This Valentine's Day, break up with low self-esteem and your inner gremlins for good. Author, intuitive coach and hypnotherapist Annie Ashdown shares her top 10 tips for boosting self-confidence with us

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“We are all stars and we all deserve to twinkle.”

Marilyn Monroe

Have you ever felt inadequate, insecure, unlovable, unworthy or incompetent?

If so, you are not alone. Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tina Fey, Maya Angelou, Emma Watson, Sheryl Sandberg, Seth Godin, Tom Hanks and Chris Martin all admit they experience those feelings. Anxiety, self-doubt and fear of rejection are the main components of lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. Many high achievers in business, celebrities, corporate employees and entrepreneurs hire me to help them raise their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Too often they give into their fear and anxiety. This results in them not taking the actions needed to achieve their visions, dreams and goals.

While growing up, many of us are criticised for not being perfect or living up to the unrealistic expectations bestowed upon us by our parents and/or teachers. This often results in us developing negative thoughts in our subconscious. In my book The Confidence Factor  I call it ‘the committee’.

Too often I hear my clients say;

  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m not as slim as
  • I’ll never achieve as much success as
  • I’m not as talented/funny/smart as

If you constantly hear these statements as a child, you reinforce them as being the truth. They feed your subconscious and become core beliefs. Your behaviour then changes to match the belief; low self-esteem and lack of confidence is then created. When you grow up and hang with people with similar beliefs; Moaning Mary, Debbie Downer, they help you gather evidence that these core beliefs you tell yourself are true.

By continuing to sit in fear, procrastination and is inevitable that you will do an amazing job of convincing yourself that these core beliefs are real.

You create your reality

Every time you self-reject yourself through ‘stinking thinking’, you erode your self-confidence and increase low self-esteem.

Opportunities will pass you by

How can you have a better relationship with yourself and break these bad habits? Here are my top 10 tips.

1. Question that inner gremlin

When the doubting voice creeps in, whose voice is it telling you that you are not smart enough, thin enough or funny enough? Pause, reflect; is it a parent, teacher, ex -boss, ex- partner, sibling, colleague or a mix of all of them? Close your eyes and visualise yourself covered with post-its containing these negative statements. Tear them off. Visualise saying “Thanks for your opinion but they are opinions, not facts, SO not interested in them. I don’t believe them to be true”. Remember your lack of self-belief is based on perception, not reality.

MORE GLOSS: 6 ways to put your body confidence gremlins to bed

2. Re-train your subconscious

Change all passwords and enter each one manually. Saturate yourself daily with imprinting new thoughts in your subconscious. For example, ‘Every word is valued and heard’, ‘I can and I will’, ‘I am loving and loveable’. Watch how your thoughts, actions and behaviours start changing.

3. Reframe any phrases you use that are disempowering, discounting and undermining you

For example, “I may be wrong but”, “I’m not an expert at this but”, “I’m not sure”, or “I think maybe” change to “l suggest”, “I have a question to put to you”, “What I know for sure is” or “I am certain”. You will increase confidence, become more assertive and in turn start feeling more ready to take risks. You can learn more phrases in The Confidence Factor .

4. Stop justifying yourself

Honour yourself enough to stop over explaining, justifying or defending yourself as you under convince and lose all credibility. Plan all important conversations, meetings and interviews; take time to speak slowly, simply and succinctly. You will gain self-respect and feel so much more empowered.

5. Prioritise you

Stop being mean to you, stop dismissing yourself as being unimportant. Cherish yourself by scheduling a regular ‘you date’ to a restaurant, show, live comedy, or beautiful spa. Switch your phone off, go ghost and appreciate and enjoy your own company.

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6. Wash your mind out

Stop comparing and despairing. It is a futile exercise. Look in the mirror, that’s your competition. Take 5 minutes to do this powerful NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) anchoring technique. Close your eyes and visualise a triangle in-between your eyebrows with an open door. Gather all the unkind words you take from others or use on yourself and place on slips of paper into a big white bubble. Visualise the bubble moving out through your mind and out of the gate… I say “See ya” or “Good riddance”. Repeat as often as required. Just as you wash your hair, you need to wash your mind.

7. Honour yourself

Stand up and be counted. Why would you believe those in authority know best? If they did, why were JK Rowling, Oprah, Meryl Streep, Simon Cowell and others rejected constantly? When something you want doesn’t happen, don’t let it knock you back….. “SW, SW, SW… Hasta la vista Baby” - some will, some won’t, so what - NEXT! Say “Whoop, now I am available for something or somebody even better to appear”.

8. Value and empower yourself by protecting your energy and time

Don’t waste time reacting. It’s draining and feeds into self-doubt. Respond, react...what’s the difference? Around 3 the pause button, breathe and remember no one is important enough to anger you. Wear a coloured elastic band and ping it each time you feel yourself wanting to react verbally or send that email.

MORE GLOSS: 17 ways to push back...without getting fired

9. Become aware of your internal processes

Awareness is the pre-requisite to change. Every day ask yourself: “What am I thinking?” “What am I feeling?” Consider what’s behind your behaviour, thoughts and feelings. Checking into yourself daily will help you form a loving relationship with yourself.

Journaling is my favourite tool for this. Do 3 A4 pages, take it on the tube, or arrive at work early and grab 10 minutes with a cuppa or do it before sleep. NO EXCUSES….the rewards are vast. You may be surprised at what comes out. Don’t analyse or edit, free flow write and enjoy!

10. Be kind to yourself

When was the last time you flattered yourself? Inventory your assets and every time you say something self-denigrating, apologise to yourself; "Sorry I don’t expect you to be perfect", or "Oops, that wasn’t very kind of me to say that".

Remove the insanity of shame and self-rebuke and instead make self-acknowledgment the essence of what you are. I urge you to make a contract with yourself to break the pattern of not loving yourself enough. Mastering self-love requires training your subconscious mind towards right thinking to form a new habit. You are smart and the smart woman is into self-care.

Remember: what you practise you become

By changing the old story you keep telling yourself and creating a new story, you will eventually change your thought processes. Why not take my  quiz  NOW and discover how confident you are? It takes a couple of minutes and the results may surprise you.

P.S. if you enjoyed it but don’t struggle with lack of confidence or low self-esteem, but know someone who does, please forward them this article as it could really make a difference to them.

Follow us  @getthegloss  and Annie  @Annie_Ashdown .

The Confidence Factor: The Seven Secrets of Successful People, £12.99.  Buy online .