All of psychology is based on one basic premise: You perform exactly as you see yourself.
If you see yourself as a winner, you’ll find a way to win or make the best of any situation. But if you see yourself as a loser, you’ll find a way to screw things up, no matter how competent you are or how hard you try.
Put another way, it’s almost impossible to outperform your own self-image.
That being the case, one of the most important things you can do in life is to build a lasting self-esteem or an unshakeable self-confidence. It will serve you extremely well in every upcoming situation in your life and work.
That’s why it is the first topic I address in my five-session virtual program on Emotionally Intelligent Self-Leadership. The next offering will be in January 2024 and later in this issue there’s a link to our Black Friday Special Pricing.
► 1. Identify they ways you put yourself down and STOP it.
We know that we talk to ourselves a lot throughout the day.
Unfortunately, there is some research that indicates 80% of our self-talk is negative.
People will tell themselves such things as:
There’s nothing special about me.
I’m just average. What was I thinking? How stupid of me!
I can’t change. That’s just the way I was raised.
I’ll never get ahead.
I always attract losers.
I’ll never be any good at …
I just don’t seem to have what it takes.
I’ll never get ahead.
Indeed, if you talk to yourself that way, you never will get ahead. Because you cannot outperform your own self-image.
So pay attention to what you’re telling yourself, and when you catch yourself destroying yourself, at the very least talk back to yourself. Tell yourself, “Stop it! Now STOP it!” You may have to say that a few hundred or a few thousand times, but you’re starting to lay the groundwork for extra confidence.
► 2. Remember who you are.
According to legend, many battles were fought over the beautiful Helen of Troy. Unfortunately, Helen was lost after one of the battles. When the army returned to Greece, Helen was not on any of the ships.
Menelaus went out to find her, at great personal peril. He finally found her in one of the seaport villages. She had been suffering from amnesia and forgetting who she was, she had stooped to the lowest possible level. She was living as a prostitute.
Menelaus found her in rags, dirt, shame, and dishonor. He looked at her and cried, “Helen.” Her head turned. “You are Helen of Troy!” he proclaimed! And with those words, her back straightened and the royal look came back. She remembered who she was and her confidence flooded back in.
If your confidence is a little shaky at times, it may be that you have forgotten who you are. Take stock.
Remind yourself that you are a person who cares about other people … who was raised by a loving parent … who can read and write … who can breathe and walk … who can vote … or whatever. No matter how difficult your life has been, you still have a lot going for you. Don’t ever forget that. Remember who you are.
Michelle Medlock Adams learned how to do that as a child. She still remembers her Sunday School teacher Donna Cummings saying, “You kids are wonderful. Do you know how I know that to be true? Because God don’t make no junk!”
Like Helen of Troy or Michelle Medlock Adams, remember who you are … in the very best light. It goes a long way in building up your confidence.
► 3. Imagine yourself filled with confidence.
One of the great secrets to successful living is to develop the art of using images. You succeed when you put the right pictures in your mind. As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said, “No problem can overcome you if you imagine yourself overcoming that problem.”
Suppose I lay a plank on the ground. Almost anyone could easily walk up and down that plank. But if I raised that plank 20 feet off the ground, lots of people would fall off the plank.
Now that’s interesting. What causes the difference in results? Why can people walk the plank when it’s on the ground but not while it’s elevated?
Because, on the ground, you visualize yourself filled with confidence and you see yourself walking across the plank successfully. Up in the air, you visualize yourself filled with fear and you may imagine yourself falling.
In a similar sense, your mental picture of yourself is vital. What you imagine is, to a large degree, what you will become — just like the eagle who thought he was a chicken.
As the story goes, a young boy found an eagle’s nest while climbing in the mountains around his father’s farm. He removed an egg from the nest and placed it under a hen back at the farm. The eagle hatched along with the other chicks. All his young life he was raised among chickens. Knowing no better he came to see himself as a chicken.
Then one day an eagle flew high over the chicken coop. As he watched this great magnificent eagle flying high, he imagined himself soaring over the mountains. With a burst of inspiration, the young eagle flew to the top of the chicken coop. From there he soared to the top of a low hillside. As his confidence grew, he soared higher and higher until he discovered the greatness within himself.
In a similar sense, to get an unshakable self-confidence, form a mental image of yourself as strong, confident, powerful, effective, and successful instead of weak and small. Imagine yourself as the master of difficulty rather than its victim.
The professional tennis player, Arthur Ashe, put it this way. He said, “Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.”
Final Thought: Your self-confidence is never neutral. It pushes you up or brings you down.