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Your self-worth is a product of your intelligence, your talent, your looks, or how much you have accomplished.
Though much of who and what we are changes as we journey through life, our inherent self-worth remains constant.
Self Worth vs Self Esteem
While the term self-worth is often used interchangeably with self-esteem, the two qualities are inherently different.
Self-esteem is the measure of how you feel about yourself at a given moment in time.
This "YOU feeling" is directed awards from others, who have witnessed how much you have accomplished externally.
These feelings are powerful and motivate you, they define you.
Your Self-worth, however, is a product of your intelligence, your talent, your looks, your good works, or how much you
have accomplished, internally, your self rewards that are always available.
You were not born with self-worth, it is immeasurable, however can be easily forgotten or even actively ignored.
It represents the cornerstone of the dual foundations of optimism and self-belief.
Your self-worth cannot be taken from you or damaged by life's rigors, and again it can easily be forgotten or even actively ignored.
Always be in love with yourself.
By regularly acknowledging your self-worth, you can ensure that you never forget what an important, beloved, and special part of the universe you are.
You are born worthy -- your worth is intertwined with your very being.
The concept of your own self-worth is thus reinforced by your actions.
Each time you endeavor to appreciate yourself, treat yourself kindly, define your personal boundaries, be proactive in seeing that your needs are met, and broaden your horizons, you express your
recognition of your innate value.
During those periods when you have lost sight of your worth, you will likely feel mired in depression, insecurity, and a lack of confidence.
You'll pursue a counterfeit worth based on judgment rather than the beauty that resides within.
When you feel worthy, however, you will accept yourself without hesitation.
It is your worth as an individual who is simultaneously interconnected with all living beings that allow you to be happy, confident, and motivated.
Because the conception of your self-worth is not based on the fulfillment of expectations, you'll see your mistakes and failures as just another part of life's journey.
Human beings are very much like drops of water in an endless ocean.
Our self-worth comes from our role as distinct individuals as well as our role as an integral part of something larger than ourselves.
Simply awakening to this concept can help you rediscover the copious and awe-inspiring worth within each and every one of us.
These detailed, science-based exercises will not only help you show more compassion and kindness to yourself but will also give you the tools to help your clients, students or employees improve
their self-compassion and realize their worth.
“a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect”.
On the other hand, self-value is “more behavioral than emotional, more about how you act toward what you value, including yourself than how you feel about yourself compared to others” (Stosny,
Self-Worth versus Self-Esteem
Similarly, there is not a huge difference between self-worth and self-esteem, especially for those who are not professionals in the field
In fact, the first definition of self-worth on the Merriam-Webster dictionary website is simply “self-esteem.”
Similarly, the World Book Dictionary definition of self-esteem is “thinking well of oneself; self-respect,” while self-worth is defined as “a favorable estimate or opinion of oneself; self-esteem”
(Bogee, Jr., 1998).
Clearly, many of these terms are used to talk about the same ideas, but for those deeply immersed in these concepts, there is a slight difference. Dr. Christina Hibbert explains this:
“Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves.
Self-worth is recognizing ‘I am greater than all of those things.’
It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.” (2013).
Self-Worth versus Self-Confidence
In the same vein, there are subtle but significant differences between self-worth and self-confidence.
Self-confidence is not an overall evaluation of yourself, but a feeling of confidence and competence in more specific areas.
For example, you could have a high amount of self-worth but low self-confidence when it comes to extreme sports, certain subjects in school, or your ability to speak a new language (Roberts,
It’s not necessary to have a high sense of self-confidence in every area of your life; there are naturally some things that you will simply not be very good at, and other areas in which you will
The important thing is to have self-confidence in the activities in your life that matter to you and a high sense of self-worth overall.
In psychology, the concept of self-worth may be a less popular research topic than self-esteem or self-confidence, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important.
Self-worth is at the core of our very selves—our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are intimately tied into how we view our worthiness and value as human beings.
What Is the Self-Worth Theory?
The self-worth theory posits that an individual’s main priority in life is to find self-acceptance and that self-acceptance is often
found through achievement (Covington & Beery, 1976).
In turn, achievement is often found through competition with others.
Thus, the logical conclusion is that competing with others can help us feel like we have impressive achievements under our belt, which then makes us feel proud of ourselves and enhances our
acceptance of ourselves.
The theory holds that there are four main elements of the self-worth model:
The first three interact with each other to determine one’s level of self-worth.
One’s ability and effort predictably have a big impact on performance, and all three contribute to one’s feeling of worth and value.
While this theory represents a good understanding of self-worth as we tend to experience it, it is unfortunate that we place so much emphasis on our achievements.
Aside from competing and “winning” against others, there are many factors that can contribute to our sense of self-worth.
What Determines Self-Worth?
According to the
self-worth theory, self-worth is determined mostly by our self-evaluated abilities and our performance in one or more activities that we deem valuable.
However, people commonly use other yardsticks to measure their self-worth.
Here are five of the top factors that people use to measure and compare their own self-worth to the worth of others:
Appearance—whether measured by the number on the scale, the size of clothing worn, or the kind of attention received by others;
Net worth—this can mean income, material possessions, financial assets, or all of the above;
Who you know/your social circle—some people judge their own value and the value of others by their status and what important and influential people they know;
What you do/your career—we often judge others by what they do; for example, a stockbroker is often considered more successful and valuable than a janitor or a teacher;
What you achieve—as noted earlier, we frequently use achievements to determine someone’s worth (whether it’s our own worth or someone else’s), such as success in business, scores on the SATs, or
placement in a marathon or other athletic challenge (Morin, 2017).
Author Stephanie Jade Wong (n.d.) is on a mission to correct misunderstandings and misperceptions about self-worth. Instead of listing all the factors that go into self-worth, she outlines what
does not determine your self-worth (or, what should not determine your self-worth):
Your to-do list: Achieving goals is great and it feels wonderful to cross off things on your to-do list, but it
doesn’t have a direct relationship with your worth as a human;
Your job: It doesn’t matter what you do. What matters is that you do it well and that it fulfills you;
Your social media following: It also doesn’t matter how many people think you are worthy of a follow or a retweet. It can be enlightening and healthy to consider the perspectives of others, but
their opinions have no impact on our innate value;
Your age: You aren’t too young or too old for anything. Your age is simply a number and does not factor into your value as a human being;
Other people: As noted above, it doesn’t matter what other people think or what other people have done or accomplished. Your personal satisfaction and fulfillment are much more important than
what others are thinking, saying, or doing;
How far you can run: Your mile run time is one of the least important factors for your self-worth (or for anything else, for that matter). If you enjoy running and feel fulfilled by improving
your time, good for you! If not, good for you! Your ability to run does not determine your self-worth;
Your grades: We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and some of us are simply not cut out for class. This has no
bearing on our value as people, and a straight-A student is just as valuable and worthy as a straight-F student or a dropout;
The number of friends you have: Your value as a human has absolutely nothing to do with how many friends or connections you have. The quality of your relationships is what’s really
Your relationship status: Whether flying solo, casually dating, or in a committed relationship, your value is exactly the same—your relationship status doesn’t alter your worth;
The money (or lack thereof) in the bank: If you have enough money to physically survive (which can, in fact, be $0), then you have already achieved the maximal amount of “worth” you can get
from money (hint: it’s 0!);
Your likes: It doesn’t matter if you have “good taste” or not, if your friends and acquaintances think you’re sophisticated, or if you have an eye for the finer things. Your worth is the same
Anything or anyone but yourself: Here we get to the heart of the matter—you are the only one who determines your self-worth. If you believe you are worthy and valuable, you are worthy and
valuable. Even if you don’t believe you are worthy and valuable, guess what—you still are worthy and valuable!
3 Examples of Healthy Self-Worth
You might be thinking, “Okay, I know what does and doesn’t (and shouldn’t) determine self-worth, but what does healthy self-worth really look like?”
Given what we know about the determinants of self-worth, let’s read through a few examples.
Bill is not a great student.
He gets mostly Bs and Cs, even when he spends a great deal of time studying.
He didn’t get a great score on his SATs, and he’s an average reader, a struggling writer, and nobody’s idea of a mathematician.
Even though Bill wishes he had better grades, he still feels pretty good about himself.
He knows that grades aren’t everything and that he’s just as valuable a person as his straight-A friends.
Bill has a high sense of self-worth and a realistic view of himself and his abilities.
Next, let’s consider Amy.
Amy has a wide variety of interests, including marathons, attending book club, playing weekly trivia with her friends, and meeting new people.
Amy’s not particularly good at running and has never placed in a marathon.
She’s a slow reader and frequently misses the symbolism and themes that her fellow book club members pick up on.
She only answers about 10% of the trivia questions correctly and leans on her friends’ knowledge quite often.
Finally, she loves to talk to new people but sometimes she gets blown off and ignored.
Despite all of this, she still believes that she is worthy and valuable.
She knows that her worth as a human is not dependent on her ability to run, read, play trivia, or make new friends.
Whether she is great, terrible, or somewhere in between at each of her vast range of chosen activities, she knows she is still worthy of happiness, fulfillment, and love.
Finally, consider the case of Marcus.
Marcus is an excellent salesman and frequently outsells most of the other people at his company, but one coworker seems to always be just a bit ahead of him.
He is also an avid squash player and frequently competes in tournaments.
Sometimes he gets first or second place, but usually, he does not place at all.
Even though he is not the best at his job or at his favorite hobby, Marcus still feels that he is valuable. He thinks he is smart, talented, and successful, even though he’s not the smartest, most
talented, or most successful, and he’s okay with that.
Bill, Amy, and Marcus all have healthy levels of self-worth.
They have varying levels of abilities and talents, and they get a wide range of results from their efforts, but they all understand that what they do is not who they are.
No matter whether they win awards or garner accolades for their performance or not, they still have the same high opinion of their value as a person.
How to Find Self-Worth and Value Yourself More
If these examples sound desirable to you and you wish you were more like Bill, Amy, or Marcus, there is hope.
There are things you can do to boost your sense of self-worth and ensure that you value yourself like you ought to be valued—as a full, complete, and wonderful human being that is deserving of
love and respect, no matter what.
How to build self-worth in adolescents
As with most lifelong traits, it’s best to start early.
If you know any adolescents, be sure to encourage them to understand and accept their own self-worth.
Reinforce their value as a being rather than a “doing,” as some say—in other words, make sure they know that they are valuable for who they are, not what they do.
If you need some more specific ideas on how to boost an adolescent’s self-worth, check out the suggestions below.
Researchers at Michigan State University recommend two main strategies:
Provide unconditional love, respect, and positive regard;
Give adolescents opportunities to experience success (Clark-Jones, 2012).
Showing a teen unconditional love (if you’re a parent, family member, or very close friend) or unconditional respect and positive regard (if you’re a teacher, mentor, etc.) is the best way to teach him self-worth.
If you show a teenager that you love and appreciate her for exactly who and what she is, she will learn that it’s okay to love herself for exactly who and what she is.
If you demonstrate that she doesn’t need to achieve anything to earn your love and respect, she’ll be much less likely to put unnecessary parameters on her own self-love and self-respect.
Further, one way in which we gain a healthy sense of self-worth is through early and frequent experiences of success.
Successful experiences boost our sense of competency and mastery and make us feel just plain good about ourselves.
Successful experiences also open the door for taking healthy risks and the success that often follows. Don’t just tell a teen that she is worthy and valuable, help her believe it by giving her
every opportunity to succeed.
Just be sure that these opportunities are truly opportunities for her to succeed on her own—a helping hand is fine, but we need to figure out how to do some things on our own to build a healthy
sense of self-worth (Clark-Jones, 2012).
How to increase self-worth and self-value in adults
It’s a bit trickier to increase self-worth and self-value in adults, but it’s certainly not a lost cause. Check out the two tips below to learn how to go about it.
First, take a look back at the list of what does not determine self-worth.
Remind yourself that your bank account, job title, attractiveness, and social media following have nothing to do with how valuable or worthy a person you are.
It’s easy to get caught up in chasing money, status, and popularity—especially when these things are highly valued by those around us and by society in general—but make an effort to take a step
back and think about what truly matters when determining people’s worth: their kindness, compassion, empathy, respect for others, and how well they treat those around them.
Second, work on identifying, challenging, and externalizing your critical inner voice.
We all have an inner critic that loves to nitpick and point out our flaws (Firestone, 2014).
It’s natural to let this inner critic get the best of us sometimes, but if we let her win too often she starts to think that she’s right!
Whenever you notice your inner critic start to fire up with the criticisms, make her pause for a moment.
Ask yourself whether she has any basis in fact, whether she’s being kind or not, and whether what she’s telling you is something you need to know.
If none of those things are true, feel free to tell her to see herself out!
Challenge her on the things she whispers in your ear and remind her that no matter what you do or don’t do, you are worthy and valuable all the same.
For more specific activities and ideas, see the exercises, activities, and worksheets we cover later in this piece.
The Importance of Self-Worth in Relationships
One of the most common mistakes you see people with low self-esteem make is to base their self-worth on one aspect of their lives—and often, that aspect is a
It’s an understandable tendency to let someone else’s love for you encourage you to feel better about yourself.
However, you should work on feeling good about yourself whether you are in a relationship or not.
The love of another person does not define you, nor does it define your value as a person.
Whether you are single, casually seeing people, building a solid relationship with someone, or celebrating your 30th wedding anniversary with your spouse, you are
worthy of love and respect, and you should make time to practice self-acceptance and self-compassion.
This is true for people of any relationship status, but it may be especially important for those in long-term relationships.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your partner’s love is what makes you worthy of love.
If anything ever happens to your partner or to your relationship, you don’t want to be forced to build up your sense of worth from scratch.
It can make breakups and grief much harder than they need to be.
Although this facet of the issue might be enough to encourage you to work on your self-worth, there’s another reason it’s important: Having a healthy sense of self-worth will actually make your
current relationship better too.
When you learn to love yourself, you become better able to love someone else.
People with high self-respect tend to have more satisfying, loving, and stable relationships than those who do not, precisely because they know that they need to first find their worth, esteem,
and happiness within themselves.
Two people who are lit with self-worth and happiness from within make are much brighter than two people who are trying to absorb light from each other (Grande, 2018).
The Risks of Tying Your Self-Worth to Your Job
Similar to the dangers of anchoring your self-worth to someone else, there are big risks in tying your self-worth to your job.
Like a significant other, jobs can come and go—sometimes without warning.
You can be let go, laid off, transitioned, dehired, dismissed, downsized, redirected, released, selectively separated, terminated, replaced, asked to resign, or just plain fired.
You could also be transferred, promoted, demoted, or given new duties and responsibilities that no longer mesh with the sense of self-worth your previous duties and responsibilities gave you.
You could also quit, take a new job, take some time off, or retire—all things that can be wonderful life transitions, but that can be unnecessarily difficult if you base too much of your
self-worth on your job.
As noted earlier, your job is one of the things that don’t define you or your worth.
There’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you do, finding joy or fulfillment in it, or letting it shape who you are; the danger is in letting it define your entire sense of self.
We are all so much more than a job. Believing that we are nothing more than a job is detrimental to our well-being and can be disastrous in times of crisis.
The Self-Worth Scale
Are you interested in getting an idea of what your current level of self-worth is?
If so, you’re in luck.
There is a scale that is perfectly suited for this curiosity.
Also known as the Contingencies of Self-Worth Scale, this scale was developed by researchers Crocker, Luhtanen, Cooper, and Bouvrette in 2003. It consists of 35 items that measure self-worth in
seven different domains.
These seven domains, with an example item from each domain, are:
Approval from others (i.e., I don’t care if other people have a negative opinion of me);
Physical appearance (i.e., my self-esteem is influenced by how attractive I think my face or facial features are);
Outdoing others in competition (i.e., my self-worth is affected by how well I do when I am competing with others);
Academic competence (i.e., I feel bad about myself whenever my academic performance is lacking);
Family love and support (i.e., my self-worth is not influenced by the quality of my relationships with my family members);
Being a virtuous or moral person (i.e., my self-esteem depends on whether or not I follow my moral/ethical principles);
God’s love (i.e., my self-esteem would suffer if I didn’t have God’s love).
Each item is rated on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).
Once you have rated each item, sum the answers to the five items for each domain and divide the total by 5 for the sub-scale score.
To learn more about this scale or use it to determine your own self-worth, click here.
5 Activities and Exercises for Developing Self-Worth
According to the author and self-growth guru Adam Sicinski, there are five vital exercises for developing and maintaining self-worth.
He lays them out in five stages, but there’s no need to keep them in strict order; it’s fine to move back and forth or revisit stages.
1. Increase your self-understanding
An important activity on the road to self-worth is to build self-understanding.
You need to learn who you are and what you want before you can decide you are a worthy human being.
Sicinski recommends this simple thought experiment to work on increasing your understanding of yourself:
Imagine that everything you have is suddenly taken away from you (i.e., possessions, relationships, friendships, status, job/career, accomplishments, and achievements, etc.);
Ask yourself the following questions:
a. What if everything I have was suddenly taken away from me?
b. What if all I had left was just myself?
c. How would that make me feel?
d. What would I actually have that would be of value?
Think about your answers to these questions and see if you can come to this conclusion: “No matter what happens externally and no matter what’s taken away from me, I’m not affected
Next, get to know yourself on a deeper level with these questions:
a. Who I am? I am . . . I am not . . .
b. How am I?
c. How am I in the world?
d. How do others see me?
e. How do others speak about me?
f. What key life moments define who I am today?
g. What brings me the most passion, fulfillment, and joy?
Once you have a good understanding of who you are and what fulfills and satisfies you, it’s time to look at what isn’t so great or easy about being you. Ask yourself these questions:
a. Where do I struggle most?
b. Where do I need to improve?
c. What fears often hold me back?
d. What habitual emotions hurt me?
e. What mistakes do I tend to make?
f. Where do I tend to consistently let myself down?
Finally, take a moment to look at the flipside; ask yourself:
a. What abilities do I have?
b. What am I really good at?
Spend some time on each step, but especially on the steps that remind you of your worth and your value as a person (e.g., the strengths step).
2. Boost your self-acceptance
Once you have a better idea of who you are, the next step is to enhance your acceptance of yourself.
Start by forgiving yourself for anything you noted in item 5 above.
Think of any struggles, needs for improvement, mistakes, and bad habits you have, and commit to forgiving yourself and accepting yourself without judgment or excuses.
Think about everything you learned about yourself in the first exercise and repeat these statements:
I accept the good, the bad, and the ugly;
I fully accept every part of myself including my flaws, fears, behaviors, and qualities I might not be too proud of;
This is how I am, and I am at peace with that
3. Enhance your self-love
Now that you have worked on accepting yourself for who you are, you can begin to build love and care for yourself.
Make it a goal to extend yourself kindness, tolerance, generosity, and compassion.
To boost self-love, start paying attention to the tone you use with yourself. Commit to being more positive and uplifting when talking to yourself.
If you’re not sure how to get started, think (or say aloud) these simple statements:
I feel valued and special;
I love myself wholeheartedly;
I am a worthy and capable person (Sicinski, n.d.).
4. Recognize your self-worth
Once you understand, accept, and love yourself, you will reach a point where you no longer depend on people, accomplishments, or other external factors for your self-worth.
At this point, the best thing you can do is recognize your worth and appreciate yourself for the work you’ve done to get here, as well as continuing to maintain your self-understanding,
self-acceptance, self-love, and self-worth.
To recognize your self-worth, remind yourself that:
You no longer need to please other people;
No matter what people do or say, and regardless of what happens outside of you, you alone control how you feel about yourself;
You have the power to respond to events and circumstances based on your internal sources, resources, and resourcefulness, which are the reflection of your true value;
Your value comes from inside, from an internal measure that you’ve set for yourself.
5. Take responsibility for yourself
In this stage, you will practice being responsible for yourself, your circumstances, and your problems.
Follow these guidelines to ensure you are working on this exercise in a healthy way:
Take full responsibility for everything that happens to you without giving your personal power and your agency away;
Acknowledge that you have the personal power to change and influence the events and circumstances of your life.
Remind yourself of what you have learned through all of these exercises, and know that you hold the power in your own life. Revel in your well-earned sense of self-worth and make sure to maintain
4 Worksheets That Help Increase Self-Worth
If you’re partial to filling in the blanks instead of completing more freeform exercises and activities, not to worry. Check out the four worksheets below that can help you build your
About Me Sentence Completion Worksheet
This worksheet outlines a simple way to build self-worth.
It only requires a pen or pencil and a few minutes to complete.
Feel free to use it for yourself or for your adult clients, but it was designed for kids and can be especially effective for them.
This worksheet is simply titled “About Me: Sentence Completion” and is exactly what you might expect: it gives kids a chance to write about themselves.
If your youngster is too young to write down his own answers, sit with him and help him record his responses.
The sentence stems (or prompts) to complete include:
I was really happy when . . .
Something that my friends like about me is . . .
I’m proud of . . .
My family was happy when I . . .
In school, I’m good at . . .
Something that makes me unique is . . .
By completing these six prompts, your child will take some time to think about who he really is, what he likes, what he’s good at, and what makes him feel happy.
This worksheet is good for a wide audience, including children, adolescents, young adults, and older adults.
The opening text indicates that it’s a self-esteem worksheet, but in this case, the terms self-esteem and self-worth are used interchangeably.
Completing this worksheet will help you get a handle on your personal sense of understanding, acceptance, respect, and love for yourself.
The worksheet lists 15 statements and instructs you to rate your belief in each one on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 10 (totally or completely).
These statements are:
I believe in myself;
I am just as valuable as other people;
I would rather be me than someone else;
I am proud of my accomplishments;
I feel good when I get compliments;
I can handle criticism;
I am good at solving problems;
I love trying new things;
I respect myself;
I like the way I look;
I love myself even when others reject me;
I know my positive qualities;
I focus on my successes and not my failures;
I’m not afraid to make mistakes;
I am happy to be me.
Add up all of the ratings for these 15 statements to get your total score, then rate your overall sense of self-esteem on a scale from 0 (I completely dislike who I am) to 10 (I completely like
who I am).
Finally, respond to the prompt “What would need to change in order for you to move up one point on the rating scale? (i.e., for example, if you rated yourself a 6 what would need to happen for you
to be at a 7?)”
Click here to preview this worksheet for yourself or click here to view it in a
collection of self-esteem-building, small-group counseling lesson plans.
My Strengths and Qualities Worksheet
The “My Strengths and Qualities” worksheet is another opportunity for you or a young adult you know to work on boosting self-understanding, acceptance, love, and sense of self-worth.
It couldn’t be easier to complete—all you need is the worksheet, a pen or pencil, and a few minutes.
For each of the eight sections, there are three spaces to respond; however, if you have more than three things to write down, feel free to do so.
The sections are:
Things I am good at;
What I like about my appearance;
I’ve helped others by;
What I value the most;
Compliments I have received;
Challenges I have overcome;
Things that make me unique;
Times I’ve made others happy.
Meditations to Boost Self-Worth
If you’re a fan of meditations, check out the four options below. They’re all aimed at boosting self-worth:
Eric was short and he was well aware that he was short
He struggled mightily with dating.
He’d ask me for help from time to time.
We’d go out to bars and I’d help him try to talk to girls.
We’d find a group to go introduce ourselves to. I’d lead and then try to bring him into the fold.
“This is my buddy, Eric.” The girls would glance in his direction and he wouldn’t meet their eyes.
His body language was terrible, slouched, timid, almost like a dog who’d been beaten by his owner.
It was that bad.
If he did manage to eke out a few words, they would be really awkward, which made everyone feel awkward, which made him feel even worse, and it would all turn into this death spiral of
He’d always blame it on his height.
And I’d always tell him the same thing. “It’s not your height.
It’s the way you carry yourself. You’re defeated before you say anything because you automatically assume girls don’t like you.”
I’d always remind him that there’s someone out there who would be a good fit.
Eric is about to be a father.
He has a beautiful fiance.
When I heard the news I wanted to say “I told you so.”
But, I just let him be happy.
If you don’t always love what you see when you look in the mirror, realize that you’re more attractive than you think you are.
You’re Hiding Your Attractiveness Behind Poor Body Langauge
Attractiveness isn’t just about the way you look.
The way you carry yourself goes a long way
It tells other people whether or not you like yourself.
Well, if you don’t like yourself, why should anyone else?
Even if you don’t believe it, working on your body language can change the way you feel, which can reinforce better body language, which makes you feel better.
Try putting on a huge grin.
It makes you feel happier.
Learning how to smile more in and of itself is huge.
Some other tips:
Practice your posture — Stand up straight and don’t slouch
Be present and focus on other people — Being present to the moment and focusing on other people instead of yourself removes your preoccupation with yourself, which lowers anxiety
and makes you calmer/more confident
Work on your energy — In general, focus on creating a better vibe, in general, there’s no great way to explain how to do this other than to start acting like you like yourself
and like your life. It’ll come across in your body language
You Don’t Know How to Dress
Dressing better helps on two fronts.
One, packaging matters.
Two, when you dress well you feel more attractive.
Try wearing a $5,000 suit or stunning dress and not feeling like a million bucks.
I loved watching the Maury show growing up.
My favorite episodes were the ones where they gave people makeovers.
When you looked at the before and after pictures, you’d swear you were looking at a different person.
You don’t have to be a fashion expert or break the bank to dress better.
It boils down to taking a conscious effort to work on your look.
I think this is something men probably need more help with than women, but the advice works the same for everyone.
I’m by no means a fashion expert, but there are some basics you can nail down:
Wear clothes that fit — This seems like a simple piece of advice, but many don’t follow it
Find some resources to help you — Personally, I enjoy using a site called well-built style
to help with my look
Build the foundation — This is especially valuable if you don’t have a lot of money. Have a go-to set of outfits you can wear with pieces you can interchange. For guys, you can
literally have a whole wardrobe of plain colored t-shirts that fit, a few pairs of jeans, and two or three pairs of decent shoes.
You Could Benefit From Hitting the Barber or Salon
Grooming and hygiene go such a long way.
Going back to that Maury example again it was shocking to see how much better the people looked with something as simple as a haircut or new hairdo.
Speaking to the fellas out there.
Get your haircut regularly and keep your facial hair on point whether it’s keeping everything properly trimmed or shaving daily.
It’s astonishing how much better-taking care of your hair can make you look. If you’re bald, keep it nice and shiny.
This should go without saying, but make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing. Nothing kills attraction like bad breath. And having nice teeth helps with that smiling more thing
I talked about earlier.
The way you smell makes a difference, too. I have a go-to set of colognes I like using.
And I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy when women who are near me say “Oh my God, you smell so good.”
I can’t speak for all men out there, but a woman’s style, even the way she does her hair, certainly piques my interest.
I think they’re a little better at that stuff than us, though, hence the focus on the lads.
Now that we’ve got the superficial out of the way, let’s dive a bit deeper and help you change the way you see yourself, which is more important than your looks.
You’re Holding Onto Negative Self-Perceptions
I’m sure other kids made fun of Eric for being short growing up.
Hell, people did it in college.
He internalized those criticisms and it created this piece of identity that held him back for a long time. He equated being short with being unattractive.
I had another friend growing up who was the same height as Eric.
Girls were obsessed with him.
Guess he didn’t get the memo that being short means you’re ugly.
Whatever it is you’re carrying with you that makes you feel less attractive than you are, understanding how much of that perception isn’t true.
Nobody looks at you and picks you apart the way you pick yourself apart, trust me.
I get it.
We’re not all born with the looks of A-list actors and models.
We don’t all have washboard abs or perfectly flat stomachs.
We all have things we’d love to change about ourselves — things we see as flaws, things people might have made fun of us for, things we think define our attractiveness but don’t.
Looks matter and play a role.
Let’s not kid ourselves.
But you don’t have to be perfect to be attractive, not even close.
And you’d be more attractive if you let go of your need to be perfect.
The acceptance of your own perceived flaws is attractive because it shows you’re comfortable in your skin, one of the most attractive qualities you can have.
You’re Focused on the Wrong People
Sometimes you’re going to be someone’s type and sometimes you’re not.
Just the way things go
Yes, there are things you can do to become more attractive in general to more people like getting in better shape, dressing well, and getting your grooming on point.
But, even as you are right now, there are people out there you just do it for.
If you want to feel more attractive, I have a mind-blowingly profound piece of advice for you:
Focus on people who, you know, like you.
Too often we chase the validation of those who don’t want us and judge ourselves by those people instead of the ones who are digging us.
Let’s say for the sake of argument you know for a fact that you aren’t gorgeous or extremely handsome.
If you focused on the subset of people who are into you, you’d feel better about yourself, which would boost your self-esteem, which can make you more attractive. See how this all
Again, let’s be honest, some of us might have a narrower range of people who think we’re their type, but what are you gonna do?
Cry about it?
Or enjoy your life and let the people who want to be a part of it join?
You Discount Your Positive Qualities
Physical appearance is one of a very long list of things that make people attractive — a sense of humor, a positive outlook on life, ambition, intelligence, interesting hobbies, a unique story,
empathy, trustworthiness, and a bunch of other variables that make up who we are.
You probably short-change yourself when it comes to those other variables that matter.
We have the tendency to downplay our own accomplishments and positive qualities and we get it in our heads that others have it so much better.
Here’s an exercise that’ll make you feel more attractive.
Write down 20 things you like about yourself — could be referring to your looks or your personality.
Sit there and grit your teeth until you come up with a bunch of things you admire about yourself and remember those things when you’re feeling less attractive than you really are.
How many times have you had a friend who had some amazing quality but didn’t really see it in themselves?
Have you ever given someone a compliment that you meant sincerely but they shrugged off?
Think about how many times you’ve been that person.
Quit selling yourself short.
Attractiveness is both physical and mental.
I’m not going to pretend like the package doesn’t matter because it does
I am pro ‘looks maxing’ — the process of doing everything you can to make yourself as hot as possible, minus plastic surgery.
Dress well, groom well, get fit, whatever works.
But there’s no need to beat yourself up for what you lack at the same time.
We’re living in a world where we’re getting reduced to our looks more and more.
Someone glances at your picture and decides to swipe right or left.
We’re throwing filters on our photos, even photo-shopping them.
A lot of people aren’t suffering from a lack of attractiveness.
They’re suffering from a lack of confidence.
Do what you can inside and out, to make yourself more confident, put yourself out there, and let the chips fall where they may.
Rest assured, there’s someone out there who wants to jump your bones right now.
Productivity problems that look like time management problems are usually energy management problems in disguise.
Take procrastination, for example: We don’t procrastinate because we lack time — if anything, the research suggests that having too much time makes it more likely that we procrastinate.
Instead, we usually end up procrastinating on our most important work because we’ve wasted our best energy on less important work:
How often have you found yourself responding to email instead of drafting up a final report?
Or cleaning your office instead of working on that watercolor painting you told yourself you were finally going to start?
And by the time you finally do decide to get down to the really meaningful work, you’ve got nothing left in the tank…?
Technically, this is called precrastination — obsessively working on less important tasks as a
way to avoid more important, if challenging, ones.
All that’s to say, being productive has much more to do with energy than time. Specifically…
It’s a lot easier to do your best work with your best energy.
So instead of trying to endlessly slice and dice your schedule according to newer and more complex time management tactics, focus on optimizing your energy instead.
Here are a few tips to get started…
1. Identify when you hit peak creative energy
Do you know when you tend to have peak creative energy?
Some people jump right out of bed ready to start working deeply and creating.
Others don’t really get revved up until the late hours of the night.
And some people have their best energy right after an early afternoon siesta.
It doesn’t really matter when your peak creative energy comes.
What matters is that you understand when it comes and can optimize your work around that time.
If you’re not sure, take a few days or a week and track your energy levels over the course of the day.
Here’s how I’d do it:
Get a piece of paper and create 5 columns labeled Mon-Fri.
Under each column, list out the hours of your day.
Keep this sheet on your desk or with you whenever possible.
Each hour, make a note of how much energy you had on a scale of 1–10.
After you’ve tracked it for a week, review and look for patterns.
2. Prioritize your work according to energy requirements
Responding to emails is important but it doesn’t take much creative energy most of the time.
The same goes for cleaning my office, proofreading a draft, or sitting through most meetings.
On the other hand, writing a first draft of a new article takes a lot of creative energy.
The point is that it’s important to be clear on which tasks require which kind of energy.
Because if you’re not, it’s very easy to end up wasting your best, most creative energy on tasks that don’t need it and then having little leftover when the time comes.
If you already have a good sense for this, great.
But if not, it’s really worth taking the time to:
List out all the tasks you need/want to do on a regular basis.
Categorize them according to whether they’re low, medium, or high energy tasks.
3. Schedule your work around maximizing creative energy
Once you understand when you have the best energy and what tasks require the most creative energy, you can plan your schedule around maximizing the overlap between those two.
As a writer, the most energy-demanding activity I have is writing drafts of new articles. Because this activity requires a high level of focus and creativity, it’s very hard to do it well if I
try to do it at the end of the day when most of my energy has been depleted by other tasks.
But I also know this about myself: I don’t have peak creative energy immediately after waking up in the morning. It takes a good shower, a cup of coffee, and about an hour of being awake before
I’m ready to really dive into some creative work.
I also know through experience that this window doesn’t last forever: By mid-morning I’m definitely past my peak creative energy.
Based on a clear understanding of the work I need to do and my own energy levels, I know that from 6:00 am to 8:00 am is the best creative writing time for me.
4. Guard your creative energy ruthlessly
Of course, even if you know what your most energy-demanding work is and when your peak creative energy is, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to align them — or rather, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to
keep them aligned.
I’ve learned through experience that it’s all too easy to let things intrude upon my peak creative time…
Someone wants to have me on their podcast but can only schedule me at 7:00 am my time
A coworker in another time zone wants to have a meeting at 6:30 am my time
A cool online workshop is happening one time only at 7:30 am my time
When you have something else important or exciting, it’s easy to rationalize why you should make an exception.
And while there of course must be exceptions, you probably need to be more careful about this than you realize.
Exceptions tend to be slippery slopes: once you start making them it gets increasingly easy to keep making them.
And then you wake up one day thinking to yourself: Ugh… I haven’t done any significant creative work in weeks/months/years!
5. Get used to saying “no” by reminding yourself of your values
FOMO is a thing.
It’s hard to disappoint people.
And it’s painful to give up exciting opportunities.
And that’s a big part of why we all struggle so much to set boundaries and say no.
It’s hard because there are very real downsides to saying no and being ruthless about protecting your most creative time and work.
In fact, I think it’s nearly impossible to consistently set healthy boundaries around your creative work unless you make it a deliberate practice to remind yourself of your core values —
the things that really matter most to you.
It’s very hard to say no to a one-time opportunity to hear Dr. So-and-So give an online lecture about Topic-X-Y-Z that you’re super interested in. But it’s a little bit easier if you take the
time to remind yourself of what you would be giving up if you did: I don’t want to be like all those other people I know who call themselves writers but don’t really produce anything. Writing is
my passion. It’s what I love doing. And I know that doing what I love takes hard commitments, including sometimes saying no. At the end of the day, being a writer is more important to me than
attending this lecture. So I’m going to say no.
It’s so hard to say no to your boss who wants you to take on this new project. She’s so nice and has been so supportive of you. And it really does sound like a cool project. But it’s a little bit
easier if you remind yourself of what’s most important: I’ve committed to Project X being my primary focus. It’s difficult, yes, but it’s the thing I’m uniquely suited to do. Getting to work on
something new and shiny is exciting. But at the end of the day, I want to really move the needle and help the company grow. Also, it’s important to me that I do the best work I’m capable of. I want
Project X to be A+ work, not A- work because I allowed myself to be distracted. I know my boss will be initially disappointed that I say no, but I trust that in the long run she’ll
Protecting your creative energy is harder than it seems.
And it’s arguably too hard to do consistently unless you tap into the power of your values by
regularly reminding yourself of the whys behind your most important whats.
Final Thought: Work as a function of energy, not time
Here’s a final way to think about the importance of managing your energy:
The returns on highly-focused creative time are exponentially higher than every other time.
Quick example to illustrate:
I can write an entire first draft for a new article in 90 minutes if I do it at 6:00 am.
But if I could only write article drafts after 3:00 pm, it would take me 7–10 hours per draft because my energy, focus, and creativity are just so much lower then.
This is why it’s so important to see work as a function of energy, not just time: the output on two hours of low-energy work pales in comparison to that of two hours of high-energy work.
It’s an hours to energy comparison!
Of course, I understand that real life happens.
And for all sorts of reasons, we can’t always control all our work as well as we’d like.
Still, to the extent that you can given your circumstances, think about your work — especially your creative work — through the lens of energy, not just time.
Revealing Your True Self
Our true selves exist whether we acknowledge them or not, often buried under learned behavior.
Identity is an elusive concept.
We feel we must define ourselves using a relatively small selection of roles and conscious character traits, even if none accurately represents our notion of "self."
The confusion surrounding our true natures is further compounded by the fact that society regularly asks us to suppress so much of our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual vibrancy.
Yet we are, in truth, beings of light -- pure energy inhabiting physical bodies, striving for enlightenment while living earthly lives.
Our true selves exist whether we acknowledge them or not, often buried under fears and learned behavior. When we recognize our power, our luminosity, and our divinity, we cannot help but live
authentic lives of appreciation, potential, fulfillment, and grace.
At birth and throughout your childhood, your thoughts and feelings were more than likely expressions of your true self.
Though you may have learned quickly that to speak and act in a certain fashion would win others' approval, you understood innately that you were no ordinary being.
There are many ways you can recapture the authenticity you once articulated so freely.
Meditation can liberate you from the bonds of those earthly customs that compel you to downplay your uniqueness.
Also, communing with nature can remind you of the special role you were meant to play in this lifetime.
In order to realize your purpose, you must embrace your true self by letting your light shine forth, no matter the consequences.
Rediscovering who you are apart from your roles and traits takes time and also courage.
If, like many, you have denied your authenticity for a long while, you may find it difficult to separate your true identity from the identity you have created to cope with the world around
Once you do find this authentic self, however, you will be overcome by a wonderful sense of wholeness as you reconcile your spiritual aspect and your physical aspect, as well as your inner- and
As you gradually adjust to this developing unity, your role as a being of light will reveal itself to you, and you will discover that you have a marvelous destiny to fulfill.
5 Mistakes That Make You Appear Insecure to Others
Some subtle ways we make ourselves look desperate in relationships.
Many of us have found ourselves in the following scenario:
You go out with a guy or girl who appears to be into you.
But after a few dates, they suddenly lose their interest and they ghost you.
Most times this happens, we have no clue what could have caused it.
And this can be very frustrating.
But what we don’t realize is that during times of intense emotions, while trying to impress and attract the person we desire, we end up making some innocent and well-intentioned mistakes that
create the opposite effect of what we intended.
Hence, if you want to stop getting into this blindspot where you knowingly make costly mistakes, here are five frequent errors you should avoid making.
For instance, people with false confidence boast about their looks and talk about how many people want them, and they are quick to share all of their accomplishments.
Of course, most people won’t go out of their way to brag about their looks or say how many girls are interested in them when they are on a date.
They are conscious enough to know that will make them look egotistical.
However, false confidence comes across when we are feeling insecure.
It’s a reactive approach we take when we start to feel inferior in social interactions.
When we become too worried about being rejected by the person we desire, we begin to feel an urgent need to say exaggerated things about ourselves rather than showing through actions.
Here’s an example:
A woman has plans to go out with a guy she’s dating, but something comes up and he needs to cancel.
And maybe this is the second time it’s happening.
As a result, she starts talking over the phone about the four guys that are dying to take her out on a date.
She brags about the two other guys she had to turn down to go out with him.
The reason this lady feels the need to tell the guy about these things is because she doesn’t feel like the guy appreciates her value.
Hence she goes out of her way to brag because she believes it’s defending her image.
But unknown to her, this only makes her look desperate in front of the guy.
False confidence can creep in on anyone at any time, especially when we become desperate to prove ourselves.
But trying to elevate yourself in the eyes of others only comes off as insecure.
Instead of bragging to prove yourself, learn to talk things out coolheadedly.
When the heat is down, you’re more likely to state your case rationally, rather than saying desperate the wrong things out of desperation.
The mistake that makes you come off as desperate
It’s normal to want to know that you’re on the same page regarding your feelings and intentions. However, frequently asking how your partner (or potential partner) feels about you for
reassurance is unappealing.
It’s understandable that if the last three or four people you dated ended up ghosting you, it will be natural for you to have the feeling that things are on the verge of falling apart.
But regardless, always asking for reassurance makes you come off as insecure to others.
This lowers your value in their eyes and makes you appear desperate.
There’s a price tag to hard work — and you have to figure out if it’s worth paying it, for your health and your relationships.
Mega-hard work is not always healthy and it can cause us to lose sight of the bigger picture.
So know when to take the foot off.
When to quit.
And when to lie back in the metaphorical deck chair of life just because you can.
5. Be ready when life whispers.
Personal development coach Thomas Leonard said ““opportunities don’t knock, they whisper. So shut up and listen.”
Traditional life advice suggests getting “crystal clear” on our goals for work life and everything.
But the world has changed.
It is harder to predict trends, let alone outcomes; since a pandemic dropped into the mix, it’s hard even to predict what next year will look like.
So stay light on your feet; know what’s important to you and what/who you want in your life — but stay flexible about the path you’ll take to get there.
One of the coolest things about life is that opportunities do come, often in unexpected packages, often quietly.
6. Hold life lightly.
When you’re stressed, your health’s suffering, your relationship’s messed up, your business is going broke, when you can’t make progress with anything, when you feel lost or detached…or a million
variations on those themes…it’s easy to approach each day with hunched shoulders and gritted teeth.
But it all makes life feel incredibly heavy.
As a counter, don’t forget to have fun.
Lighten up. Be spontaneous. Smile. Laugh.
Do silly things.
It’s what makes the whole trip worthwhile.
4 Psychological Phenomena That Make You More Likable — And How to Apply Them
They can help you understand your social interactions and strengthen your social life.
Sometimes, when people ask you why you like someone, it’s hard to give them a satisfying answer.
You just do, right?
Sometimes you don't even fully understand what attracted you to a particular person so much.
But, even though you might not be able to explain how your brain ticks, psychology can.
Many studies and much research has been conducted in order to understand the psychology behind our actions, choices, and decisions.
You might think you have complete control over these things, but most of the time the unconscious significantly influences the way you think and operate, especially when it comes to your
interactions with others.
What follows, are four psychological phenomena that have proven to make you more likable.
Read on to discover some fascinating info that explains likability and the way our brain works in our social interactions.
Let’s dive right in.
#1. The “Similarity-Attraction” Effect
If you’re among the people who believe that opposites attract, it’s time to rewire your thoughts on the matter.
That’s a relationship myth that for some reason remains ingrained in today’s culture — in reality, opposites rarely attract.
In fact, we often find people who exhibit completely opposite qualities from us pretty…repulsive.
It’s a psychological phenomenon that suggests that we are more likely to be attracted to people who are similar to us — in terms of personalities and common interests.
In a popular experiment — that backs up this phenomenon — conducted by American psychologist Theodore
Newcomb, male students of the University of Michigan, who were strangers to each other, were asked to give their opinions on controversial topics, such as sex and politics, and then share a student
By the end of their stay, the students had grown to like more the housemates, with whom they shared the same beliefs about the topics that were measured.
How to apply this phenomenon:
If you want to make a good impression on someone or make them feel more comfortable around you, try to find a point of similarity between you two and highlight it.
Maybe you both are bookworms, love Chinese food, hate the same character from that TV show, or share the same political beliefs.
Whatever it is, make sure you highlight it.
#2. The “Spontaneous Trait Transference” Effect
Here’s a weird fact about the way our brain works: We like people more when they compliment others than when they compliment us.
Because we tend to associate the adjectives a person uses to describe other people with their own personality.
At least that’s what the “spontaneous trait transference” effect suggests. Multiple studies have backed up this
phenomenon, leading to the conclusion that:
“Spontaneous trait transference occurs when communicators are perceived as possessing the very traits they describe in others.”
How to apply this phenomenon:
Unfortunately, most of us have the tendency to talk trash about people whose qualities we don’t particularly like and hold back on genuinely complimenting people who we actually admire.
But that hurts ourselves more than it does other people — and this phenomenon proves it.
Now, if you want to make a good impression on other people and become more likable, simply don’t talk bad about others.
If you have nothing good to say about a co-worker, a relative, or an ex-partner, don’t say anything at all.
And if you do think highly of someone don’t hesitate to compliment them.
Remember, the more positive adjectives you use when you talk about others, the more likable you’ll become — so mind your words when you describe other people.
#3. The ”Emotional Contagion” Effect
Have you noticed that you can boost your mood just by being around happy people?
Or, on the contrary, how having a conversation with a negative, “doom and gloom” person can immediately bring you down?
Emotions are contagious.
We tend to unconsciously absorb the feelings and mimic the emotions of the people around us.
It’s a psychological phenomenon, known as the “emotional contagion effect”.
“Emotional contagion refers to the process in which an observed behavioral change in one individual leads to the reflexive production of the same behavior by other individuals in close proximity,
with the likely outcome of converging emotionally.”
How to apply this phenomenon:
The fact that you can significantly influence someone’s mood and emotions, just by being in their presence, is incredible.
You can start by being consciously aware of your own mood and emotions and start paying attention to how the latter affects the people around you.
Then, try to create a positive emotional climate when you’re in the company of others.
Of course, that can’t always be possible — you’re allowed to be sad or angry.
But, you should consciously make an attempt to display positive emotions as often as you can.
When you seem content, happy, and confident, people around you will start feeling the same way.
#4. The ”Pratfall Effect”
Have you ever wondered why people like awkward characters in TV shows or movies so much?
Why do we tend to have a soft spot for clumsy people, who somehow repeatedly embarrass themselves in front of others, by spilling their coffee on themselves, saying the wrong thing, or falling
down the stairs?
This psychological phenomenon was discovered by American psychologist Elliot Aronson, and it suggests that people tend to like you more after you make a mistake.
Showing that you’re not human, and consequently you make mistakes, makes you seem more relatable, and therefore, likable.
How to apply this phenomenon:
Make a conscious effort to stop being afraid to make mistakes, or revealing your faults — at least from time to time.
Obviously, that doesn’t mean you should go around deliberately spilling coffee on yourself or falling down the stairs.
But, you should start feeling more comfortable with admitting your mistakes or talking about your faults and weaknesses with other people.
You should also stop pretending you’re superhuman or showcasing your successful endeavors, and start talking more to others about some of your mistakes or bad decisions you’re not so proud of.
People will immediately feel like they can relate to you — and as a result, they’ll like you more.
Putting It All Together…
Uncovering the secrets behind the way your brain ticks and understanding the subconscious way your mind operates gives you a greater understanding of your interactions and can help you strengthen
your social life.
To sum it up:
The“similarity-attraction” effect phenomenon suggests that people are more likely to be attracted to those who are similar to them — so make sure you highlight
any similarities you have with the people you want to make a good impression on.
The “spontaneous trait transference” phenomenon suggests that humans tend to associate the adjectives a person uses to describe other people with their own personality —
so mind your words when you describe other people and compliment them as much as you can (but only if you mean it!).
The “emotional contagion” phenomenon suggests that people tend to unconsciously absorb the feelings and mimic the emotions of others around us — so be consciously aware
of your emotions and try to create an emotionally positive climate when you’re in the company of others.
The “pratfall effect” suggests that people like others more after they see (or hear about) them making a mistake — so don’t hide your mistakes and display your faults
It’s been two and a half years since I thought about killing myself.
That’s up there as one of my personal records I’m most proud of, next to that time I won my Kindergarten classes’ art fair.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today, had I not gone through years of battling depression and recovering from two eating disorders.
It woke me up and now, I can’t go back to seeing the world from a sleeping state.
Even my sense of humor darkened in a way that I can make things awkward at a party at the drop of a hat.
I secretly love that.
But one of the most twisted silver linings of believing my brain was broken and I’d royally screwed up my one chance at living is that I learned the truth about happiness.
Not the mundane garbage splattered across motivational Instagram posts and “Live Laugh Love” signs.
I’m talking about the lessons you can either learn by hitting rock bottom, making the near-impossible choice to continue existing, and clawing your way out of the trenches or reading from someone
who’s been there.
If you chose the latter, this article is for you.
It’s seven lessons that I learned by going through my darkest times; the reason I wouldn’t change my past, even if I had the chance.
Feelings are fleeting.
Emotions are tricky little bastards.
Their presence feels all-consuming, to the point that you believe they’re a part of you.
You start to believe you don’t “feel sad” but instead you “are sad.”
The belief that despair would be a part of me for the rest of my life was by far the hardest part of my worst bouts of depression.
I figured I was condemned to a life of toggling between numbness and hopelessness.
But, each time I got through those bouts of depression, I proved to myself that I am not despair and hopeless.
They were simply transients residing in me for a moment's time.
This lesson hit me so hard, that I permanently marked it on my body as my first and only tattoo.
Three black dots (an ellipsis) are marked on my right ring finger as a reminder that when I feel overwhelmed by my feelings, life will continue on, like a thought yet to be finished.
Happiness is about learning to dance with life, not fight it.
I want to say that the above sentence is original, straight from my brain, but I’m almost certain it came from some like Mark Manson or Matt Haig on Twitter.
Either way, this point couldn’t be put more beautifully.
Part of what perpetuated my eating disorder for so many years was a need for control.
Everything felt unstable about my life: I left a job because it was clear they didn’t need me.
I failed at starting a new career as a coder.
Then I was let go from a technical recruiting job.
Not to mention the dumpster fire that was my love life.
My heart was like a revolving door of people who got a glimpse of the disheveled decor inside and decided to keep pushing the door around so the man behind him could have his chance.
The one thing I did have control over was food, though.
I’ve been on nearly every diet that exists.
I can tell you the calorie count of just about any food, give or take 20 calories.
My esophagus is like that of a middle-aged white man who eats donuts for breakfast every morning.
And even though I fought for control, life still had its curveballs.
Because, no matter what anyone does to set themselves up to thrive, things happen.
And the key to making it through life’s obstacles isn’t by fighting every possible chance of sadness that comes your way; it’s about learning to dance.
And by dance I mean, having the tools to help yourself on the days you’re down.
Building thriving relationships as your support system.
Accepting that it’s OK to not feel OK.
Time really does heal.
Tell this to anyone in their darkest moments and you risk getting slapped in the face or, worse, having that person shut off from you.
No one wants to hear that their hardest struggle takes time to get better.
But the fact is, it does.
At the time of my 2019 bout of depression, I was seeing a therapist at my city’s local community center.
I originally went to him to find out why I dated such crappy men but, like many things in life, our sessions quickly turned into uncovering why I was so unhappy with myself.
My therapist gave me tools, activities, and exercises.
He recommended I start taking walks and reading certain books.
And though all of those things combined created the ladder I needed to climb my way out of the sadness, I still needed the time to build the ladder.
You can give someone the tools to heal, but all that does is start the healing.
The process of healing will take time, regardless of how much you try to rush it.
But in that is a bit of hope, too; the assurance in knowing something as simple as time can drastically change the course of your life.
I needed to focus on tiny steps forward, rather than how far I had to go.
Going back to my 2019 community center therapist, I enjoyed his mode of therapy because he focused on little changes, rather than the big picture.
He held me accountable for small modifications I could make between our bi-weekly sessions.
It’s the exact opposite mindset of what I had in 2015 when I started going to eating disorder rehab. I’d scroll on Instagram and see people who were unencumbered by their thoughts around food.
They ate without hesitation; something I hadn’t done in years.
I spent about 80% of my waking time thinking about food.
My days were consumed by counting calories in my head, agonizing over what I ate the day before and would eat the day after, and avoiding seeing myself on any reflective surface.
It was an exhausting existence, and the gap between me and the people I saw on Instagram seemed endless.
But it wasn’t setting my sights on how far I had to go to shorten that gap that helped me recover from my eating disorder.
It was small changes I made that did the trick.
Focusing on how far you have to go can feel disheartening.
But if you can commit to taking tiny steps forward, one day you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.
I’m in charge of my happiness; not anyone else.
It was never going to be my boyfriend who made me happy.
It was never going to be my therapist who waved a magic wand and created a will to live for me. Not even my friends or family could change my steady state of melancholia.
My fate was always in my own hands.
While support and therapy are essential to people suffering from diseases like depression, eating disorders, and anxiety, ultimately, the change has to come from them.
I realize now the power in asking for help, but I’m in charge of my own happiness.
And that realization has carried with me throughout my life. I need to check in with myself to make sure I’m not slipping back into my disordered eating way.
I have to monitor whether I’m feeling like myself and, if not, I need to be the one to do something about it.
Because, if I wait around for someone else to notice, it’ll be too late.
I’ll be back at square one.
But that’s OK.
I’m always going to be the person who can take care of and prioritize my needs best.
Don’t worry so damn much about being happy.
The pursuit of happiness is a fallacy.
You can be happy right now, at this moment.
There’s no end destination where you’ll finally catch up to the happiness train and ride it into the eternal bliss sunset.
Society puts so much pressure on people to be happy: Choose a job that brings you joy but also a partner that does the same.
Workout because your cortisol levels will decrease and have plenty of sex so your serotonin increases. Have hobbies you love and friends you love more. Because all of this combined will ensure
When you focus your attention too much on anything, you’re bound to smother it. Happiness shouldn’t be a part-time job but, rather, a byproduct of just having fun with life.
Shifting my focus away from trying to be happy to simply being happy was a game-changer. It led to unexpected
happiness because, really, how can anyone know what would make them happy until they try?
As I said, I don’t regret spending years of my life in the grips of two eating disorders or blanketed by the despair of depression.
They’re both what shaped me into the person I am today.
Hell, without them, I wouldn’t be a writer and you sure as hell wouldn’t be reading these words right now.
So take these lessons on happiness and apply them to your life.
Whatever you choose will end up being your journey; something many of us need to go through to see the light.
When you look around the world, there are a lot of examples of people who look confident on the outside:
From politicians who make sweeping claims and impossible promises to athletes and celebrities who swagger and flaunt from every angle possible, our society is full of fake confidence.
True confidence, on the other hand, is harder to spot because it’s less flashy and more humble. Genuinely confident people don’t feel the need to constantly prove themselves—they just go about
their lives quietly confident.
Here’s a simple way to think about it:
False confidence hides insecurity. True confidence embraces it.
What follows are 7 specific signs that a person possesses genuine confidence.
1. Being compassionate to others
If you wanted to identify people with a high degree of false confidence, what would you look for?
For me, a dead giveaway would be people who are highly critical and judgmental of others.
Like a schoolyard bully, they’re so insecure themselves, that the only way they know to feel good about themselves is to put other people down.
Well, what’s the opposite of hyper-criticalness and judgmentalness?
I’d say something like compassion.
And in my experience, people who are routinely empathetic and compassionate are also quietly confident themselves.
Compassion is the outward sign of inner confidence.
It’s only when you’re not obsessed with yourself and your own insecurities that you can confidently shift your focus to other people in a compassionate and empathetic way.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
― John Holmes
2. Admitting it when they’re wrong
Humility doesn’t seem to be one of our culture’s favorite virtues these days.
But truly confident people have it.
Of course, humility can be hard to spot because it’s not flashy or sexy, or exciting.
Luckily, there’s a pretty fool-proof test to see if someone has humility — and by extension — confidence: Do they admit when they’re wrong?
Confident people have the self-awareness to know when they’re wrong and the humility to admit it.
If you want to know if someone is truly confident, ask yourself:
When was the last time this person acknowledged they were wrong?
If you’re drawing blanks, that might be a sign that they’re not as confident as they appear.
“The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it.”
― Alan Moore
3. Being willing to ask for help
People who never ask for help probably have. major. issues with vulnerability.
Which makes sense if you think about it…
When you ask for help, you are admitting at least a little bit of inadequacy.
Of course, it’s perfectly normal to feel somewhat inadequate about things — nobody is an expert at everything!
But some people grow up believing they need to be good at everything.
They’re afraid that if they’re not exceptionally good at everything that crosses their path, it means they’re unlovable.
But when people ask for help, it shows that they have a realistic view of themselves and their abilities.
It means they know they don’t know everything and are interested in growth, not just results.
Confident people are focused on who they can become, not who they think they’re destined to be.
Someone who’s too insecure to ask for help probably isn’t as confident as they seem.
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
― William James
4. Communicating assertively
One hallmark of genuinely confident people is that they’re okay just being themselves.
They don’t feel the need to wear masks and perform and try to be somebody else.
They’re comfortable in their own skin and basically like the way they are.
As a result, they’re usually able to communicate in a way that’s honest and straightforward — in other words, they’re assertive.
Assertiveness means having the courage to ask for what you want and say no to what you don’t want.
When people lack true confidence, they often resort to other less helpful communication styles like passivity, aggression, or even passive-aggressive communication.
True confidence reveals itself in assertive communication.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
– J. K. Rowling
5. Accepting past mistakes, not dwelling on them
Dealing with mistakes and regrets is a tricky business: On the one hand, you don’t want to live in denial about your mistakes.
But on the other, you don’t want to get paralyzed by them either.
The ability to balance these two tendencies well is a hallmark of genuine confidence and healthy self-esteem.
Confident people reflect on their mistakes but don’t dwell on them.
When a person is willing to confront and reflect on their past mistakes, it shows emotional maturity and self-awareness.
At the same time, the ability to move past one’s mistakes with self-compassion demonstrates a healthy sense of self-respect and balance.
A good measure of confidence is how people relate to their past, especially past mistakes.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher
6. Setting healthy boundaries
Confident people respect themselves just as much as other people.
This means that they don’t let other people bully them, manipulate them, or walk all over them.
So when push comes to shove, they’re able and willing to set healthy boundaries.
But more than just setting healthy boundaries, true confidence leads to the willingness to enforce those boundaries, even when it’s hard.
Anyone can set boundaries.
Confident people enforce them.
The willingness to enforce healthy boundaries is really a matter of self-respect. When your rights are being violated, setting and enforcing healthy boundaries communicates to yourself and
everyone else that you have too much respect for yourself to let that happen.
“If people keep stepping on you, wear a pointy hat.”
― Joyce Rachelle
7. Choosing values, not feelings
A final way to identify truly confident people is to look at what really motivates their decision-making—specifically, are they motivated by their feelings or their values?
When you make decisions from a place of fear and insecurity, it’s easy to get pushed around by your strong emotions and feelings.
On the other hand, when you are confident and secure in yourself, your energy and attention are freed up to spend time getting to know your values and highest aspirations.
Because it’s only when you’re clear about what really matters to you that you’ll be able to resist the whims of the moment and make consistently good decisions.
Confident people use-values, not feelings, to make choices.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
— Viktor Frankl
All You Need to Know
Here are seven signs of truly confident people:
Being compassionate to others
Admitting it when they’re wrong
Being willing to ask for help
Accepting past mistakes, not dwelling on them
Setting healthy boundaries
Choosing values, not feelings
5 Signs You’re Charming and Don’t Even Know it
The path to charm is already complete for many of you and available to the rest.
Do you often feel inadequate, like you’re not good enough or unworthy?
Maybe you never seem to measure up with all your creative and ambitious coworkers?
Or maybe you tend to feel bad about yourself because your spouse is so patient with the kids and you lose your temper so easily.
Whatever inadequacy looks like for you, it’s a painful thing to live with.
But here’s what most people don’t realize about inadequacy:
Whatever caused your inadequacy initially, it’s usually your habits that are maintaining it.
Anything from early life trauma to unhelpful comparisons can cause you to feel inadequate. The question is, why do you keep feeling inadequate?
In this article, I’m going to walk you through a handful of subtle habits that are keeping you stuck feeling inadequate all the time.
1. Your emotional expectations are unrealistic
I think a lot of us know that unrealistic expectations are dangerous, especially for other people:
Expecting that your boss is going to be super supportive and nurturing all the time is a good way to end up frustrated and irritable at work.
Expecting that your spouse will always be compassionate and give you their 100% undivided attention is a good way to end up disappointed and unhappy at home.
Of course, lowering those expectations to a more realistic level (and keeping them there) is still a challenge.
But the point is, in most areas of life, we at least understand that we should look out for unreasonable expectations of other people.
But a major source of feeling inadequate and unhappy comes from our expectations of ourselves.
More specifically, our emotional expectations are way too high.
An emotional expectation is an assumption you have about how you should feel emotionally.
Here are a couple of quick examples:
You assume that after criticism from your manager at work, you should be able to “just shake it off” and not be bothered by it anymore. But hours later when you’re still stewing about it and
feeling anxious, your expectation gets violated which leads to you feel angry or guilty with yourself for still feeling bad.
You lose someone important in your life. Maybe it’s the death of a loved one or maybe you get broken up with by a romantic partner. Your assumption is that you should feel sad for a couple of
weeks but then move on after that and feel happy again — which to you means, not feeling sad anymore about your loss. Well, months go by and you still think about and remember the person you lost,
and when you do, you feel sad. But because of your expectation that you shouldn’t feel sad after a couple of weeks, you feel anxious that “something’s wrong with me” because you can’t seem to “let
In both cases, here’s the problem:
When your emotional expectations are unrealistic, you end up feeling bad about feeling bad, which is what really makes us feel inadequate.
Your emotions are not something you can control directly. So it makes no sense to hold yourself accountable for how they should operate.
Drop your emotional expectations for yourself and you will start to feel more and more okay with yourself.
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
― Donald Miller
2. You rely on reassurance to feel good
A big part of inadequacy is low self-confidence.
Think about it: It’d be pretty tough to feel inadequate about yourself if you were very confident in yourself, right?
So one way of looking at the causes of feeling inadequate is to ask yourself, What habits in my life lead to losses of confidence?
And while there could be many sources of low self-confidence in your life, a subtle one that people often miss is reassurance-seeking.
Reassurance-seeking is the habit of relying on other people to feel good.
A few examples:
Whenever you feel anxious or worried, you immediately call up a best friend, sibling, or parent hoping for some reassuring words to alleviate your fears.
Anytime you feel indecisive or uncertain, you “check” with a variety of people to make sure it’s not a bad decision before you actually do anything.
When you feel sad and down, you immediately make plans to be around other people and use them as a way to cheer yourself up rather than sitting with your sadness and trying to understand it first.
There are two big problems with reassurance-seeking:
It leads to poor quality relationships and resentment among the people who are closest to you. Despite what they tell you to your face, nobody wants to be relied upon as
your primary means of emotional support.
It kills your emotional confidence. Emotional confidence is the ability to sit with and manage your painful emotions rather than immediately trying to avoid them or “fix” them.
But when you’re in the habit of always alleviating your painful feeling by having someone else reassure you, you’re effectively teaching your brain that you can’t handle difficult feelings on your
Sometimes you feel inadequate because you really are inadequate: You don’t know how to handle feeling bad.
And one of the most common sources of genuine inadequacy is that you don’t allow yourself to practice managing difficult feelings on your own.
And if you’re not confident that you can handle your own feelings, I mean, why wouldn’t you feel inadequate?
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
3. You dwell on past mistakes
Imagine you have to go through life constantly accompanied by a grumpy little leprechaun who’s constantly reminding you of mistakes you made in the past and what a terrible person you are because
of those mistakes.
Now imagine how that would feel — day-in and day-out to be criticized and reminded of your past mistakes.
Even on your best days when things are going really well and you’re feeling good and happy and content, all of a sudden the little guy would pipe up and remind you of that tone time you cheated
on a test in college. Or that time you cheated on your first wife and your marriage blew up.
Even if you “knew” intellectually that those things were in the past, being constantly reminded of them would make you feel pretty terrible, right?
For a lot of people who feel chronically inadequate, it’s not a thought experiment… that’s their life!
Of course, it’s not a grumpy little leprechaun that’s doing it — they’re doing it to themselves by getting stuck in the habit of rumination or dwelling on past mistakes.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about your past, including past mistakes.
In fact, it’s one of the primary ways we avoid making more of the same mistakes is by analyzing what went wrong and making a plan to avoid it in the future.
This is called healthy reflection.
And it’s different than unhealthy rumination because of one key variable…
It actually helps!
After you’ve made a mistake, taking some time to reflect on it will probably be helpful.
But the law of diminishing returns sets in pretty quickly with reflecting on our mistakes:
Spend a few hours thoughtfully reflecting on a mistake… It’s going to be painful, but you’re probably going to learn a lot, which in turn will increase your odds of not making the same mistake
Spend a few hours multiple times per month thinking about a mistake… Well, you might still learn a thing or two, which could be helpful to some degree. But it’s unlike your return on investment
for that thinking time is even close to as high as it was for the first few hours. But it’s still going to be just as painful.
Spend a few hours multiple times per week for years thinking about your mistake… At this point, it’s basically all side-effects (guilt, shame, regret) and no benefit.
The lesson here is pretty straightforward:
Thinking about past mistakes is a good idea if it’s actually productive and leading to new insights and better behaviors.
Unfortunately, many people get stuck in the habit of ruminating on their past mistakes well past the point where it’s productive, which means they get to feel bad about themselves and inadequate
without any compensating upside.
The next time you find yourself dwelling on a past mistake, ask yourself this question: Is continuing to think about this actually helping anyone?
“As long as the world is turning and spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes.”
― Mel Brooks
4. Your values are unclear
Famous New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra famously said…
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
I always think about that line when I talk to people about the importance of values for emotional health.
To be clear, I don’t mean religious or moral values necessarily.
What I mean is personal values — the things that matter most to you in your life.
It might be something like honesty or justice, but it could also be something like spending quiet time in nature or being a good listener.
Values matter because without them — without a clear idea of what’s important to us and which direction we want to be heading — it’s really easy to get lost.
Specifically, it’s easy to end up making all our decisions in life based on how we want or don’t want to feel, rather than basing our choices on what we really want out of life.
And this brings us to inadequacy…
Feeling inadequate is often the result of living someone else’s life instead of your own:
You work in a career that you don’t really enjoy or find meaningful because it’s prestigious and looks good to your family, friends, and society.
You defer important decisions to your spouse or coworkers because you feel unsure of yourself.
You marry someone because they “check all the boxes” but you don’t actually enjoy being around them that much.
Feeling inadequate comes from knowing deep down that you’re not living the life you really want.
Just like inadequacy can come from a comparison between yourself and other people, it can also come from a comparison between your actual life and the one you really want to be living.
And if there’s a big discrepancy there, there’s a good chance you’re going to feel a lot of inadequacy because you’re not living up to your own standard.
So, what do you do if that’s the case?
Well, a big reason why we don’t live up to our own standards and values is that we actually aren’t very clear about them what our personal values are!
On the other hand, when your personal values are clear, they exert a much stronger motivating pull on you.
And once you’re more motivated to live life on your own terms, feeling inadequate tends to fade.
If you want to feel less inadequate, start living the life you really want.
Low self-worth is one of the most common but under-discussed issues people face today.
Unfortunately, many of the tips and tricks you hear about for improving your self-worth either aren’t really helpful or even make things worse.
For example, simply rehearsing unrealistically positive statements about yourself or the future — a form of “toxic positivity” — can actually make you feel worse in
the long run.
If you really want to feel better about yourself, you need to address the core issues creating low self-worth in the first place.
In my work as a psychologist, I’ve seen 4 core psychological drivers of low self-worth that are the most common.
Work to address these and your natural self-worth will rise.
1. Judgmental self-talk
Imagine that all day, every day, you’re followed around by a grumpy little elf who does nothing but criticize you, insult you, and tell you how worthless you
Now, even if I told you,
Listen, nothing this little guy says is actually true about you, so don’t worry, how would you feel if you had to live with someone constantly putting you down, day-in and day-out, at
work, at home on vacation, and in your bed at 2:00 am when you can’t sleep?
Pretty terrible, right?
Well, that’s exactly what most people with low self-worth do to themselves!
They constantly criticize and judge themselves in their own heads.
They tell themselves how worthless they are and how bad everything is.
And all this despite knowing intellectually that most of it simply isn’t true.
Whether you actually believe the content of your self-criticism or not, the activity of doing it is killing your self-worth.
If you want to improve your self-worth, it’s essential that you stop being overly critical and judgmental of yourself in your own head.
Negative self-talk can be an especially difficult habit to break, but at the end of the day, it is a habit. And habits can be broken.
“Words matter. And the words that matter most are the ones you say to yourself.”
― David Taylor-Klaus
One of the worst habits people with low self-worth get into is chronic reassurance-seeking.
Reassurance-seeking means relying on other people to feel better.
You feel anxious about an upcoming job interview, so you call your mom hoping that she’ll tell you everything will go fine.
You feel angry about something that happened at work today, so you vent to your spouse expecting that they’ll confirm how terrible your boss is and make you feel better.
The reason reassurance-seeking is such a bad habit when it comes to low self-worth is that it destroys your emotional confidence.
Emotional confidence is the ability to tolerate difficult emotions without trying to avoid them or get rid of them.
When you constantly try to escape from or “fix” your painful emotions — including by using reassurance-seeking to get other people to alleviate them — you teach your brain that difficult emotions
are dangerous and that you can’t handle them.
So while you might get some temporary relief at the moment, you fraternize yourself in the long run and make it more likely that you’ll be afraid of those feelings in the future.
Now, think about it: How much self-worth can you feel if you’re constantly teaching your brain that you’re incapable of handling difficult emotions on your own?
When you outsource feeling better to other people you kill your confidence, and with it, your sense of self-worth.
One of the best ways to improve your self-worth is to learn how to validate your emotions and accept
them instead of always trying to get rid of them.
“No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself.”
3. Fear of being assertive
Many people grow up only seeing two examples of how to communicate: passively and aggressively:
Passive communication is when you’re so concerned about other people and what they want, that you don’t speak of yourself and express your own wants and needs clearly.
Aggressive communication is when you try to get what you want in a way that’s rude, disrespectful, or downright hurtful to other people.
Many people — especially women — are taught that you should always defer or put aside your own wants and needs in order to make others happy.
Combine this with a natural fear of conflict that many of us have, and you get a lot of people who are basically afraid to ask for what they want or say no to what they don’t want.
In short, they’re afraid to communicate assertively — to express themselves and their wants in a way that’s honest but also respectful of others.
Now, think about this situation from your brain’s perspective:
What are you teaching your brain if you always prioritize other people over yourself?
Yeah, that other people are more important than you are!
If you constantly treat yourself as less important than others, don’t be surprised if you start to feel that way.
The solution is to practice communicating assertively.
This means being willing to express what you actually want and set healthy boundaries on what you don’t want.
And even though this can feel quite difficult if you’ve been a doormat your whole life, that doesn’t make it any less important.
If you want to feel better about yourself, you need to stand up for yourself.
In conversations with others, in the books I read, in the podcasts I listen to, I’m constantly searching for more.
I can almost feel my brain lighting up in response.
I’m not working towards any endpoint in particular.
Rather, learning is both a means and an end for me.
Like someone who runs because they enjoy running.
But consuming only goes so far.
You must be able to apply those lessons in the real world.
There are four ideas in particular that have allowed me to be more intentional with my time.
That has allowed me to overcome obstacles, improve my focus, and much more.
They are lessons that have enhanced my productivity and, in turn, my life fulfillment.
I’ve stolen these ideas and have implemented them into my own life. You may just find you want to do the same.
1) Fool me once
You hit send too early.
The email was only half-finished and now it’s out of your hands.
You feel like a dunce.
So what do you do?
The average person would send a follow-up email explaining the situation.
Then they’d go about their day.
You do the same.
A week later, you’re back at your desk drafting an email.
Unedited, you again hit send a little too early.
This time you forget to include several details needed for an upcoming project.
Worse still, it was an email to your boss’s boss.
In short, you once more are caught wearing the dunce cap.
In Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell, the author explains the value of actively learning from mistakes.
How, whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you should write down what happened (ie. the failure or shortcoming), what you learned from it, and how you can do things better next time.
Especially if you’ve made the same mistake two or more times as it means you haven’t learned from it yet.
Applying Maxwell’s lesson, I have a Google Doc where I do just that.
I call it my Learn Log and when I blunder I write out:
What I ideally wanted to happen;
What actually happened;
Why I think it didn’t go as planned;
What I will do differently next time.
By doing this, I bring awareness to my errors. I actively take responsibility and chart a better course forward.
At your next misstep then, try following this prompt. Learn from your past and make your future even more promising.
2) Hold the fries
It’s Sunday night and you feel like going for it.
With your stretchiest of sweatpants on, you pull up to a local fast food spot ready to feast.
But as you prepare to order, you become overwhelmed.
Your eyes cross.
Your brain freezes.
“I need a minute,” you say into the box.
On the display before you is a dizzying array of menu options.
Breakfast and dinner choices.
Tacos, burgers, sandwiches, eggs.
They even have salmon for some reason.
You back out of the line and head to In-N-Out instead.
In In-N-Out Burger by Stacy Perman, the author covers the life of the successful burger chain.
Unlike other chains, In-N-Out’s menu is simple.
You have one option: a burger. You can add cheese if you’d like.
Or an extra patty.
Or a side of fries.
But at the most basic level, it sells burgers.
And that’s it.
Founded by husband and wife, Harry and Esther Snyder, Harry’s maxim was: Do one thing and do it well.
He intentionally kept the menu simple and streamlined, not seeing an advantage to adding new items or changing recipes.
Today, where other chains flounder, In-N-Out boasts long lines day after day (and they’ve been around for just as long as their competitors).
The simple In-N-Out menu allows them to stay efficient — they don’t have to deal with the complexity of extra ingredients.
It also allows them to invest in what they do sell — they don’t have to spend money on R&D and can thus better invest in the product.
In my business, I often find myself thinking of In-N-Out.
Of how I can simplify what I do, better improve the quality of what I offer, and remove complexity. It’s a lesson you can apply to anything to increase your effectiveness as well.
3) Spot the difference
Language is a funny thing.
A concept can feel blurry until you learn of the right word for it.
Then suddenly everything clicks.
After reading Free To Focus by Michael Hyatt, this very thing happened to me. In his book, he breaks every goal into two distinct camps:
Habit goals are those goals that repeat.
They are ones you want to become a habit.
To become part of your lifestyle.
For example, goals like read two books a month or run five miles a week are habit goals.
They repeat and don’t have a clear endpoint. You just keep going until it feels like they’re part of who you are.
Achievements goals are those with a set destination.
They are goals that are generally one-offs.
You do them once and are done.
For example, goals like read two books by February 1st or run a marathon by October 15th are achievement goals.
They have a deadline.
Once the deadline passes, the goal is complete.
You either achieved it or you didn’t.
This understanding of the two types has helped me set better goals for myself. It has helped me decide which goals I want to be part of my lifestyle and which I simply want to do once.
It has clarified my thinking.
And it has allowed me to be more intentional with my goal-setting efforts.
It can do the same for you.
4) There’s nothing to see here
“Don’t you think you should be on Facebook?” someone recently asked of me.
My response: “Nope.”
In a world where everyone is everywhere, I am virtually nowhere.
And I’m nowhere intentionally.
You won’t find me on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or TikTok.
Not on Twitter or on LinkedIn.
Not in a house and not with a mouse.
I do not like green eg — alright, you get it.
I’m nowhere by design.
In an episode of the Tim Ferriss Show, guest Seth Godin explains the power of constraints.
How you should set them for yourself so as to make clearer decisions.
Otherwise, you can get lost in the world of endless options.
For example, he explains, you can set constraints as to where you will or won’t be online.
Decide why you are setting those constraints and then stick to them like the walls of a hockey rink.
Because without the walls, there is no game.
You’re just skating on a giant pond.
In defining what isn’t, you can focus on what is.
Put another way, by clarifying where you won’t be, you can put energy into the places you are.
Personally, not being on social media allows me to utilize my time in better, more fulfilling ways. Professionally, it allows me to work on the areas of my business that I want to grow,
not where I feel required to grow.
Instead of giving a sliver of my attention to 20 different platforms, I can concentrate on the one or two places I feel hold the most potential.
By setting constraints for yourself, you can do the same.
Moving forward as a thief
If these lessons resonate with you, steal them from me as I stole them from others.
Let them improve your effectiveness and thus create a more intentional life for yourself.
To repeat them once more, they are:
Actively learn from your mistakes.
Simplify the things you do.
Set different goals depending on your desires.
Erect constraints to better define your focus.
Create a Learn Log for yourself.
Start using it.
Recognize the complexities around you.
Remove the superfluous so as to improve the significance.
Set habit goals based on the lifestyle you yearn for.
Set achievement goals for those things you want to accomplish once.
Decide what isn’t worthy of your time so that you can focus on what is.
After I win a Jiu-Jitsu tournament, I want to go all-in on my “real life Dragon Ball” dream and sleep on a mat chasing world titles for a living.
After I write something I’m proud of, I want to move to a cabin in the woods and become the next Hunter S. Thompson — minus all the cocaine, of course.
My problem isn’t that I have no interests or even that I have too many interests.
My problem is that I’m chasing the dopamine.
I just want to go wherever I’m going to feel the best, and because I do so many different things, the thing that makes me feel best is always changing.
I’m more impulsive and less self-aware than I thought I was, and external influences like my family, peers, and of course, social media really aren’t helping me figure it out.
But a false sense of self-awareness isn’t just my problem, either.
There’s research that suggests that close to 80% of people lack true self-awareness, though 95% of people believe they’re self-aware.
Obviously, the laboratory definition of self-awareness isn’t everything, but it’s still a compelling figure that leads to an important question: are you like “most people”?
Is your self-awareness a lie?
You probably won’t want to admit it, but it’s very easy to fake emotional intelligence and self-awareness without even realizing that the one you’re fooling most is yourself.
In a world that’s devoid of deep meaning and a true encouragement for spiritual connection, are you “Tyler Dryden-ing” yourself to survive the day?
What Do You Really Want?
If you don’t know what you really want, you’re not alone.
Unfortunately, however, you’re also going to be highly susceptible to the influence of people around you, emerging technology, and worse of all your own biochemical brainwashing.
When it comes to external influencing, lost minds are the same as weak minds.
Most of the kids that I grew up with are for the most part following a very similar track in their early twenties.
Most of them went to college, got degrees, went to a lot of football games, drank obscene amounts of cheap beer, and now are either getting Master’s degrees or working corporate jobs.
I don’t have hard data on this, but if you’d like, I can show you my LinkedIn connections list.
But why is everyone doing the “same thing”?
Could it be because they all want the same thing?
Am I wrong in thinking that most people are lying to themselves about what they want out of life?
It’s completely possible.
I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about growth, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence.
However, I’m also fairly certain that there’s a lack of introspection that happens amongst young people, and so it doesn’t really surprise me that many people are funneling themselves through life
following “traditional” paths that correlate to high
rates of burnout and chronic mental illness.
But unfortunately, high rates of professionals are caused by a much deeper and more complex conundrum than just a lack of introspection.
It’s going to take more than a week off or a spiritual retreat to really get to know yourself, especially because getting to know yourself today is harder than it’s ever been.
It’s Getting Harder to Know Yourself
When you imagine your identity, what words come to mind?
I’ll go first: I’m a white, heterosexual man, a son, an ADHD person, a copywriter, a writer, an athlete, a teacher, and a martial artist.
This might sound like a lot of (albeit not very diverse) hats, but really these are just words that I use in order to help my peers and me understand my place in the world.
In reality, these words don’t mean anything about my level of self-awareness or how well I “know myself”.
I’ll make a bold claim: most people don’t know themselves.
Part of the reason why could be because modern society does not encourage introspection and writes it off as “hippie liberal mumbo jumbo”, but really the root of a lack of cultural self-awareness
goes much deeper than the toxic, over-complained about hustle
Perhaps the real reason that it’s so
difficult to know yourself in the modern world is that there is just too much that you can be.
To make matters more complicated, many parts of your identity are socially constructed both by you and your peers.
The world around you is always changing (now faster than ever), and so is your identity.
The crisis comes when these identity evolutions are happening too fast for our brains to fully comprehend.
The human mind evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, what makes you think you can figure yours out in a day, week, or even year?
The Reason to Play the Game Is to Be Free of It
The biggest philosophical lesson that I’ve learned in the past 6 months is that the “self” as we know it is an
I freakin’ love this idea.
In Western culture, we’re obsessed with self-awareness and self-discovery.
This seems great, but really, we’re obsessed with something that doesn’t even exist outside of the confines of consensual human fiction.
Our obsession with identity as a concept is both an individual and societal roadblock that is blocking humanity from reaching a collectively higher rate of “self-awareness”, happiness, and perhaps
even spiritual evolution.
The confines of what constitutes an identity are always changing.
For example, if you asked a farmer from the 1500s to “identify himself”, he’d have far fewer determining aspects of himself to choose from and even fewer aspirations.
People just didn’t have the same options for self-expression in the 1500s as someone does today.
This does not make the farmer from 1500 more self-aware or less self-aware.
If anything, it means that he was playing the self-awareness game with a multitude of missing pieces. The answer says more about the game than the player.
Perhaps today, we are playing the same self-awareness game with so many pieces that we’ve gotten distracted from the reason that we started playing in the first place — to improve the human condition.
Human beings come in all shapes, sizes, genders, orientations, colors, and creeds.
The reason that we “identify ourselves” is to both understand ourselves and the world around us and collectively improve the human experience.
Though the self might be an illusion, it’s a very important one.
Your identity is important because it allows you to both connect with and separate yourself from the world around you.
Individuality is important, especially if you’re on a team.
To “know yourself” isn’t really to discover everything that’s lurking in each corner of your psyche.
To truly know yourself is to take each aspect of yourself that’s already there and to accept it, regardless of consequence.
The self may be an illusion, but you won’t be able to understand that until you’ve accepted your “self”.
Don’t let my fancy philosophy rant fool you, I’m not as self-aware as I come off to be.
That was a tough but necessary pill for me to swallow.
However, by realizing and accepting that, I’m becoming more self-aware.
The more self-aware I become, the less necessity I have for my “self” because I’m more connected to the deeper sense of purpose that drives me every day.
The more I accept my identity, the less I’m fighting it and the less it matters.
That, in my understanding, the first step to peace and progress.
Whether it’s writing, martial arts, or just being a kind human being, there are plenty of worthwhile pursuits that I can be doing even without a resounding sense of self-mastery or
If anything, these are the things I should be doing in order to pursue self-mastery and a connection with the heart of my consciousness.
There’s undeniably something magical about the human experience that can’t be explained with the labels that society and language have created for us.
Maybe the disconnect that we have from that hidden magic is the real reason a deep sense of self-understanding is eluding us in the first place.
Just being here, being ourselves, is enough.
Most of us have the feeling that we are here to accomplish something big in our lives, and if we haven't done something that fits the bill we may feel as if we are waiting.
We may feel incomplete, or empty as if our lives don't yet make sense to us, because they don't line up with our idea of major accomplishment.
In some cases, this may be because we really are meant to do something that we haven't yet done. But in most cases, we can let ourselves off the hook with the realization that just being here,
being ourselves, is enough.
As we live our lives in this world, we share our energy and our spirit with the people around us in numerous ways.
Our influence touches their lives and, through them, touches the lives of many more people.
When we strive to live our lives to the fullest and to become our true selves, we are doing something big on an inner level, and that is more than enough to make sense of our being here on this
planet at this time.
There is no need to hold ourselves to an old idea in the back of our minds that we need to make headlines or single-handedly save the world in order to validate our existence.
We can each look within our hearts to discover what is true for us, what gives our lives meaning, and what excites us.
We can release ourselves from any pressure to perform that comes from outside of our inner sense of purpose.
Staying in tune with our own values and living our lives in tune with our own vision is all we need in order to fulfill our time here.
Our lives are a process of becoming so that we cannot help but cocreate; being who we are, responding to each moment as it comes, we can trust that this is enough.
“Just be yourself” is one of those phrases that belong in the Hall of Fame of clichéd advice.
Struggling with life?
Frustrated with your career?
Settling for less in your dating and relationships?
The common suggestion is that you should “be yourself” and, magically, you’ll do just fine.
In reality, “being yourself” seriously limits your results and stunts your personal development and growth. I’ll explain why this advice holds you back, exactly who you should
“be” instead, and the simple steps to become that person so you can reap all the benefits. Here’s how:
Why “Being Yourself” Holds You Back
There’s a lot of codewords that mean the same thing as “just be yourself:”
“Be true to yourself.”
“Do what speaks to you.”
“Do what feels right.”
On the surface, it seems like nice advice to trust yourself and your instincts; but in reality, it reinforces a fixed mindset, entrenches you in your current situation, and justifies your
personality and results in life:
“People believe they have an “authentic” self — their “truth” — which is who they should be true to... This line of thinking leads people to saying things like,
“I need to be true to myself. I shouldn’t have to deny myself of how I’m feeling. I shouldn’t have to lie to myself. I should be able to do what feels right to me.” Although well-meaning, this
thinking reflects a fixed mindset… I know many people who now, as maturing adults, are choosing limiting lives in the name of “authenticity” and being “real” with themselves.”
— Dr. Benjamin Hardy
This begs the question: What if “yourself” has poor, self-destructive traits? Or at a less-extreme level, what if “yourself” is awkward, boring, or unambitious?
Then, you probably shouldn’t be yourself because, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get the results you’ve always gotten.
For example, 12 years ago, I would’ve described myself as introverted, socially awkward, skinny, resentful, and angry. (Sure, I had positive qualities too, but those negative adjectives were
pretty damn accurate.)
If I just tried to “be myself,” I would’ve never made any effort to change.
Instead, I would’ve clung to the life I had—and kept repeating the same mistakes and patterns—rather than abandon it for a better life. I would’ve never worked to transform my personality
and I would’ve blocked my own progress and growth:
“If authenticity is the value you prize most in life, there’s a danger that you’ll stunt your own development. When I was in grad school, a friend asked me to
give a guest lecture for her class. I was terrified of public speaking, but I wanted to be helpful, so I agreed… It was brutal. One student wrote that I was so nervous I was causing the whole class
to physically shake in their seats. My authentic self was not a fan of public speaking. But I started volunteering to give more guest lectures, knowing it was the only way to get better. I
wasn’t being true to myself, I was being true to the self I wanted to become.” [emphasis added]
— Adam Grant, Ph.D.
“Being yourself” doesn’t show you how to achieve what you want and it doesn’t motivate you to reach beyond your comfort zone and try new strategies.
(Thankfully, even 21-year-old Anthony knew “being yourself” was shitty advice so he actually worked to improve himself.)
Finally, the fact is who you “are” actually depends on your context:
Your personality reflects your environment and its norms, rules, traditions, expectations, and more. Thus, “being yourself” is meaningless because “yourself” isn’t static—it’s always evolving even
if you feel the same.
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the
people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.”
— Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D.
At this point, some of you might be thinking, “Well, if you don’t want me to be myself, then do you want me to be someone else?”
Instead of telling you to “be yourself,” here’s some far better life advice:
Be the person you want to be.
Who is your dream self?
What are they doing?
How are they living?
It’s infinitely more powerful to be this person through your behaviors and actions than to “be yourself” and cement your current way of life.
Best of all, once you become the person you want to be, you’ll have all the things you want to have.
Here’s how to become this person:
How to Become the Person You Want to Be
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
— Carl Jung
Step 1: Define Your Ideal Life
Many people have no idea what they want.
They might say a few clichéd things like “be happy,” “travel,” “retire early,” etc., but their goals are vague (at best) or things that other people told them to want (at worst).
Instead, define what you want and be very specific.
Try describing your ideal life:
What’s your ideal relationship partner like?
What’s your ideal career?
What’s your ideal lifestyle?
Be detailed and think about what you really want, not what you think you should want.
The point of this exercise isn’t to make it happen with 100% accuracy; the point is to understand what is important to you and give you direction.
Step 2: Be Honest With Yourself
Answer this question:
Based on who you are at this very moment, can you achieve this ideal lifestyle?
Yes or no. (No “maybe.”)
Can you honestly achieve your ideal life based on where you are right now?
For many people, the answer will be a difficult, “No.”
For many people, they’ll see a huge gap between “who they currently are” and “their dream life.”
Step 3: Become The Person Of Your Dreams
It took me years to understand this powerful lesson:
The best way to get the life of your dreams is to become the person of your dreams.
Many people only focus on getting what they want without realizing that every journey starts from within.
As a result, they do nothing to improve, which is the equivalent of saying, “I want my dream life, but I don’t want to do anything differently to get it.”
Instead, define who you have to be in order to achieve your ideal life.
This step is the most important of all.
What are your values?
What personality do you need to have?
What are you working on?
How do you take care of yourself?
Be very detailed.
Life is a movie: You’re the director and you write the script.
You decide who you’re going to be.
If you’re struggling in life and upset with your lack of results, what are you going to do about it?
Yes, it’s hard work to become this person.
Yes, there’s no guarantee you’ll get exactly what you want.
But as you work on yourself, improve yourself, and become the person you want to be, the odds you’ll achieve your dream life will skyrocket — and you’ll know you manifested it.
So stop “being yourself” and start “being your dream self.”
Your dream life awaits.
What It Means To Be Gentle With Yourself
“Be kind to yourself” is a cliché, but there are real habits for doing it that can move you forward
In “The Fear Bubble,” Ant describes the notion of being stuck in a corridor, trapped by our fear and surrounded by doors that could take us off in a different direction.
In true SAS style, we are encouraged to kick these doors in and set off on the new life waiting behind them.
I realized that I’d been kicking those doors in for years.
Every time I did, I saw a sad, tearful reflection of myself on the other side.
I’d slam the door in my face and storm off down the corridor looking for something better.
It broke my heart when I realized that every time I’d seen myself in the past 30 years, I’d dismissed what I’d seen as not good enough.
No wonder that guy was so tearful!
Conjuring that image finally helped me to start to see something very important.
There is no ‘better’ me and equally, there’s no need for one.
I don’t need to be richer, lighter, more successful, or better dressed.
I need to work with the forgetful, scruffy disorganized guy reflected behind those doors because that is the same guy with the imagination, the dream, and the soul to write.
Before I could fully accept the bad and the good in myself, however, I personally required some counseling.
My counselor helped me to understand and forgive myself for the mistakes of my past.
This helped to reduce the feelings of guilt and to break the habit of pulling them into my current life.
For example, she pointed out that, like chameleons changing their color to blend in with their surroundings, we all tend to adapt our behavior to the situation we are in.
The person I am down at the pub with my mates is not the same person I am when I’m sitting at home with my daughters.
As a soldier, I had been put in a place where others wanted to kill me, and I was trained and equipped to kill them if necessary.
I’d hated the person I’d become in that environment.
It almost destroyed me.
It helped when I realized that this was a person I’d been to survive in that environment and not the complete picture of who I am.
It was time to stop beating myself up for the bad habits that never seemed to change and accept that I would never be perfect.
So what if I slept late in the mornings for example?
It wasn’t actually laziness; it was because I also stayed up late at night.
As a writer, I could just go with that.
As long as I put in the hours, it didn’t matter so much when the working day started and when it ended.
Life became so much brighter when I realized I had to work with the bad as well as the good.
All of me was all I had and that was more than enough.
Find the Treasure Within
Becoming aware that I needed to forgive myself for my bad traits opened my mind to consider what was good about myself.
During one of our sessions, my counselor pointed out that I seemed to light up when I talked about my daughters.
That observation really made my day.
Even though my daughters are all adults themselves now, I like to think that I’m still able to help out with a lot of the problems they face in life.
It’s been said that you never stop being a parent no matter how old your children get.
I completely agree with that.
More than just helping the girls, I love to nurture the better parts of their nature.
Not just help them with life’s problems — but to inspire them.
Get them fired up.
As I’ve always done since they were babies, I love to make them laugh.
Both mine and my best pal’s family loved to hear our stories when we came back from our business trips.
I’d accidentally sprayed her in the eye with suntan cream on one of our trips.
On another, I’d thrown her into a ditch to ‘save’ her from a cow I was scared of.
But, in balance, we’d often cried with laughter at the various adventures we encountered when we traveled.
I realized that everyone I love always seems to be smiling when I’m around.
Not just smiles that I ‘give’ them but smiles and laughter that we share.
This is a huge part of who I am and what I have to offer the world.
To help people relate, feel comfortable instead of awkward, maybe even inspired, and always, smile.
Becoming a writer became the opportunity to share all of these things. Just like that, I realized I had a mission. I’d found the best of me and wanted to share that with the world.
Of course, we’re not all comedians or coaches.
But whether it’s practical skills, common sense, nurturing, or scientific genius, acknowledging the best bits about yourself is a very empowering thing to do.
I am sure there are many ways to do this.
As a first step, however, you should definitely open your mind to contemplate your positive side.
Through counseling, I was also encouraged to recognize the voice of my critical self and to argue with it.
I had to challenge those limiting beliefs and rationalize what I wanted to do.
I love my work as a writer.
In writing, I can express my deepest self and do something I’ve always been drawn to and always wanted to do.
My critical self would look at the lack of pay.
Each rejection note resounded around my mind to further indicate that I wasn’t good enough to do this.
I had to force myself to acknowledge the successes.
The feedback from some of the readers and the positive comments from editors. I had to make the inner argument that these things, coupled with my enjoyment and aptitude for writing outweighed the
Rejection notes, after all, are as much a part of a writer's life as paycheques.
So those are the three big steps I have taken to get back to a place where I can believe in myself and even enjoy the world around me.
Live in the moment, realize that you are more than good enough, warts and all, and get to know the treasure that is within you that you can share with the
For sure these are big steps, and possibly some of the hardest ones you may ever have to take.
They may not be for everyone.
There are countless ways to get back up on your feet when you’ve been knocked down.
By taking these, however, I came to know who I am, then to love, and finally to be that person.
Instead, you stay in your comfort zone, missing many opportunities for development and growth.
Being Afraid And Not Being Yourself
Finally, one way you might describe
feelings of low self-worth is by saying “I never act like myself.”
If you're almost certain that the real, authentic you will be ridiculed or rejected, you'll live in fear of anyone discovering your true self.
In time, this can lead you to lose touch with that true self altogether and you might end up feeling unfulfilled.
Being your authentic self will bring people into your life that will love and appreciate you for who you are.
How To Know Your Self-Worth
Armed with a clear idea of what low self-worth looks like, let's now turn to how you can gradually strengthen and enhance your self-worth.
While this kind of transformation doesn't happen overnight, there are changes you can start making today that can almost immediately transform your thoughts and feelings.
And as your self-worth grows, so too will your sense of self – your understanding of who you are, what you really want, and what you're capable of achieving.
To have self-worth, you need to
have a solid sense of who you are, and then work to have a positive attitude towards that person.
There are dozens of things you can do to facilitate the relevant sort of self-awareness here.
One of the most effective ways is learning how to journal and make it a daily habit.
Write a page and honestly reflecting on your experiences and on how you feel.
This helps you develop the habit of checking in with yourself without judgment, and without focusing on pleasing others.
An exercise you can do is simply check in with yourself every couple of hours.
Challenge yourself to come up with three words to describe how you are.
Again, this just gets you into the habit of honestly looking at what's going on inside you, without an agenda.
In addition, note that forgiveness is another crucial component of self-awareness.
It's healthy to recognize our mistakes, but allow yourself to move on rather than perpetually beating yourself up about them.
Recognize that you've understood what you did, why you did it, and how to avoid repeating the same mistake. Then grant yourself the same forgiveness and clean slate that you would give someone you
While self-awareness focuses on building
up an understanding of who you are, self-love is all about having a genuinely positive attitude toward that person.
What do you like about yourself?
While it may not come naturally to think about this, consider the question genuinely and try to come up with at least ten things.
They don't need to be big – start with anything at all that makes you feel proud, then go from there.
Self-love also involves doing things for yourself just because they bring you joy.
Whether you set aside a few hours, a day, or a weekend a month for this, try to spend some focused time indulging yourself in this way.
Again, take the emphasis away from pleasing others, from meeting their needs, and creating a certain impression.
Instead, ask yourself: what do I want?
What would make me happy right now?
It doesn't need to be productive – it just needs to make you feel good.
Further, affirmations are an excellent technique for fostering self-love.
Think of and build a few positive affirmations that you can repeat in the mirror each day.
For example, you might say something like “I am strong, creative, and loyal – I love and value myself.”
Affirmations can feel awkward or artificial at first, but you'll soon start to feel their impact.
Self-acceptance is subtly
different from self-awareness and self-love.
One way of thinking about it is self-acceptance is about having a positive and loving attitude toward even the difficult parts of yourself.
So, the things you view as idiosyncrasies, as abnormalities, or maybe even as flaws.
Try to embrace these, acknowledging that everyone is imperfect.
Even the people you perceive as role models have weak spots, hangups, and things that trip them up.
Try to remember this when you feel under pressure to be unrealistically exemplary.
Repeat Phrases like “I don't need to be perfect in order to be good enough”.
This can assist you in shifting your perspective when you start to demand the impossible from yourself.
In practice, self-acceptance also involves letting other people see the unusual parts of you.
Refrain from only showing the parts of yourself you think would be widely accepted or praised.
To build self-acceptance in your friendships and romantic relationships, challenge yourself to be more real with people – to be yourself, not a sanitized and acceptable caricature.
You'll likely notice that this in fact deepens your connection with others.
Mindful self-compassion is a term that originates in Buddhist practice and philosophy, and it emphasizes treating yourself with
In short, you should aim to support yourself in the way that you would support someone you care for.
Listen to yourself, know when you need a break, and talk to yourself in a careful, gentle way.
It can be difficult to do this if you've experienced a childhood in which people talked down to you or criticized you.
With time and effort, you can develop a nurturing inner voice.
Practicing mindfulness exercises is effective in nurturing self-compassion. Try to take at least
5-10 minutes of the day to work on meditations of your choosing.
There are special “loving-kindness” meditations that can be particularly helpful here.
To do a basic version of this meditation, start by getting comfortable and spending several minutes focusing on deep, slow breathing.
Next, recite the following to yourself: “May I be at ease, may I be happy, may I be at peace.”
Feel free to adapt the words to suit you.
In addition, monitor how you talk to yourself.
For example, try writing down all the things your inner critic says over a period of two days, then write down counter-statements that challenge those harsh words. In time, this habit can defuse
old feelings of self-loathing and rob your inner critic of its power.
Finally, self-respect revolves around believing that you are deserving of respect – from others and yourself.
This means believing you should be treated as a being with value and dignity.
Never be treated as a means to an end or as someone who exists to please others.
You might have been raised to derive pleasure and satisfaction from how “useful” or “helpful” you are.
This can be very tough to shake the idea that you exist to make life better for others.
You are a person who deserves happiness and fulfillment, and the more you recognize this the more you'll develop self-respect.
Focus on how you interact with other people and what kinds of expectations you encourage.
To explore this topic in more depth, let's now turn to the issue of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries with people in your life.
Set Healthy Boundaries In Relationships
In the simplest terms,
personal boundaries are rules that you have in place to make sure that you have healthy, fulfilling, and mutually respectful relationships with others.
While it's certainly good to offer empathy, compassion, and emotional intimacy to those we care about, there are people who will seek to take advantage of this generosity (sometimes not even at a
As such, it's important to have a clear sense of what you will and won't accept.
Here are four key things worth considering if you want to set boundaries as part of developing greater
Everyone has different boundaries, and
there's no one set of rules that will suit everyone.
Limits provide a helpful illustration here – we all have different limits depending on our values and morals.
Figuring out your limits is about reflecting on what you are comfortable with, and how you want to be treated.
Generally, people subscribe to an idea about reciprocity here – we should treat others as we want to be treated.
So, one useful question to ask is “Would I think it's okay to do this to someone else?”
To make the idea of limits a little more concrete, let's consider a few examples.
You may have limits to how much time you're willing to give certain people, and this may vary by individual.
The time you'll happily give to your partner will not be the same as you would give to an acquaintance.
You will likely also have limits about how much (if any) of your money or material possessions to lend others.
Perhaps how much lateness you'll accept at an agreed meeting, and how quickly you expect to hear back from someone when you send them an important message.
Knowing these sorts of limits is the first step to setting healthy boundaries with others.
It's important to actually assert your
needs and preferences when it comes to holding boundaries with others.
Some of your limits will be common sense and a matter of basic respect.
Others will relate to highly personal preferences that others shouldn't be expected to intuit.
As such, you need to think about communicating your boundaries. After all, research shows that many boundary violations actually come from misunderstandings (rather than from selfishness or
To communicate your boundaries, try to be as clear and specific as possible.
Don't passive-aggressively imply what you want – state it plainly.
For example, in contrast, “It sure would be nice if I didn't have to do everything by myself” (passive-aggressive) with “If you put your dirty laundry in the basket, I'll be happy to do the
In addition, stick to “I” statements.
This means focusing on your thoughts, feelings, and needs rather than on accusations or demands.
For example, “I would really appreciate it if we could split the childcare more evenly” is much more likely to get productive results than “You should play with the kids first thing in the
In addition, especially when dealing with loved ones, make sure that you communicate your care while holding your boundaries.
For example, “I love you and am committed to making this relationship work, but I want to talk about what counts as respectful communication” is going to land much more effectively than “I hate
the way you talk to me.”
Tune Into Your Feelings
As some of the above discussion implies,
being aware of your own feelings plays a huge role in working to improve self-worth by holding boundaries.
Before you discuss a boundary violation with someone else, make sure you properly understand your reaction.
Try to name how you feel – do you feel angry? Do you feel taken for granted, ignored, confused, or disrespected?
You may be experiencing a mix of emotions, and some of them may even seem to be in conflict.
Once you have a sense of what you're feeling, it's useful to reflect on the roots of those feelings.
Are you experiencing a negative pattern with this person, and reaching your limit?
Or are you re-experiencing old wounds, and reacting more emphatically than the situation perhaps warrants?
Try to develop your understanding of where your emotions come from, and how they relate to other experiences you have.
Be kind to yourself throughout, especially if some of your emotions are overwhelming.
Being fluent in the language of your own feelings is important.
It allows you to take huge steps forward in helping someone else understand a boundary violation.
Your feelings are also a very useful guide to how you would like to be treated instead.
This will helps you give the other person a blueprint of your needs.
While our exploration of boundaries
so far stresses the importance of being clear and respectful with the other person, it's equally important to be appropriately assertive.
If you feel like you're being taken advantage of or your limits are being ignored, you should feel free to say so in no uncertain terms.
You shouldn't have to downplay your feelings to please the other person – remember, self-respect requires owning who you are and putting your authenticity before how others want you to be.
That being said, it's not only important to avoid being passive when talking about boundaries.
It's also important to avoid being aggressive.
In other words, don't shout people down, don't talk over them, and don't bully them into doing what you want.
This sort of behavior turns you into someone who is also violating boundaries!
In a nutshell, self-worth simply requires that you be honest, firm, clear, and true to yourself when explaining your boundaries to other people.
If you find it difficult to be assertive, it might be easier to practice in writing before doing it verbally.
Consider writing your thoughts in an email, a text, or a letter.
As you get used to communicating in a transparent and self-respecting way, the relevant language will begin to come naturally.
Know Your True Self Worth To Reach Your Full Potential
So, now you know more about why self-worth is so vital, what it looks like in practice and how to cultivate it. However, you might not realize just how much-untapped potential is still hidden
You can become anything you want and have anything you desire – but to get there, you need to embrace your true worth as a person.
Today, I hope you will have another inspired day,
that you will dream boldly and dangerously,
that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action,
that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change.
And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world),
that you will,
when you must,
be wise with your decisions,
and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.
Is Self-Improvement Making You Feel Worse? 5 Critical Truths to Know
When I read my first self-help book in 2009, it opened a new world to me.
I didn’t have to live life with little self-esteem and a lot of resentment.
I didn’t have to become exactly like my parents or live the life everyone expected.
I actually could carve my own path and transform the personality traits that were holding me back.
After a few years of personal development, however, I reached the other end: I felt worse. I felt “behind” more successful people, and I felt exhausted as I pushed myself harder and
harder just to end up right back where I started.
But it wasn’t until I changed how I used self-improvement that I finally stopped feeling worse and actually started making my life better.
In this article, I’ll break down the biggest myths that come from a lot of (but not all) self-help advice. Then, I’ll share the truths you need to understand before you read more advice so that it
actually improves your life and doesn’t make you feel worse.
You just might discover your “self” doesn’t need to be improved.
Myth: You Aren’t Good Enough
You should have a 7-figure passive-income business.
You should exercise 6 times a week.
You should drop everything in life to chase your dreams.
If you’re not, you’re lazy and wasting your life.
If you just want to work a corporate job and retire at 65, you’re “mediocre.”
Oh, and you aren’t trying hard enough either—after all, so-and-so has 20 kids and 7 companies, and they still wake up at 2 AM to accomplish everything before sunrise.
Because of these lofty (implied) standards, plenty of self-help readers feel unhappy.
Even if they're living a solid life—one that billions of people in the world would envy—they're miserable because they think they should be doing amazing things like [insert your favorite
self-help author here].
Not everyone wants to be the CEO of a 5,000 person company, write bestsellers, or bench press 500lbs.
Some people just like simpler things and that's fine too.
But thinking that you must have X, Y, and Z—and that you’re “settling” if you don’t want them—will only make your life worse and create problems where no problem actually exists.
“If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moments count, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time.”
— Col. Chris Hadfield
Myth: You Need to Dwell on Your Problems
The more you do personal development, the more you uncover your flaws and weaknesses.
Sure, it's valuable to be honest about the issues holding you back so you can fix them, but I know self-help fans who are fixated on their problems.
They’re constantly dwelling on their flaws so they see themselves as “flawed”—and feel more miserable because of it.
“Attention to health is life’s greatest hindrance.”
Look, we all have shortcomings and, if you’re uncovering your problems for the first time, great.
But you should only do this kind of introspection occasionally and only to help yourself, not to beat yourself up; otherwise, you’ll always feel like you’re falling short, never good
enough, and never improving.
Myth: Self-Improvement Is Straightforward
Some authors make it seem easy.
Follow these 5 steps to be a millionaire.
Follow this case study on how to make $10,000/month on Medium.
But we often overlook the unique factors that contributed to their success and everyone else who did the same things and failed.
(This is called “survivorship bias” and the self-help industry is rife with it.) For example, if you look at
a few of the biggest names on Medium, they were doing things three years ago that would've gotten banned today.
Self-improvement isn’t a “recipe” where you follow the steps and always get the same results—there are too many variables and what works for one person might not work for you.
That doesn’t mean their advice is “wrong,” but it does mean you need to understand it isn’t as simple as they make it look.
“I met a lot of other self-help authors along the way.
And I discovered there were two types of us: people who lived to write, and self-appointed experts hoping to get rich and famous…
The dirty little secret of those in the advice business is that we wind up teaching others the lessons we most need to learn ourselves.” [emphasis added]
— Michelle Goodman
Also, even if you see self-help personalities living “amazing” lives, some of them lie—in reality, they might be broke and miserable, despite what their high-quality DSLR pictures show (which I’ll
Truth: Self-Improvement Is NOT a Competition
Some "influencers" perpetuate a mindset that life is a competition, especially on social media.
They try extra hard to prove how much better their life is than everyone else’s.
They always show themselves doing great things to have everyone praise them.
(Reading their articles or posts, you’ll see a “Look at how cool I am!” vibe lurking underneath.)
As a result, you might feel jealous or that you’re "behind" in life because you’re not doing the cool shit they’re doing at, say, age 23.
But… has it ever occurred to you that maybe they want you to be jealous of them?
Has it occurred to you that they themselves are not grounded?
That they themselves feel life is a competition so they have to outdo everyone else (and make you feel like you’ve been outdone)?
The people posting the most are often the people feeling the worst.
Because if constantly trying to prove yourself, you’ll always fall short because nothing will ever validate you.
No amount of praise will ever make you happier or more worthy.
And using self-improvement as fuel in that never-ending chase for self-worth will only lead to nowhere.
Truth: There Is No Finish Line
Self-improvement often turns into a never-ending chase for perfection, which you’ll never achieve—no matter how hard you work on yourself, there will never be a moment where you’re finally free of
all problems and issues.
You will never get “there.”
Instead, accept that fact and enjoy the process.
Think about how far you’ve come, what you’ve learned, and the pleasures you have in your life today.
Life, as my friend Jack Calhoun says, is like
climbing a mountain that doesn’t have a summit.
Even if I achieve all the things I currently want or become the person I want to be, I probably won’t feel the positive emotions I thought I would after it happens.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to improve yourself or fix problems.
(Don’t get that twisted.)
But it does mean you need to know that reaching an imaginary level of perfection is impossible and it’s a cycle that will only make you miserable.
Truth: Success (Probably) Won’t Make You Happier
Take a few seconds to visualize you have everything you want in life—a massive mansion, a private jet, a sexy life partner, etc.
Then, tell yourself:
“None of this will make me any happier.”
(As you would imagine, this exercise makes me the hit of any party.)
That’s not to say, “Why try?” (There are plenty of reasons to achieve things in life.)
But the reason I created this exercise is to force myself to end the “chase for happiness.”
Because if I know they won’t make me happier, maybe I’ll realize that, deep down inside, I don’t really want them.
And it’s a helluva lot better to know this before I go on the long journey to achieve those things than after.
Also, if you can’t be happy now — even with all of life’s imperfections — chances are you won’t be happy even if after you get what you want. Instead, learn to be happy now because happiness is a
state of mind, not something to be attained.
“There are two things to aim for in life: first to get what you want, and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.”
— Logan Pearsall Smith
Truth: You Are Always Good Enough (No Matter What You Achieve — Or Don’t)
Who you are is always good enough, even now.
Sure, we can learn more skills, be more patient, or get in better shape, but who were are as a fundamental human being is fine the way it is.
But the more we try to be “good enough” to compensate for believing that we aren’t, the more we’re going to drive ourselves nuts to live up to (or surpass) those imaginary expectations.
“Yes, our backhands can improve, and I'm sure my writing can get better; certainly our skills in relating to each other on the planet can improve.
But the cornerstone of stability is to know that there is nothing wrong with the essential human being.”
—W. Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”
Self-improvement stopped making me feel worse when I realized it shouldn’t be about becoming a “better person.”
To me, it’s about learning new skills—that’s it.
Managing emotions, improving communication and relationships, eliminating sabotaging habits, etc.
Studying personal development helps me live a more “optimal” life and enjoy extra benefits.
But that doesn’t make me “better” than I was previously nor “better” than someone who never touched a self-help book in their life.
How to Think About Self-Improvement
Again, life isn’t a competition and it isn’t a race to get a bunch of “nice things” that won’t make me any happier.
Bottom line: I want to live my life and know that I did everything I could possibly do.
Rather than going through the motions, I actually lived my life and pushed past my inner limits.
And even if I don’t achieve everything I set out to accomplish, that’s okay—because life isn’t about the achievements themselves; it’s about the journey toward them.
“The definition of Hell: At the end of your life, the person you become meets the person you could have become.”
And that’s what motivates me to seek self-improvement, learn new skills and abilities, and maximize my potential.
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