When you have high self-esteem and self-confidence you show the world the best version of yourself. Nothing is more important than the way you think and feel about yourself.
In the late 1980s, I did a lot of work in the education field helping teachers and administrators bring self-esteem training to the classroom. If students felt more confident about their abilities, we discovered, they stretched more as students – which improved the learning process by making them less afraid of failure. One byproduct of building confidence and self-esteem is that you tend to be less shy about speaking up, offering your ideas, and showing the world your best self.
You might think it’s odd that someone like me who’s been teaching success principles and self-esteem building methods for over 40 years could be shy, but I am – in many situations. It takes a lot of focus and energy for me to interact with businesspeople, legal teams, and advanced-level academics and not feel timid when voicing my thoughts and asking questions.
Build Self-Esteem With The Mirror Exercise
One technique I’ve recommended over the years to help people be more confident and more open to receiving validation and praise—and therefore be more willing to accomplish praiseworthy acts and voice their opinions—is called The Mirror Exercise.
It’s based on the theory that we all need acknowledgment, but we need acknowledgement from ourselves most importantly. If you don’t think your successes are worthwhile, why on Earth would you bother to achieve anything worthwhile in the future?
The Mirror Exercise gives your subconscious mind the positive “strokes” it needs to pursue further achievements and it helps change any negative beliefs you have toward praise and accomplishment, which puts you in an achieving frame of mind.
Set aside a couple of minutes toward the end of each day when you’ll have quiet time. Relax and take a few deep breaths, then think through any accomplishments you’ve achieved during the day—big, small…doesn’t matter.
Maybe you met a deadline or got a project done early. Maybe you saved more money toward your emergency fund or paid off a debt.
When you’re ready, stand or sit in front of your mirror and begin by saying, “Good evening. I want to appreciate you for the following things today.”
Then acknowledge yourself for everything you did that was a success.
If I were doing this tonight, my Mirror Exercise might sound like this:
“Okay, Jack. You got up on time. You meditated for half an hour. You got that book Foreword written on time. You handled that staff meeting really well. You made that cold call to a potential new distributor. You went to lunch and ate a healthy salad. You worked out before dinner and kept your body in shape. At home, you spent quality time with your wife. You finished your day by planning your must-do tasks for tomorrow.”
When you’re done acknowledging your successes, then look yourself in the eye – and this is the hardest part – say,
“One more thing, Jack. I want you to know that I really love you.”
The first time you do this exercise, you’ll feel awkward, weird and maybe a lot of other emotions. You may be thinking, “This is stupid.”
Very few of us know what it’s like to totally acknowledge ourselves. While you may be uncomfortable in the beginning, keep at it. I’ve had grown men—key executives in major companies—tell me how much better they feel about themselves and their confidence after doing this exercise just a week or less.
Ideally, I want you to do the Mirror Exercise diligently for at least three months. After 90 days of telling yourself how successful you are, will there be any question that you truly are? Or that you can go on to succeed even more?
Will there be any question that you have the self-confidence to face any situation?
Join a Mastermind Group
One other way to build your self-confidence and overcome shyness is to get involved in a mastermind group or recruit an accountability partner who can support you when you’re faced with situations where you need to stay strong. They can actually create a safe space where you can build that new muscle.
They can help you practice specific situations – even role-play with you – creating hypothetical scenarios where you’re not attached to the outcome. I call these high-intention-low-attachment activities – situations where you intend to get the best result possible – and you work hard to do so – but if it doesn’t happen the way you envision, you don’t fall apart over it.
But perhaps the best way to practice high self-esteem and overcome shyness is to build the habit of being confident when it doesn’t really matter. Ask for something where you don’t really need a yes.
Practice getting to yes, but don’t criticize yourself or feel bad if it doesn’t happen.
Today, in addition to the transformational training and coaching that we do to help adults grow in every area of life, we also teach people how to be more confident and overcome shyness.
Try doing the Mirror Exercise every day for three months, work with others to help you practice – and you probably won’t recognize yourself even a few months from now. Learn more about how positive affirmations and positive self-talk can change your life. Click the picture below to download my Free Success Tool: Daily Affirmations for Success.