3 Steps to Glowing Self-Confidence
The opposite of object-referral is self-referral, which means that we identify with our inner self, the unchanging essence of our soul. Self-referral is an internal state of well-being that doesn't depend on external circumstances.
When we're living from an awareness of our true self, we feel connected to all that exists; we experience infinite creativity; we feel free of limitation; we are fearless and willing to step into the unknown; we experience the spontaneous fulfillment of our desires; and we view ourselves and the world with compassion.
True self-esteem comes from discovering that who you really are is infinite spirit, unbounded and eternal. Once you've awakened to your essential nature, you will let go of the ego's struggle to build an external sense of self-worth. Your true self doesn't need to be improved, changed or even healed. It is whole, perfect and complete, exactly as it is. Shifting your sense of identity to your true self frees you to create a life of abundance, joy and fulfillment. You can create this shift by practicing the following steps.
Step 1: Notice What You're Doing
You can cultivate compassionate awareness of yourself by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and reactions throughout the day. Remember that awareness is the key to change. As you witness yourself getting caught up in familiar emotional reactions, gently witness the habitual patterns without judgment. Notice when you're wounded by small slights or you feel anxious or unhappy when someone you love doesn't give you the attention you want.
Most people are trying to earn the approval of others, repeating a pattern that goes back to our early childhood, when we believed we had to earn our parents' or caregivers' love and approval. We unconsciously believed that our survival depended on it—and it may have. But now we are adults and can start to let go of the false need for approval.
Next: How to connect to your true self
Step 2: Allow and Accept
As you open the door to awareness, feelings of fear or insecurity may seem more intense. Instead of fighting or resisting uncomfortable feelings, simply be with those feelings in a nonjudgmental way. When you try to push away a feeling, it only grows stronger, but when you simply notice and allow it to be, it will soon dissipate. In the beautiful words of Harvard neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, "Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated."
When you're in a difficult situation, observe yourself without judgment. Since the ego is a constricted version of your true self, it creates sensations of tightness and contraction in the body. You can usually feel this in the chest, heart, stomach, shoulders, neck or back. Whenever you feel discomfort in one of these areas, know that your ego is trying to dominate a situation. In that moment, just becoming aware that your ego is creating the sensation is enough to shift back into the perspective of your true self.
Step 3: Cultivate Your Inner Dialogue
Conscious inner dialogue is a powerful tool for connecting to your true self. Whenever you look in the mirror, even if just for a few seconds, make eye contact with yourself and silently repeat the three principles of self-referral:
1. I am totally independent of the good or bad opinion of others.
2. I am beneath no one, and no one is beneath me.
3. I am fearless in the face of all challenges.
Deepak Chopra, MD, is the author of What Are You Hungry For?: The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center.
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