Standing in the train or lift can be a scrutinising experience in Hong Kong, as well as other international cities. We all like to look at our peers to socially compare ourselves to them, and them to us. This increases or decreases our false sense of self. The false sense of self is the self that is attached to external validation, meaning the approval of others.
Our self-esteem rises and falls depending on our accomplishments, failures, and health of our physical body. When we are accomplishing things such as excelling in a sport, academics, relationships, or our career; we are on top of the world. When we experience failure loss or rejection, our confidence and self-esteem decrease.
The key to balancing our self-esteem, our confidence and our self-image is to realise that wins and fails are only temporary. Nothing lasts forever. Recognise that you are more than those circumstances, more than your accomplishments and your failures. Learn to recognise that approval and security come from within yourself.
Some of us may feel unsure of who we are because we’ve let our parents, our friends, authority figures or society tell us who we should and should not be. There may be points in your life where you are being pulled in many different directions by many different people.
Here are some key points to enhance your self-confidence along your journey to self-discovery.
Recognise and reframe negative self-talk
When we recognise that we have a cynical internal monologue – such as calling ourselves “stupid, fat, or ugly,” we can reframe that thought to constructive criticism. For example, “My boss is upset with my performance. I need to try to make it to work on time and make sure that I get more sleep.” Instead of “I’m a worthless failure.” The first phrase provides a workable situation that enhances growth, whereas the second phrase leaves you unmotivated.
Grow as a human being
Set goals and challenge yourself. When you accomplish goals, you feel better about yourself. On the journey to self-growth and goals, we might meet some failure or rejection. Realise this is normal and everyone faces these challenges. Allow the failure and rejection to inspire you to try again or find another creative avenue. When a child is learning to walk, he falls and then gets up. He might cry for a minute, but he always tries again. As we mature, we encounter more failure and rejection, we can either get up or give up. Those who give up will never know what they are truly capable of.
Sit in non-judgement as much as possible
Human beings are judgemental by nature. We have been taught since day one to be “good” and not “bad.” When we label people, we fail to recognise that all of us are a unique blend of biology, culture, and beliefs. When you accept that people are living their reality based on their life experiences, you realise that there is nothing to judge. This non-judgment helps you to feel more comfortable in your own skin because you will also stop judging yourself as much. You begin to realise that it is a waste of energy and time to judge others, just as it is for others to judge you. Focus on yourself and what you need to accomplish to become a better person.
Don’t allow others to take more of your time, energy or resources than you can give. Do not let others abuse you emotionally, verbally, or physically. It is ok to say no. When you give more than you want to, you become fatigued and drained. Often times this may lead to resentment. If you enjoy helping others, make sure that you are helping yourself as well.
Get rid of toxic people
Toxic people are people who treat you with disrespect or make you feel bad about yourself. Start to recognise your emotional state around others and be curious about that. Surround yourself with people who have similar goals and objectives as you. If you have a toxic boss or co-worker and you need to deal with them, don’t take their negative behaviour personally. Here is another excellent article on how to manage these sorts of people.
When we are out of balance physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we feel down. To remain physically stable, eat nutritiously and exercise as well as get enough sleep. Connect with yourself through meditation and self-reflection to stay spiritually balanced. Remain emotionally balanced by recognising and respecting your emotions as well as the feelings of others. Emotions give us information about our behaviour as well as the behaviour of others.
Express appreciation to those around you who are kind or do kind things for you. Express gratitude towards yourself and your body. Expressing gratitude rewires our brain to feel and think positively. When we feel positive, we attract positive people into our lives. The majority of people in the world want to be appreciated and respected. Expressing gratitude to others enhances relationships with others and yourself.
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