5 Ways to Train Your Brain and Boost Your Self-Esteem
It can be hard to tell if someone is truly confident, or just good at hiding their insecurities. Often we find that the loudest, most boisterous people are often the most self-conscious.
In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person's overall sense of self-worth or their personal value. Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs such as the opinion of one's own appearance, beliefs, emotions and behaviors. At the end of the day, it boils down to how confident you are with yourself, your career and your relationships.
When beliefs about our own abilities are limiting, they can begin to consume our mind. Sometimes to the point where they become an insecurity. Over time it can get worse, as the negative feeling that comes along with the insecurity hangs on to our conscience.
Eventually, our brain begins to associate that feeling to other unrelated areas of our lives. Before we know it, this insecurity that stemmed from one incident is now infecting everything we do. Because of this it can be difficult to determine the root cause of an inter-related issue like that.
Here are five ways to help you eliminate your insecurities and elevate your confidence.
1. Stop comparing other people's strengths to your weaknesses.
Often when our self esteem is not solidified, we create this vulnerable identity that is affected by the situations we are in and the people we are around.
When entering social settings, we end up getting into this habit of recognizing how good people are at things, and how we don't match up. "Wow that person is much better at speaking than me," "That person exudes way more confidence," "That leader has so much more charisma and influence," etc.
Unfortunately, what we don't realize is that no matter who we are around, we are constantly trying to identify where we are lacking. Over time, this process literally trains your brain to disregard your strengths, and it puts you into a reactive mental state which in the end causes stress and wreaks havoc on your performance.
It's imperative to start appreciating other people's strengths. Instead of seeing them as competition, consider it an opportunity to learn how you can develop your own skills. This new perspective will change your demeanor, relax your mind and help regulate your emotions. Your brain learns from repetition, so begin doing this immediately and over time it will become second nature.
Always remember the saying: "If you're the smartest person in the room, then you're in the wrong room."
2. Use insecurities to your advantage.
Look at any insecurity you have as a clue. Yes they are not enjoyable, but they are a symptom to a root cause. Recognizing where your thoughts, feelings and actions intersect in different areas of your life can uncover the underlying issue.
I was working with a client who noticed that she was very confident at work and around her colleagues but felt insecure in her relationship. Issues like this are hard to identify but don't necessarily mean you're with the wrong person. We discovered that what she values most and what makes her feel good is recognition. If she is recognized for her actions, it makes her feel validated and appreciated.
Fortunately for her, she was doing well at her job and was being praised by everyone there. Work was great! However, when she went home, her husband had stopped verbalizing what he appreciated about her. He still loved her, but in his mind he felt that she just knew it. So after she told him that recognition was vital to her existence, he immediately changed his approach to their relationship. Now she feels confident at work and around him.
Ask yourself -- how do you know when you're doing a good job? What has to happen in order for you to feel accomplished, happy or loved? Are these things happening in your life?
3. Caring about what people think about you is good. Worrying about what they think is pointless.
In social settings, many people determine their feelings and actions based on how others treat them. They rely on others to determine their own personal value and self-worth. It is a limiting thought pattern that gives them no control over any situation.
To eliminate this, first understand that if you are generally interested in others and treat them with respect, there isn't much more you can do in the moment. Be confident that you put your best foot forward, and if it's not being reciprocated, move on. Always focus on your intent. If your intent is honest, then simply treat everyone the same way you expect to be treated.
4. You think people know more about you than they actually do.
If there is something you are insecure about in your life, chances are you've spent a lot of time thinking about it. Every time something triggers that insecurity, you become abundantly aware of it!
Understand that thinking about it so much has conditioned your brain to pick up on hints in your environment that could be related to this insecurity. By being on high alert all the time, your brain becomes hyper sensitive to everything as it tries to protect you. Over time, you often begin to think that other people can see your lack of confidence and are aware of your insecurities.
You can reassure yourself that no one knows. You've just been living with this for so long, that you see your insecurity reflecting in everything that people say and how they act.
5. Confidence comes from action, not outcome.
The first step to personal change is awareness. Now that you are aware of these underlying thought patterns, you can begin to take action. But always remember that confidence is built in the action you take, not the result it produces. Stop relying on the outcomes of situations or the reactions of others to determine if you can feel good or not.
Train your brain to feel confident without needing to see the result first. This will give you full control over your self-esteem, so you are no longer vulnerable to people or circumstance.