It’s important to remember that perfectionism is the enemy of creativity.
And at a basic level, humans are creative beings. Everything you experience is created by you, for you.
As well as being creative beings, humans are also sensitive, and factors such as stimuli, nutrition, clutter, and hydration can have a significant impact on our experience of life. My balance seems to rise and fall in sync with my appetite. Apparently, balance for me is achieved when I have a full belly—that’s when I do my best writing!
When we are stretched, challenged, or exhausted, confidence seems to be the first element to go offline. No self-confidence means no foundation for making decisions or experiencing a full range of emotions and feelings. Losing confidence means becoming a bystander to your own existence.
Like with most things, children offer an innocent and powerful solution.
They seek to understand the world through exploration and never worry about logic. For a child, trial and error is an acceptable model for learning. There’s a level of normalized cruelty in the notion that arrival at a certain age, we are expelled from being allowed trial and error (learning). We bring in the bizarre expectation that the learning journey is complete.
The great news is that your inner-child is eager to learn at any age.
The strategies listed below will help you access the curious, energetic thirst for learning and will grow your confidence at the same time.
With a little practice, you will be able to find joy in everything you do!
(Spoiler alert: Not a single one of them requires money.)
So, here is the list of 10 ways to win back your confidence (they are tightly woven into my self-care regime):
1. Cut yourself some slack.
Few, or hopefully none, of us want to make our lives more complicated. I believe that life is a series of challenges that we face where we make what we consider to be the best decision—taking into account the information available to us up until that point.
The truth is that you are going to make choices that don’t have the best consequences. Life is an evolution, so cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to learn. As long as you are not breaking any laws, or intentionally hurting yourself or others, you’re good.
2. Look for the lesson in everything.
In each of those choices you make that don’t work out particularly well, there is a lesson to be learned—something that will help you grow as a person.
Humans have a cognitive bias, which makes us see negative things more than positive things. So we get caught up in what we call a “mistake,” and end up losing the lesson (which means we will almost certainly make that mistake again).
3. Get outside.
Nature makes everything okay, so by immersing ourselves in our natural habitat, we are able to find balance. Balance is not brick houses with WiFi boosters or apartments with balconies. Get out for a walk and leave the phone at home for 30 minutes; just think of all the notifications when you get back!
Science is the process of understanding what already exists in nature. So when a scientific replication of natural things occurs, should it encounter a problem, the first response will always be to look to nature for a solution. That can’t be argued.
4. Stop worrying about your “aesthetic.”
Nobody cares what you look like. I don’t mean that in a shady “you don’t matter” way; in fact, you matter a lot—the real you.
If you get boundless joy from making sure your hair is lovely, your body is whatever shape you want it to be, and your ensemble is red-carpet-ready, then great.
If you’re doing a thing for external validation, you’re playing yourself, so stop!
5. Stick to one promise a day, and fulfill it with purpose.
Don’t beat yourself with a stick of your own design by cramming everything into one day. It’s useful to use a calendar to chart the things that have to be done every day: exercise, dog walk, lunch, reading, and whatever else you do. This is your routine.
Above and beyond this, make yourself a promise of one thing you are going to do. Then, do that really well and provide yourself with a treat after doing so.
6. Understand that joy is not a product that can be bought.
I’m not talking about the rush of buying a beautiful thing; in fact, I love beautiful things so much my family calls me a magpie.
It is essential to not mix this feeling up with the moments in life when we are smiling with a big, toothy smile of pure happiness.
These are the moments in life that are usually entirely unplanned, resulting in a spontaneous reaction of joy. These are also more likely to become what we call memories, rather than a sensation of fleeting gratification.
7. Do something nice for someone else.
Self-esteem is the result of doing estimable acts (esteemable for non-UK readers). Humans have inbuilt quality control that knows whether we are doing a thing as a performance, or with integrity.
We can genuinely only feel good about ourselves if we do nice things for others without expecting anything in return.
8. Practice saying “No” and not “No because…”
Justification has become an expectation, and an expectation is a preconceived resentment. Obviously, there are some caveats to this one; I don’t mean that we can refuse to go to school or work without an explanation.
I mean that if a friend asks you to go to the bar, you can just say “No.” Even though it will be awkward the first few times you do this, you will be amazed at how quickly it takes hold.
9. Eradicate judgment.
If we could pay bills in judgment, there would be no debt in the world; but judgment, of self or others, actually creates a vacuum filled with shame, self-loathing, or insecurity.
By choosing to remove the burden of judgment from yourself and others, you become free.
10. Understand that you don’t have to disprove a “thing” for it to be wrong.
Cancel culture is so damaging, and it took me a long time (and a lot of energy wasted) to learn that I could be right about something without proving someone else wrong.
Next time you know something and someone else has a different perspective, seek to understand them. In doing so, you may learn something new.
Tell me how you care for your inner child in the comments.