By Lolly Daskal, President and CEO, Lead From Within
Low self-esteem is unfortunately a self-fulling prophecy. The worse you feel about who you are and what you do, the less motivation you'll have to do what it takes to build your self-esteem.
From there it's easy to spiral down into a cycle of negative and circular thinking, keeping you mired in damaging--and erroneous--beliefs.
How can you stop this vicious cycle and start moving yourself in a more positive direction?
It's a process, and it won't happen overnight, but there are things you can do to get it started and keep it moving. Here are 20 powerful ways to improve your self-esteem quickly in order to start feeling more confident.
When you become skilled in something that corresponds with your talents and interests, you increase your sense of competency.
Think about all the things you've accomplished, then write them down. Make a list of everything you've done that you feel proud of, everything you've done well. Review your list when you need a reminder of your ability to get things done and to do them well.
Creative tasks are a great way to put the flow back into your life. Creativity stimulates the brain, so the more you use it, the greater the benefits. Pull out your old guitar, write a story or poem, take a dance class or sign up for a community theater production. When you add the challenge of trying something new, it helps you even more.
Determine what your values are and examine your life to see where you're not living in alignment with what you believe. Then make any necessary changes. The more you know what you stand for, the more confident you will be.
When you catch yourself thinking negatively about yourself, stop and challenge yourself. Don't let yourself be limited by erroneous beliefs.
Stretch yourself and move to the edge of your comfort zone. Get uncomfortable--try something new, meet different people or approach a situation in an unconventional way. Confidence begins at the edge of your comfort zone.
Use your talents, skills and abilities to help others. Give someone direct assistance, share helpful resources or teach someone something they want to learn. Offer something you do well as a gift to someone.
Unresolved issues and drama can keep you trapped in low self-esteem. Seek the support of a trained counselor to help you heal the past so you can move onto the future in a confident and self-assured way.
When you worry about what others will think of you, you never feel free to be completely yourself. Make a firm decision to stop worrying about what other people think--begin making choices based on what you want, not what you think others want from you.
A great way to gain more self-esteem is to read something that lifts you up and makes you feel positive about yourself.
Define what integrity means for you, and ensure that you're living in accordance with that understanding. If your life isn't aligned with your character, it will drain you and leave you feeling bad about yourself.
If there are people in your life who are negative--who have nothing positive to say or who put you down or take advantage of you--do the smart thing and let them go. The only way to find your self-esteem is to surround yourself with supportive positive people who admire you and value you.
The best way to find your self-esteem is to create personal boundaries. Know what your boundaries are and how you wish to respond when people cross them. Don't allow others to control you, take advantage of you or manipulate you. To be confident is to maintain firm boundaries.
When you look your best, you feel your best. Dress like someone who has confidence and let your self-assurance come through in how you look.
It's a common response to be hard on yourself when you've failed. But if you can shift your thinking to understand that failure is an opportunity to learn, that it plays a necessary role in learning and growth, it can help you keep perspective. Remember too that failure means you're making an effort.
Think of yourself as a lifelong learner. Approach everything that you do with a student's mentality--what Zen Buddhists call Shoshin or "beginner's mind"--open, eager, unbiased and willing to learn.
Allow yourself to feel afraid but keep going anyway. Self-esteem is often found in the dance between your deepest desires and your greatest fears.
Be there for someone who needs your guidance, your leadership and your support. Their respect and gratitude--and watching them progress with your help--will add to your self-esteem and self-respect.
Clarify what success means to you and what it means in terms of your confidence. If you really want to do something you will have to find the self-esteem within yourself to just do it.
PUBLISHED ON: JAN 9, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.