Mastering the inner game of confidence is key to business success.
Your self esteem, or how you feel about yourself, is one of the most important pathways to enjoyment and positive results in your business AND in your life. More people buy books on building self esteem than any other personal development topic, testimony to the importance we attach to the subject. Higher self esteem means liking and believing in yourself, believing you are lovable and deserve to be happy, and feeling valued and worthy. The opposite is also true. There are many people who recognise their self esteem is low whereas there are others who, whilst appearing to be “successful”, are driven by the pain of low self esteem to prove themselves worthy. This driven behaviour is often an unconscious need to mask the pain they feel inside caused by low self esteem. Whilst it can help with success, this success is unlikely to be sustained long term and it is very likely to limit happiness!
How you feel about yourself is likely to vary depending on what is going on for you now. Like inner confidence, self esteem varies. The human being who can honestly say their self esteem is high at least 90% of the time is rare. The lives of the vast majority of us can be enhanced by building our self esteem.
Whilst there are negative implications to displaying high levels of confidence, the same is not true of self esteem. Not only can the seemingly highly confident person appear arrogant and so isolate themselves, but also deep inside their overt display of confidence often masks their lack of self esteem and lack of inner confidence. Where a person has genuine high levels of self esteem, these are often accompanied by appropriate displays and authentic feelings of humility and gratitude.
The more we can or can grow to like ourselves, the more others tend to like us and our lives are enhanced personally and professionally through relationships. The more happiness we feel overall, the greater the pleasures we experience in life from everything around us. The more we believe in ourselves, the more others also believe in us and the more we can achieve in our lives and in our businesses!.
How to build self esteem
Step 1: Start by noticing how you experience your lack of self esteem. For example:
List which apply to you; add in any of your own. Make a commitment to change which can be supported by a personalized, inspiring goal e.g. “happy being me”, “totally believe in myself” or the equivalent that is right for you.
Step 2: Treat yourself kindly
How we feel about ourselves is largely a function of what we tell ourselves about ourselves and how we behave towards ourselves. I’ve heard it said “If we treat friends as we treat ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends”!
Notice what you say to yourself. Replace your disempowering self talk with more positive self talk
A simple way of remembering to be kind to yourself is to treat yourself as if you were your own best friend. E.g. look at mistakes as learning experiences, seek to be happy by achieving 80% in 20% of the time, forgive yourself, remember your achievements, positive qualities and natural gifts, treat yourself with respect, and focus on what is going right. Use computer screen savers, mobile phone reminders and messages on the bathroom mirror as reminders to do this.
Step 3: Evaluate experiences through positive filters.
If something appears to be “bad news”, practise look at it through a lens of “how this could be good news”. As an example, if you don’t win the business, you could tell yourself a better opportunity for you is around the corner. “If the train doesn’t stop at your station, it isn’t your train” is one of my personal favourite quotes.
Step 4: Watch yourself
Notice if you have a tendency to “switch off”. This can be quite common with creative thinkers who have particularly busy minds which particularly need to switch off to function. Switching off can also be a coping strategy developed in childhood to deal with emotional pain which everyone has. You may have perfected the art so successfully that you don’t even notice when you are running an “unkind” dialogue with yourself. The first step to changing this is simply to notice your dialogue; e.g. “There is me doing my I’m not good enough routine again. Here I go again telling myself I’m lazy and selfish”. As soon as you tune into the dialogue you have the opportunity to congratulate yourself for noticing. You may also wish to laugh about it.
Step 5: Distract yourself
Many parents of young children know an effective way of stopping a child engage in a dangerous activity is through distraction. As adults we can do the same for ourselves. Personally I choose to think of “pink elephants” if a line of thought enters my mind that is disempowering. I invite you to choose your own version
Step 6: Remember you’re human
One of the many advantages of being a personal coach is that I am privy to the self talk of many. Time and time again, I hear clients telling me that they are a fraud, they work frantically hard for fear that others will find out that they are lazy and selfish or they feel bad about themselves for a host of different reasons. If you are tempted to believe you are alone with your tirade of negative self talk, I can promise you are not. Setting an intention to be willing to be open to “loving yourself” can help you move onto the path the path of change.
Step 7: Get “out of your mind”
We can only feel bad about ourselves when we are “thinking about ourselves”. Any activity that engages our bodies and disengages our negative self talk can be effective. Dance, ski, do yoga, build papier mache models. Whatever absorbs you is a good choice. Note this strategy differs from “switching off” as there is no negative self talk running in the background.
Step 8: Do what you love or love what you do
We can move into a positive cycle of nurture and enrichment by doing what we enjoy. As we tend to be good at what we enjoy, this feeds more positivity into the “feel good” cycle. Give yourself “positive” treats such as a massage or anything else you love, for no particular reason.
When we find ourselves stuck with activities we don’t enjoy, it helps it we can find ways of enjoying these activities. Soulful music helps me enjoy doing my accounts.
Step 9: Be around people who love you.
There are people who naturally facilitate positive feelings in us, whereas others have the opposite effect. Spend time with this first group. If you need to be around the latter group, experiment with an invisible “force field” to keep out the negativity.
How do you nurture your self esteem at work? Share your thoughts.
This article was written by Karen Skehel