I’ve talked about confidence and tracking habits a few times now, but its important to understand how they correlate to each other, and their impact on each other. In fact, if you’re feeling a lack of self-esteem, chances are you incorporating one or more of these bad habits into your life. The good news is, if you can identify and understand why you are doing these natural habits, you can fix it, create happy habits and ultimately increase your self-confidence as you do!
1 | Comparing Yourself to Others
If you find yourself depressed after scrolling through your Facebook feed, or feel the surge of excitement after accomplishing something you are proud of promptly dissipate as soon as you see others doing the same, then you are probably comparing yourself to others. Comparison is possibly the biggest confidence killer out there. The good news is, its totally unnecessary and therefore you can beat it!
The first step is acknowledging that you are comparing yourself to others and then understanding when and where this is happening. Are you losing your nerve while scrolling through social media or walking into a store, or when you do a presentation? By recognizing the situation, you can take the steps to avoid those bad habits in the future. Here are some suggestions:
- If Facebook is your downfall, stop scrolling. Delete the app if necessary.
- If walking into a store kills your confidence, maybe reevaluate if that store is where you want to spend your money. Maybe there is a different store that can boost your confidence as opposed to kill it.
- Is presenting is hurting you, try to change the situation. Maybe present directly to your boss, or virtually, or even recorded instead.
Sometimes changing the situation can’t happen. Maybe you need Facebook for your business, or you work at the store that makes you uncomfortable (a job is a job, I get it!), and maybe you don’t have any other options with that presentation.
If that’s the case, then take a deep breath. Understand that we are all in this TOGETHER, and if someone isn’t on your side, then be the bigger person and be on THEIR side (well, as long as morals, ethics, and legality aren’t compromised). Compliment them, be their cheerleader and their biggest supporter. Understand that they are human as well, and they may be just as uncomfortable in that situation as you and showing it in a completely different way. Remember, what you see is only one side of the story, and you never know what it’s happening behind closed doors.
2 | Saying “I Don’t know…”
Saying “I don’t know” might not mean much to the people you are saying it to, but it sends a very important signal to your own brain. Now don’t get me wrong, no one can do everything, nor should they. But the ability to tackle the unknown and attempt to find the answer can make or break your self-confidence. The more often you find yourself saying “I don’t know…” the more your brain believes it, and it will begin chipping away at the confidence you have in yourself in what you DO know and the belief in your ability to learn.
Instead of saying “I don’t know…”, try re-framing it from a negative to a positive. In other words, find a way of saying “yes”. Consider phrases such as “I can find out” or questions such as “how can I do this?”. Questions are great, they not only encourage engagement with others, but they give your brain an actionable response, open the ability to learn, and change our view-ship of the world. Changing our language from negative to positive is key to changing bad habits permanently!
3 | Staying in Your Comfort Zone
They call it the comfort zone for a reason. It’s comfy. You can curl up there and fall asleep doing nothing. Or spend all day reading (or drinking) and just generally ignoring discomforts. But guess what? You don’t grow there. You don’t evolve or change, or become a better person. And the longer you sit in your comfort zone, the more your confidence DIES. Bad habits like comfort zones are the easiest lie we tell ourselves. You are literally telling yourself DAILY that you can’t do it. It doesn’t even matter what “it” is, but that’s what you are telling yourself, and the more you tell it, the more you believe it.
So get up. No more excuses. Step out of that comfort zone. Try something new. Can’t run? Then settle for walking, or crawling even. But you have to. Start by figuring out WHAT your comfort zone is, and determine little things to get out of it. Do you shrink every time the phone rings? Try paying your bills by phone this month, it will force you to be on the phone with a stranger and push you out of the zone, even if only temporarily. That’s all you need! One tiny step out of the zone will release endorphins to encourage you to take another tiny step. Each and every step will build back confidence that years of comfort zone helped destroy, so don’t forget to celebrate a step, no matter how small. Because you deserve it and altering bad habits is a massive accomplishment regardless of how big!
4 | Procrastinating
This could easily tie in with the 3rd habit, but honestly, bad habits like procrastination are harmful all on their own and everyone is guilty of it sometimes. The problem is when it goes from something that happens occasionally to becoming a habit; a daily occurrence, and a way of life. People joke about procrastinating, but they do it because they are literally procrastinating on something right then. Each time you avoid doing something “today”, you are signaling to your brain that you don’t have control over yourself or your life. You are telling yourself you “can’t” do something. And when you miss deadlines or wait until the last second, you are proving to yourself over and over again that you lack the skills and abilities to do things appropriately (and stress-free).
The easiest way to combat these bad habits is to tackle it head-on (and do it early so you don’t procrastinate)! A simple way to do it so to create a schedule. Even if it’s not an in-depth on (have to start somewhere), try making a master list of items you need to accomplish by the end of the week, then each day make a list from that master, for items to accomplish. To ensure you do it, break down those items in actionable steps. Seriously. Turn one item into 15 steps if you have to. And as you accomplish each, cross it off. Every time you cross something off, you will feel a wave of accomplishment and pride. And the more you accomplish, the better (and more stress-free) you will feel! Every time you are able to cross something off, you will PROVE to your brain that you CAN accomplish things and finish them on time and in turn, you will increase your self-confidence!
5 | Believing Your Inner Critic
Your inner critic is a haunting presence, its always there and follows us around. It preys on our darkest moments and waits for weakness before it strikes! Your inner critic talks down to you strip you of dignity and demean your work. And every time you let it win, you lose chunks of your sense of self-worth. Your inner critic is a bully, and it wants you to give up, it wants you to drop what you’re doing so it can win. The consolation prize is your confidence, piece by piece.
Normally people suggest pushing it down, not listening, and simply ignoring this inner voice. These bad habits are just as bad as taking it at face value! I suggest the opposite. Listen to what it’s saying, and understand WHY it’s saying it. Your inner critic is trying to help you. Yes its often destructive and demeaning, but it’s well-intended. It bullies you to become better, and stronger. It bullies you into becoming the best version of yourself. It tells you you aren’t good enough because it knows you can do better, work harder, and get what you deserve. It’s tough love (very tough) but it is love. So next time your inner critic tells you you aren’t good enough, say “you’re right, I could do better, thanks for the advice”. And each time you prove your inner critic wrong, your confidence will soar to heights you can’t even imagine.
6 | Setting Unrealistic Expectations
Do you ever find yourself setting goals? Maybe its Instagram followers, or monthly budget spending, or standards for your closest friends. The idea doesn’t sound unreasonable. But if you find yourself feeling constantly let down, perhaps your expectations are unreasonable. Setting Instagram follower goals is fine, but if you expect 100 followers and only get 5, there’s a disconnect that will break your confidence each time you miss a goal or your expectation is missed. Being unreasonable with your goals and expectations can only hurt your confidence. This is especially true about setting goals for things out of your control. You can’t control how many people hit the follow button on your social media. You can’t control the way your closest friend will react to a situation.
Instead of making goals and setting standards off the top of your head, take a chance to consider your goals instead. The first step is to consider patterns before you set a goal to understand how they may change organically. For example, if you gained 20 Instagram followers last month, it may be reasonable to assume you will gain 20 followers in the next month by doing the same things you were already doing.
The next step is to ensure you have a strategy in place. If you’ve assumed you can gain 20 followers by doing the same thing, that is your current strategy. However, if you want to push that number, you may add things to your strategy to try to increase it. With more work being done towards your goal, setting a goal of 30 or even 50 may not be unreasonable to achieve.
The final step is to simply ensure you keep to your strategy so that even if you don’t hit your goal, you know that you have done your due diligence in trying to achieve it. Your self-respect can and will grow, not only when you hit goals, but in knowing you have tried your best as well. Remember, you can always reevaluate goals and strategies, I recommend setting a reasonable goal and a “stretch” goal so you can ensure you are pushing yourself as much as possible!
7 | Being a Yes/No Woman
If you find yourself feeling drained because you often respond to requests the same way, either as “yes” or “no”, it’s important to stop right away. Every time you respond to requests without consideration for yourself you are signaling to your brain that you don’t matter and your confidence will slowly drain with each one. Introverts tend to be “no” people, they have internalized fear of saying yes and that fear keeps them from saying yes no matter how much they want to do something. This causes no-people to lose friends because the negativity reflects back on others. On the other hand, people-pleasers tend to be “yes” people, agreeing to anything and everything simply because they don’t want to feel like they’ve let someone down. They take on too much, get overstressed and find themselves resenting others. For both types of people, saying “yes” or “no” too often causes a deep-seeded resentment in both themselves and the individuals requesting things.
If you find yourself in this situation, its important to take a moment to reflect on your emotions. If someone asks you to go somewhere, think about whether it sounds fun or interesting or educational and if it fits with your personality, interests, and budget. It’s okay to say “no” if there is genuine fear behind it, or “yes” if there is a genuine interest, and it’s even OK to answer not for yourself occasionally. But the majority of a time you answer, make sure it’s for you and not the person asking.
For example, maybe you dislike skating, but a friend is throwing a birthday party at a skating rank, it’s OK to say yes because you want to celebrate your friend’s birthday even if it’s not your idea of fun. But as long as you take a moment to reflect on your own feelings towards the request, you are signaling to your brain that you matter, your feelings matter, and while it may not be your first choice, you’re responding in a certain way for the right reasons, not for the wrong ones. When you start taking yourself into consideration, you will be amazed at how your confidence will soar! Side Note for this example. Its also OK to say, hey skating isn’t my cup of tea – could I meet you after? Or just hang out without skating?
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8 | Dwelling on The Past
We all have history, some more painful than others, some wounds fresher. Learning from the past is important, and should be an activity you partake in to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes over. The same goes for positive memories, so you can push to make similar ones. But when you begin to dwell on these memories, both good and bad, you stop living in the moment and you stop moving towards the future. Doing so sends messages to your brain that the current moment isn’t important, and planning for the future doesn’t matter. These sub-conscious messages affect your confidence exponentially. This also links to other confidence killers such as setting expectations too high when you try to recreate a memory instead of using a positive memory as inspiration, or using a negative memory to keep you in your comfort zone so you don’t get hurt.
The good news is, while it’s easy to get stuck in your memories, it’s also easy to get out of it. There are three steps you need to
- Understand the memory in full, don’t sugar coat things. Explore the memory for all it’s worth and work through its accompanying emotions (good or bad)! If needed, talk to someone, share the memory and the emotions with them to get it off your chest.
- Accept the emotions. Accept that it happened and is now over. Accept the decisions that you made, and the lack of responsibility you had for the decisions others made in the situation. Forgive yourself, and others.
- Learn from it. Take the good and the bad, and consider how you apply it to your current situation or life.
Accepting the emotions and responsibilities that accompany a memory can help lead you to any forgiveness required. Even ‘good’ memories may require you to forgive yourself for the situation not currently repeating itself. Forgiveness releases the emotion from your heart and allows you to move towards learning. And learning is an amazing inspiration to start living your life, and applying these lessons to new situations or creating new memories! Doing this peel away the negative perceptions you’ve been telling your brain about your current situation, and help you build the confidence you need to make new memories and ultimately stomp out bad habits!
More Ways to Break Bad Habits
If you find yourself feeling drained, stuck, or generally lacking confidence, make sure you take some time to check yourself for any of these bad habits that will most certainly kill your confidence! Make sure you always take the time to take care of yourself not only because you deserve it, but because it makes it easier to take care of others if you are running in tip-top shape! Invest in self-love today!
One of my favorite resources on breaking bad habits is this book by Wendy Wood. It’s a new publish that I recently came across and I LOVE it!