The comprehensive guide to building self-confidence, eliminating self-consciousness and loving yourself...
We’re living in crazy times; everyone is running and racing along some arbitrary tracks. People have been bombarded every single day and wherever they look with thousands of advertisements from companies and brands selling them the ‘magic formula’ to health, beauty, fitness, perfect bodies and ultimately, happiness.
The result is, a great amount of people are finding it next to impossible to build their self-confidence or love themselves more in a world that’s increasingly moving towards comparison, not cooperation. It’s very easy to get caught up in that mad rat race and start comparing yourself to everyone, and eventually ending up with low self-esteem, nonexistent self-worth, and skyrocketing levels of self-consciousness.
Today, I’m going to take you along a short trip to the real roots of your self-worthlessness, self-consciousness, and low self-esteem, and then explain to you the exact actionable steps that you can take right now in order to build your self-confidence and give yourself the love it deserves.
In this article, I won’t be telling you some standardized, generic or vague ‘advice’ that has no worth or application in the real world. Instead, I’ll be sharing with you my own personal story of self-hatred and nonexistent self-confidence and how I was able to regain self-confidence, self-worth and love myself more.
So, the story begins when I was a little kid at kindergarten, it was my very first year in school away from my warm loving home. For most of the kids, things seemed perfectly okay, they were enjoying their time, socializing and making new friends. Except, I wasn’t, and I only chose to curl myself up in one corner and avoid any interaction with anyone.
Years passed, and I was forced to make a few friends, but still felt that something was off, something was wrong, or something wasn’t right. I felt isolated, alienated and extremely alone. I was ultimately a perfect victim for one of the most traumatic experiences anybody could go through, systematic bullying.
The bullying continued through most of my school year, and what hurt me the most was what I call the ‘emotional’ bullying, the way everybody around you makes you feel weak, inferior, inadequate, and very different than they are.
Of course, I was a kid who never spoke much, so I had no chance of having someone come to explain to me that difference is not always a bad thing, and that being unique is something to be appreciated and treasured, not to be ashamed of.
And it never happened, and I continued feeling those painful emotions throughout most of my childhood, and you’ll probably imagine how I looked as a teenager transitioning into his adulthood.
The feeling of inadequacy, worthlessness and inferiority had stuck with me for so long, eventually shaping up a huge portion of my psyche; I used to believe then, that I could not exist without those feelings. In other words, those negative feelings about me were a core part of my very identity and existence.
I hated everything about myself, my looks, appearance, body, hair, physique, voice, smile, ideas, and opinions. I kept watering those seeds of self-hatred and worthlessness every single day, until they ceased to be just some negative thoughts, they became me.
As I went through the senior year of high school, graduating with an excellent grades and getting accepted into some of the most prestigious colleges, I still wasn’t happy. I had already developed chronic depression, debilitating social anxiety, and a nonexistent self-esteem.
I was a walking mess, a human that utterly and completely despises his very own existence. I even started developing what some psychologists describe as ‘Depersonalization’, the feeling that you don’t recognize yourself and that you see a mere stranger when you look in the mirror.
I knew my feelings could be wrong, and that they surely have been lying to me, nonetheless, I believed every single word they whispered into my ears, until that big thing happened.
With the beginning of my first year at college, I had a total nervous breakdown, I couldn’t leave home, and I literally could not interact with another human being. After all, I was forced to come out of my comfort zone into a new life, but I just wasn’t prepared for it at all. Eventually, I took a year off college.
Throughout this year, I learned so much more than I could have ever learned in my whole life. I started delving into psychology, human development, mental health and all related topics. I started getting into the root causes of all my negativity and problems, and my eyes have suddenly been opened to a whole new world of possibilities that shattered all my past beliefs or more precisely, delusions.
This was also a year when I experienced a major spiritual awakening that destroyed all my past beliefs about everything, even the very idea of life and our existence. This was roughly the same time I decided I need to change.
My eyes were now open to a whole new set of beliefs: How being different does not necessarily mean you’re weird, unloved, or worthless. How social acceptance should never dictate your self-worth, and most importantly, how to love yourself in spite of the fact that you’re not and will never be perfect.
From that point on, I started loving myself, repairing my damaged self-worth, giving myself the credit and love it deserves, and before all, recognizing my blessings, strengths, and talents that I was too busy with my shortcomings to notice.
Here’s the exact same outline I used to build my self-confidence from scratch, love myself and at the age of eighteen, write and publish my very first novel and getting praised from readers all across the world.
Step #1: Accept the fact that you’re not perfect, and that’s OK!
This is in my opinion one of the key and most profound realizations I had to date, and it was also one of the hardest to embrace and accept.
I spent a great deal of my life striving towards perfection, and eventually crashing back hard by realizing I’m not even close to the ‘perfect’ and unrealistic image I painted for myself.
Realizing that you’re not perfect is the most important step to take if you wish to build your self-confidence, and it’s not easy. It actually requires you to sit down, be honest with yourself, and acknowledge your weaknesses, traumas and pain. (The 5-step formula to eliminate suffering once and for all)
Step #2: Go back in time and capture the root-cause of your critical self-esteem.
When I sat down with myself and thought for a good while, I ultimately realized that 99% of my self-consciousness stemmed from past experiences.
I started recalling specific situations and events in my childhood that made me feel inadequate and worthless, and started pinning down those exact thoughts so I could be crystal clear on what exactly I need to do to counter them.
In my case, I realized that most of my insecurities and self-consciousness came from the fact that I am different, yet always seeking social acceptance and external validation.
Once I realized that being unique is actually a blessing not a curse, I started caring less and less about what other people thought about me.
And, ironically enough, when I started acting the way my heart and soul dictated not what other people did, those very same people who I used to look for validation from, started, paradoxically, admiring me more and more. Mostly because I could achieve what they only dreamed of.
Step #3: Pin down your weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
Now that you’ve gone back in time and identified the root causes or situations that fostered those feelings of self-worthlessness and low self-confidence that you’re suffering from.
Now it’s time to be crystal clear on your weaknesses. I used to believe not very long ago that one should focus on their strengths not their weaknesses, but as time passed, I started realizing that by ‘ignoring’ your weaknesses, you’re simply pretending that they don’t exist and that will only magnify the problem and make those thoughts of inferiority hunt you down even more aggressively.
Weaknesses in my opinion are classified into two major headings:
1- Natural (Unchangeable) weaknesses.
2- Changeable weaknesses.
To make it clearer, the first type refers to natural weaknesses that every single human being has. For example, someone could be a world-wide bestselling author, yet very weak at math.
On the other hand, someone could be brilliant at physics, but with a horrible singing voice. Those type of weaknesses are completely natural and are an essential part of variations that make human unique. If you’re naturally weak at something like Math, physics, writing etc., it’s OK! Chances are, you’re actually very strong at your own unique thing.
The second type is changeable weaknesses, for example, in my case; I had always been ‘not the best’ in anything physical. I sucked at football, was average at basketball, volleyball and similar sports.
I acknowledged the fact that I’m not very great at sports, and that was completely okay, I had no aspirations of becoming a world-class athlete, but I also didn’t want those feelings to breed insecurity and self-consciousness for me.
So, in that case, I decided to try working out at the Gym, and I loved it! I’m also currently thinking of enrolling in some martial arts training classes.
So, if you think you’re weak at something, it’s crucial to go straight into the hell and confront that weakness first hand. Chances are, you’ll turn out to be just ‘fine’ and those thoughts of worthlessness will cease to disturb you once and for all.
Step #4: DOUBLE-DOWN on your strengths!
Now that you have identified and worked on your (changeable) weaknesses, it’s time to actually define your core strengths. Many people would swear that they have no talents, strengths or any other special attributes.
But let me tell you this, there is no single human being on this planet that is not special at something. You have to understand that your strengths don’t necessarily have to be any of the ‘popular’ or ‘widespread’ talents such as writing, singing, acting, etc.
In fact, many of the time you’re actually strong and special at something no one else could think about.
To make this a little easier, ask yourself “What lights my soul up when I think about it?” and continue from there. It’s a huge chance that you’ll find out that you’re special on one (or multiple) things that you haven’t ever noticed before when you were too caught up focusing on your weaknesses.
Once you identify those core strengths, it’s time to do the real work! Because, what will make you really special on that particular aspect? Work and dedication.
This can range from reading books on topics you’re passionate about, taking courses, enrolling in workshops, attending events, or even internships. Once you’ve identified and started working on your strengths, you’ll be even stronger and much more special, which sets you up for great rewards in the future.
Step #5: Monitor your self-talk.
This is for me is one of the most critical aspects of building your self-confidence, and it’s actually the main reason I was able to ditch the low self-esteem and build my self-worth. It’s self-talk.
If you’re not aware of it, A number of studies on the fascinating topic of quantum mechanics and the link between thoughts and reality have speculated that thoughts literally influence your reality and physically affect everything around you.
To elaborate, imagine that you’re required to build a house, but the catch is, someone will stand right next to you with an ax and for every brick you put, he’ll destroy two, and you are required to keep building while the other guy keeps destroying. It won’t last for long right?
That’s exactly what happens when you try to build self-confidence while simultaneously feeding your brain toxic and destructive self-talk on a daily basis.
Remember, the negative self-talk doesn’t have to be you telling yourself ‘I’m worthless, I’m ugly, I’m fat, etc.”.
It’s looking at yourself in the mirror in the morning and thinking “I look horrible”, it’s hearing your voice on a video recording and thinking “man, my voice sucks”, it’s trying out a new outfit at a store and whispering “I look terrible in that shirt”.
Most of the time, the negative self-talk that is destroying you doesn’t come from you directly bashing yourself, but it mostly comes from the little intricate details of your daily life that you most likely don’t even pay any attention to.
Research by Canadian professor Alain Morin shows there’s a high correlation between positive self-talk and a higher self-esteem.
From now on, and from the moment you hit that snooze button in the morning to the moment you close your eyes to sleep at night, make it your holy quest to monitor every single thought that comes into your brain.
For example, if you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and sense that you’re about to bash how you look, immediately capture this thoughts and replace it with something like : “I look okay, I am not heading to a fashion show, I look good enough, and I’m not letting anything make me feel like I’m not”
That little and seemingly trivial thought practice, might seem a little cringe worthy at first, but after you start doing it every single day at every single moment for days and days, you’ll suddenly start noticing the effects and reaping the rewards. You’ll start feeling more in tune with yourself, gradually building more confidence and becoming comfortable in your own skin.
Step #6: Celebrate your micro wins.
One of the most important aspects regarding building, and most importantly, maintaining a high level of self-confidence is to train yourself and your brain to acknowledge and celebrate any wins, no matter how small you think they are.
You might think that some actions or achievements aren’t ‘Big’ enough, but you’re probably wrong. We are creatures that are defined by progress and achievement.
According to research, every time you successfully accomplish something, your brain releases a shot of dopamine, one of the key hormones that are responsible for happiness and well-being.
Those accomplishments don’t have to be colossal feats; they can be as small as grabbing yourself out of bed and showing up when you felt like curling the whole day under your blanket.
Train yourself to acknowledge and celebrate every little win, or what I like to call ‘Micro wins’. Start applauding yourself for writing those words, finishing those tasks, cleaning your room, cutting your hair, grabbing your groceries and all those activities that you might think are insignificant.
That way, you’re rewiring your brain to fire up dopamine every time you think that way, which ultimately helps keep you motivated and self-confident.
Step #7: Let yourself be weak.
When you’re trying to build your self-confidence and to clean your old and damaged self-image, it’s imperative to understand the difference between strength and resilience (More on that here).
Resilience essentially means telling yourself that it’s OK to fall back once, twice or even a thousand times, as long as you get back even stronger.
It’s crucial to be mindful and self-aware and understand that you might encounter many setbacks and falls, and that they are all a perfectly natural obstacles on your path to self-confidence and happiness.
So, when you feel that you’re falling back once again, tell yourself that it is fine, don’t beat yourself for it, and use that disappointment as fuel for rising back up more confident and self-accepting.
Step #8: Allow yourself to recharge and prioritize self-care.
This step is by far the essential element for a sustainable self-confidence, inner peace and overall happiness and well-being.
When you’re on the path to peace and happiness, you may sometime become too occupied with the thoughts of trying to stay positive, and that may be actually counterproductive.
People who report high levels of inner-peace and self-acceptance are people who allow themselves to recharge.
Recharging can simply mean putting yourself and your peace as a first priority, as many people (especially empathetic, introverted, and highly emotional people) to tend to suffer from an emotional burnout very often.
Therefore, you must allow yourself to recharge your psychological and spiritual batteries. You can do that by rewarding yourself with a nice meal after a day of hard-work, by hanging out with positive high-vibe people you love to be around, or by snuggling after a tiring day under your blanket with some popcorn and a nice movie on.
Self-care is becoming more and more important these days, and it’s not some sort of a ‘luxury’ activity that only Instagram influencers can afford to do, it’s, in fact, it’s vital that you prioritize self-care, and by doing that you cut every person, environment, or circumstance that is not conducive to your growth and well-being. And by maintaining a positive lifestyle and environment that only help you grow and prosper.
The conclusion is,
Your past experiences should not and don’t have to dictate your present and future. If you’re truly determined to build an unshakable self-confidence and love yourself (in a healthy, constructive manner), you can definitely do that by following the previous outlined steps and repeating them whenever necessary.
I hope that all of you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. If you did, please take time to share with your social media friends, comment your opinion or personal experience, and also subscribe to my email list on the right side of the screen or using this link, for updates about new and fresh content.
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By Ismail M Taher
Ismail is an novelist, blogger and entrepreneur from Cairo, Egypt. Since a very young age, Ismail has been described as an introverted old-soul who is passionate about arts, philosophy, travel, business and most importantly, leaving an impact in life. At the age of 18, Ismail wrote and published his first mental health novel 'Cherophobia', and later the same year he switched majors from medicine to study something he's deeply passionate about, business. Ismail created this blog to help everyone on their pursuit of happiness, fulfillment and inner peace. He is currently residing in Egypt, with big goals of traveling the entire globe. Beside this blog, he's currently working on both fiction and nonfiction books. You can learn more about him and/or get in touch using the 'About' section of the website.