10 Tips for Building Self Confidence
One of the most common questions I get asked online is about how to build your confidence and feel good about yourself.
In a world that literally functions based on telling people (especially women) that they’re not good enough as they are (yay, capitalism!), having confidence in the face of that onslaught is no easy feat.
Think about it: how would anything get sold without telling people they needed it desperately? For example, nobody thought they had bad breath until the ad industry created a name for the problem – halitosis – with a solution: toothpaste! Before that moment, that’s just what human breath was. Nobody was insecure about it because nobody was told to feel shame for what is completely natural. Same with razors and body hair. And hair dye for grey hair. The list goes on forever. We are endlessly told that we will be completely repulsive and unacceptable without x y z – cast out of society and doomed to be unloved forever.
Because we didn’t buy Gillette, or whatever.
It doesn’t help that we are constantly bombarded by fictitious ideals of what a human can (and apparently should) be. Everyone is a mix of some faults and some virtues, but these ideals are created by combining all the virtues into one impossible being, and holding that up as the standard that we all should strive towards.
Be flawlessly attractive, but don’t spend too much time or effort on yourself, because then you’re vain and high maintenance. Be smart, but not too smart, because then you’re arrogant and intimidating. Be sexy, but not too sexy, because then other people are entitled to your body. Be lean, but able to indulge in greasy, fried foods en masse. Be funny, generous, kind, never grumpy, a perfect host or hostess, always fashionable, a skilled cook, athletic, down to Earth, family-oriented, and successful at work. All at once – it’s absurd! (And that’s not even addressing the very narrow Western ideals of beauty that are being imposed on the rest of the world.)
Of course everyone has a list of insecurities as long as their arm.
I’m not going to sit here – well, lay here – and tell you that building your confidence is going to be easy. It’s not an overnight thing, and there’s no easy trick that you can do and poof! you’ll never have insecurities again.
It’s a constant battle that requires diligent self-monitoring, because it’s all too easy to slip back into listening to your inner demons and the messages constantly thrown at you by the media, and even the people closest to you.
Here are a few methods I’ve learned that have helped me build my own self-confidence, and become more comfortable in my skin. I hope through practicing some of these, they might help you too.
- Monitor Your Thoughts
We all have that little voice in our heads. Sometimes, it’s encouraging, but too often, it puts us down. It whispers things like ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you’re ugly’, and ‘they don’t really like you’. We’ve got to learn to wrangle that little voice, and on occasion, tell it to shut the heck up. It’s near impossible to stop yourself from thinking negative thoughts completely, but what we can do is recognize them and turn them around. The next time you mentally insult yourself, pause, notice it, and then apologize to yourself. Tell yourself that negative thing isn’t true, and think something nice about yourself instead.It’ll feel silly at first (or forever), but whether or not you even believe it, it works. Over time, you’ll find yourself putting yourself down less and less. And when you do, there’s a compliment coming right after! Our subconscious mind is a powerful tool, but its flaw is that it believes whatever it is repeatedly told. Tell it awful things enough, and that’s what it’ll believe to be true. Tell it nice things enough, and it’ll believe those too!
- Be Nice to Other People
It can be difficult to forgive yourself for your flaws, and praise yourself. A great stepping stone is simply to be less hard on other people. Speak up when the people you know put themselves down. If your friend tells you she hates her nose, tell her she’s lovely just the way she is. When someone makes a mistake or does something that disappoints or hurts you, forgive them. (That’s not to say you have to keep them in your life, though. If someone hurts you repeatedly, walk away.) We are all human, and we all screw up sometimes.By becoming kinder and more forgiving towards other people, you will inevitably become kinder and more forgiving towards yourself, because you’ll realize that you’re human too, and you’re allowed to not be perfect. Those who are most critical towards other people often are ten times harder on themselves, and the same is true in reverse.
- Give Yourself Compliments
This is going to feel awkward and embarrassing any way you slice it. We are so conditioned to be modest and humble and insecure, that praising ourselves and allowing ourselves to feel good about who we are seems like a radical act.Now, I’m not suggesting you go out in the world and tell everyone you meet that you’re awesome. It isn’t working for Kanye, and it won’t work for you. However, in the privacy of your own home, in front of your bathroom mirror or wherever you feel most comfortable, you can and should tell yourself all the things you love about yourself. It works best when said out loud, because it engages more senses and affects the subconscious mind more powerfully. But if you absolutely can’t work up the courage to say nice things about yourself out loud, then do it in your head, at least once a day.Tell yourself you love your arms, or hair, or belly, or eyelashes, or teeth. Tell yourself you’re proud of the way you handled that conversation today. Tell yourself you like your sense of humour, the way you made all your friends laugh. High-five yourself for acing that test or presentation. Thank your legs for winning that race, or just finishing it! Whatever it is, compliment yourself. It’ll get easier every day, and you’ll start to be grateful for all the little things that make up who you are.
- Focus on the Good
Life is a mixed bag, and so are we. Stewing on all the things we wish we were or wish we had will only cause unhappiness. Instead, focus your thoughts and energy on all the things about yourself that make you and your life great. Nobody is perfect and nobody has it all, despite what appearances may suggest. Take a moment every day, whether you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or are taking the bus, to mentally catalog all the things you’re lucky to have.Be grateful for your health, if you have it; for the health of your loved ones, for the presence of your friends, for your talents and abilities, for the parts of your looks you like, for being able to live in safety, for having a home, for that delicious meal you’ve just eaten, for your education, for your mind. Once you start listing all the things you’re blessed to have, you’ll realize how silly it seems to desire even more.
- Do Yourself Up
We all have ugly days. Whether it’s because we’re feeling bloated, got a bunch of pimples, or even if it’s purely psychological, we all have days when we feel gross, unlovable, and unfit to be seen by anyone.That’s okay. This will seem completely counterintuitive, but these are the days you need to do yourself up in grand style – even if you’re not going anywhere. Start by taking a bath or shower. Just feeling clean and fresh can do wonders for your mental state. Put on some music and pick out the outfit that makes you feel like a total babe. Do your hair and makeup, if you wear it. Makeup has transformative properties like no other. It’s practically polyjuice potion. Spritz on a bit of your favourite perfume or cologne. The act of taking care of yourself combined with seeing your reflection looking hot as hell will make you feel much better, I promise.
- Choose Your Peeps Wisely
Who we surround ourselves with has a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves. You know that scene in Mean Girls where they’re all standing in front of the mirror, picking out things they dislike about themselves? Don’t associate with people like that. Don’t spend time with people who are completely image-focused, who only care about how they and their lives appear on the outside. Choose people who genuinely care about you and each other, who won’t tolerate anyone who treats you badly. Spend time making actual memories, not the staged appearance of them for Facebook and Instagram. The bottom line is: don’t spend time with anyone who puts you down, even if they’re a close friend or blood relation. You don’t need them in your life.
- Notice (and Laugh At) Unrealistic Beauty Expectations
This goes back to my original point. Being aware of the media’s influence is a great way to get some perspective and stay level-headed.Even the people we consider the most beautiful are filled with insecurities. People like Kim Kardashian and Miranda Kerr photoshop their own instagram photos, for heaven’s sake. Which leads me to my next point.
- Realize and Remind Yourself That What You’re Seeing ISN’T REAL
Nobody has poreless skin. If we were poreless we wouldn’t get rid of toxins and WE WOULD DIE. Be grateful for your pores. Nobody has the body proportions you see in magazines. Every photo on a billboard or magazine has been meticulously photoshopped for hours, by a professional. Check out some of these hilarious examples.Social media is not exempt from this either. I wrote about this more extensively in my post called The Great Internet Illusion, but what you see of peoples’ lives online is not the complete truth of the situation. Bloggers and Youtubers make it seem like everyone is living the dream life except you, but that’s not true. They only put out a very small, very manicured portion of their lives, and almost every blogger photoshops themselves in photos. There’s a great quote by Steve Furtick that says: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel” and that’s absolutely true. I write about that a little more in my #NoFilter blog post.
- Self Care, Self Care, Self Care
Confidence comes from self love. Treat yourself the way you’d treat the love of your life. (And after all, you should be the love of your life.) Take good care of yourself. Do things that make you happy. Surround yourself with good people. Allow yourself indulgences, but feed yourself food that will nourish your body, too. Work at what you’re passionate at. Forgive yourself. Take breaks. Be inspired. Dance. Try new things. Fail. Learn. Love abundantly.
- Remember That You are More
You are more than the way you look. You are more than how smart you are. You are more than your test results. You are more than the job you have. You are more than your weight. You are more than your relationship status. You are more than what you’ve achieved. You are more.
Good luck out there. xx