I was in fourth grade- I had terrible acne and worse teeth. I remember being picked on all the time about one or the other- neither of which I had any control over. I spent MANY years praying every night for pretty skin and straight teeth. I would fall asleep with tears on my cheeks and my fingers pushing against my stubbornly-bucked teeth, and awake the next day disappointed. I was depressed. I was anxious. I started cutting myself in 8th grade. I wanted to disappear.
There was no on/off switch or magic spelled that transformed me from a wallflower into the belle of the ball. It was a gradual process that took many years. I started dating a wonderful young man who made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. I got a series of frustrating, yet character building jobs that forced me to stand up for myself and my beliefs. I went to therapy- multiple times. I married that awesome guy. I got braces. I lost weight. I had a child. Gained weight. Got a new job. Started blogging. See? There are so many variables.
So even though I don't consider myself an expert, here are some steps I think will really help you increase your confidence!
|"You look beautiful!"|
"Why thank you!"
1. Learn to take a compliment (and keep notes). How many times does someone say to you, "You look pretty" or something similar? What's your response? Women struggle with accepting compliments. We make excuses- "In this shabby dress?", "But my hair's a mess!', etc.,etc. We rarely just say thank you. So try this for a couple of weeks. When someone compliments you, say thank you. Then write it down. Keep a list of the kind things others say about you- and not just physical things. Every compliment!
2. Give compliments- There's just something reciprocal about compliments. You know when you do something nice for someone else, it makes you feel good too. Be generous, but sincere with compliments, and remember, these women struggle too, so let them in on your new secret about keeping track of kindness!
3. While confidence comes from within, it never hurts to look good! Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful, powerful, strong. Wear make-up if you want to. Get a haircut. Buy some new lipstick. Stand up straight. Look people in the eyes.
|Wanna feel confident? Wear an awesome dress in a dazzling pattern!|
Dress- Land's End c/o Gwynnie Bee
4. Don't compare yourself to others! Ever heard that saying "Comparison is the thief of joy"? Well, it's true. I know I'm never going to have a personal trainer and a private chef to make me look like Gwyneth Paltrow or a Victoria's Secret model. So why beat myself up about it? Who are you comparing yourself to? Is it healthy or are you reaching for totally unrealistic ideals that are sabotaging your own happiness and zapping your confidence?
5 Take risks- big or small. It doesn't matter what kind of risk, but it is essential to take yourself out of your comfort zone. We always lose confidence when faced with unfamiliar situations, so we tend to avoid them. But I am encouraging you to do those things that scare you. Wear a bright color or pattern. Join a gym or take a Zumba class. Sing in your choir. Join a book club. Heck, jump out of an airplane! Once you have completed the task, you will swell with confidence. You will be proud of whatever fear you've overcome, and you will probably discover that you enjoyed yourself in the process!
6. Don't take things personally. This is something I have to remind myself of daily- especially working around teenagers. I used to get my feelings hurt when I would hear that a student was mad at me or said I was mean (or worse!). Then I realized, they are kids, most of them are dumb kids. I can't take it personally when they don't do their homework or come to class unprepared or don't like me because I give them detention. That old break-up line "It's not you, it's me"? Well, you gotta stop thinking it's you! You are only responsible to yourself, and if someone doesn't call you back or takes two days to email you or whatever, you have to be rational. You haven't always done something wrong. Tell yourself THEY are missing out and move on!
7. And finally, be positive! When someone asks, "How's it going?", stifle that urge to whine or complain. Smile and tell them how great you feel and how awesome things are. Don't be a "Debbie Downer". I firmly believe that you should "fake it till you make it"- if you aren't feeling confident, then pretend you are! The more positive you feel, the better you will feel about yourself. I promise!
I hope this list has helped! In the comments, I want you to practice one of my steps, okay? And if you want to read more about my personal journey with self-esteem and confidence, here are some links to my favorite posts!
Posts about confidence:
Curves, Confidence, and Criticism
Oh, Say Can You See