For most of the time we live inside our own heads. We talk to relentlessly to ourselves, internally narrating our every thought and action. How we internally talk about ourselves is projected outward into the world and affects almost everything we do, including our posture, eye contact and how we interact with other people.
So it can't be overstated that having a positive self view is essential to being a confident and well rounded man.
Our debts add up
It's natural that throughout our lives we do things that we know are wrong or harmful to ourselves or others, but we do them anyway. We often live with regret of things we have said and things we have done. These past failures can haunt us and if we are not careful they can erode our own self worth and destroy our self esteem. But what can we do to prevent this?
The truth is that there is no easy way or golden bullet. We need to consistently make choices and take actions that we internally think are the right thing to do and that we are proud of. These things don't necessarily need to be big, it can be as simple as choosing to buy a water instead of a Coke, walking to the shops instead of driving or going to the gym. All these wins throughout the day eventually add up and help change our own self view to a more positive one.
It's simple and we all know what we need to do. But simple doesn't mean easy. It's difficult to stay on the right path, but that's why when we do, it builds our self confidence and self esteem.
Here are the practical things you can do that will without a doubt improve your self esteem. If you are unsure, just try it for a week or even a day and see how you feel.
Exercise & weight lifting
Exercise and specifically weight training can be one of the best things we can do to improve our self esteem. You might be thinking that weight lifting is just for ripped guys who want to walk down the beach with their tops off showing off to all the girls, but this is merely a stereotype.
When you go to the gym, it's a win for that day. You've overcome a challenge and done something difficult. You feel good because your mind managed to push through even when you wanted to quit and your body is actually stronger for it. Doing this regularly gives you constant wins and is a sure fire way to boost your self esteem. If you don't exercise and suffer from low self esteem, put in the work and try hitting the gym for 3 months, you'll be amazed by the difference.
If you don't believe, then maybe you'll believe Jerry Seinfeld, who recently talked about how meditation and weight lifting has kept depression at bay.
Meditation and weight training will SOLVE just about anyone’s life problems - Jerry Seinfeld”
But how can we stay motivated?
Well, we can spend hours watching David Goggins motivational YouTube videos or listening to Tony Robbins teach us how to be happy or one of Joe Rogan's famous motivational rants. They can all be great at lifting us up temporarily, but what happens a day later when that motivation and drive has dissipated?
The sad truth is, you just have to do it. It's a struggle, but that's why it helps us improve our self esteem, because we are doing something difficult.
"You just have to do it" - Jocko Willink”
Having said that, you can do some things that will make it easier to hit the gym, such as:
Notice when you're making an excuse. A lot of times we aren't even aware that it's an excuse to avoid putting something off, but noticing them can help us make the decision to stay on the right path. For example, "i'm tired" is an excuse. "I'm not feeling great today" is also an excuse.
Avoid alcohol. Even just a couple of drinks the night before reduces your motivation the next morning. You'll be less likely to hit the gym.
Get a good sleep. Getting in 8 hours means you'll wake up ready and rested.
Be prepared. Lay your clothes out and pack your gym bag for the next morning. The less barriers you put in front of yourself to reach your daily goal the more likely it is you'll do it.
Make a list. Write down your goals for the next day. It can be as simple as "go to gym for 20 minutes".
Change your mindset. If you don't feel like it and you're tired, just say "good" and get on with it.
Clean up your diet
As a guy in my 20's I used to eat nothing but good old Australian pies, chicken nuggets and deep fried chips. I didn't even think about it. I ate it because it tasted good and that what that. But as I got older (and fatter) I started to take more notice as to how it made me feel, how my body felt and how I felt mentally.
It made me feel sluggish and childish and removed any balance from my diet. As I started to branch out to eat more veggies and healthy food, I naturally started feeling better internally about myself. When I ate veggies I felt I was putting premium fuel into my body - maybe it was a placebo, but it works - I felt great.
Pizza is delicious and I still love pies, but now I keep to the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of the time I eat healthy and then 20% I can eat what I like. This brings me balance and keeps me healthy. When I eat the pizza now it's more meaningful and delicious because it's a treat as opposed to just my daily diet.
Eating right gives you energy and puts you in a good position to achieve your goals. Over time your view of yourself as a healthy person will persist and ultimately you're self esteem will increase.
Have a goal
Without a goal or purpose it's easy to just drift between our immediate wants and instant self gratification. Having a positive goal and working towards it gives us something to be proud of and a positive thing to focus on and talk about.
If you are unsure what to do, then try running. If you've never run before look at trying to complete a 5km or 10km. Training and working towards the goal is a sure way to improve your self esteem.
Hate running? Then try learning a new skill or a different challenge. Find something that has a very definite and measurable goal. The sense of accomplishment will contribute to a positive attitude towards yourself.
Look after yourself
Above all it's important to just look after yourself. If you smoke then aim to quit, if you drink too much then cut down. These are not easy things to do, but they have a direct impact on your self-esteem and your overall well being.
Changing your mindset takes time, you must view it as a marathon not a sprint. Keep chipping away and doing positive things that make yourself proud. Over time this will increase your self esteem.
I already do all this and still have poor self esteem!
If this is you then it might be time to reach out to a therapist and explore a bit deeper. There may be other neurologically or deep seated reasons for your poor self esteem. Working with a therapist will help guide you through some important questions that will help reveal and explore why you think poorly of yourself. Once the root cause is found you'll then be able to make headway to improvement.