1) Embrace your uniqueness: Let go of the competition mentality.
You are the only you in the universe. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is you. How many people go to Weight Watchers, weigh in and then compare themselves to someone else who has “lost more weight” and end up feeling miserable? What’s the point in that? Decide what you want in life and for yourself and go for it. Forget about everyone else; we’re not in competition. Unless we turn it into that, of course. No matter how much money you make, there is going to be someone else who makes more. The wealthiest person in the world will eventually be nudged out of that spot. So what? The bottom line is it’s fine to look at other people and be inspired by them; the point is to avoid looking at them as a standard to judge yourself unfavorably.
2) Make a master list of your past achievements and personal traits (big and small) and feel your confidence grow.
Start a journal and go back in your life as far as you can go. Remember when you learned to tie your shoes or dress yourself. At one time, you couldn’t do either! At one time you couldn't talk or walk across the room...then you learned how to do so! You felt fantastic about yourself then; why not today? Don’t belittle any of your achievements. Once you begin your list, add at least one thing to it every day. You can draw pictures or cut out pictures from magazines, write a poem or a song to celebrate something you’ve documented in your journal. Read something from it every day to remind yourself of how much you’ve learned and how far you have come.
3) Build your own fan club.
If you want to be confident, don’t tolerate people in your life who diminish you. Stay away from those who criticize you, who rain on your parade or who see you for what you are today and not who will become tomorrow. Surround yourself with friends and colleagues who believe in you, support you, admire and respect you. No one is so confident or strong they can withstand a constant barrage of criticism, “constructive criticism” (so called!) or reminders to “not get a big head.” No one has a big enough internal fire burning inside that enough water won’t put it out or dampen it considerably.
I’m not suggesting you surround yourself with people who are afraid to give you honest feedback. Just make sure that the feedback is for your benefit, not theirs and done in a healthy way. Your self-confidence will rise or fall depending on the people you interact the most with. Spend most of your time with those who are your biggest fans. It doesn’t matter if your fan club is big or small but it does matter if you have one or not.
4) Pay attention to your self-talk.
We talk to ourselves continually; when we are thinking, we are talking to ourselves. Learn to talk to yourself in a constructive and nurturing way. Eliminate the “should’s,” “ought to’s,” “have to’s,” and other ways you try to motivate yourself that has the opposite effect. Our self-talk creates our emotions and moods, which leads to our actions and behaviors, which leads to our results. Learn to talk to yourself in a way that gets the best out of yourself. Talk to yourself like you would your best friend, someone you believe in and admire. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you will be right. On the other hand, if you tell yourself you can do something, you will be right. If you tell yourself you’re not as good as “Barbara,” you will feel less than Barbara. Oops…we’re not supposed to compare ourselves to Barbara! But you get the point! Master your self-talk and you will be well on your way to mastering your self-confidence.
So, there you have it. Four strategies to build and nurture your self-confidence. It’s not a complete list (there is no such thing) but it is a damn good start.
Why not leave a comment and let me know what you think about self-confidence or what suggestions for building self-confidence you have. And of course, if you have a question, ask away! I’m confident I’ll respond with something helpful…at least for me!