Life can be difficult, fickle, and downright cruel. During those minutes, hours, days, and (heaven-forbid) months our self-confidence can take a beating. Learning how to bolster your self-confidence isn’t something you can do when you’re in a low spot. You need to be prepared. You need a well-stocked I Can Do It toolbox. So prepare now for those days that plague us all.
Just like Thomas Edison, you didn’t fail—you learned a way that didn’t work. You LEARNED. A positive statement. A positive thing out of something that didn’t go as planned. List what you learned. Put it in that I can do it toolbox. And remember, every failure, every gosh-darn-that-didn’t-go-as-planned is one more step toward success. Kind of the turn that frown upside down idea. Look at what you’re feeling down about and deliberately find something good to say about it.
The adage, fake it till you make it, can work. Put an optimistic spin on your day even if you have to pretend. Faking it tricks your brain into changing gears. Eventually your brain will catch on. That’s the power of positive thinking.
Don’t Give Up
Quitting can feel good. But it doesn’t keep on feeling good. Hang in there and finish. Even if it isn’t perfect, finishing a tough project is satisfying. It’s also an opportunity for learning. Make note of what you’ve learned and what you might try if you had a re-do.
Build with the Small Successes
Kind of like counting your blessings, you need to give yourself credit for the small successes you have. (This is the step I often ignore—to my detriment.) Keep a list handy. When you’re feeling low isn’t the time to count on your memory. Say it aloud: I am amazing. Read your list out loud. Look at what you’ve accomplished so far! You are amazing.
That’s right. Change into clothes that make you feel good. Dress up or dress down. Do your hair in that sexy style you favor. Put on makeup, your best jewelry, and that fancy watch. Straighten your posture, hold that tummy in, and strut your stuff. It’s amazing how a change of clothes can re-set your frame of mind.
Try Different Tools
Sometimes a tool that has worked in the past won’t work in a particular situation. So you need to have a variety of tools handy. Zen Habits has a list of twenty-five ways to boost your self-confidence.
Your Well-Stocked I Can Do It Toolbox
Besides the tools mentioned above, you will want to stock your I can do it toolbox with sensory tools that will lift your brain and emotions out of the low self-esteem valley. The five senses are important to our sense of well-being.
For sight, it would be ideal to visit the place that makes you feel alive and able to do anything. That’s not always possible, so keep a photograph or two handy. For me photos of mountains soaring or the ocean roaring work.
You want to have the music that electrifies you. Choose songs that lift you up. Songs such as Fight Song, Respect, My Way, Rise Up, Only the Strong Survive, even a Phillip Sousa march, can work. It can be the sound of a baby laughing, a babbling brook, or your cat’s purr.
Some aromas calm you. That’s not what you want. You want the aromas that invigorate. Citrus, cinnamon, ginger, and peppermint are scents that may work for you.
A small square of silk, a cool river-smoothed stone (thanks Terry!), worry beads, a finely sanded piece of wood or a brass sculpture. An object you touch and it lifts your spirits, reminds you of your successes or a positive experience.
Strong flavors, old favorite flavors, the tastes that energize you. Not comfort food, but the flavors that make you feel strong and alive. Bold flavors, unusual flavors, even new flavors will give you a boost.
Wait? Visceral isn’t one of the five senses we’re taught in school. What is a Visceral? It’s that feeling you have inside—that glow or that I’m-about-to-bust-a-gut feeling. You pay attention to those feelings, don’t you? If not, start today. Journal about what you feel inside when you’re happy and confident. Remember, a journal doesn’t have to be words on paper, it can be sketches, or collages, or a collection of clippings. The visceral reactions you put in your toolbox are the ones from that day when something you worked hard to finish gets an internal atta-girl. Praise from other folk will work, too, but not as well as the atta-girl (or atta-boy) you gave yourself for a job well done.
You Need a Well-stocked I Can Do It Toolbox
Why focus on self-help toolboxes? There are so many things that pull us apart these days. Jobs, school, hobbies, creative work, home improvements, distance… The list is endless.
Even if we have terrific friends and family who love us unconditionally, they can’t always be there to pick us up when we’re down. Besides, if we rely on someone else to do the work, we won’t have the skills to do the work.
Creating your self-help toolboxes makes you better able to handle the difficulties that come with being a caring human being. If you have a mental health first aid kit and a joy toolbox, you need a well-stocked I can do it toolbox too. With your toolboxes, you have to skills to be a strong person in your own skin. Chances are, you already have many of those tools already but haven’t put them together in a helpful way. And there’s a bonus for thinking about these things. It gives you the skills to help your loved ones when they need a little boost. Adding a tool to this list in the comments means you’ve helped strangers and acquaintances on the web, and you’ve helped me too. Thank you.