5 Ways to Improve Your Self-Confidence
“In first grade, I used to sit in the middle of class and challenge myself to open and shut my eyelids as fast as I could. One day my teacher called me out and said, ‘Stop; you’ll hurt your eyes if you keep doing that.’ I was amazed. I remember thinking ‘How did she know I was doing that?’ – my brother, currently age 24
He then said, “It really wasn’t until third grade that I started caring about my appearance. I started fixing my bed head before I went to school.”
When did we go from fluttering our eyelids like no one is watching to worrying about how weird we may look from bed head? And it only gets worse. We not only worry about how others perceive us, but we begin to criticize ourselves too.
Honestly, I have struggled with self-confidence and acceptance of my outer appearance for a very long time. But as I look back on my experiences, I have reflected upon how much I have grown in this area. Perfect? Not even close. Flawless? Only when I sing Beyonce.
So, I present to you 5 ways to improve your self-confidence:
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
If comparison were a person, she would have her read receipts on and wait 4 hours to reply. Nothing good comes out of this type of relationship, except a lot of second-guessing and anxiety.
In high school, I used to compare myself to all of the “beautiful” girls. And of course when you throw in boys and friendships, it just gets so much more dramatic.
But now, I realize that comparison does nothing but steal away any positivity I possess. It has been a journey. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Okay, I’m done comparing myself to others.”
Do I still compare myself to other girls? Yes. And because I am a perfectionist, there is probably a part of me that always will. Understand that you have so many unique qualities that only you possess. Did anyone else at Hogwarts have a lightning bolt scar on their forehead? NOPE. And look where it got Harry. (Ignoring the whole Voldemort, horcrux, having-to-die thing, Harry really does come out on top).
2. Define your own definition of beauty, find your passions, and pick your strengths.
If you would have asked me five years ago what beautiful meant, I would have given you something like “pretty, pleasing to the eye, blah blah blah.” But what has really helped me is redefining what I think beauty means. To me, beauty is confidence, happiness and purpose. Want to know when I feel beautiful? When I dance. When I laugh. When I make others laugh. When I perform. When I am pursuing something that I am passionate about. When I feel loved. When I write. When I’m helping others.
Think of the times when you are happiest and doing things you love. I also lean heavily on scripture and what it means to God to be a “beautiful” woman. 1 Peter 3:3-4 was written on my mirror for a long time. Also, Proverbs 31: a woman clothed in strength and dignity. That sounds like something worth striving for.
3. Evaluate the source of negativity.
For me, this is social media.
So many people these days have comments on their posts about being perfect, and things like “How can you be that pretty?” or “I think you’re the prettiest person I know.” Nothing like a comment like that on a picture that isn’t yours to give you some good ole self-confidence (sarcasm)! I’ve learned that comments like that just make me jealous. And they fill me with self-doubt. I just don’t get on social media some days. If I know I am feeling vulnerable, I won’t waste my time. Besides, no one is “literally perfect.” Not even Kate Middleton. So please stop.
4. Exercise, eat well and strive to be healthy.
Have you seen Legally Blonde? “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands”… or spend days feeling bad about themselves. Need I say more?
5. Remember your childlike innocence.
Go hang out with some kids for a few hours. I work in a kindergarten classroom, and I love finding beauty in how my sweet 5- and 6-year olds see the world. They haven’t hit the stage where being seen with bedhead really bothers them. (We take naps every day, so I’ve seen some bedhead). Surrounding myself with their outlook makes me happy, and when we feel happy, it overflows into all areas of our life: career, relationships, personal life, etc.
It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am now and I still have ways to go, but I know if I feel like fluttering my eyelids as fast as I possibly can, I just might. And maybe I’ll fix my bed head or maybe I won’t (I will).
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]