So many people look outside themselves for ways to feel good on the inside. They think self-confidence will come from doing this, having that or looking a certain way. The reality is that although these people are the only ones who can build their own confidence, the way they think and act is doing nothing but tearing it down.
The first time I realized this was in my mid-20s, when I had my quarter-life crisis. My life looked great on paper: well-paying job, cool car, great clothes, fun holidays. Despite all this, I really wasn't happy.
Feeling good about who you are and the life you live shouldn’t depend on a specific outcome, yet all too often people put themselves down or beat themselves up because they haven’t done this or got that. Your confidence shouldn’t be dependent on the goals you've achieved, nor should it be dependent on the feedback you get from others, your dress size or the amount in your bank account.
But if your self-confidence isn’t based on what you’ve got or what you’ve done, how do you build and maintain it?
The answer is deceptively simple. Make the commitment to treat yourself with the same kindness you show the other important people in your life.
The key to feeling good about who you are and the life you live is built on this pact — what I call the Eight Promises, each of which is paired with a mantra to help you learn to live for yourself, not what others think about you.
1. Accept your imperfections.
I am perfectly imperfect.
There's no such thing as perfection, yet so many people exhaust themselves and erode their self-confidence in pursuit of it. When you accept your imperfections you recognize that you have strengths and weaknesses … and that’s OK.
2. Always do your best.
I always do my best, and my best is always good enough.
When you set impossible goals that you have no real chance of achieving, you're setting yourself up for failure before you begin. When you focus on always doing your best, you're able to have much more realistic expectations of yourself and what you can achieve.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others.
I have no need to see myself as more or less than anyone else.
Whether it’s your neighbors, celebrities or the people you see on reality TV, comparing yourself to others will usually leave you feeling inadequate. When you stop comparing yourself to others, the only person you'll need to impress is yourself.
4. Believe in your potential.
I fully expect my life to be happy and rewarding.
Not only is worrying a big waste of energy, it also sends a clear message to your subconscious about your expectations in life. Instead of worrying about things that might never happen, focus your attention and efforts on making the things you want your reality.
5. Silence your inner critic.
I only welcome thoughts that support and encourage me.
The way you speak to yourself has a big bearing on how you feel about yourself; if you speak to yourself in a harsh, critical or belittling way, your confidence will whither. You are the guardian of your self-esteem and you should never speak to yourself more harshly than you would to a small child.
6. Challenge yourself.
I am brave and willing to step outside of my comfort zone
Confidence and self-belief are like muscles; you need to exercise them if you want to grow stronger. When you challenge yourself, you are telling your subconscious that you believe in yourself and that you are willing to back yourself in new circumstances and situations.
7. Stop making excuses.
I take full responsibility for who I am and the life I lead.
If you aren't living your best life, you need to examine not only the things that are getting in your way, but also the reasons you're letting them. When you stop making excuses and start taking responsibility, you're able to enjoy the things that are great about your life while harboring no illusions about what you need to change if you are to enjoy everything else.
8. Treat yourself with love and respect.
I always treat myself with love and respect.
When you love yourself, you treat yourself with as much love and respect as you would your closest friend, be understanding and forgiving of your failings and, above all, be as kind to yourself as you are to the other important people in your life.