I have been an image trainer for many years now, sharing with others how to create positive first impressions. That includes topics like dressing and colours, posture and poise, verbal and non-verbal communication, grooming, health and hygiene as well as conduct and etiquette. But as I trained more and more people, I felt that I was just touching the surface: I wanted to help them become more confident about themselves. It was not just about looking good and feeling good on the outside, but to get deeper into their emotional level. I would briefly end my session with two additional points: one’s Attitude and Self-Esteem.
After having found myself in a place where I was not satisfied with the direction my own life was heading, I decided to make changes. It started with a lot of self-awareness, then dropping the masks that I wore, making myself more vulnerable and exposed. That initially frightened me as I knew it would take time and effort from myself, and that the wounds from the past would have to be healed first.
Knowing that I am more real now makes me able to truly accept myself for who I am, rather than what I am not and I am much happier. My life’s focus has changed. First Impressions are still very important, but one needs to project more than just a professional or confident image, as this outer beauty does not last. What really makes an everlasting impression is the beauty that shines from within.
Many believe that attitude is something that cannot be taught, but from experience we know that it is learnable. It is a choice that must come from within.
Having a positive attitude towards life is great and one can start by appreciating the simple things that we take for granted like waking up and having food on the table and a roof over our head. Make it a practice to wake up each day with gratitude in your heart. Or take some time just to enjoy the wonders of nature, breathing in the fresh air and listening to the sounds around you. When was the last time you said thank you or something loving to another person in the extended family? It could be for helping around the house, cooking food or cleaning up, or for just being there to lend a listening ear or a supportive shoulder.
Believing that everyone is good and that everything happens for a reason helps us to see that there are different perspectives and many possibilities. Though things may not turn out the way we have expected, we must be open to seeing things differently, changing the way things are being done and knowing there are always choices. And when we make a choice, we accept whatever consequence that comes with it. That helps us become more adaptable to every unpleasant situation that happens.
But getting out of a challenging situation can be tough, especially if our confidence or self-esteem is affected. Do not blame others and complain. Many times we depend on external motivators like recognition or praise from others, money or other rewards, and even threats or punishments to motivate us. Being left at the mercy of others will make you eventually feel like a victim: that you are powerless and that you are only doing these things because it is what others demand. Living like a robot on auto-pilot, day in day out, year after year; putting up with the way things are or just giving up because it takes too much effort to change is definitely not the life we deserve as everyone should experience everything that life has to offer.
This is about recognizing our self-worth. But somewhere along the way something may have happened to make us feel that we are not good enough, that bad things will always happen to us, that no one could love us or that we will always be alone and the list goes on. All these negative beliefs can only bring more pain, frustration and sadness as the belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes the harder we are on ourselves, the harder we become towards those closest to us. Our expectations of other people may also became greater. Thus, we may become more judgemental or being unable to trust people.
Be aware of your belief and realise how it is affecting your life. When you find yourself making negative comments, beating yourself up over something that has already happened, criticizing yourself, comparing yourself to others, worrying about something that has not happened yet or worrying about what others will think of you, then it is imperative to put on the brakes and to change your mentality. All this overthinking can exact its toil on you, whether emotionally, mentally or physically. Take notice of whatever unpleasant feeling you may have and recognize that it serves a purpose. Do not try to suppress it as it will flare up sometime later. Take a pause to allow yourself some time to regain your composure, or focus on something more pleasant. You can make that choice!
Be confident that you are a complete and lovely person, and believe in yourself. Recognise and acknowledge the gifts and talents you have. When you start to change your attitude in the way you see things, you will start to feel the change within yourself. I found that giving to others who are less fortunate is a good start. Many of us hope and desire to help others grow and live a better life, and we should do it with love and compassion. This helps our empathy grow. Consequently, we learn to interact with others in a sensitive, tactful and thoughtful manner.
It all starts with how we feel about ourselves – love and accept ourselves first and then together with others we can celebrate our lives and life!