Years of awkwardness and self-doubt taught me something fascinating: Our behaviours reflect how we think about ourselves. Not only that, but how we think of ourselves also reflects our behaviours. It’s a two-way loop. This means that small actions make a massive difference to our self-respect. Here are the habits that helped me:
1. Do little things to make others feel better.
Show genuine kindness (you can find it). Chuckle when someone says a joke. Write someone a thank you text.
Take a moment to comment on someone’s blog post. Most people are so preoccupied with themselves they don’t have time to care for anyone else. But this is the problem.
You will feel worse about yourself when you’re focused on yourself.
Focus on others, even in small ways, and you will view yourself entirely differently.
2. Let go of self-critical thoughts.
Yes, how we think is a habit.
There is a direct link between how seriously I took my critical thoughts about myself and my sense of self-respect.
When I turned my attention away from self-criticism, again and again, I felt so much better. We must be intolerant of harmful thoughts. People say you need to ‘love yourself.’
That’s a waste of time. All you need to do is let go of critical thoughts, and love will appear.
3. Adjust your posture.
Sit up a little more than you usually would.
Walk a fraction taller with a hint of a jump in your step. Tilt your chin to the sky when you’re out and about.
Feel a bold energy flow through you as you adjust your physical stature to who you know you can be. They’ve done studies on this that show posture influences how you feel. Walk tall, even if you initially feel crap.
You’ll soon feel better.
4. Use your intuition.
Sounds woo-woo and fluffy and ‘self-helpy’, right? Right.
And that’s why you’re preoccupied with the material world, your goals and targets, and how you’re coming across to other people. And then you wonder why you’re stressed.
Most of us neglect the quiet voice guiding us beneath all the noise. Gut instinct is indeed a thing. And it works.
We are all driven by an internal guidance system that shows us each step of the way. Listen for it. You’ll realise something powerful when you do:
You already have everything you need.
5. Infuse some humour into your expression.
When you next speak to someone, be the one to make the interaction 5% more fun than it would otherwise be.
Obviously, align the vibe to the appropriateness of the situation, but don’t be the guy who dampens the mood. Lift it up a little. You don’t need to be Robin Williams in your interactions.
Just bring a sense of lightness to your expression, be it in person or in writing.
Notice how you begin to enjoy your own company a little more.
6. Sharpen up your appearance.
We can’t change how we look naturally (too much), but we can tidy ourselves up as best we can.
Many give me trouble for this because they say it’s ‘superficial.’ Say what you will, but the small details really make a huge difference.
Notice how you feel after a haircut. Get rid of the stains on your clothes. Clean your dirty ass shoes.
All this contributes to a heightened sense of pride and self-respect. Others will feel this.
7. Say no to one bad habit.
As Aristotle said, ‘we are what we repeatedly do.’
So quit doing things that even you don’t respect.
You know that vice. Identify the thing that sucks you in for the short-term pleasure, which leaves you drained and depressed. Replace that habit with something uplifting.
Don’t worry about changing your life right now.
Focus on saying no, just this one time to one habit. If you begin viewing yourself as someone with self-control, your confidence will sky-rocket immediately.
8. Stop lying.
OK, little white lies to avoid unnecessarily offending others may be appropriate.
That’s just commonsensical tact. But your deepest reserves of self-respect come out of your living and behaving authentically.
Do what you say you’re going to do. Be honest with yourself and others. Say the things few others dare to say.
This takes enormous courage in this age and will multiply your self-respect. Whenever we lie, we stab ourselves with a tiny knife. We lose a piece of us when we hide.
Lying will reinforce the idea in your mind that you believe you aren’t whole and you’re a deceiver. Self-respect is to live honestly.
9. Slow down.
Something I missed for decades was how my self-respect would drop when I rushed things.
When we rush, whether it’s a task at hand or how we talk (most of us talk too fast), we’re unwittingly confirming our own doubts about ourselves.
If we rush, we’re saying: ‘I can’t do this well, and I’m afraid, so let’s get through this as quickly as possible.’
Stop. Slow down. When we slow down to the speed of life, we’re acknowledging a part of ourselves that is entirely comfortable in their skin — purely at ease with the chaos and uncertainty of life.
You may think that slowing down will make life harder, or you will lose out.
The opposite happens.
Slow down, and watch your self-respect soar.
10. Practice Social Skills
This doesn’t mean go around in formal dress, but shave, comb hair, brush teeth, smell nice, clean clothes. Maintain good hygiene even in trips to the liquor store.
Again, never is a long time, but people with good social skills err on the side of talking quietly, rather than talking loudly. Here is the collection of Social Skills that you can practice.