Over several years of in-depth conversation with men of all ages in Vancouver, one theme is consistent. We are all lacking self-esteem in one way or another. Even the most financially accomplished men that I have met, still lack self-esteem in some area of their life. Total competency in one area does not equal competency in another.
The question that arises is, where does one acquire their sense of confidence from? Is it established early on in life during our formative years? Can it be acquired and developed later in life?
A large majority of men derive a sense of self-esteem from having a beautiful woman on their arm, thereby validating their masculinity and worthiness. Pop culture media continues to tell a story of men getting self-esteem from luxury watches, fast sports cars, bags full of cash, trips in private jets and scantily clad women nearby.
In conversational english, we frequently use the term confidence when we mean self-esteem. As an example, the Instagram accounts promoting “Men’s Confidence” portray images of men with resolute expressions, well-dressed and positioned next to one of the external objects described above.
It is useful to differentiate confidence from self-esteem. Confidence might be defined as your certainty about the truth of something. Self-esteem is confidence in your own worth, inherent value and ability.
With this confusion, it can be tricky to determine how one actually develops a healthy sense of confidence in themselves. Some posture with fashion, money, personality or feats of strength; while others might use their intellect or creativity.
Ultimately, your self-esteem is an emotional evaluation you make about your own worth. It is all up to you. Psychologist agree that self-esteem is a valuable aspect of your personality and can provide resiliency throughout all stages of life.
If we know that it is valuable and can completely change our experience of life, how do we cultivate more of it? How do we know if we have a healthy level of self-esteem?
One of the most important distinctions regarding self-esteem is whether it is based on external validation or a strongly held internal belief. These 2 variations are defined as ‘contingent’ and ‘non-contingent’ self-esteem. The goal is to achieve ‘non-contingent’ self-esteem. This means that your self-esteem is not dependent on external sources of validation such as financial wealth, possessions, other people’s opinions or your marital status.
The strongest and most stable sense of self-esteem is non-contingent. You are worthy as you are. There are no additional inputs required. We all desire love, acceptance and respect from others, but we also need to have those things for ourselves. At the end of the day, it is all about self-acceptance.
That said, how can we improve our self-esteem?
At this point, we have enough science to highlight the numerous benefits associated with regular exercise. You don’t need to look like the magazine covers. Just move your body. No excuses. Challenge yourself.
2. Join or Create a Mastermind Group
Mastermind groups are extremely useful for improving the circumstances of your life. Whether you are a successful entrepreneur or a struggling artist, a circle of people that can support you will be of great benefit. When you have multiple minds in the room, focused on a single person or a single task, this creates a massive amount of energy that can catapult you in the direction desired. Find like-minded individuals that are growth oriented and interested in developing themselves on a personal and professional level. You don’t have to experience life on your own! Get together with other people and support each other.
3. Let It Go
Are you holding on to a grudge or long standing disagreement? Let it go. Find a way to forgive the people in your life that have let you down. Find a way to forgive yourself. We are all doing the best with the education and information that we have. Holding onto negativity and resentment will only get in your way.
4. Slow It Down
In these modern times, we are doing way too much. We are in a hurry. We are distracted, impatient and greedy. We are seeking instant gratification when things of great value can sometimes take years of hard work. Stay focused on your long term goals and be consistent.
The more gratitude that you can cultivate in your life, the more appreciation you will have for the little things and this can make all the difference. If we are in a shame spiral and only seeing the things that aren’t working, we lose sight of all the great resources and opportunities we have around us. The 5 Minute Journal is a fantastic daily workbook that can help develop a sense of gratitude for all of the awesomeness around you.
Put your head into someone else’s circumstances and help out. Take your mind off your own problems and give some time to assist people in need. This can be a rewarding experience for you and the recipients of your contribution. It can also provide some valuable perspective on where you are really at in the grand scheme of things.
7. Therapy & Counselling
See a counsellor, social worker or therapist. An expert can help you navigate various aspects of your life and ask insightful questions to guide you along your path. If you are unclear as to how to find a therapist, there are many resources available. Google is your friend when trying to find therapists in your region. If you are in British Columbia, look up BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, Psychology Today, Theravive or Counselling Vancouver.