Are you afraid to leave your comfort zone and start something new because ‘you know that you can’t do it’? Do you sometimes hate to look in the mirror? Do you automatically blame yourself whenever something goes wrong, or not exactly as planned? It might not cheer you up but you are not alone — everybody feels worthless, stupid and little every now and then.
In this poisonous state of mind we tend to be pretty harsh on ourselves, as severe as we would never be to anyone else. We call ourselves mean, terrible names, and scold ourselves for not being perfect.
Would you ever say to anyone ‘You’re ugly’ or ‘You’re stupid’ or ‘No one loves you’ or ‘You can’t do anything right’? Now think, have you ever said any of these things about yourself?
How many times? A hundred? A thousand? More?
When I first began reading about this I started to listen to the way I talk to myself. To make it more research-like I put down all the positive and negative things I said to myself about my skills, abilities and actions in a notebook. I was doing it for a week. It was a totally average week, no catastrophe happened, I wasn’t fired, no one broke up with me, I didn’t accidentally burn down a wedding in ‘Meet-the-parents’ style. I was doing just fine. Yet, I gave myself negative feedback 53 times. Positive three times — one of which was for starting the research.
I figured there must be something wrong with me (negative feedback no. 54) and asked my friends to monitor their internal dialogue for a couple of days, the same way I did. Their results were quite similar to mine: very few or no positive and many, many negative examples of self-talk. It made me realize that we tend to be real assholes to ourselves. No wonder our poor self-confidence hits bottom sooner or later.
Although serious self-esteem problems can only be solved by consciously working on our self-knowledge, most likely with the assistance of a professional, there are some tricks to boost our self-confidence on our own. Here follows one of them. It only requires a piece of paper, a pen and about ten minutes.
Are you ready? OK, let’s start.
Write ten things about yourself that you are proud of. They can be anything: your wit, your hair, your taste for fashion, your sense of humor, the fact that you are a great cook or that last week you gave another killer presentation.
Ok. Now write ten more things you like about yourself. If it seems hard (for most of us it does at first), think what your closest friends would say about you. What are the characteristics and actions they love you for? Are you an understanding friend? Trustworthy? Always ready to party? Able to open a bottle of beer with your teeth? I’m sure there are at least ten reasons your friends like to hang out with you.
Done? Great. You are almost there.
And now, write ten things that make you different from others, that make you who you really are. These are your Unicorn characteristics by the way. These qualities aren’t necessarily useful: they can be totally superfluous little things like humming Singing in the rain whenever you get soaked, or to love wearing terribly ugly patterned socks (yes, both these are mine).
Ok, are you done? If the answer is yes, it means you have a piece of paper full of items
- that you love yourself for
- that others admire in you
- and that make you who you really are.
Not bad, is it?
Please have a look at this piece of paper every now and then. It would be even better if you could put it up somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis. It can be a great reminder that you are a fantastic, unique, lovable person full of potential.