Insecurity is innate in us all. We are all aware of the aspects of ourselves that could be improved, and we all have traits or characteristics that we are embarrassed or (sometimes) even ashamed of.
It’s normal to acknowledge our flaws, but when we exaggerate them as we tend to do, those insecurities amplify and become symptoms of low self-esteem.
This can be somewhat harmless. Say you’re a little bit overweight and your insecurity motivates you to exercise more or enjoy a healthier diet. Even though your insecurity is unpleasant – because no one should ever feel uncomfortable in their own skin – your flaw has benefited you by making you healthier, and therefore happier.
However, in some (in fact most) cases, it’s not that simple.
Using the example above, being overweight could become so problematic to the eye of the beholder that instead of feeling motivated to “fix” themselves, they instead fall into depression because they can’t see a bright future and that one imperfection makes them feel inadequate in all aspects of life. This is a sad reality that affects more people than you’d imagine.
No matter our flaws – whether they are to do with our appearance, our behavior, our capabilities or our social status – low self-esteem stems from one single thing that will certainly surprise you…
Your sense of self.
The Art of Negativity
The human nature is a very arrogant enigma and this is both a blessing and a curse. Self-awareness is the foundation of all of our dreams, goals, innovations, inventions, joys and achievements. We are fully aware of who we are and so we strive to be great, to make names for ourselves, to make an impact. This gives us motivation to chase our desires and make ourselves happy. That’s fantastic, right?
But it can also be extremely negative. Our sense of self is also the source of our fears, pain, anxieties, sadness, self-destructive behaviors, cruelty and disappointment. We are aware of who we are, so we are aware of who we are not. Our herd mentality forces us to constantly compare ourselves to others, and when we don’t match the greatness of those we look up to, we subconsciously amplify our shortcomings.
A perfect example of this, in line with our subject above, is the simple thought that we wouldn’t place any emphasis on our appearance at all if the media didn’t glorify beauty as a survival tool in this world. Over the decades, beauty has been distorted into one type of person: Tall, thin, fit with soft hair, perfect teeth and refined features. Thus, even if we refuse to admit it, everyone who falls outside of that will at some point in their life look at themselves and say somewhat harmless phrases like “I’m too short” or “I have horrible skin”. If these thought trends aren’t corrected, but rather reaffirmed by society, they have the potential to evolve into destructive thoughts like “I’m ugly” and “I will never be good enough.”
These become poison to our souls, and kill the motivation that is inherent in us, replacing it with hopelessness. Naturally, if the positive influences us to get up and become something, the negative can influence us to give up, lie down and die.
This may sound horrifying, because how do you stop being so self-aware?
The Power of Meditation
The solution to our arrogance is not to stop being self-aware, but rather to disconnect from our sense of self-importance. The best way to do this is through meditation.
Look at Buddhist monks – a great example of some of the most peaceful, content humans you will ever meet. Most of their time is spent meditating and letting go of material and selfish desires. They are still fully aware of their humanity, they still feel and one can only assume that even they still face negative emotions, but through meditation they do not let their emotions or thoughts control them.
Meditation is a means to understand ourselves. If we understand, with true clarity, why we feel the way do and think the thoughts we think, we can assert the power to transform ourselves. It’s a way for us to acknowledge that negativity is inevitable, but that it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) consume us. We will accept it, see it for what it is, and let it go.
In certain schools of meditation, we can even learn to replace the negative with emotions that are conducive to happiness.
It makes sense because, if we can convince ourselves that we are less than what we are, purely because society has tricked us into believing so, we can convince ourselves that we are, at the very least, enough, and it will become the truth.
Meditation won’t physically change us, but it will change our perception of ourselves and the world. In doing so, our confidence and motivation will return to us, and our self-esteem will repair to its naturally healthy state.
Techniques to Boost Your Confidence
Before you begin your meditation, take a few minutes to compliment and thank yourself.
It has been scientifically proven that kindness and gratitude physically change how our brains work – so that they release more dopamine, which makes us happier, kinder and more thankful, which sets a cycle of positivity in motion.
It might seem like a movie cliché, but telling yourself something nice, or thanking yourself for being great, is a good way to kick-start your meditation and boost your self-esteem.
- Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Relax your muscles and steady your breath.
- Draw your focus to your heart. Visualize your breath reaching your heart. Inhale light, exhale darkness. Inhale good thoughts, as you exhale, release tensions and negativity.
- Now, still breathing rhythmically, picture yourself in a good light. Perhaps you can visualize a very big hug from yourself, or your happiest smile.
- As you picture yourself happy and loved, chant an empowering mantra. This can be any mantra you choose, so long as you assert positivity. Try something like “I am beautiful, I am loved.” Or, you can release your insecurities by saying something like “I am free from the chains of self-doubt. My fears cannot control me.” Try your best to smile, or even laugh, as you say this.
- Soon, you will feel relaxed and happier. Chant, and visualize for as long as need be.
- When you are finished, take a deep breath (hug yourself, or pat yourself on the shoulder if need be). Exhale and smile.
- Pick a time of day when you can spend a few minutes in silence, contemplating how awesome you actually are.
- Imagine yourself as the person you would like to be. Visualize your dreams coming true. Picture yourself happy, and place emphasis on your strengths.
- If you are anxious about something important that’s coming up, use this visualization as a rehearsal for the big day. You would be surprised how easy it is to grow confidence simply by imagining it.
- If you need reminding of how good it feels to feel good, write your daydreams down. Narrate your own story. You’ll see yourself in a brighter light.
Extra Feel-Good Steps
As mentioned above, meditation will restore your motivation to become who you want to be, but there are some extra steps you can take to realize your confidence. These are not obligatory, but are simple ways to boosts your confidence alongside meditation.
Do Something Nice for Yourself
If, and where, you can afford it; show appreciation for yourself by giving yourself a gift. Splurge on a new pair of shoes, get a new haircut or buy a fancy suit. Treat yourself to a spa day, or a delicious slice of cake. Reward yourself for being great. And if you do this, don’t do it half-heartedly. KNOW that you deserve something nice, and enjoy it with your whole soul.
Change Something for the Better
There will come a time when our insecurities are self-inflicted. Perhaps you could try working at changing one thing about yourself that will benefit you long term. Quit smoking. Drink less. Change your diet. Drink more water. Exercise more. Find new friends or take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. You have the power to transform your life, so do so!
Accept Criticism, Come What May
One of our biggest problems is that we take everything to heart. Learn how to accept (and respond to) criticism by filtering out what’s constructive and what is cruel. See yourself for what you are and work with it. Don’t let others drag you down.
Do Something Nice for Others
Remember what was said about gratitude?
It makes us happy and it’s contagious.
Say thank you to someone, give a genuine compliment to someone, or give someone an unexpected gift. You will feel good about yourself, and so will the person you are kind to. This will generate positivity that is sure to return you!