With the holiday season behind us, it’s that time again—of reflection on the past year— on how we fared, what we’ve achieved, what made us happy or sad, on the people we met or the ones we lost in our lives, and the things we should be grateful for.
But more importantly, perhaps—what we wished we could do differently, in a better way, and ultimately—what we learned from the past year’s experiences and how we want to apply this wisdom in the next year.
New Year’s resolutions are a great start to the “better me” we want for ourselves—this is why we all make them—we want to change, to improve, to re-write our life stories with new endings.
Most of our wishes are genuinely universal and eternal aspirations as: be happier and healthier, smile more, be kinder to yourself, go to the gym, read more, get a promotion, be more assertive, overcome your fears.
And large part of these good intentions involves bettering ourselves, having an enhanced sense of self-appreciation and respect, and finding our voice and place in the world. Simply put, the “better me” starts with building some respect for the man in the mirror first.
So, here are my 5 hacks on how we can re-write our self-love stories, reach the goals and the potential we know we are capable of, and become the more confident versions of ourselves.
Confidence Hack #1: Improve Your Relationship with the Man in the Mirror
Quite often, the desire to improve ourselves is fueled by derogatory self-talk, unfavorable self-opinions, unhealthy comparisons, and even some overt self-loathing and wanting to “punish” ourselves in some way. (For instance: “You allowed yourself a piece of cake, now you have to spend half more hour on the treadmill” or “You didn’t get that promotion, so you don’t deserve to buy anything.”).
We tend to believe that this is a way to motivate and push ourselves to action—by making ourselves unhappier and by damaging our self-esteem! What a grandiosely flawed logic.
Improving the relationship we have with ourselves is the most significant goal we should set for ourselves. Because it touches and affects all other aspects of our lives—our work, dealings with others, our attitude toward the world, and our metal immune systems.
If we don’t love ourselves first, we won’t have the motivation to fight for us, to want to improve ourselves and our lives. Nor will we be able to give true affection to others if we don’t fully grasp what it means.
So, we need to go on a self-appreciation quest— learn how to be kinder to ourselves, more forgiving and accepting of our imperfections and failures. A “positive mindset” is a rather overused expression nowadays, but it’s highly desirable if we are looking to have a lasing self-acceptance. Avoid negative self-labelling—recognise that we are work-in-progress—we are ever evolving, improving, changing. What will putting ourselves down achieve anyway? It will only make our confidence plummet even lower. So, we may as well try some positive self-dialog instead—and see what happens.
Science also tells us that in the “carrots or sticks” debate, rewards are more effective than punishment when it comes to motivating us to take action. In fact, if we want to change our habits and behaviour, praising ourselves will have much greater changes of success than the threat of the stick. So, we must become our greatest supporter first before we set ourselves out to pursue our big goals and aspirations. Without this small first step, we may have another New-Year’s resolution “flop” moment.
Comparisons to others is another downer when it comes to self-esteem and the successful prospects of our intentions and dreams. And this why a side-goal we need to aim for is to simply get to know ourselves better— our true powers and non-strengths, our passions, likes and dislikes, our talents and skills—so that we know what to improve, or when to “accept the things we cannot change.”
With this awareness will come the true self-love, self-motivation and self-respect we’ve been long wishing for.
We should also go for self-empowerment next year—give ourselves permission to be us and to care about us—and not follow what the world expects from us or thinks it’s best for our future.
It’s time we start to value the man in the mirror.
Or, as Louise Hay once taught us: “You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”