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Episode 172: 13 Habits to Improve Your Self Esteem - Part 1

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Confidence is not a personality trait. It is a skill. And everyone has the ability to hone it. 

And it's important that we do. Because our self-esteem impacts every area of our life. It impacts...

  • Our romantic relationships - are you avoiding physical intimacy because you're self conscious about your body?
  • Our platonic relationships - are you not setting healthy boundaries because you struggle with people pleasing?
  • Our work - are you not asking for that promotion or starting that business because you don't believe you're good enough?
  • And even our health - are you constantly speaking negatively to yourself, causing your cortisol to rise?

Our level of confidence determines the goals we set, the risks we take, and how we handle obstacles and failures along the way. 

So with that in mind, let's dive into the first six habits you need to implement to improve your confidence on the daily. 

And remember, this will be a practice. At first your confidence may feel like a house of cards, easily taken down by the slightest puff of wind.

But if you implement these habits consistently over time, your confidence will become a concrete fortress.

It might get a crack here and there with a strong enough force, but even those will be easily and quickly mended. 

Now before you put these tactics into practice, I need you to get your body out of fight-or-flight mode (stress) and into rest-and-digest mode (calm).

Why? Because when you're in fight or flight, it's incredibly challenging to build confidence or really anything positive because your brain is on the lookout for danger, for threats to our safety.

And there is nothing our brain views as more threatening or scary than the new, the unknown. Even if the unknown is something amazing like unstoppable confidence. 

To a stressed body, the world is an unkind and terrifying place. In this state you're going to be self-protective which means you'll retreat to your comfort zone. In this case, self-doubt and self-criticism. 

Your body needs to feel safe in order to create new habits and new thought patterns.

You can do this a number of ways, but some examples are:

  • 4-7-8 breathing technique - inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7, exhale for 8, repeat 10 times.
  • Practice mindfulness with the 5 senses countdown - name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
  • Repeat affirmations like 'I am safe' or 'I am loved' or 'I am okay.' 

Now that your body is feeling safe, let's dive in.

1. Become the observer of your thoughts.

When you become the observer of your thoughts, you realize you are not your thoughts and you don't have to believe every thought you have. 

No one was born feeling insecure, it's something we learned from our parents, our peers, our teachers, and social media. 

Those negative beliefs and criticisms you have in your head are nothing more than repeated negative affirmations that have become habitual thought patterns.

And when you recognize them as these mental constructs born of our environment, we can stop buying into them and create new thought patterns and beliefs that actually benefit us. 

2. Stop apologizing for existing.

My best friend in college was an incredible woman. She was gorgeous, smart, hilarious, talented, creative, outgoing, and incredibly loving. But I remember every time she came over to my house, the words 'I'm sorry' were attached to every sentence.

"I'm sorry, can I have a glass of water?"

"I'm sorry, I've got to run to the restroom."

"Do you mind if I grab a snack? I'm sorry."

Sound familiar? 

Every time you do this, you're confirming to yourself that you need to be sorry for merely existing and taking up space in this world. Knock it off. 

Recognize when you're doing it and actively stop yourself from apologizing unless you have actually wronged someone. 

3. Mind the company you keep.

The people around you can tear you down or build you up, and as much as we'd like to think we're tough and we aren't affected by the opinions of others, we absolutely are.

It's a survival mechanism: the way the tribe felt about you determined if they would protect you in the face of sabertooth tigers. 

Another survival mechanism is called the negativity bias, in other words our brains prioritize negative information over positive information. So when someone says something negative about you, it'll stick with you way more than a compliment ever will. In fact it takes 3 positive thoughts to cancel out one negative one. 

So pay close attention to how you feel after being around certain people and adjust the amount of time you spend with them accordingly. Do you feel uplifted, strong, and confident? Or do you feel beat down and defeated? 

4. Take a break from looking at how far you have to go, and marvel at how far you've come.

It is human nature to always want the next thing. We achieve this goal and move on to the next. We buy this house and then want the bigger house. We get this job and then set our sites on the next promotion. We lose the 10 pounds but then want to 'just tone up more'. 

This is not a bad thing, our constant desire for improvement and growth is our super power as a species. But it also is a recipe for low self esteem if we only ever pay attention to what we don't have or what we haven't achieved yet. 

I even catch myself doing this with my skin. When I break out once a month around my cycle, it's easy to get discouraged and frustrated and down on myself.

But if I take a second to look back and remember the fact that I used to have 10+ deep cysts on my face and pimples covering my back every day a few years ago, suddenly how I feel about myself and the way I look completely shifts. 

5. Pat yourself on the back.

Celebrate every. single win. No matter how small. 

Remember your brain is your biggest cheerleader and it will look for proof of every thought you have.

So if you constantly think negative thoughts about yourself and how much you suck at x, y, z, your brain will look for proof of those negative thoughts and ignore all evidence to the contrary.

But the same is true in reverse. If you consistently give yourself credit for even the smallest of wins, your brain will start hunting for more and more successes to celebrate and suddenly you will have collected all of this evidence that you are, in fact, a badass.

6. Let others pat you on the back. 

What do you do when someone else gives you a complement? Do you look down? Assume they're lying or just being nice? Audibly negate what they said? 

No more. 

That is, again, a habit. 

Instead, next time someone gives you a complement, I want you to practice looking them in the eye, smiling, and just saying "thank you". 

You are worthy of complements. And any time that little twat in your head tells you that they're just lying or being nice, you remind her that they didn't have to say anything at all. They could have just kept their mouth shut. So if they're verbalizing it, they mean it. 

Want to know the other 7 essential habits for building unbreakable self confidence?

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