We are constantly exposed to Social Media, magazines, TV, ads which tell us how we should look like, what we should do, what we should achieve, how successful others are and how successful we should be, which new records can be broken, etc. It's hard – or close to impossible – to escape this external influence and I think I can say that it sometimes makes us feel bad ourselves whenever we start comparing ourselves to others when they are really successful, go on the craziest adventures and most beautiful holiday destinations, when they're "living their dream" – and you feel like you're not. Being constantly told how we should perform can also have a negative impact on our self-confidence, self-love and personality development. Indeed, our self-confidence can already be negatively influenced in our childhood, when we don't do well at school or in competitions or "don't live up to our parents' expectations". However, the good news is: we can work on our self-confidence and learn to love ourselves.
Why is it important to accept and love ourselves the way we are? Why is it important to have self-confidence?
We become more emotionally stable since we're not always confronted with self-doubts and a fear of failing (emotional stability). The more self-confidence we have the less we will need confirmation and encouragement from others. What others say (about us and in general) won't matter as much anymore. We become more resistant to critical feedback and injuries because we are more aware of our personal mistakes. Knowing them we can learn to accept them and work on them in the future (inner strength and self-confidence). If we have things straightened out with ourselves, we won't urge to talk badly about other people, talk them down or hurt them. It's easier to accept mistakes and idiosyncrasies of others when we accept ourselves the way we are. We don't automatically mirror our own behaviour in others and get upset about it (tolerance). Being independent of what others think of us leads to more satisfaction – with ourselves and our whole life. We define and lead our own life. We learn how to differentiate between what really matters and what doesn't, who's opinion is important and who's not (satisfaction and independence).The more we love ourselves the way we are, the more self-esteem and self-confidence we'll have and the more we'll trust in our abilities what we are able to really do and achieve. It will be easier to make decisions and do things that do us good (self-esteem & self-confidence). Last but not least, why it is important to be more self-loving and self-confident: We will learn to better value our strengths as well as accept our weaknesses and work on them (weaknesses and strengths).
So what can we actively do to become more self-loving and more self-confident?
First of all, this is a process – no one becomes more self-confident over night. It takes time and effort. You don't have to implement all tips immediately and perfectly. Try your best and be patient with yourself! If something doesn't work right away, don't just give up. We all have to deal with setbacks – even the most successful people! It's about how we deal with them and what we learn of them. If you doubt yourself often and lack self-confidence, find it hard to accept and love yourself the way you are, make sure you make small steps and following these tips:
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Why? Depending on who/ what we compare ourselves with we will feel better or worse about ourselves. We also call this "contrast effect". When we compare ourselves with someone who is e.g. less successful, less beautiful, etc. than us, we will feel better about ourselves (positive contrast effect). On the other hand, when we compare ourselves with more successful, more beautiful, more adventurous,... people than us, we will feel worse, more frustrated about ourselves, less self-confident (negative contrast effect). Being active on Social Media all the time, we are more likely to be exposed to this negative contrast effect. Being exposed to something we can't change (other people's success), is therefore not useful and therefore – try to stop compare yourself to others and focus on yourself instead.
2. Focus on what you can control.
This brings us to the next point. You can't control other people's success, you can't change what they do, where they go on a holiday, how they look like. So instead of getting upset, stressed or sad by making comparison, focus on yourself and things you can change and control. What would YOU like to change in YOUR life? What are you able to influence and control? What bad habits would you like to change? What would you like to spend more time on?
3. Make mistakes
...and accept them! Everyone of us makes mistakes. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” [H. Ford]. So, go for it! Accept your mistakes and try to learn from them! No one is perfect!
4. Focus on the positive!
If you find it hard to focus on the positive, try to lern to do so step by step. I'm sure you did something great/ good today? Write these things down! 3-5 things every day or after every training. What did you do well? What was good? What did you actively contribute to getting forwards? Even on our worst days at work or most horrible trainings there are things we do well.
5. Set yourself goals
What do you want to achieve in the next three months? Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? Who do you want to be? What do you want to have achieved? Set yourself realistic and SMART goals (S=specific, M=measurable, A=attractive, R=realistic, T=timely)! What motivates you to get up in the morning and work hard for it? What goal is so attractive that you'll keep going? What do you really want?
6. Surround yourself with positive, inspiring people
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, that do you good, that motivate you, that have same goals and visions like you have! Remember the following quote: "You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with" [J. Rohn] Who really inspires you? Who do you like hanging out with because it's motivating and a lot of fun? Who shares the same visions and goals like you? And who are people in your circuit that negatively influence you by their bad mood, negative attitude, different values and goals?
7. Celebrate success
If you achieve something, be proud of yourself and celebrate it! Did you do something well? Did you reach a subgoal? Did you get an essential step forwards to reaching your goal? Also value little steps, not only big achievements. Every step matters!
8. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses
We all have our strengths and weaknesses and it's essential to know them both in order to be able to judge what we can expect of ourselves and what we should work on. What are you strengths? How can you use them to reach your goal? What would your best friend, siblings or parents say what your strengths were?
And what are your weaknesses? How can you accept them? What you can still improve?
9. Stop apologising
Stop apologising for being yourself. You can only apologise for doing something stupid but not for the person you are.
10. Learn to say no
If something doesn't do you good or you don't really want to do something, don't do it and say no. Don't hang out with people or surround yourself with people and things that shatter your nerves and energy.
11. Be mindful
...of yourself, of your feelings, of your body and your needs, but also for your friends and their needs. What do you need? What do your friends need? Listen to yourself more carefully!
12. Use positive words & phrases
Reflect how often you use negative words! How often do you tell yourself, you can't do something, you never achieve anythings, something never works. Negative phrases like this can be poison for our mind. Instead, try to formulate positive thoughts and questions "What can I do to get better at something?", "I maybe cannot guarantee that I'll succeed but I'll try my best", etc.
Be the person you want to be and be confident in yourself, your strengths and weaknesses! Good luck!