1) Stop the Guilt
Guilt emerges from expectations not met. We place pressure on ourselves to be great at work, perfect family members and social stars. Ask yourself if you do this for your own fulfilment or because of some unspoken pressure to appear fantastic to others around you. Reject guilt, it is wasted energy. Clear it from your mind. Make amends if you can but don’t allow guilt to erode your self worth. Stop ‘beating yourself up’. It doesn’t fix the problem, it just makes you feel worse and saps good feelings about life.
2) Stop Conforming
When we conform or ‘people-please’ too much we lose sight of ourselves. We become clones and fit the mould to keep others happy. Rarely does it make us happy inside when we worry about what other think of us. Fight the urge to fit in. We all respect someone who is happy to dance to their own beat and secretly we wish we could be more like that..well, you can!
A friend of mine on Facebook took this photo a few days ago on a London train:
3) Stop Seeing Others as a Threat
It’s quite common to see others, especially people we don’t know, as threats. We imagine they will try steal our confidence or hurt us in some way. If we hold the belief that others are only out for themselves, we become defensive and inadvertently develop armour when dealing with others. Defensive behaviour affects human interactions negatively and others will mirror your behaviour and treat you harshly too. Most of the cues are non-verbal. If you practise seeing others as being fundamentally similar to you, your interactions with others will be far more rewarding. We all want love and acceptance when you get back to basics. Treat others as you wish to be treated and the goodwill will come back to you in more ways than you can imagine. There will always be dubious people that come into your life but adopting an “innocent till proven guilty” approach will allow you to keep an open mind and give people a chance.
4) No emotional mind games
When we assume reasons for another person’s unwanted behaviour, we make a mental note to retaliate in some way. We can do it directly or passive-aggressively. Either way, it creates bad vibes and introduces more worry than is necessary. When someone lets us down, instead of telling them that we feel hurt, we might decide to get ‘even’. Not only does this strategy maintain the problem, it creates further complications. Stop the “if they do that, then I’m going to show them by doing this…” game in your head and ask for what you want. Express yourself and move on rather than playing silly emotional games. Own it and be assertive.
5) Stop Living in the Future
It’s fine to make goals and have direction in life but living constantly in the future saps the life and essence out of the present moment. If you are never really ‘present’ in your life, you live it in your head and don’t get the full joy out of every moment. This is becoming more common – I see people sitting at restaurants together, both of them on their phones to other people, not engaging with what is around them. Living with a “when I have X,Y or Z I will be happy” is the quickest way to fool yourself into believing it’s okay not to be happy now. The truth is – you can be happy NOW. Why wait?
More often than not, if/when you get X,Y or Z you will have further items on your list that you ‘need’ to get before you can allow yourself to be happy. Stop fooling yourself and make a decision to be happy now with what you have. It’s okay to want to improve and progress but you can be happy whilst doing it. Happiness is a manner of travelling, not a destination.
6) Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself
I definitely believe in a little bit of wallowing and “poor me” time but put a time limit on it. Give yourself a day or two, possibly a week to retreat from the world and sort yourself out but once the time limit is up, it’s time to start an actionable to-do list. Find constructive ways to change the situation. Accept what you cannot change and/or control and get on with resolving the issues you can. The psychological boost of taking action will increase positive momentum and keep you moving forward. If you cannot do it alone, ask friends and family for support or see a counsellor to talk things through. You are not powerless and you can make a difference with a little bit of effort.
7) Stop Being Afraid
You may not even realise that you are afraid but when you procrastinate or avoid things through denial or avoidance – it is often due to fear. What are you afraid of? The ‘end result’ is the same for all of us, so get stuck in and stop caring about seeming foolish or making a spectacle of yourself. Congratulate yourself for grabbing life and doing things that others won’t. Those sitting on the sidelines watching on and expecting you to fail are also the ones who don’t make the most of their lives. They are the ones that tend to grow old and become bitter and twisted. Tell that handsome guy/pretty woman on the train that you have noticed him/her, clap the longest and loudest at the show , apply for that job you’re under-qualified for- not to make a point to others but because you really want to. Get out of your comfort zone. Face your fears and you will minimise them. Let them rule you and their power will grow and paralyse you. If you do something brave – let me know, send me photos and I will post your story on here to inspire others!
8) Stop Expecting Validation from External Sources
We are social creatures and we do need some praise and acknowledgement from others. However, when you rely on it to feel good about yourself – you are guaranteed to fail. What an awful idea to put all of your self-worth and value in the hands of others. A very precarious strategy. The best way to nurture confidence and self esteem is to like and accept yourself irrespective of the car you drive, the house you live in, the job you have or the partner you share your life with. I see people with low self esteem striving to find a good looking partner to help validate themselves. Pretty silly if you ask me. All they will end up with is a good looking partner but they will still have their doubts and probably feel even more insecure when their partner receives all the attention.
Focus on your strengths, your unique talents that set you apart. What do you like about yourself? A few things that can help to bolster your self esteem:
- Affirmations – a few examples: “I am good company”;”I am good enough”; “The right person will love me as I am”; “My good qualities are:…….,…..” (honesty, trustworthy, patient, open-minded, easy going) etc
- Self Belief – eliminate self-doubt by reminding yourself that everyone fails and makes mistakes. You are no different but you can set yourself apart by being a person that keeps trying.
- Nurture your core values and live a life of conviction. You will be less easily swayed by others and will feel stronger in yourself when confronted by opinionated, pushy individuals.
- Focus on your strengths – the physical attributes you like, your positive personality traits as well as your past achievements that you’re proud of.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on how far you have already come and honour your own unique life path.
- Focus on what is going well for you. Gratitude is a powerful way to feel better about yourself and your life.
We are all prone to doing things that work against us. Many of us are in fact, quite good, at self-sabotage. The above list is a comprehensive guide to working ‘with’ yourself rather than against yourself. If you don’t do it, who will? Make the decision today to start working on at least two of the above and you will find that you feel a lot calmer and less stressed. We can all help ourselves to lead the best life possible…what are you waiting for??
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