How to Improve Self Confidence and Self Esteem
by Professor Jay Snaric
The science of social psychology is the study of how people influence and are influenced by other people. Assuming you interact with at least one other person every day, the study of social psychology is relevant to you. In social psychology, the idea of self-concept has been rigorously studied. Without getting too specific, self-concept refers to the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that individuals have about themselves. When you add emotion to self-concept, you now have the very powerful self-esteem. Anytime a thought is emotionalized, it becomes much more powerful. Self-esteem contributes largely to the value you place on yourself.
The great part about self-concept is that the only person who can decide the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that contribute to self-concept is you. Because self-concept is internal, only you have the final say about the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs you choose to hold inside and display openly to others. When you choose to hold and display the positive, then there can only be positive thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. When there are only positive thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, you then have a high self-worth, which is the value you place on yourself. A high self-worth leads to a confident you.
Understand how important the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs you hold are to your overall well-being. We are seeing how your thoughts ultimately materialize into the real world. Positive feelings, thoughts, and beliefs generate a high self-concept. High self-concepts are emotionalized into high self-esteems. High self-esteems generate high self-worth. High self-worth allows you to act with confidence, which makes a confident you.
Self-concept ― how you perceive yourself ― has a major influence on your behavior. Self concept plays a role in what you pay attention to throughout the day, what you remember, and how you interpret events. All of these things contribute strongly to what actions you take. When your self-concept is positive, you will pay attention to events throughout the day that support and stir up the positive in you. You will take the positives out of daily events, and you will carry these positive thoughts with you. These positive thoughts will then give you the strength to take positive action toward your destinations in life. Remember, ultimately you decide how you are going to perceive and interpret every single daily occurrence. You’ve heard of the age old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” It’s your choice to make that decision with every daily event in your life. These are the decisions that influence the actions you take, and what comes into your life.
In psychology there is also a concept known as the ideal-self. The ideal-self is the person you desire to be. We all have an idea of what we want to be, what we want to have, and what our ideal situation would be.
Working toward our ideal-self is what keeps us going. It is what makes us happy.
Each step we take that moves us toward our ideal-self creates enthusiasm, optimism, self-confidence, and good feelings. This is the psychological environment in which we excel. This is the type of psychological environment that creates the frame of mind that allows us to achieve success. This is the frame of mind that allows us to achieve permanent weight loss.
When we take actions that lead us away from our ideal-self, we are supporting a negative self-concept. These negative thoughts materialize into a cycle of poor decisions, negative actions, and low self-worth. This is congruent with the inability to achieve and maintain ideal eating and exercise habits that result in achieving permanent weight loss.
Remember, your self-concept is how you currently perceive yourself to be. The greater a difference there is between your self-concept and your ideal-self, the greater your internal chaos. The more internal chaos you have, the harder it is to find the positives in external events. And the less likely you are to make the right choices that lead you toward your destination.
When individuals stop working toward their ideal-self, depression is sure to surface. As depression becomes more and more evident, the ability to work toward the ideal-self becomes more difficult. Depression leads to feelings, thoughts, and beliefs of having no control over daily events. This creates a person who passively takes and accepts whatever is thrown at him regardless if it is good or bad. This person perceives every daily event as absolute and non-negotiable. At this point, the ability to control anything is lost. This is known as learned helplessness.
The following is commonly associated with depression:
Constant feeling of failure
Low energy – too tired for socialization and physical activity
Making wrong choices regarding health – desiring bad foods and alcohol
Using food and/or alcohol to temporarily mask feelings
Feeling of powerlessness over daily events
General loss of control over self
Difficult to experience happiness in life’s daily events
Depressed individuals tend to aggressively blame either themselves or others when things go wrong, instead of objectively learning from the setback or mistake and moving on. Depression also leads one to focus on the negative or dark side of daily events and further generalize each daily event with a pessimistic conclusion.
Depression cannot co-exist with a positive self-concept, a high self-esteem, a confident you, and the achievement of permanent weight loss.
The Great News
The great news is that you can work toward closing the gap between your self-concept and your ideal-self. Every time you take a positive action, you bring yourself closer to your ideal-self. Since only positive thoughts and actions can bring you closer to your ideal-self, it is impossible for negativity and depression to also exist.
None of us ever completely reaches our ideal-self, but as we take positive action toward our ideal-self, we get closer. The closer we get, the more at peace we are with ourselves and the easier it is to take positive actions. The closer we get to our ideal-self, the more positive our self-concept becomes. All of this is about mending and renewing from the inside first.
A negative attitude promotes negative actions and no actions (paralysis). This creates feelings of no control (helplessness), depression, and takes you further from your ideal-self. This reinforces a negative self-concept.
A positive attitude promotes positive action toward your ideal-self fuels a positive self-concept. A positive self-concept leads you to actively seek the positives throughout the day. Taking these positives with you and making them part of you will lead you to taking positive action. How do you know what the positive action is?
Every minute of the day, we are confronted with decisions to make. Here is a short list: should you get out of bed, should you brush your teeth, what should you eat for breakfast, should you go to work, what should you eat for lunch, should you have the doughnut in the break room, should you pick up your kids from school, should you exercise, should you give a kind word to your significant other, should you pay your electric bill, should you wear your seatbelt, should you look both ways before you cross the road, should you, should you, should you?
Each one of these is a decision that you have to make. And yes, you do ultimately have a choice in each of these. So how do you know which is the right choice? Well, this is the easy part. For almost every single decision you have to make, the correct and positive choice is evident. All you have to do is listen to that little voice inside.
The Little Voice Inside
Everyone knows the voice I’m referring to. Some refer to it as the little voice inside, the Higher Self, or God. It doesn’t really matter what one calls it, but what is undeniable is that it is very evident in all of us. That voice directs us in every decision we make. However, it is up to you to choose whether to listen to that guidance or not. The little voice will make it obvious which choice is correct. So taking the positive action is not deciding what the right choice is, but deciding whether or not you want to pursue the correct choice. And yes, often the correct choice is not the easiest one.
Creating Self-Confidence through Positive Habits
Self-confidence is learnable. Positive feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are the foundation of self-confidence. Because of this, it is true that self confidence is learnable. Self-confidence is developed through forming new habits that consistently bring positive feelings into your life. These new habits will compel you to focus on your successes throughout the day. You will be amazed that when you focus on your day’s successes, more successes make up your day.
As your daily successes begin to mount, you will gain more belief in yourself. When you believe in your actions, and trust that they will bring you success, you become confident. You will also learn that not all of your actions will bring success; however, there is great power in understanding that this is okay. This understanding enables you – with a calmness and clarity – to evaluate and adjust your actions in ways that increase your chances of success in the future. The proper utilization of your seemingly unsuccessful actions will bring you success.
Law of Cause and Effect
There is something known as the Law of Cause and Effect. Everything that has happened in our lives, as well as everything that we are, is due to underlying causes. Sometimes the causes that lead to certain effects are out of our control. Things will happen to us that we couldn’t help.
That said, it is also possible for us to create things in our lives by actively affecting causes through specific actions that produce known and predictable effects. If we repeat actions that are known to cause favorable things to happen in our lives, we will align ourselves with more of the desired effects that we want. Through this we can alter our lives, our environments, and our futures.
Our futures are mostly determined by the actions that we repeat.
Let me repeat this.
Our futures are mostly determined by the actions that we repeat.
Create habits that cause positive effects. Ultimately, it is your habits that will determine if you achieve your goals and final destination. People who have successful habits achieve their goal weights. A habit is something you do over and over and over again until it becomes easy. You do it without thinking about it.
When you create a new behavior through persistence, that behavior will become automatic. It will become a part of you. It will be you.
The really cool thing is that you can create a new habit anytime. It’s all up to you. Will it be easy? Hell no! Will it be worth it? Hell yeah! It takes a lot of perseverance and consistency to create a new habit. Basically, creating a new habit is reprogramming your brain.
Our brains like familiar things, often to a fault. This is why it is so difficult for us to create new habits. When we are attempting to create new habits, our brains make us feel uncomfortable, often to the point where we give up and fall back into old comfortable habits. Have you ever noticed that change makes most people very uncomfortable?
It takes time for our brains to become familiar with the change before we can feel comfortable. Although not an exact science by any means, it is said that this process takes between twenty-one to twenty-eight days. What we are talking about is creating a new habit. When we attempt to create a new habit the hardest, most uncomfortable, part is always in the beginning – that is until our brains have a chance to turn this new way into old habit.
It often takes great effort and force to overcome our brains, but it absolutely can be done.
As you create new positive habits, you will see the law of cause and effect at work. As you continue to put your new positive habits into play, you will see how they cause positive results to almost mystically begin to appear into your life. Your successes throughout the day will increase. And of course, as your successes throughout the day increase, your confidence will increase.