Self-Esteem Building Hacks

There are two tools that I have found to be incredibly effective when it comes to building self-esteem: I AM… and Mack On The Mirror.

I AM…

I AM

This is practically positive affirmations but in every area of life, where we attempt to weed out the phrases “I cannot” and “I am not” because they often lead to a negative answer that limits our vision and our capabilities. Instead we focus on saying “I AM…”

Fill in the missing space with what you believe you are and more importantly what you are working towards!

e.g. I AM Strong. I AM Intelligent. I AM Wise. I AM Confident. I AM Attractive. I AM Focussed…

Mack On The Mirror

My personal favourite. Mack is a slang term I and others used in high school and it means to court. Perhaps we don’t have anyone to speak positively in our lives or to affirm us. Worry not – all we need is a mirror and a mouth. This is effective in that as you use the I AM tool you also see an image speaking the same words back to you. It’s no longer just hearing the words but a visual representation of someone saying those same words back to you invokes a sense of agreement and support, making each of your statements more believable than the last time. The more you do it, the more you believe it. Look at this baby. I don’t know about you but I think she/he can conquer the world.

 

Mack On The Mirror

Self-Confidence Vs Self-Esteem

photo cred: T C North

Worry not, this will not devolve into a war of words or transform into an ultimate rap battle between the words self-confidence and self-esteem. Instead I would just like to add some clarity on what we will be discussing and how I plan to move forward with this series. Let’s dive into a definition, shall we?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes self-confidence as:

a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgement

The same source sites self-esteem as:

a confidence and satisfaction in oneself

I always used to believe that self-confidence and self-esteem were synonymous. They are indeed similar, but not identical. Self-confidence has to do with perception based on what one can do whereas self-esteem has to do with one’s perception on who one is. Clear enough?

This wonderful graphic should help make things even clearer:

Self-esteem vs confidence

They are different but one thing is certain, to function to the very best of your ability and to enjoy your life to the fullest: YOU NEED BOTH!

For the purposes of future posts not becoming too wordy I will refer to both self-esteem and self-confidence simply as confidence from this moment on. This is to prevent confusion by interchanging the terms and to avoid the mental block that comes with associating the word esteem with the more negative low self-esteem.

Tomorrow we will discuss the Importance of Confidence.

Creativity: Exposure (Television Part 2)

photo cred: www.sclance.com

To wrap up the Creativity: Exposure mini-series I would like to throw in a simple suggestion. If you’ve been watching American television or British television or Bollywood films all your life – to expand your creative thinking I suggest consuming products from different parts of the world than what you’re accustomed to.

We’ve already talked about the benefit of watching shows from different genres, now we will look at watching films steeped in different cultures. There was a stage in my life where shows like ‘Passions’ and ‘The Bold And The Beautiful’ were a staple. Those soaps and the mostly American and British books I read formed the bedrock of romance in my mind. It was no surprise then that my stories would mirror the themes that were the hallmark of those two cultures (which are more similar than most). Enter Bollywood – and there was a substantial shift. Now it wasn’t mainly about deception or conniving or charming your way into someone’s life but there was all this colour and impressing through talent (mainly musical) that I hadn’t encountered. Relationships were no longer founded just on power and money and beauty but on far much more. Furthermore in the ideas bandied about during the draft stages of my writing there was the introduction of a class barrier and finding love in arranged marriages… or the pursuit of forbidden love – concepts that were rare in Western media but commonplace in the Bollywood movies I watched. Did I mention the use of music to drive home whatever emotions the director wanted the viewer to feel? That was the time my writing rhythm underwent a revolution. Then came the Korean drama era where there was far more emphasis on the spoken word and the way they were delivered than in any other form of television I had seen up to that point. Lastly came the anime phase and there was another complete 180 degree shift with creative humour not only based on crude innuendos or the use of vulgar language (apparently they don’t specialise in Japanese) but the introduction of jokes based on the culture and tradition of the time.

My mind was learning the art of contortion, performing complex acrobatics to cater for all of these different ways to tell the same story… all because it wasn’t limited to watching films from a localised geography. Yours shouldn’t be either.

This concludes our Creativity: Exposure mini-series. I will talk about The Importance Of A Creative Ending and give an example in another double post to cap off the Creativity series tomorrow.

Lying Is Good For You: Building Habits

Starting a habit isn’t always easy. The proof is in the number of people who say they want to start a new habit who don’t actually end up doing so. Or maybe they’ll start but stop before it’s really become a habit.

Habit – a regular tendency that is hard to give up.

Lally’s study claims that it takes anywhere between 18 days to 254 days to form a new habit.

How can one actually achieve such a feat that requires an incredible amount of discipline? First of all we have to acknowledge that it is difficult to maintain something just because we see the benefit of it in the future. If you are one of those people that can do it by just intentionally making the decision, kudos to you! If you are like me then you have to use a different way. The good news is it works just as well. Here it is… it’s time to lie again!

There’s this story about a mouse that’s put in a cage. Scientists would ring a bell at a certain time and then put cheese in the cage. Over time the mouse associated the sound of the shrill bell with cheese and would come out of its little house when the bell was rung and wait, even if the cheese wasn’t forthcoming. The bell didn’t sound attractive but the cheese was attractive. Over time the mouse would come out for the bell because to it the bell = cheese. We’re not mice though so what can we do? We use the horse and carrot stick method.

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Looks ridiculous right? The carrot is the reward after you’ve done the hard work of doing whatever the new habit requires you to do. This way we associate the reward with the work. For example, I love movies! When we got back from a service on Sunday that’s the first thing that I wanted to do. Unfortunately for me, I lived with very wise, orderly parents who would have me do the dishes first (after we’d made and eaten breakfast) before watching any film. Doing the dishes was work. Watching the movie was the carrot. My love for movies was so strong that I would speed through the dishes to have my carrot – ahem – I mean watch my movie. You couldn’t motivate me to do the dishes because it wasn’t something I looked forward to, but because I looked forward to watching movies, the labour of doing the dishes was no longer as hard as it seemed initially. Over time I stopped doing it as an inconvenience and started viewing it as a sort of key, a key to me watching the movies that I wanted to watch on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve used this same trick to exercise daily, write more consistently and to drink enough water each day – all things I never used to do.

So what are the practical bits you can use for you. The only thing you need to do is to make a list of the things you love. Lie to yourself until you believe that you can’t do one of those things until you’ve actioned out the habit you’re trying to build, then reward yourself with the thing you love at the end – and repeat. Make sense?

A short real-life illustration of the effectiveness of this technique:

Mom: Where are you?

Me: I’m in the kitchen. I’ve just started doing the dishes.

Mom: We’ve started watching a movie, come watch with us – you can do the dishes after.

Me: I don’t like doing dishes well after we’ve eaten. I’ll finish up fast then come watch when I’m done.

True story.

I’m a dish dog now!

See you tomorrow for Lying Is Good For You: Trumping Fear.