Have you ever wondered why some people seem to breeze through life, enjoying themselves and taking everything in stride, while others spend all their time worrying about this and agonizing over that? Why does self-confidence come so easily to some people? And how can you make sure it comes easily to you?
So many people look outside themselves for ways to feel good on the inside. They think self-confidence will come from doing this, having that or looking a certain way. The reality is that although they're the only ones who can build their confidence up, the way they think and act is doing nothing but tearing it down.
The first seeds for my latest book were planted a few years ago when I was walking in the park and observed a scene that left me feeling quite uncomfortable. A young boy of perhaps six or seven had climbed a tree and gone beyond the height he was confident to get back down from. I couldn’t help but overhear his mother berate him for his lack of courage. "Don’t be so pathetic." "You really are being stupid." "What a wimp you’re being." "You really are useless."
On and on she went as the little boy cried in fear and humiliation. Eventually, much to my relief, a companion stepped in and helped this little boy down from the tree, his self-confidence destroyed and belief in his tree-climbing potential in tatters.
I felt ill at both the words I’d heard and the hostility with which they were spoken, and I couldn’t begin to imagine the impact they’d had on the person they had been directed at. At the same time, the words this mother spoke had an unpleasant familiarity to them, because while most people would recognize that the manner in which this woman spoke is no way to get the best out of a child, the words she used were the very same words I had heard countless people use to berate or belittle their own efforts.
When you interact with a child, you are, in that moment, the guardian of their self-esteem. But as an adult, you are the guardian of your own. No one can nurture and protect your confidence and self-belief except you.
It’s been many years since I wrote my first book. While I’m still very proud of it, and think it’s the perfect guide to getting what you want from life, over the years I’ve realized that there's something just as important as, if not more important than, achieving your goals: feeling good about yourself regardless.
Feeling good about who you are and the life you live shouldn’t depend on a specific outcome, yet all too often I hear people put themselves down or beat themselves up because they haven’t done this or got that. Your confidence shouldn’t be dependent on the goals you have achieved, nor should it be dependent on the feedback you get from others, your dress size or the amount in your bank account.
Building and maintaining your confidence and self-worth is something that has to come from within. But if your self-confidence isn’t based on what you’ve got or what you’ve done, how do you build and maintain it?
The answer is deceptively simple. Make the commitment to treat yourself with the same kindness you show the other important people in your life.
You are the guardian of your self-esteem. Guard it vigilantly.