By Donnie McKinney c 2006
Here's my formula for building self-confidence. Keep in mind that the relationship between self-esteem and self-confidence is subtle, but distinct. Both are necessary, but they're not obtained the same way. Self-esteem has to come first. So, first, don't confuse self-confidence with self-esteem, which a lot of people use interchangeably.
Self-esteem is accepting yourself just as you are right now - an imperfect, but changing and growing, worthwhile human being. If you can say, "I like me just the way I am. I'd rather be me than anybody else on earth," you can rest assured that your self-esteem is intact. If you can't say that right now, you may want to see what you need to do to develop healthy self-esteem. Self-Esteem Self-confidence, on the other hand, is based on experience from doing something successfully - small successes building on each other.
In other words, your self-esteem is healthy when it allows you to like yourself BEFORE you do anything, while self-confidence comes AFTER you do something. See the distinction? Self-esteem has to come first. It is an internal feeling that you get after you accept yourself, right this minute, just as you are. You know deep-down that you deserve good things in your life.
Accepting yourself as you are - imperfect, but changing and growing - and understanding that everyone around you is just an imperfect human being like you are is a huge step toward self-confidence. Most people are afraid to try something because they fear failing and being embarrassed. They think their friends will think less of them. The fact is you ARE imperfect, and so is everyone else. Trying to act perfect, when no one can be, can put a lot of stress in your life. Healthy self-esteem simply frees up up try something. If you fail, well, that's just one way that didn't work. Try again, or try something else until you figure out what works. That's the only way to ever accomplish anything.
So, how do you start right where you are and build self-confidence? Do something. Low self-esteem can keep you from even trying if you let it. That's the insidious part. You don't even try because you are afraid you will fail, and you just "know" that if you fail, you will die. I know from experience that you probably won't die. But, if you can just make yourself try in spite of your fears, you will succeed at "something" you try. Then, you'll be more self-confident the next time. Keep doing things.
In the middle of this process of building self-confidence, it's a good time to learn that failing at something you attempt doesn't make you a failure. Winners in life learn from their failures. When they fail at something they say, "Well, that didn't work. I'll try something else until I find something that does work." People with low self-esteem say, "I can't do anything right," or "I'm too dumb for this," or "I'll never try again." Do you see the subtle difference?
A simple way to start feeling confident is to simply act "as if" you are confident. When I asked Norman Vincent Peale what was the most important thing I need to teach teenagers, he told me,
"Tell your young people to use the "as if" principle. Tell them to decide who they want to be and what they want to do in their lives, and then act "as if" they are already that person. They will slowly and imperceptibly become that person."
Wise words! Heed them.
One basic key is to start figuring out what your natural talents and abilities are, and start using them. Get involved in extra-curricular activities that relate to your own natural talents. Get a part-time job that uses your natural talents. When you use your own natural, unique God-given talents and abilities, and do activities that involve them, you're enthused. Your adrenaline flows. You're creative. You're energetic. You get "in flow" and lose all track of time. And, you look up one day and find that you're happy. That’s a neat revelation!.
Using your natural, unique God-given talents and abilities is a key to feeling more confident, simply because you excel at whatever it is. Your self-confidence will push out any shyness or uncertainty. Your life will become more exciting and enjoyable. Well, it's just a good plan. If you can't identify your own natural talents, try this worksheet and see if it helps you start detecting what they might be Natural Talents
The way this will change your life is that when you do the things you have a natural talent and natural abilities to do, you're doing what you love to do. When you do what you love to do, you'll have all those good things happen to you that I mentioned above - all that adrenaline, enthusiasm and creativity. So, you'll be more positive and you won't have time to sit around and mope about not being able to do anything.
You'll also find that you are interacting with a bunch of people who like the same things you do. You'll have things in common. You'll talk and discuss the things you love. You'll be interested in other people, and you'll find that they are interested in you. You'll be positive and successful and you'll find that people want to be your friend. That's because you're the kind of person people are attracted to. This is the way friends are made. That's a side benefit of doing what you love to do.
Do the talents worksheet and get involved in activities like I said above, and it will also boost your self-esteem. At the same time, it will consume your time and you'll find yourself getting "in flow" often. It's all under your own control. You make the choice to do this and you build your own life the way you want it. It's pretty exciting deciding what you want in life, and then designing your own life the way you want it and living it abundantly. That's the way God intended us to live. Just do it!
Then, set down and spend some time working out your goals in life - current and future. There's a whole section on goal setting at Setting Goals It all fits into the formula for becoming whoever you want to be, doing whatever you want to do and having whatever you want to have in your life. Achieving small goals builds self-confidence to achieve bigger goals. Once you have successfully achieved some bigger goals, you will start to feel confident enough to set some humongous goals for your own life. Notice how it all fits together to make your life the way you want it. Neat, huh?
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