by Nick Notas
Every man seeks the answer to the eternal question:
“How do I become confident?”
And for most, they’re asking the wrong question. They should be saying:
“How do I love myself more?”
Before you think I’m spouting some new age fluff, hear me out.
Confidence is not something you instantly acquire. It’s not a simple on and off switch or a few lines you can memorize. It’s not about getting laid, acting “alpha”, or anything external. It is an internal belief about yourself that must be cultivated over time. That begins with your self-esteem.
Wikipedia defines self-esteem as:
“A term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth.” (Source)
In other words, do you love who you are? Do you trust in yourself? Do you prioritize your needs? Do you invest in yourself regularly? Do you respect your opinions? Are you congruent with your values and principles?
When faced with various situations in life that challenge the above, there are two paths you can take. One leads you to a life of fulfillment, the other leads to endless suffering.
Fear and avoidance: the path to misery
Men with low self-esteem often choose the wrong path. They don’t realize how much damage they’re doing by perpetuating a cycle of frustration and unhappiness.
- You choose not to love yourself. You subdue your needs, wants, and desires. You hide or lie about your opinions. You avoid pushing your comfort zone out of fear. You always act how you think other people will want rather than what you want.
- You receive internal destructive feedback. You feel like a failure for not trying and beat yourself up about it. You’re ashamed of yourself. You feel weak and powerless. You make excuses. You’re always left wondering what could have happened and over-analyzing.
- You subconsciously reinforce that you aren’t worthy and lower your self-esteem. You build beliefs that no one will like the real you. You think you are not worthy of being loved. You keep burying your core and lose the sense of who you are. You fail to trust in your abilities. You’re convinced that you will never get what you want. You re-affirm that you’re a failure who can never change.
The cycle keeps repeating and gaining power over you. You are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Vulnerability and action: the path to freedom
By taking the right path, you build self-esteem and liberate yourself.
- You choose to love yourself. You go after your needs, wants, and desires. You speak your mind freely. You challenge your comfort zone even though you’re terrified. You are considerate of others but act congruent to yourself and your wants. You present the real you at all times.
- You prevent internal destructive feedback. You prove to yourself you are stronger for trying regardless of the outcome. You’re proud of being honest with yourself. You feel empowered. You can accept the reality of what happened (good or bad) and grow from it.
- You subconsciously reinforce that you are worthy and raise your self-esteem. You attribute the connections you make with people to the real you. You know that you are worthy of being loved. You find a sense of identity. You establish trust with who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re capable of.
Recognizing poor choices and getting on the right path
To break the negative cycle you need to be aware of which path you’re taking every day. I’ve found that keeping a log is the best way to hold yourself accountable and start changing your habits.
Note every time you are being fake and self-sabotaging. Write down how you could have been true and self-loving instead. Use some of the common situations below as examples to apply in your life.
You see a girl you want to approach.
Wrong path: You don’t approach because you’re too afraid of getting rejected, sounding stupid, or bothering her. You get down on yourself because you never talk to women. You start thinking about how you’ll always be alone. You go home depressed and apathetic to trying again.
Right path: You start moving your legs before your brain has a chance to talk you out of it. You introduce yourself to her with your stomach in knots. Regardless of how it went, you feel amazing afterwards that you finally did it. You proved that you are resilient enough and it didn’t destroy you. You gain more motivation and confidence to do it again.
You are interested in this girl you know.
Wrong path: You want more than friendship but don’t flirt or initiate physical contact. You’re worried that she’ll think you’re a creep and tell you off. You make excuses that it’s not the right time or place. The longer you wait around, the more frustrated and resentful you become about the whole thing. You believe that she is everything and you are nothing.
Right path: You show your intentions to her because that’s how you truly feel. You feel courageous for putting everything out in the open. If she doesn’t return interest, you can be relieved to know she isn’t compatible with you. You can then move on to find someone who is. This reinforces that you value yourself and your time.
You want to build an interesting lifestyle and make friends.
Wrong path: You don’t go to local events or meet-ups because you might not “fit in”. You’re worried about being judged. You get lonely and think about how you don’t have many friends. You convince yourself that there must be something wrong with you. You continue the cycle of staying in because no one will want you around.
Right path: You go out because you want to try something fun and challenging. You remind yourself to relax and that you don’t have anything to prove. Instead, you focus on getting to know people that interest you. This puts you in a mindset of choice and abundance. You now look forward to going out because you can be yourself around people that actually matter.
For more ways to practice heading down the right path, see my post on being more assertive and getting what you want.
Recognize your natural inclination to take the path of misery. Remind yourself how going down this route is doing more harm than good. It may feel like the easy way out, but it’s destroying your self-esteem in the long run.
Every subsequent time you choose the path of self-love, you will build trust in yourself. By repeatedly making choices that are in tune with your core, you create a habit of prioritizing your happiness. Your success is then based on whether you were genuine rather than external results. This is how you achieve outcome independence and high self-esteem.
Only when you love, respect, and approve of yourself unconditionally can you become a confident man.