“The Vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart — this you will build your life by, this you will become.” – James Allen
I thought this was a pretty important topic to address since I’ve been struggling with a lack of confidence for a great deal of my life. I used to be not confident enough to look girls in their eyes, let alone even approach them.
I wasn’t confident to talk to random strangers on the street and always looked down when our gazes met. I was terrified of speaking up in a crowd and even getting attention made me cringe.
So I’ve came to the realization that this was blocking me off in many ways; socially, professionally and so-on. I wanted to be proud, respected and be able to communicate clearly and openly with others.
So, how can we fix this?
Our self-esteem is the main foundation on which we build our life. If you’re familiar with the approach I use on my blog, you’ll know that these are “the roots” of our life.
Basically what confidence is, is a perception of value. When we’re confident we perceive ourselves as valuable
But that isn’t tangible. You can’t grab confidence. Value is completely subjective and therefore it is just a mental state we develop for ourselves.
We can train it like a muscle.
We can derive confidence from two factors;
The easy, short-term, quick-fix way: external confidence
and the difficult, durable, long way: internal confidence
Here’s a quick video that illustrates the difference;
External Confidence (What We Are)
Many people base their value on external factors like their wealth, looks, popularity, religion, family, job and so-forth.
They identify themselves with these factors.
But these factors are often not within our control and subject to change in the world. And therefore their confidence and internal security is subject to change.
Which is pretty lame..
When you would ask these people who they are they’ll instantly say; I’m a bartender, lawyer, atheist, christian, model, business man or anything of that kind . In fact that is not who they are but what they are.
People often confuse the two since they identify themselves with their external attributes.
But as Tyler Durden in Fight Club already stated clearly;
Society (particularly the media) has conditioned us that these external factors are the determining factors for “success” and that without them we’re not allowed to feel valuable. Which is just straight up BS.
- Having a nice car
- Having a stable job
- Having children
- Having a lot of money
- Having great looks
- Being popular
They’ve created for us a certain ideal in our head (consciously or unconsciously) that we need to achieve before we are even allowed to feel valuable. You’re really going to let other people decide your worth? These external factors aren’t even permanent and like I said above subject to change!
“Our world is built upon social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes — with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily — but left the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and again.”
– Stephen R. Covey
Why is this bad?
When the hot super-model reaches old age, when the rich banker encounters an economic recession and when the party-animal loses his friends, their self-worth plummets and they experience a lack of confidence. They’ve lost their “grip” on the world. Their roots so to speak.
Some people have even committed suicide caused by a heavy depression or drastically try to hang on to this “false” identity by plastic surgery (looks), get quick rich schemes (money), s
These people pretty much solely rely on comparison to other people to feel valuable. They’ll start measuring their “worth” by comparing looks, status, achievements, positions, job, wealth and so forth.
Comparing yourself to others is ok (even natural) if you do it only to motivate yourself. When you notice someone is better than you at something, that should spark an interest to improve yourself!
Just don’t obsess over it.
Basing your identity and self-esteem on something that’s not under your control is like
building your house on a pile of sand. It might work out decently for a while but
eventually it will topple over under its own weight.
So what should we do?
Internal Confidence (Who We Are)
Internal confidence or “principle centered living” is what we should build our life upon. It means building your foundation (e.g. roots ;)) on a stable, durable base of values
The most important part in this step is to define for yourself a psychological image of
what a “ultimate man” is for you. Base this on internal factors that are under your control.
Take a step back and visualize for yourself how the “ideal you” would be like. How
would he treat himself, how would he treat others and how would he let others treat
Do this NOW.
If not, here’s a 2nd method : You can find more about what you truly value in life by visualizing yourself at your own funeral. What would your friends remember about you? Your parents? Your colleagues? Your children?
Now after you’ve established this ideal image you should write it down – Writing creates the necessary neural processes to store that image in your mind. Without the image or “the blueprint” firmly established, you can’t grow into it!
Out of that blueprint distill the five most important values that person embodies and write those down also.
The values I’ve picked for myself are;
See how the focus is shifted to actions/values that are under my control?
I can choose to be intelligent by reading books and by becoming self-educated, I
can choose to treat people with integrity and honesty, I can choose to be caring for
men, women and children, I can choose to be strong by exercising willpower and
self-discipline, I can choose to be calm by breathing right and meditating.
I can’t always choose to be rich, I can’t always choose to be good looking, I can’t
always choose to have great results with women, I can’t always choose to have a
huge penis, can’t always choose to be popular, can’t always choose to remain in
great shape as I age …
See the difference?
Reread these 5 traits daily and live according to the psychological image you’ve created for yourself.
Visualize yourself as already being this person.
Fake it untill you’ve build up enough references (build up enough neural pathways) that you actually are that person. And one day you’ll have effectively rewired your brain and this “new you” has become the real you.
We become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become each day – Richard G. Scott
This new you based on factors under your control is stable, durable and will keep on growing. It’s self-reliant and works independently from others.
It will make you less reactive in day-to-day life, less threatening to your surroundings
since you’re not trying to “be better” than everyone around you through the comparison paradigm.
Principles don’t die:
- They are solid
- They don’t react to outside circumstances, they respond in a smart way
- They don’t divorce from us,
- They aren’t out to get us,
- We can’t lose them in a bet,
- They don’t age,
- They don’t steal our money
We can build ourselves upon them. Having low self-esteem or being based on
external factors is like driving through life whilst pressing the brake-pedal.
Create an ideal image and consistently live up to that image.
- Stop basing your identity on external factors but base it on who you are as a person and actually live according to deep character values you’ve selected for yourself.
- After creating that psychological image, visualize it daily and act accordingly
- After continuous repetition of this image you’ll have rewired your brain to make this “new you” your new, default you.
Before I go I want to leave you with a nice paragraph I’ve read on a post about confidence from Glenn Alsopp;
“You are the underlying acceptance behind the words. You are whatever is left when you realise that objects of form don’t make you who you are. If you are rich and see yourself as a rich person, would bankruptcy mean that you are dead? Would you still not have the same personal qualities (and flaws) that you previously had? – Quote from Glenn Allsopp, PluginID
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Truth and love is the way everyone was created beautiful look within and find it !
inspiring article. I am excited to put this to use! Thank you kind sir!
Very solid advice, most helpful to me today. Thank you for helping me refocus!
Hi identity Kia hoti hai
Somehow this was more helpful than going to therapy – thank you for boiling it down and making it so obvious and analytical
Loved your article, i was in search of how to build/strengthen/nurture my weak sense of identity – your article was such a pleasure to read, truly insightful, passionate, humorous, and impressively sincere. Thank you for sharing your profound and immeasurably valuable thoughts with the world. I’m so happy to have come across this and have benefited!
Thank you for the great advice, I really needed to hear this. I’ve been struggling with confidence, and now I realize that it was because I had no foundation for who I am or wanted to be. I would make a goal or commitment and then 2 days later give up on it….which was also me giving up on myself. Thank you for helping me realize that Consistency and Honesty (especially with myself) are my top two core values.
Great article, keep up the good work! You have a better understanding than most.
it s very usefull article I got a chance to create my identity thank u very much
Very helpful and inspiring. I did the exercise with the five core values and find this useful. I am just not very cinfident with the “fake it until you make it” suggestion. For me there seems to be a danger here that people pretend to be s.o. who they are not and who they could (potentially) never become. Embrace yourself as you are is the first step, I believe.
Thanks for the post!
very nice article which healped me to move faster
Values. Where do they come from? Why should we choose our own? Are those value only valuable according to our cultural standards? Choosing your own values is ultimately nihilistic. It ask us to create a life based solely on our willing it to be so. The values that we will are relative. As long as we have them, that is what matters.
It doesn’t work that way. The specter of meaningless will always be gnawing at your heart. The willing of things, irrelevant of the truth of things, can create bourgeoisie nice guys and it can also create demagogues. The will to power is the philosophical bed fellow of the will to value.
Man is in search of meaning. Discovering truth and basing your life upon the truth of things… the truth of who man is and who you are is what matters. When you see that you are true then you will be confidence.
Wow very nice article.
it is working out
best for life,mind and body
This really helped me to overcome challenges in life
Thank you so much for this article – truly life changing! It opened my eyes after I did the exercise! Wow! I googled and read quora.com a lot, but this is one of the best! Thank you for setting me on the right path.
One question though: I believe you didn’t come up with this approach to the problem. So my I ask, who to read if I want more insight? Covey? Or some other author? A replay would be much appreciated :)
Now. I’m going to explore the rest of your site…
trying to understand self confidence and identity for my teenage daughter. This helped so much. I told her when she is feeling a lack of self confidence she is not feeling valuable and that she most certainly is valuable. I talked to her about coming at life from her values and not from comparison. You gave me the words I needed after a hard day of teenage stuff. Thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing freely! Thanks and hugs!
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! This article is LIFE CHANGING!!! Keep up the good work
I just read this after doing a bunch of research on social comparison theory. The principles in this article aren’t just so much fluff, they are supported by a number of studies. So, either this author is well-researched, or just got lucky with his personal musings, either way, this is terrific advice. I’ll be passing this on (a much easier read than the scientific research- yawn). EXCELLENT WORK!
Haha thanks Toby!
Don’t know if it’s all-that well researched but I’ve read quite some books on this topic which point to the same conclusion –> Living up to a self-created ideal you want based on values and not trying to be better than everyone at everything through social comparison.
It’s hard though (more so when tired). Especially social skills (reproductive success) and career skills (wealth) are often the factors which trouble us the most.
Here’s my conclusion on how to keep self-esteem elevated;
– Choose your own criteria to measure up to (ideally values, alternatively criteria where you know you’ll outshine others)
– Compare yourself to different people
– Be delusional (I really like this one and think it’s the key sometimes)
Science is often ‘black + white=grey’ theory and the reason you yawn (i think) is because science is hard to relate to on an emotional level.humans are emotional beings.
Feelings and learning about life have to come from a more deep philosophical view point.
Hello, I am a psychology student. I want to research on the influence of internal and external identity on self-esteem; which is similar to this article. I am unable to find articles in this line. As you have mentioned that there is a lot of research available in this area could you please help in finding other articles?
I am happy
Do this NOW.
hahahaah i jus came back 3 months later and listened
Thanks mate – I lost my confidence somewhere along the way… Been googling for advice and this is pretty much the best and well presented I’ve found, loved the fight club quote. Cheers!
And btw, it would have been good if the rules about making comments were
The first rule of comments is: you do not talk about comments
The second rule of comments is: you DO NOT talk about comments!
No spam etc. etc.
this is perfect
I feel relaxed…