How many times have you stopped yourself from going after a dream, or speaking up when you knew the answer, or expressing yourself when you had the urge? It’s not that you can’t. You know you are capable. But something is stopping you… makes you want to hide and not be noticed…
Something inside you: low self-esteem
Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
There’s a difference between self-confidence and self-esteem. Self-confidence is belief in your ability. Self-esteem is belief in your worthiness. Both can stop you from achieving, expressing, or even enjoying life. Of the two, self-esteem is more difficult to improve. Skills and knowledge can be acquired and you can build up your self-confidence with every small achievement or milestone. But…
If you don’t feel worthy of success – or recognition, praise, prosperity or love… your life will be less than it can be.
The only way to raise your self-esteem is to change the way you think about yourself.
1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Going about your life the same way day after day, doing the same activities you’ve always done, and planning the next weekend to mirror the last one is a good recipe for shrinking your awareness, joy and understanding of the world.
We have a natural (and often useful) tendency to stick with the familiar in life and avoid situations that make us uncomfortable. This is a good way to stay out of sticky situations, but it’s also a good way to get in a rut and stay there. Pushing yourself to embrace new activities and experiences that force you to step outside your comfort zone is a good way to change the way you think.
Perhaps it’s something physically intimidating, like skydiving or bungee jumping. Maybe getting outside your comfort zone means you seek out public spaces in which you’re an ethnic, cultural or religious minority. Instead of vacationing in well-worn tourist traps, try a new destination that’s off the beaten path.
2. Meet New People
To bring new thoughts, ideas and perceptions into your life, get to know someone with a different perspective, occupation, background, culture or religion.
Why? Hanging out with like-minded people is a good way to hear constant reinforcement of your own thoughts and beliefs. This also makes it easy to fall into “groupthink” and makes it more difficult to see (or acknowledge) faults, shortcomings and falsehoods of our own.
That’s not to say you need to get rid of old friends — just spice up your life with some new ones. New friends and acquaintances increase the odds that you’re introduced to new ways of thinking. You may be pleasantly surprised to have your worldview rocked a little bit by a simple conversation with somebody who views life much differently than you do. The great thing about widening your social circle is that new friends can help expand it even further by introducing you to people you might otherwise have little opportunity to meet.
You don’t have to travel to exotic lands to meet new people who think differently than you do — in fact, they’re all around you. It may just be a matter of being willing to initiate conversations with people from whom you’d normally shy away.
3. Work on Self-awareness
We can’t think differently if we don’t pay attention to the way we currently think. It isn’t hard to walk through life with unchallenged or outdated beliefs, preconceptions, wrong assumptions and a personal narrative that’s badly in need of updating.
Many people are afraid of acknowledging and exploring their own thoughts and emotions, choosing instead to focus on life outside their own skin — the needs of others, career goals that have been set, and the constant static of the Information Age. Focusing on self-awareness can help you reconnect with your true needs, desires and dreams. It can make you pay attention to how you treat people and how you feel about how you’re treated by others.
4. Do Things Differently
Trying to change the way you think? Why not try changing the things you do? It’s not easy to change your perspective on things, especially when you’re doing the same old things over and over.
Even making little changes in your life can help. Pick up a new sport or activity that you’ve always wanted to try. Go to restaurants, parks and other gathering places that you don’t normally frequent.
5. “I Will Think Differently, I Will Think Differently”
Some people believe that the best way to help yourself change the way you think is to tell yourself — repeatedly — to think a different way.The idea isn’t new. In fact, it’s very, very old. Most religious practices involve the repetition of prayers, appeals or affirmations. Militaries across the world demand that recruits change the way they think, and use chants, cheers and oaths to help do so.
You may decide to choose a very specific mantra — “Public speaking is fun!” — or something a little more broad, such as “Live in the moment.” As long as your mantra or affirmation isn’t grounded in the status quo (“Nothing must change, nothing must change”), it may help you change the way you think.
Learned Optimism Yields Health Benefits
People who learn to maintain an optimistic attitude may not only avoid depression, they may actually improve their physical health