By: Ken Austin
In order to be self-confident, eventually you are going to have to silence the critics inside your mind. Sometimes they sound like mom or dad, sometimes like an old teacher or a respected friend. You've got to train yourself to see the truth. Those aren't really the voices of your loved (or not so loved) ones. You control what they say, and what you hear.
Day One: Face Yourself
Go ahead and face yourself, once and for all. Look in the mirror. What expression do you see staring back at you? A happy one? A sad one? Suspicious? Angry? If you've got something nasty to say, get it off your chest now. Then let it go. You've chosen the path of self-support, so the criticisms - for right now - don't matter anymore.
Day Two: Exercise Your Ego
Look you in the mirror again, only this time, be prepared to turn your words around. Remember the old saying in school? Three put-ups for one put-down? Put that into effect in your bathroom. Every negative thing you said yesterday needs to be refuted, replaced and erased by three good things you see in yourself.
And yes, you do have to say them out loud. We want you to remember what compliments sound like. We want you to differentiate between the honest comments spoken aloud, and the negative inner dialogue that holds you back out of fear.
Day Three: Keep the Music Alive
Sometimes, what's inside your head can drown out all the good in the world. Train yourself to do the opposite. Listen to some of your favorite songs, and play them in your head whenever those negative voices kick in. If you're angry, play an intense song in your head. Prong. Pink Floyd. Napalm Death. If you're sad, a little Dave Matthews Band may do the trick.
Force yourself to think in emotions versus words, because too often the words we choose don't really talk about how we feel. They avoid feeling out of the fear of pain and skip straight to criticism.
Criticism robs us of self-confidence. Pain helps us see who we really are.
Day Four: Laughing Out Loud
Your negative dialogue starts to panic. It's being replaced. What will you do to hold yourself back? It's truly amazing how far our subconscious will go to prevent improvement just to avoid the risks that come with change.
Sometimes this results in an all around foul mood. A funk that keeps you indoors, out of the sun, away from friends, and hunkered down at home. That on its own can sabotage a number of goals, which in turn leads to failure and self-doubt.
What can we do to change that? It's as simple as flicking on the TV, or running out to see a funny movie. Comedies, comic strips, joke books - they all make us laugh. And laughter is undeniably the best medicine for an ailing soul.
Day Five: Be Receptive to Compliments
If any, the midpoint will be the hardest piece of the puzzle to accept. You've found ways of dealing with the negative voices from outside your own head. An effective way to engage in positive inner dialogue however is to daydream, and create separate positive voices. Once you force their voices, it's easier for them to talk on their own.
So who do you begin with? And how do you go about this without feeling so ridiculous?
If you pay attention from day to day, you will find many people paying you compliments you didn't notice before. "Thank you," by itself can boost your self-esteem. Catch hold of these and replay them throughout the day in your mind. A particularly beautiful young lady, or attractive gentleman may become a life-long friend ... inside your head.
As time goes on you can add to the cast of characters. Just as parents, friends, and teachers can take up negative space in your brain, so can they fill it with loving support. Remember, the words aren't being said by anyone else. The choice is yours.