How to build your self-identity to boost your self-esteem and develop self-confidence

Have you ever wondered who you are? What is your identity as a person?

If you want to achieve a personal goal, overcome a professional challenge, or change your life; first, you must know yourself, accept yourself, and improve yourself. You need to develop your identity, your self-worth, a positive self-image, a healthy level of self-esteem, and high self-confidence. That’s why I’m going to share with you, how you can improve each of these aspects.

People who don’t have a clear perception of themselves may depend on the opinions, feelings, and ideas of others. They may rely on their friends’ fashion taste, buy things they don’t need just because others own them, or engage in activities they don’t enjoy.

Learning about yourself and developing a sense of identity will help you be more satisfied and happy. You will be able to make better decisions and conduct your life toward what you really want.

Next, I’m going to tell you 9 actions that you can take to develop your self-identity, improve your self-esteem, and build self-confidence.

1. Get to know yourself and accept your reality.

Knowing yourself means being aware of your values, your beliefs, your personality, your priorities, your moods, your habits, your body, and your relationships with other human beings. It also means recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and fears, your desires, and your dreams.

Practice the exercise of writing down all the information you can about yourself, from your favorite food and music to your main fears and doubts. Ask yourself: Why did I choose the career or job I have? What is the most important thing in my life? What is the purpose that gives meaning to my work?

Start with the positive aspects. Make a list of your strengths, the things you’re good at, the values you have, and the accomplishments you have made. Keeping in mind your best competencies and strengths will help you improve your mindset and your attitude toward yourself.

You will also need to identify those aspects of yourself that you would like to improve. The idea is not to feel wrong about them but to visualize the plan you are going to follow to overcome them. Over time, you will be able to get to know yourself better. You will gradually recognize your individuality, to the point where you will experience more gratitude, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment.

Not connecting with reality is what keeps many people in jobs or careers they don’t like. So, even if your situation is terrible, the first step to improving, is to recognize it for what it is.

Sometimes we tend to be very critical of ourselves, and we always compare our reality with the ideal situation. That makes it difficult for us to achieve self-acceptance. But remember that understanding and accepting your current circumstances can make you happier today. And making changes based on your reality will allow you to achieve a real positive transformation that will lead you to achieve your dreams.

2. Positively practice self-compassion.

Some of the harshest judgments we receive, come from ourselves, through the voice of our inner critic. If you tend to have low confidence in yourself, there is a possibility that your internal criticism has become too automatic, unconscious, or out of context.

Having self-compassion follows the same basis as having compassion for others. When you feel compassion for another person, you realize that imperfection, pain, and failure are part of the human experience. And then you understand that the support we give each other helps us grow and move forward.

Positive self-compassion implies acting the same way toward yourself when you are going through a difficult time, when you fail, or when you notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of neglecting your pain with a catastrophic and perfectionist mentality, it’s better to stop and say to yourself: “I’m just going through a difficult time, how can I recover and move on?

When things go wrong, look at difficulties as an inevitable part of life, something everyone goes through. Try to show some love and support to yourself when you feel emotional pain. When something bothers you, try to keep your emotions in balance. When something hurts you, try to develop a rational view of the situation. When you fail at something significant to you, try to keep things in perspective. Try to be understanding and patient with the aspects of your personality that you don’t like.

Having self-compassion is very different to feel sorry or pity for yourself. Self-compassion is healthy when it helps you not to let any situation affect the respect, appreciation, and support you have for yourself.

Think of the times when a friend of yours has felt bad about himself. How would you respond to your friend in this situation? You would probably give him words of encouragement. You would make him see that his condition is not so completely wrong. You would help him control his emotions and find alternatives. So, you can apply this same response to yourself the next time you are over critical and catastrophic about your situation.

3. Develop your self-confidence.

Having self-confidence is essential because it gives you the motivation to learn new skills, build positive relationships, and pursue your passion.

People with self-confidence do what they think is right, even if it makes them unpopular. They are willing to take risks, admit their mistakes, and learn from them. They can accept a compliment and are usually optimistic.

Self-confidence is something you can develop because it doesn’t depend on your personality or natural talents. The first thing you can do is to identify your limiting negative thoughts, such as: “I can’t do that,” “I’m sure I’m gonna fail,” or “No one wants to hear what I have to say.” This inner voice is pessimistic and unhelpful.

You better ask yourself, “How can I better prepare to carry out this activity successfully?

Keep in mind that all human beings possess the same value and face similar uncertain situations when trying something new. No one is better than you, and no one is inferior to you. We are equal in value, rights, and consideration. Switch to a mentality of equality, and you will see that it automatically improves your self-confidence.

4. Develop a positive self-image.

Many people measure their value on external factors such as their wealth, appearance, popularity, family, or work. But these factors are usually not under our full control and are subject to changes in the world.

When people are asked who they are, they often respond without thinking, “I’m an engineer, lawyer, athlete, fashion model, business owner, or some other similar answer. 

Society has conditioned us that these external factors are the determinants of “success,” and that without them, we will not feel valuable. But your profession and social status should not determine your self-identity or self-esteem. So avoid comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone prettier, smarter, and more prosperous than you. Also, there will always be someone less attractive, less creative, and with less money than you have.

Some recent studies have found that spending too much time on social media often causes people to compare themselves to others. Have you ever considered that people tend to post only their best moments, their most favorable pictures, and their most significant achievements? But when they face some struggles or make some mistakes, they try to keep them in private. This trend can create the illusion that other people’s lives are perfect and more amazing than your own.

But life is full of ups and downs. So, focus more of your time on your personal care, your own goals, and your projects to pursue and achieve your dreams.

5. Improve your self-esteem.

Self-esteem is a person’s overall sense of self-love, personal meaning, and self-worth. Having good self-esteem is required to develop the feelings, beliefs, and positive actions we need to grow as human beings. Our levels of happiness, well-being, confidence, and success depend mostly on a healthy level of self-esteem.

To improve your self-esteem, you can start by taking care of yourself. When you take care of your necessities, you are sending a message to yourself that you deserve your own time and attention. Self-care involves keeping proper personal hygiene, eating a balanced diet, devoting time to positive activities that you enjoy, and sustaining good habits.

Do physical exercise and get enough sleep. Dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable and reflects your authentic personality. Look in the mirror and smile. Besides any difficult situation or problem you might be facing, you are a unique, special, and valuable person, and you deserve to feel good about yourself.

6. Work on developing your skills and talents.

It’s hard to have confidence in yourself if you don’t feel prepared to face some challenges. For example, if you’re taking an exam and haven’t studied, you probably won’t feel very confident in answering the questions. But if you study conscientiously, you will be ready and much more confident. The same applies to all other areas of your life.

That’s why it’s crucial to identify and develop your talents so that you can excel.

The theory of multiple intelligences proposed by psychologist Howard Gardner, from Harvard University, tells us that there are eight types of intelligences, which are the following.

  • 1) Visual-Spatial. If you are good at doing puzzles, if you like to read, if you can easily understand images, maps, and diagrams, and if you enjoy drawing and painting, this could be your predominant intelligence.
  • 2) Linguistic-Verbal. This intelligence can be your primary one if you are good at remembering written and spoken information, if you like to write, if you are good at debating, if you can explain topics in a spoken way, and if you are skillful with word games.
  • 3) Logical-Mathematical. If you have problem-solving skills, if you like to think in abstract ideas and perform scientific experiments, and if you are good at equations and calculus, this can be your dominant intelligence.
  • 4) Bodily-Kinesthetic. This intelligence could be your dominant one if you are good at dancing and sports, if you like to create things with your hands, if you have excellent physical abilities, and if you learn by doing, rather than listening or watching.
  • 5) Musical. If you like to sing and play musical instruments, if you easily recognize rhythms and tones, and if you are good at remembering songs, beats, and melodies, maybe this is your primary type of intelligence.
  • 6) Interpersonal. This intelligence can be your dominant one if you have nonverbal communication skills, if you see situations from different perspectives, if you can quickly build positive relationships with others, and if you are good at group conflict resolution.
  • 7) Intrapersonal. If you are good at recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, if you enjoy analyzing theories and ideas, and if you easily understand your emotions, feelings, and motivations, this could be your dominant intelligence.
  • 8) Naturalistic. This type of intelligence could be your primary one if you feel an interest in careers such as Botanics, Biology, and Zoology, if you enjoy camping, gardening, hiking, and if you like nature.

As you can see, according to Howard Gardner, each person can have an aptitude and preference towards different branches of knowledge. And it’s not that you have to find your primary intelligence and stay there. We all have a different level in each of these eight kinds of intelligence, with two or three that are dominant. In the notes, I will leave you a recommended video that explains this subject more in-depth.

Finding your dominant intelligence can be an invaluable exercise to get to know you better. But it is also recommended that you eventually explore new experiences so that you can expand your limits and discover aspects of yourself that you may not have known. You can do this by trying a new hobby, sport, or art. Having hobbies will give you more confidence in general and increase your chances of meeting like-minded friends. At the same time that you advance in learning skills related to your passion for life, it is good that you learn to feel comfortable in new situations and with new people.

7. Maintain a supportive social group.

Maintain a meaningful connection with the people close to you, whether they are family or friends. Identify and encourage a more intimate relationship with other human beings who also want to spend time with you, have similar interests to you, and are unconditionally willing to support you during difficult times.

As you cultivate a positive attitude and set out to achieve your goals, it will be easier to keep the right people by your side. This way, you will be able to build a supportive social group that will give you self-confidence and trust to face any situation in your life.

Take the time to choose the right people, and take the necessary actions to spend more time with them, and be there when they need you, too.

8. Be determined to make your own decisions.

Decision-making is a skill that you can develop over time. Start by being more proactive about where you’d like to have dinner with your friends. Learn to say no when you’re not willing to commit, either because you don’t have the time or because it doesn’t fit your life plan.

When you have to make a decision, it is good to take into account other points of view and consider all the information you have at hand to choose the best option. But in the end, the decision is yours and nobody else’s. Make your decision with determination, even when you know you can make a mistake.

As human beings, we can all make mistakes. The important thing is that you learn from your experiences. Self-confident people have learned to look back and see failures as learning experiences. Each of these learnings gives them greater self-confidence as they move toward new challenges. So when you get things wrong, the best thing you can do is acknowledge it, apologize, and make a plan to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

9. Celebrate your uniqueness.

You are not meant to live your life like other people’s lives. You don’t look the same, you don’t sound the same, your talents are not the same, and your deep values are unique. Defend and celebrate the attributes that make you unique and special. Develop confidence in the personal qualities that make you stand out from others.

At the same time, acknowledge your weaknesses so that you can keep your feet on the ground. Accept that no one is perfect and that what is a weakness of yours can be a strength of the one by your side.

Be proud of yourself and what sets you apart. It can be your sense of humor, your sense of compassion, your listening skills, or your ability to cope with stress. You may think there’s nothing about your personality that’s worth admiring, but if you go deeper, you’ll find that you have many admirable attributes. Focus on them and write them down.

What’s your opinion on this topic?

As you obtain more clarity in your identity and worth as a person, you will be able to have more control over your life and take advantage of your strengths, skills, and abilities.

Cultivate a positive and constructive self-image, so you don’t depend on other people’s validation. If you do so, you will find determination and a charming inner strength that will allow you to achieve unprecedented success.

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