Are you the type that is constantly finding fault with yourself? Criticising your actions and what you say? Putting yourself down? Never happy with your efforts? That really is the surest way to feel inadequate and inferior. When I wrote my first book I asked a friend to give me her opinion of the manuscript. Without commenting she asked me fearfully, “What if the readers don’t like what you write?”
Quick as a flash i retorted, “Then they can write their own books about the topic!” This was my book, no one else’s, and no one was forced to like it or reject it. Hence I was not going to silence my voice for fear of disapproval.
We worry about what others think and say, and try to fit their expectations, because we of this yearning for perfection, with mainly negative results. The only way to avoid sterile perfectionism that gets us nowhere is to improve our confidence. But this is no easy task when we are governed by our thought patterns, and old habits cling fast.
There are a number of things we can do to boost our confidence, and remove the desire for perfection, but it depends on the level of esteem we already enjoy. If confidence is flagging, one can take remedial steps, but if it is non-existent, or has come under repeated attacks, it will need a greater resolve, and perhaps even counselling, to change it positively. When your confidence needs boosting, two main things are very important:
First: Think Positively. Low self-esteem feeds on negative messages and thoughts, so avoid indulging in constant self-criticism. That’s like waging incessant war on yourself. Acknowledge your weaknesses, yes, but do not dwell on them. It’s your weaknesses, too, that make you unique. Focus on your strengths and build them up. For example, when self-esteem is low, treat yourself to something you definitely enjoy, just as you would do for a friend you value. If you feel lonely and have no regular date, for example, why not ask a friend to accompany you out? One who would make you feel a million dollars, yet respect your wishes. That should gradually build your confidence to find your own date.
Often we don’t feel we deserve to be happy in life, because of constant guilt feelings about being worthy; or to actually admit that we are proud to be alive. Instead we deny ourselves the pleasures we crave, always waiting for tomorrow or worrying about the consequences. But tomorrow might never come, as we might be gone tonight. We also tend to attribute our accomplishments only to ‘luck’. But there is no such thing. When people complimented one woman on how lucky her son was to be a celebrated singer, her reply was always a gracious, “Thanks for saying that. But the most fascinating thing is that the harder he works, the luckier he seems to get!”
Give yourself credit for your own personal achievement. Your successes have been due to preparation, hard work, experience of what is necessary, and, finally, the time and circumstances being appropriate for your efforts to come to fruition. Luck has little to do with it.
Second: Be Proud of YOU. You are unique, the only one like you in all history! So appreciate your identity, your gender, your colour, your name, your customs, your dress, your values, and traditions. If you hide these elements to please others, you will always be undermining what makes you a unique person, while putting others and their values above yourself. This will only keep you feeling insecure, inadequate, and second-best. Yes, you should compromise where you can, but on mutual terms. Otherwise you give a very powerful message of your own low level of self-esteem, fawning desire to please, and little pride in being you. Most important, people cannot respect what you are ashamed of.
Self-appreciation is the start of everything that’s good in our life, the lynchpin to getting what we desire, because it influences how we are perceived. It does not matter what other people do, but if we treat ourselves with love and respect, with daily appreciation for our own value, others are likely to treat us exactly that way, too.