“I can’t believe you just said that. Do you always talk about yourself that way?”
My friend had a point. I was going through a particularly rough patch, but I did, in fact, talk that way (not nicely) about myself a lot of the time.
No wonder I had a confidence problem. I could blame it on a divorce or being rejected or any number of things, but the bottom line was I’d lost my confidence. Which happens to a lot of us as we get older and life gives us a few hard knocks.
The world is a hard place when your confidence is low. And even if it isn’t low, it always helps to have a little more.
A confident person radiates strength. She’s not afraid to be herself. She knows that she’s “enough” just as she is. And she knows she doesn’t have to look her absolute best or be completely on top of her game to be worthy or to be beautiful.
Her confidence is beautiful
Sophia Loren put it like this, “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”
The reality for most of us is that, to some degree, we equate our confidence with our feelings about our own looks.
And it’s not your fault. Growing up, you saw hundreds of messages that equated a woman’s worth with her look. You were spoon fed an idealized (and almost impossible) version of beauty through magazines, TV, and other media. And almost all of time, those visions of beauty were under the age of 20
Here’s where it gets a little weird.
The cosmetic and beauty industry has taken advantage of the idealized beauty of youth and turned the loss of youth into something to be feared, rather than celebrated.
Hence, the explosion of anti-aging products and procedures. Almost all of the messages you get in advertising are fear based and feed insecurity about your age and looks. It can eat into your self-confidence and make you feel insecure about yourself and how you look.
Insecurity isn’t attractive. Confidence is.
Here are some bona fide confidence killers that it pays to avoid:
- Comparing yourself to others. Everyone is different, looks different, and has different gifts. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I would add it’s the thief of confidence too.
- Seeking approval from others. As women, this is a hard one. We’ve been raised to seek approval. The fact is that not everyone is going to agree with you. Learn to spend your time and energy building relationships with people that you respect and value. Stop trying to win over the others, even if they’re related to you.
- Try not to focus on your faults, your obstacles or worst-case scenarios. Instead focus on what you can do and solutions to your problems.
- Don’t get so sucked into your comfortable routine that your world becomes small. New experiences will fuel your confidence.
- Don’t take a rejection or failure as a reflection of your worth. This is a big one. You don’t get to get this far in life without some trials and flops. They’re part of the learning process and have nothing to do with you as a valuable person. Try to see the lessons learned when things don’t work out. Positivity and persistence are the keys to overcoming failure and building your confidence.
It took me a while to rebuild my confidence, but it’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself.
Here are some easy, every day suggestions that will grow your confidence
- Stand tall. And sit that way too. Your body sends messages to your brain, just like your brain sends messages to your body. When your posture is good and you’re standing up straight, the message to your brain is that you feel good about yourself. When your shoulders are back, your chest is open, and your head is upright on your neck, you look taller, slimmer, and more self-assured. It can be that simple.
- Observe, but don’t judge (yourself). When you look in the mirror, try to leave your usual judgements and labels behind. Don’t fall into the good/bad/ugly/pretty/ old/young trap. Your words to yourself matter. Shoot for appreciation and acceptance instead of criticism.
- Focus on something you like about yourself. I know I’m guilty of zeroing in on the scar by my eyebrow that makes the lines between my brows look even deeper. I’m breaking that habit by trying to look at my whole face and really noticing how it lights up when I smile. It’s a conscious effort, but worth it.
- Speaking of smiles…smiling faces are not only more attractive, they lift your eyes and mouth and your brain gets an instant feel good message from your body. You feel even better when other people smile back at you. Everyone feels good when you smile.
- Remember to breathe. Regular, deep breaths tell your brain that everything is ok. You look and feel good, and are more confident. On the other hand, rapid, shallow breaths make you tense and actually alter your body chemistry-not the message you want to send to yourself.
- Wear clothes that are comfortable (too tight and the message to yourself is a negative one about your weight). And that you feel good in.
- Build time for yourself into your routine. Exercise, meditation, a walk. They’re all are good for your body and help you feel calm and more centered. And more confident.
- Take time to take care of yourself. Over the years, you get busy. It can be a struggle to make time for self-maintenance. This includes care of your skin, hair, and body.
It doesn’t mean you have to have a complicated or time-consuming routine. Depending on your personality and needs, it might be as simple as washing your face, applying some moisturizer and sunscreen, and brushing your hair before you head out for the day.
Or it might mean a relaxing shower, a full routine with serum and moisturizer, a massage with a jade roller, and doing your hair in your favorite style.
The important thing is to make taking care of yourself part of your daily routine. When you do this, the message your mind gets is, “I’m important, I’m worth it, I matter.”
This is the essence of confidence.
The irony is that even though you may lose some confidence as you age, you actually have tools to be even more confident. You’re more experienced, more resilient, more wise, and more sure of yourself.
Yeah, you might slip here and there and slide down the confidence ladder. But, most of the time, you know you’ve got this. And you have the experience to back it up.
You know how to take care of yourself (even if you struggle sometimes to do it), you know how to get things done, and you have a more expansive perspective on the ups and downs of life.
You know that comparing yourself to others, especially 20 year old models, is the road to unhappiness. And it’s a road you’ve finally learned (or are learning) to avoid.
That doesn’t mean you don’t want to look and feel your best. You do. Only now, you don’t want to be an air brushed model, you want to be the best version of you.
Confidence is beautiful.