There's a line in the movie "Something To Talk About" where Julia Roberts' character says something about women are bred to keep their expectations low. Whenever I think about myself and my own self esteem that line always comes to mind. Yes, I like to watch cheesy movies, but that statement as always resonated with me because I think there are a lot of people who are conditioned to keep their expectations low. It's like always settling for second place because you don't have enough belief in yourself to go for the win.
It's a pretty daunting challenge now to realize that I don't have to settle for anything less than the best that life has to offer, and that I can be more, do more, and have more than I ever allowed myself to believe. I have to say, I've come a long way from the days when my mother told me I'd better marry the first guy who asked, because it would likely be the only offer I'd ever get. But that, as we like to say, is a story for another day.
So, what can you do to raise your own expectations for yourself, and how does that affect your self-confidence? Here are five ideas for you to ponder.
1. Learn Something New
This is an easy place to start raising your expectations and your self-esteem. You can learn something as big or as small as you want to begin with. You could learn a new style of cooking. You could learn how to dance. You could go really big and learn how to fly a plane. The sky is your limit, literally! Regardless of what you decided to learn, making that decision to expand your knowledge and then taking action to actually do it will go a long way to boosting your self-confidence. And when you succeed in this, you will also come to expect that you'll succeed at the next new thing you try too.
2. Dare Yourself To Do Something
How many times did you do something on a dare when you were younger? When was the last time you accepted a dare?
Personally I can't remember the last time... oh wait a minute, someone dared me to share a post on Facebook the other day, and I did it! Not a very big challenge, I'll admit, but it felt pretty darn good. Other than that, I'm a pretty tame person. I don't often do challenges, and I sure don't do dares on a regular basis. But there are days when it's good to challenge yourself. To dare yourself to take just one more step, to believe for just one more minute that you can do more than you did in the minute before. When you challenge yourself and complete that challenge, you will also find that your sense of self-worth grows too.
3. Spend Some Time Outdoors
When I say spend some time outdoors, I don't mean reading a book in the garden, or lounging by the pool. I mean really get out there and challenge yourself to do something big. Learn to rock climb, hike a trail you've never done before, learn to kayak, even go camping for the first time. There's nothing like Mother Nature for challenging you to accomplish things you've never even dreamed you could do. And I can tell you from experience, when you do, you will feel like there's nothing you can't handle, no challenge too tough for you. Your self-confidence will soar and you will know that you can do more than you've ever let yourself believe before.
4. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Raising your expectations and your self-confidence is all about moving outside your comfort zone. It's not always fun, and it's pretty much guaranteed to be hard work when you move beyond the safe zone that you've set for yourself. But here's the thing ... the more you move beyond your comfort zone, the more your comfort zone expands. It moves in relation to you and your willingness to grow and take the risk to try something new. You will grow and you will grow stronger in your self-belief just by pushing that boundary back even a little.
5. Do Things You Never Believed You Could
When you suffer from low self-confidence, there are a lot of things you don't think you can do. When you commit to yourself, expecting more of yourself becomes the norm and you will find yourself trying and achieving things you never believed you could. Your confidence will continue to grow, and you will continue to try new thing, and you will find that it is a self-propelling circle of growth. And even if you experience failures along the way, it will be so much easier to bounce back now because you know you can do whatever you set out to do.
It's All About Moving the Boundary Line
When it comes right down to it, raising your expectations is all about moving the boundary lines of where you are comfortable. You can't experience growth without at least a few growing pains, and I'm not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you it's all easy. It can be scary -- I know this because I'm doing it all right along with you -- but I have faith in you, and I know that you can do it if you really want to.
There's a popular quote attributed to Henry Ford that says "If you think you can, or think you can't, you are right." Raising your expectations puts you squarely in the "think you can" camp. Belief in yourself is an amazing thing, and as you continue to move beyond your boundaries, your self-belief can only grow, right along with your confidence and your self-esteem. Those low expectations will be a thing of the past!