When is the last time you truly pushed yourself to become a greater, better, and more magnificent person? Often, we become overly comfortable in our daily routines, and our sense of self can stagnate. You may find yourself in a rut, seeing the same person in the mirror who stood there ten years ago – just a little bit older and a lot more tired.
Here are five ways to push yourself out of that rut and take back your sense of self:
Earn Your Own Respect
Finish this sentence: I admire people who can _______. Do you admire people who are gourmet cooks? Novelists? Your neighbor who can fix his own car? The word choice here is important, because admiration implies that you greatly respect the accomplishment, but consider it to be beyond your personal reach. Chances are it isn’t. If you smart small, and continually push yourself to take baby steps, you can accomplish more than you think. Do you admire marathon runners? Start small with a jog around the block. Maybe do a Couch to 5k program. Push yourself to your limit today, and go just a little farther tomorrow. Someday you will achieve your marathon-level goal and look back at your journey with a tremendous sense of awe and self-respect.
Talk to a Stranger
Talk to one new person each day for a week. If you are shy, this might be terrifying at first – but that will make this exercise even more worthwhile. The validation we receive from talking to others can have a powerful impact on our confidence and help to build our sense of community. When you feel more at home in the world and in tune with those around you, you will become more comfortable in your own skin. Soon you will find yourself chatting with people while standing in line at the grocery store – just for fun!
Visit a Foreign Country
Immersing yourself in another culture forces you out of your comfort zone and greatly expands your worldview. Without your familiar surroundings, you are forced to rely on yourself more – especially if you do not speak the language. A new and drastically different environment could help you discover another side of yourself, and the challenge of navigating unfamiliar territory will build your confidence and sense of capability. You can dip your toe into this one by visiting an English speaking nation with your family, or take the full plunge by trekking through the jungle on your own. The further you push it, the greater the payoff will be.
Look Yourself in the Eye
Look at yourself in the mirror for one full minute without breaking eye contact. Do this every day. It sounds silly, and this practice can be incredibly unnerving at first. It’s okay to giggle though – soon you’ll get the hang of it. Holding eye contact is incredibly intimate, and, even though it is uncomfortable, you are getting to know yourself better when you do it. Say nice things to yourself, and build a relationship. Yes, it’s a weird thing to do, but it’s oddly effective.
Face Your Fear
Most of us have some sort of silly, irrational fear that we keep from others. We may keep it secret because it is childish and embarrassing, or because it may be tied to an unpleasant moment in our past. Whatever the reason, the secretive nature of our fears give them more power, and knowing that they lurk beneath the surface of our lives can undermine our confidence. Do that thing that scares you every day for a week, even if it is by yourself. Overcoming your fear will be a fantastic personal victory – one you probably never thought possible – and fill you with a sense of freedom and pride.
These suggestions are deeply challenging, but they were designed that way on purpose. Thomas Jefferson once said “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Push yourself out of your comfort zone – you’ll be glad you did.