How to Improve Self-Confidence: Accomplish Something

Playing table football © by Ben Sutherland

Many years ago there was a game of table football at the taekwondo club where I have practiced taekwondo for almost 20 years. I thought it was great fun but the first six months the table was there I did not play; I wanted to, but I did not do it. I did not do it because I thought the others were so good at it that they did not want to play with me; I thought I would be very bad at playing table football.

But it was just my mind messing around because it turned out that I was quite good at it after playing for a while. I learned that if there is something I really want to do then I should just do it instead of thinking about it. If I think too much about it then my mind will over analyse the situation and conclude that I am not that interested anyway; that is so sad!

When I was younger I often said no when I was offered something; I do not know why I said no because I usually wanted it and even if I was asked again I would turn down the offer again. I was afraid that I could not live up to other people’s expectations. What I learned later – much later – was that most of the expectations were figments of my brain. The only thing people expected were my participation and because I was afraid I missed all the fun and ended up feeling excluded.

Sitting around thinking only makes things worse; over analysing will create fear and you will miss all the action; you will also miss the opportunity to accomplish something. Accomplishment is very important for your self-confidence because you need the feeling of having done something you can feel proud of. You need people to see what you have done to receive acknowledgement and acceptance.

Get up; stop thinking and do something! Let me give you a couple ways to act instead of thinking:

  1. Be present. Stop thinking about what happened in the past and stop worrying about what might happen in the future, because usually your brain will focus on all the bad things that could happen and totally leave out all the good thing that are more likely to happen.
  2. Take an easy-going attitude. Relax and do not take things to serious; just be yourself and act on the inclination to do something. Remember how it was to be a child and just do things because you felt like it, unable to worry about possible consequences.
  3. Have Fun. Imagine that you are in a theme park; what you are about to do is going to be so much fun!

How To Build Your Self-Esteem: Stop Comparing

You are a unique person; there is no one else in the universe that can be you better than you are. You are the only one who knows how to be you. You are an expert in the field of being you and there is no way anyone can do it better than you can!

Why would you want to be like someone else? That ‘someone else’ is also the best at being that specific ‘someone else’. You will never in a lifetime get close at being that person – and why would you? You have been blessed with something unique and priceless: Your own life!

You have your own life and only you know how to master that life. Whatever you do, you do it in a way that only you can do; that is called personality and your personality defines you. If you did not do things the way you do, then you would not be you.

You have to stop comparing yourself to other people and start focusing on yourself. When you compare yourself to other people and feel inferior then you create low self-esteem. Imagine if you were the only one in the world – then there was no one that was better than you at anything. If you ran 100 meters you would possess the world record. If you spoke ten words of Spanish you would be the best at it. You would be the best driver; the best journalist; the best cook; the best – at everything possible!

If you were alone in the world you would choose your own path and set your own standards and you would not care about other people. In a way you are alone in the world; in your world. Every person has his own worldview. My world does not look like yours and your world does not look like mine. How I excel in my world is not relevant to you. What is relevant to you is how you get from a to b on your life path in your world.

Task no. 10: Next time you feel inferior then find out what it is you really want and ask yourself what you can do to get it and put it on your mental map.

How To Optimise A Choice

The sum of all the choices we make will tell if we chose an optimal path through life. But there are so many combinations of choices that we cannot possible know which combination makes up the best path. That is why we have to settle with, what seems to be a good choice. We base a good choice on experience and intuition and by taking action when the opportunity presents itself.

In biology the genes ability to reproduce is illustrated by the concept of fitness landscapes. We can use this concept when optimising our choices in life. A fitness landscape is full of mountains and valleys, just like I described the mental map. Each mountain has its own optimum and each valley has its own minimum, but only one mountain is the highest and only one valley is the lowest.

On a fitness landscape all other mountains and valleys each represent a local optimum or minimum. We can optimise our path through life by choosing to climb the highest mountain that we can see from where we stand at that moment. When we have climbed that mountain and reached a local optimum we might see that there is an even higher mountain behind it. To climb that mountain we have to climb down again. This illustrated that life goes up and down and there is no easy way. We can choose to go around the mountains but then we will always be in the valleys and choose the poorest choices in life.

In a landscape with million of local optimums we cannot know which combination forms the best path in life unless we have tried to live out all possible lives. We only have one life and that is why we have to optimise our choices and accept these choices and focus on the good experiences they will bring.

  1. See your mental map as a fitness landscape.
  2. Make what seems to be a good choice at a given moment in life.
  3. Focus on the good things that choice will bring.
  4. Do not worry about the choices you did not make.
  5. See all the new mountains that present themselves and make a new choice

This will guarantee a good path in life!

How To Survive

To survive you need to make choices; you need to do something; you need to act. I have suggested that you look at life as an unexplored map; a mental map. On your way through life you will meet other people; you will enter crossroads; you will be confronted with difficult choices, but no matter where you are in life you will have to make choices and act on these choices. If you do not act, then your life path will become very difficult or even fatal.

In this post I will try to clarify the mental map concept a bit further. Imagine your mental map with mountains, valleys and roads. Your life is a continuous line through this map and the line is not straight; it twists and turns through the landscape on your mental map. The line only manages to cover a fraction of possible ways it could travel in the landscape. If you want something in life you need to make choices about where to travel and you have to optimise these choices if you want to get the best out of life.

The world is very complex and so is life. From where you stand there is no possible way you can see the whole world and know everything about everything, but you can choose what you would like to concern yourself with. It is like being at a party with a buffet; you cannot eat everything, you have to choose something. There is also the future dimension which none of us can possible know about. We can merely make at good choice that we think will have a good outcome for our future. You will never know if you made the best choice, because that would assume that you know the future outcome of all possible choices.

Even if the choice you make today turns out to be a bad choice, then this choice may have opened for an even better choice in the future. You cannot know what the best choice is and that is why you have to accept the choices you make and focus on the positive aspects that they will bring.

In my next post about mental maps I will present you for fitness landscapes.

How To Be Visible

Being noticed is a large topic and is also called marketing. This post is merely food for thinking and maybe it will give you some ideas to focus on.

Do you sometimes feel like you blend in with the walls and the pattern of the wallpaper? Do you feel like you are invisible walking down the street? Are you the one who end up along the wall of a room or in the back of a crowd? Are you the one people bump into without even noticing? Are you the one people do not hear if you try to say something? Well I could go on with these familiar questions, but you can turn this around and become visible.

First of all you have to find out who you are. I can recommend taking a lot of personality tests that will give you an idea of who you are. Start out by testing your foundation. You need to work intensively on this for about one year and after a while you will start to get to know yourself. This can be quite scary because people who are invisible often try to escape who they are. Your visibility comes from within yourself.

If you want people to listen when you talk, you first of all need to convince yourself that you have the right to talk. Then step out of your body and look at yourself, listen to your voice – is there anything you could change in your attitude?

If you want people to see you, then look at your clothes. Are you mostly wearing grey colours and worn shoes? Do you pay any attention to fashion at all? You need to break some personal barriers and get a smart haircut and wear bright clear colours that support your personality.

And today’s most important tip: Smile!