New Year’s resolutions are a very old; some suggest that they can be traced to the Babylonians. It remains as part of our culture mainly because is a very benign way to focus on goals directed towards our self confidence. Health resolutions are among the most common resolutions, people just want to be healthier. Normally these resolutions focus mostly on losing weight or other physical concerns; however, mental health is also very important.
Self-confidence is needed to properly function and prosper in society. It is an internal property present in each individual (at various degrees). This particular type of confidence should be relatively stable, positivist and not too affected by external forces. Although several definitions exist, it is safe to say that someone self-confident is secure of his/her own identity and skills.
Some are naturally self-confident but others struggle to feel secure. For this latter group we’ve created a list of habits to promote self-confidence.
1. Accept that doubt has a purpose and makes us human
Some people see the goal of exercises like these as a road towards a perpetual state of happiness and absolute certainty. This way of thinking is eventually self-defeating. Absolute certainty is impossible and those who claim to have it are delusional or not honest with themselves. You need to accept that although self-confidence should be an important aspect of your life, doubt will still be present. Doubt is normal and helps us question our skills which may lead to further improvement. Absolute self-confidence is like absolute happiness, is simply not how humans work. Be kind to yourself, as people we have our limitations but that doesn’t mean we lack value or worth.
2. Approach things with a clear head
Gaining more self-confidence is a process of undetermined length. Creating habits is an important step towards your goal. Facing your insecurities will be an important factor for it, for example, focus on your goals, they can be large or small but we recommend you to start small).
Some of your goals (or some goals you never dared to claim) seem unachievable simply because you don’t believe yourself to be good enough to pursue them. This is an emotional reaction that needs to be managed by giving less importance to your feelings and more to the technicalities of success. Think on what things need to be done for you to reach your goal, break down every step until the individual tasks seem less intimidating. Also, when your emotions and insecurities flare up again (they will, that is normal), talk yourself into a more calmed state with rationality. Focusing in the real and not in what may be or what you think others think is the best road towards improved self-confidence. Those with low self-confidence are frequently their own worst enemies.
3. Recognize that no amount of validation from others will ever be enough
Having low self-confidence most of the time leads towards a perpetual search for external validation (approval and acceptance from others). This is a very harmful situation because it may then lead to living your life in order to please others or even to developing a narcissistic attitude. The truth is that others simply don’t know us in the same way we do.
If you accept this, your emotions will no longer change by the whims of others and your confidence and identity will come from within. Some simple exercises to start are: Stop bragging without necessity just to get compliments and praise and reward yourself after a job well done.
4. Don’t forget or invalidate your own achievements
Stop playing down your achievements. They may or may not be extravagant or plentiful but you still need to own the fact that you did something of value and there is no reason to repress that. If you did well in a test and now are afraid of failing a new one, stop that negativity and realize that you are capable of overcoming obstacles and succeed.
In general, stop the psychological self-harm and make a habit of thinking positively and focusing on your successes.
5. The joy of small victories
Some may see life as a long pursuit for our goals; however, this long quest may be very long and exhausting if you don’t pace yourself. Just focusing on big long-term goals is not healthy and will wear you out eventually.
Focusing on small victories is much better. You need to allow yourself feeling good after a minor achievement. You did something that took time and effort and is OK to celebrate it.
6. Positive and negative people
This one is tricky. You need to surround yourself with positive people and create distance with negative people.
Negative people are always worrying about something, try to control your life, are pessimistic, love secrets, are very open to bad news, take offence easily, and generally display a bad attitude.
Positive people recognize negative things but focus on the good, engage in positive activities, are more introspective, they can accept criticism and usually surround themselves with other positive people.
7. Identify your strengths
To do this, think on when you perform your best, what comes natural to you, when you received more positive attention after a job well done, what is important to you, what you enjoy to do, etc.
While doing that, make a list of your findings. This exercise should help you identify what you are good/ confident at. Keep it close and repeat this exercise after an achievement. It might show you how talented you really are and how much improvement you are making over time.
At the end of the day increasing your self-confidence is all about determination and courage. It is ok if you fail sometimes but it is not ok to just quit. Sometimes is important to remember that progress is not a straight line. A lot of people find helpful to have someone to support them and guide them through this journey. For consultation with a specialist, it may be worth your time to visit a psychologist and discuss any issues or tips specific to your personality that can help you with self-confidence.