1: Get in shape, and get yourself together.
If your body is unhealthy, your entire reality suffers. You’ll have less energy. You’ll have less motivation, which is just as well, because you’ll be less mobile. You’ll have more aches and pains, and you’ll be more prone to depression. If you want to live life to its fullest then your body needs to be in optimal working order. Trying to build confidence while maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle is like walking an endless journey with your feet tied together. If you’re guilty of this, you shouldn’t hate yourself. This doesn’t change your intrinsic worth. You’ve already suffered the consequences by not feeling as good as you would have if you were taking better care of your body.
Everyone should recognize that everyone is equal regardless of their health and hygiene. However, our brains are hardwired with instinctual shortcuts that manipulate our subconscious and make us sexually attracted to healthy bodies. For right or wrong, better or worse, the reality of the world we live in is that the healthier you are, the more positively people will respond to you in general. The less healthy you are, the more negatively people will respond to you in general. Even if you’re the epitome of unhealthiness, there will still be people who will love you dearly, but life would have been a lot easier for you in general if you’d been physically fit.
You shouldn’t judge yourself and beat yourself up for being unhealthy. That’s not doing yourself any favors. That’s like making a wrong turn while driving, and then stopping the car and spending the rest of your life living under an overpass abusing drugs and alcohol to numb the guilt and punish yourself for making a wrong turn. This is only as big of a deal as you make it.
If/when you are physically fit, you shouldn’t be arrogant about it. Your physical fitness is good for you, but it doesn’t make you better than anyone else. But you do deserve to be proud of yourself. Your responsible behavior has rewarded you with a better functioning body to enjoy life with longer, and it looks good. It’s a lot harder to be depressed and insecure when you can look at your good looking body in the mirror and feel proud of yourself. For better or worse, right or wrong, you’ll also find it much, much easier to flirt with the opposite sex when you look like you take care of yourself. You’ll also naturally have more confidence when talking to the opposite sex, because you already know you have what they need.
2: Educate Yourself
You’re not your clothes. You’re not your rank. You’re not your age. You’re not your skin color. You’re not your nationality. You’re not your penis size. You’re not your khakis. You are your mind. Everything you’ll ever do or say is defined by what’s in your mind. The way you grow and get better at anything is by learning. I can’t stress this enough, knowledge is the key to everything. If you’re not learning either from a book, a video or experiences on the streets, then you’re not growing. If you’re not learning then you’re stagnating. If you never learn anything, you’ll just stay a lost, confused, helpless child your entire life. Tragically, it takes just as much time and effort to stay stupid as it does to grow up. You have to do something every day for the rest of your life, you may as well do what makes you stronger and your life better.
The more you know about everything the better you’ll be at everything, but probably the most important thing you can teach yourself is how to solve problems. Anytime anything goes wrong in your life it’s because there’s a problem. The better you are at solving problems, the less problems there will be in your life, and the easier it’ll be for you solve them and move on. If you don’t know the first thing about problem solving, then you shouldn’t be surprised if your life feels like one long string of problems. It’s not because fate is out to get you. Fate gave you the tools to solve your problems. You just need to use them. The better you get at solving problems, the more naturally confident you’ll be, because you’ll know that you have the ability to solve whatever problems life throws at you.
3: Know Yourself. Define your wants. Define your values.
If you have no idea who you are, what you believe, what you stand for or what you want out of life then you should feel directionless, because you are. It should also come as no surprise that you feel insecure about your self-worth, because your perception of reality has to be based on something. If you don’t consciously define yourself then your environment will subconsciously define you by default. That’s when you end up basing your self-worth and life goals on what bullies, celebrities and corporations tell you.
You don’t have to live that way. You can effortlessly and confidently stand up for yourself against all the naysayers in the world, but before you can stand for or against anything, you have to know who you are and what you believe. You have to understand your strengths to appreciate them, and you have to understand your weaknesses so that you can work within them. If you believe that you have to eliminate all your weaknesses before you can be confident, you’re wrong. Nobody in the world can succeed at everything, and nobody should. You just need to figure out what’s important to you and then figure out how you can achieve your goals using the gifts you have. Once you know what you want, and you’re firmly on the path towards getting it, then it becomes irrelevant how anyone else feels about you. You’re already making a B-line to where you want to be. There’s nothing anyone can tempt, threaten or distract you with. When nobody has any leverage over you then you have no reason to fear them, and you don’t have to work up the strength to stand up for yourself.
The first step every single person on the planet should take on the path to self-discovery is to complete a professional personality/aptitude test. Do an internet search for life skills or professional development centers in your local area and find one that offers personality/aptitude tests. They’re not exactly cheap, but it’s the best investment you’ll ever make in your life. It’ll tell you things about yourself that you never knew. It’ll show you that your quirks aren’t failures; they’re what make you unique. They define your beauty and what you’re good at… and what you shouldn’t waste your time pursuing. They point the way to finding your own personal happiness. That’s priceless.
Once you have a rough idea of who you are, what you’re capable of and what you want, then the next step is to further explore who you are by doing more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Go out and find people who are like you, study the things you’re interested in, experiment with new hobbies. As you do these things you’ll further refine who you are and what you want. The clearer the path before you comes, the less strength it takes to stand up for yourself and follow your own path. You won’t have to stress over picking or justifying which fork in the road to take. The way will just be clear to you, and you’ll find yourself confidently running towards your destiny.
4: Love yourself.
You’re never going to allow yourself to improve your inner-self or your external circumstances if you hate yourself, because you’ll have no motivation to succeed. In fact, a negative self-image becomes your motivation to destroy yourself, and your low expectations for yourself inevitably become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t love yourself then your future always looks hopeless no matter how good your life is. When you love yourself, then the future always looks hopeful regardless of what’s going on in your life. When you love yourself for who you are, your confidence is inherently tamper-proof. It won’t matter when you fail or someone treats you badly. If you base your self-worth solely on the fact that you’re an amazing, elegant, beautiful miracle then you’ll experience all the negative events in your life, not as soul-crushing mini-apocalypses, but as learning experiences at best or the cost of living at worst. But the more you love yourself, the less you even notice life’s little grievances, because you’re too busy celebrating life.
Many people who hate themselves were abused, abandoned and unloved at some point in their lives. If you’re one of those people, understand that it’s natural to respond to abuse and abandonment by feeling depressed and insecure, but I promise you that there’s more to you than what you’ve been led to believe. You deserve to love yourself. I can’t convince you to love yourself in a few paragraphs, but a licensed mental health professional can walk you through the steps of healing your emotional traumas. Therapy might be expensive, but healing your wounds will make you happier than buying new toys or doing more drugs. Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of resourcefulness. It may be scary, but it doesn’t cost anything to have a consultation with a therapist and find out what kind of help is available.
5: Acknowledge your successes, and practice accomplishments. View failures as practice, not apocalypses.
If you have access to a computer and are smart enough to understand everything I’m saying then you’re not a failure. Your mind (and thus your potential) is already greater than most of the people who have ever existed. If you have low self-esteem, you’re not giving yourself enough credit for all the little, accumulative successes in your life. You’ve done many great things, and you’re blessed in many ways. But don’t take my word for it. Write your own gratitude list, and try to make a habit of taking time to be thankful for the good things in your life instead of focusing so much on the bad things. The more acutely aware of your strengths, successes and blessings you are, the more naturally confident you’ll feel. The more obsessively you count all your perceived weaknesses, failures and setbacks, the easier it will be to feel depressed.
If you’re having difficulty thinking of 5 things you’re grateful for, don’t worry, that can be fixed, but the only way your list is going to get longer is for you to take action and succeed at more things. Big successes are built on little successes. You don’t have to change the world today to feel good about yourself. Seek out little things you can do to improve your life. Find little challenges for you to conquer. Accomplish whatever is within your ability. It’ll give you something good to feel about today, and you can be confident about the fact that you’re moving forward… even if you fail at everything you attempt.
Failing at accomplishing a goal is only failure if you don’t learn anything from your experience. If you do, that’s not failing. That’s practice. You’ll never become an expert at anything unless you fail over and over again. If you keep practicing and allowing yourself to “fail” without beating yourself up over it then eventually you’ll understand what works and what doesn’t. Then succeeding is just a matter of going through the steps you’ve learned. Then young people will look up to you with admiration and want to know your secret to success.
6: Simplify your life, and don’t set yourself up for failure.
There’s not enough time in our short lives to experience and master everything. Succeeding at life can’t be a matter of doing, having and being everything. That would be impossible, but you have to do something. You’ll experience the most meaning and happiness by doing, having and being what matters most to you, personally. This requires you to define and work towards your goals, but it also requires you to eliminate distractions and obstacles in your life. If you live in a mad house full of toxic people who bring you down, and you spend three hours every day stuck in traffic listening to mindless radio stations on your way to a job that you hate, then of course you’re going to be stressed, disoriented, impatient, frazzled and generally not your best self. You can’t be your most confident when your life revolves around coping with drama and misery.
The solution to your gridlocked life isn’t to buck up and work harder and complain less. That’s just becoming better at drudgery. The solution to your problem is to eliminate avoidable problems in your life. This may require you to move, change jobs, change companionship and/or change your purchasing habits. These kinds of changes can be intimidating, and they shouldn’t be made flippantly, but if something is holding you back, then you’re just setting yourself up for perpetual failure by keeping it in your life. If you choose to keep creating the conditions for failure then there’s nothing else I can tell you to help you build confidence other than, “Stop doing that.”
7: Understand that courage and confidence aren’t mutually exclusive.
One summer when I was a teenager I visited a lake with tall cliffs around it that people were jumping off of into the water. Enticed by adventure, I climbed the cliff and stood at the edge. As I looked down at the water, my legs felt weak, and my stomach roared with butterflies. I wanted to jump, but I was terrified. So I stood there for five long minutes searching my soul for the courage to leap. As my friends taunted me, I knew I was running out of time to prove I wasn’t a coward, but I hadn’t found the right thoughts to get me over the edge.
Finally it dawned on me that it didn’t matter if I found the right argument, because even if I did, the end result would be the same: My brain would stop chattering long enough for my feet to move forward. In that moment I realized all I had to do was shut my brain up for one second and act. So I did, and I jumped off that dizzyingly high precipice. I accomplished something that took significant courage without using courage. Once I got over the initial fear, I climbed back up the cliff and jumped again. The second jump was almost as scary as the first, but it took a lot less time to execute. The next summer I was doing back flips off the cliff fearlessly. That’s how overcoming fear works. You learn to believe in yourself by doing the things you never believed possible.
8: Don’t invent excuses.
You’re the only enemy standing between you and self-confidence, and the strongest weapon in your enemy’s arsenal is excuses. There’s no argument you anyone can use to beat an excuse, because excuses are logic-proof. They’re based on circular reasoning, and create self-fulfilling prophecies which validate their premise. All of your excuses may sound perfectly logical on paper. They may look justified, but they’re based on the flawed assumption that you’re a passive victim of life who isn’t in control of the most powerful machine in the known universe.
Your excuses may help give your life structure and explain away all the bad things that happen to you, but they’re not really doing you any favors. They’re imaginary boundaries that you made up and exist nowhere else in the universe except your mind. They only limit those who make them. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who have an excuse for everything, and those who don’t have to make excuses. Neither of those types were born that way; they both chose to be.
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