It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
In the late 1980s, I did a lot of work in the education field helping teachers and administrators bring self-esteem training to the classroom. If students felt more confident about their abilities, we discovered, they stretched more as students – which improved the learning process by making them less afraid of failure. One byproduct of building confidence and self-esteem is that you tend to be less shy about speaking up, offering your ideas, and showing the world your best self.
You might think it’s odd that someone like me who’s been teaching success principles and self-esteem building methods for over 40 years could be shy, but I am – in many situations. It takes a lot of focus and energy for me to interact with businesspeople, legal teams, and advanced-level academics and not feel timid when voicing my thoughts and asking questions.
One technique I’ve recommended over the years to help people be more confident and more open to receiving validation and praise—and therefore be more willing to accomplish praiseworthy acts and voice their opinions—is called The Mirror Exercise.
It’s based on the theory that we all need acknowledgment, but we need acknowledgement from ourselves most importantly. If you don’t think your successes are worthwhile, why on Earth would you bother to achieve anything worthwhile in the future?
The Mirror Exercise gives your subconscious mind the positive “strokes” it needs to pursue further achievements and it helps change any negative beliefs you have toward praise and accomplishment, which puts you in an achieving frame of mind.
Set aside a couple of minutes toward the end of each day when you’ll have quiet time. Relax and take a few deep breaths, then think through any accomplishments you’ve achieved during the day—big, small…doesn’t matter.
Maybe you met a deadline or got a project done early. Maybe you saved more money toward your emergency fund or paid off a debt.
When you’re ready, stand or sit in front of your mirror and begin by saying, “Good evening. I want to appreciate you for the following things today.”
Then acknowledge yourself for everything you did that was a success.
If I were doing this tonight, my Mirror Exercise might sound like this:
“Okay, Jack. You got up on time. You meditated for half an hour. You got that book Foreword written on time. You handled that staff meeting really well. You made that cold call to a potential new distributor. You went to lunch and ate a healthy salad. You worked out before dinner and kept your body in shape. At home, you spent quality time with your wife. You finished your day by planning your must-do tasks for tomorrow.”
When you’re done acknowledging your successes, then look yourself in the eye – and this is the hardest part – say,
“One more thing, Jack. I want you to know that I really love you.”
The first time you do this exercise, you’ll feel awkward, weird and maybe a lot of other emotions. You may be thinking, “This is stupid.”
Very few of us know what it’s like to totally acknowledge ourselves. While you may be uncomfortable in the beginning, keep at it. I’ve had grown men—key executives in major companies—tell me how much better they feel about themselves and their confidence after doing this exercise just a week or less.
Ideally, I want you to do the Mirror Exercise diligently for at least three months. After 90 days of telling yourself how successful you are, will there be any question that you truly are? Or that you can go on to succeed even more?
Will there be any question that you have the self-confidence to face any situation?
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