What is confidence? When do we get it, how do we lose it and--most importantly--how do we get it back?
We are born with confidence, the inner knowing that we are enough. A baby believes it can learn to crawl, a toddler believes it can learn to walk. We all believe we can until we are told we can’t, we shouldn’t, it’s not a good idea.
Then we question ourselves and the self-judgement begins.
Maybe we hear a spiteful comment, and start analyzing the way we look. We compare ourselves with others and feel worse.
Our belief system is formed during our early years. Being told we are wrong, that we're bad, that we can’t, etc. is something that many of us, subconsciously, carry into adulthood. Even if we come from a loving, supportive family, something as simple as a throwaway comment can stay with us for decades.
Only recently have I have linked my self-conscious nature and my inability to speak in public with a something a teacher told me when I seven.
When I wanted to appear in a school play, she said, “Louise, you are so soft-spoken, no one will want to listen to you when you speak.”
My brain registered no one wants to listen to you speak, and consequently I have, until recently, spent the vast majority of my life hiding in corners, trying to make myself invisible.
So what can we do to raise our self-image? Thankfully lots.
Here are six tips to boost your self-confidence:
1. If you have any negative memories like I did, look at them again with fresh eyes.
Looking back as an adult I think now that the teacher was trying to be helpful, wanting me to project. Her hope was to elevate both the play, and me, to a higher standard. This realization came as a huge relief to see that I was not being personally criticized. There was, in fact, a loving intent behind her comment.
2. Think of yourself in a more positive, loving way.
When was the last time you paid a friend a compliment? When was the last time you paid yourself a compliment? Exactly. While it can feel like a totally alien concept to be kind towards ourselves, the more we practice this, the more we believe it to be true. I am beautiful and perfect. You are, too.
3. Tell that negative voice in your head to shut the hell up.
I used to feel trapped in a spiral of self-criticism, so I started to write down the nasty taunts my inner voice unleashed. Seeing on paper how unrealistically I compared myself to others was somewhere between laughable and completely shocking. (I am fat and have no purpose. Really?!)
Analyzing my incredibly long list point-by-point, I couldn’t believe I'd wasted so much energy in a negative way and consciously made a change.
4. Stop waiting.
Confidence won’t magically appear when you lose weight, change jobs or alter relationships. Write a list right now of 10 things you are happy with and carry it with you. Refer to it often and add to it when you can. Gratitude leads to love, and when we are experiencing self-love it is impossible to be self-critical.
5. Meditate like mad.
How many times do you criticize yourself and compare yourself unfavorably to others? Many of our fears are ones the mind creates. If we could refrain from thinking too much, imagine how truly liberating that would be. It can take a while to find a type of meditation that works for you, so don't write it off if you have tried one already and it didn't work for you.
6. Believe in yourself.
It's cliched but true. If you don't believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? Don't let anyone tell you that you can't because you can. Think positive things often enough and they will automatically become your way of thinking. You will naturally be experiencing confidence before you know it ... how awesome would that be?